The Back to School Blues

'Back to school' - it's a term that conjures up a lot of emotions for parents and children.  For traditional students, returning to school is something they look forward to after a fulfilling summer break.  For nontraditional students however, the return to school  feels  quite the opposite. Summer has been a wonderful release from 9 unbearable months in the classroom; going back feels like a return to the struggle, anxiety and defeat they felt the year before.  Even though some nontraditional learners do voice their unhappiness,  few parents or teachers truly get the depth of their despair when school approaches.  Although some children will talk dejectedly about going back to school, more of them are blunting their emotions and are putting on a brave face. 

As a Learning Specialist and former Child Psychotherapist, I try to unveil the inner world of these nontraditional learners for teachers and parents to fully comprehend.  Having worked as an advocate and specialist with these learners for almost 20 years, I know hard they work  to keep up but how they are  often still behind and struggling. The dilemma is that they have OptiKode Learning Styles which cause them to be at a disadvantage in traditional classrooms. They need teaching methods which differ from the ones most teachers  use, and which are different from the ones that reach traditional learners.  Not getting them, these bright, nontraditional learners sit, and they wait, and little by little they lose motivation, confidence and tread water all year.  Is it any wonder that I refer to their predicament as 'school trauma?' I think its a fair descriptor for the chronic helplessness and dis-regulating anxiety they feel day after day.  


  • Understanding and empathizing with your child can go a long way to offsetting the deep isolation they regularly feel in their ives. Let them know you want them to share their feelings about school being hard or pointless.  By all means let them know if you felt this way when you were in school.  Don't hide that information but share how you coped and got through.  
  • If you have a nontraditional child, let them know they are not the only child struggling in their class.  Struggling children always think they are the only ones who are behind.  30% of students in their class are in the same boat - let them know!  Help them identify which other kids are struggling like they are.  Get to know the moms of these students and befriend them. Build community so both you and your child  can get support.
  • Nontraditional learners don't love learning for learning's sake like traditional learners do.  One of the greatest gifts you can give your nontraditional child is understanding that for them learning often feels rote and boring.  Whenever possible find ways to bring learning to life with kid-friendly  outings, movies, discussions and projects that may raise their interest in learning.


It goes without saying that an important next step is to find out if your child is a nontraditional learner.  A simple, free test offered by OptiKodes Academy's  will tell you that in under 10 minutes.

Our mission this year at OptiKodes Academy is to demystify the nontraditional learner. These bright learners don't have to struggle  and their parents  don't have to figure out what to do by themselves.   Discovering your child's OptiKode Learning Style is the first step in bringing out the natural born learner in your child and making this the best school year ever.