High school isn’t easy for students with learning challenges. They often work very hard to overcome their exceptionalities and are frequently bored, discouraged, or anxious. While parents navigate the education system with their son or daughter, they may wonder if they’re making the right decisions and doing what’s best for their child. As it turns out, it may simply be Mom and Dad’s ongoing dedication that makes the difference to a student’s success.

According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, social and emotional support for students with learning differences was the most critical factor in fostering their ability to tackle the worlds of college and employment. The researchers surveyed three groups of students: those who were struggling after leaving secondary school, those who were just “treading water,” and those who were successfully managing jobs or higher education. They discovered that the coaching, empathy, and nurturing that the students received from parents, friends, and other community members were even more critical to a student’s successful transition than academic instruction and support. Even students who had never struggled with a learning disability were more successful when they received the care and encouragement of others.

The students with learning and attention issues who were thriving said that they had a positive outlook, felt comfortable initiating requests for help, and persevered in the face of difficulty, traits which they attributed to their positive home and community environments. The child who has been encouraged and supported cultivates the grit, self-confidence, and ability to learn from their mistakes and is well positioned to succeed in a new environment.

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