Summary of the lecture given by psychologist François Laroche

Last October 20, we had the privilege of having François Laroche, school psychologist, as a guest speaker during our visit to Québec City.

It was a most enriching meeting. Following this summary are copies of documents that he had handed out to the members who attended, one on self-esteem and the other on the steps to follow for homework and study.

After a warm welcome and opening remarks by Madame Gagner-Frenette, Mr. Laroche promptly made a point of involving the participants so that his lecture would not be "unidirectional" but rather "interactive". Throughout his talk, Mr. Laroche used concrete examples, related anecdotes that were sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and also had the various parents who were present share their comments. One after another, the members in attendance presented themselves and explained, in a few words: why they had wanted to attend the lecture, how old their children were (if they had any) and what they expected.

One of the most important points that Mr. Laroche raised was parents' involvement with their child and their school. For example, parents should "know" the people responsible for the good scholastic performance of their child. It is, of course, essential to know the teacher, but also the administrators and the workers (remedial teacher, psychologist...). It helps to put faces on names.

This greatly facilitates any future meetings and discussions that could become necessary throughout the process of requesting assistance.

Every school must have a committee to help children with disabilities and/or learning and/or adjustment difficulties.

When a problem arises, parents should not hesitate to meet with the teachers and any other resource-person able to provide the desired assistance.

You must request assistance if you feel that it is necessary.

No one knows your child better than you. If the teacher does not seem receptive, ask to speak to the principal. If the school is not meeting your expectations, contact the school board. You should certainly not feel intimidated by this process; your child's future depends on it.

Once an assistance program has been initiated, Mr. Laroche proposes the following 4-point rule:

  1. Understand the deficiencies.
  2. Clarify the situations.
  3. Build on the positive.
  4. Counteract the unacceptable.

It is necessary to help plan the child's environment and get the child organized; to minimize any distractions (no television or radio during homework); to help put away notebooks, textbooks, dictionaries, and pencils; and, as much as possible, to try to anticipate any difficult situations and deal with them before they get worse.

As much as possible, parents should try to clarify requests made to their children, to have instructions that are clear and specific (observable, measurable...).

For example, "make your bed" may mean something different to parents than it does to children. Do parents want military-style, perfectly flat sheets or will they be happy if the children quickly tug their comforter over their wrinkled sheets?

Confrontation is more effective when supported by something positive. Children must be valued for what they do.

A very important aspect for children, throughout their development both within their family and their school environment, is the self-esteem building process. The adults close to the children must provide them with emotional and physical security and do everything they can so that the children may enjoy a life filled with hope and dreams, in spite of any disabilities.

Hélène L. Pérusse