The Parent Journey
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Be A First Responder For Your Child
Core to our value system here at Park Century is listening to our current parents, anticipating the journey for new parents and providing a support system that makes the discovery a little easier. This is an overwhelmingly difficult time with endless information resources, and the decision for how to support your child's learning differences can be daunting. If we could distill down the essentials we have learned as educators and parents, to give this process some clarity, here's what we'd like to share with you:
Trust your gut.
You know your child better than anyone else so listen to yourself. You may have your current school encouraging you to "wait & see" or you might be listening to others about the stigma of a special school. Trust your instinct that your child may need additional support and act on it.
The time your child has spent struggling with schoolwork and putting in the hours to barely keep up is slowly chipping away at their self-esteem and creating immeasurable stress on the family. The earlier you act on getting them the education they need to thrive, the sooner you can get your family back on track to joy.
Get a neuro-psych test.
This is probably the most valuable companion to your determination and decision for your child's educational needs.
A neuropsychological evaluation looks at how a person’s brain works, measuring things like attention span, memory, and language skills. PCS requires this test with an application. Book this test early because it can take time to get in and then get results. Learn more.
Your child does not need to be "fixed".
They are uncommonly bright and learn differently, with gifts and strengths worth celebrating. Learning disabilities or differences are lifelong conditions that require remediation, accommodation, an awareness for developments in these differences, and the necessary support systems. With the right support, your child will gain the grit and resilience to self-advocate for how they learn.
Get your child into a school where they are seen.
Your child learns differently. They are no less intelligent than any of their peers in mainstream school, they just have a unique learning DNA that doesn't respond to a one-size-fits-all teaching approach. Getting them into a specialized school, like PCS, will have them alongside other exceptionally bright kids and with teachers who teach them in the ways they need to learn and grow.
Be kind to yourself.
The journey to discovering and dealing with your child's learning differences can be emotionally draining and extremely stressful on the whole family. Parents can feel guilt and shame over why their child is not learning at grade level. Honor yourself for even starting this journey, and know you will find a supportive community of like-minded parents and an environment where learning differences are celebrated.
Common signs that your child may have learning disabilities/differences include the following*:
Problems reading and/or writing
Problems with math
Problems paying attention
Trouble following directions
Trouble telling time
Problems staying organized
A child with a learning disability also may have one or more of the following:
Acting without really thinking about possible outcomes (impulsiveness)
“Acting out” in school or social situations
Difficulty staying focused; being easily distracted
Difficulty saying a word correctly out loud or expressing thoughts
Problems with school performance from week to week or day to day
Speaking like a younger child; using short, simple phrases; or leaving out words in sentences
Having a hard time listening
Problems dealing with changes in schedule or situations
Problems understanding words or concepts
*These signs alone are not enough to determine a learning disability. Only a professional can diagnose these.
Learning Disabilities & related disorders defined
Reveta Franklin BowerMs. Bowers is the former Administrator and Head of School for The Center for Early Education in Los Angeles, a consultant, and serves as chair of Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children use technology responsibly, safely, and effectively.
Max BrooksMr. Brooks is an internationally known author and speaker about his firsthand experience growing up with dyslexia. He is also a Park Century parent.
Jamie Lee CurtisMs. Curtis is an actress, author, and former PCS parent.
Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D.Dr. Eichenstein specializes in pediatric neuropsychological evaluations, testing for learning disabilities and ADHD, and accommodating children with learning differences and ADHD.
Leah Ellenberg, Ph.D., M.D.Dr. Ellenberg specializes in clinical neuropsychology.
Dr. Audrey GriesbachDr. Griesbach’s practice is devoted entirely to the comprehensive evaluation and treatment of children with a wide variety of neuro-developmental disorders, including autism, cerebral palsy, genetic disorders, developmental and cognitive delays, learning differences like ADHD, and other behavioral disorders. Dr. Griesbach also served on the board of the Westview School for children with learning and emotional challenges and was a founding board member of the WISH Charter Elementary School, which provides inclusive educational opportunities for children with special needs.
Karen Hellman-FriedKaren Hellman-Fried is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Educational Therapist in Santa Monica, California. Karen holds Master of Arts Degrees in Clinical Psychology and Human Development as well as a Certificate in Educational Therapy. She has a private practice in psychotherapy and is Co-Director of the K&M Center, Inc., a learning center providing educational services to students ranging from four years old to college age.
Justin HuntFormerly a member of Park Century's Board of Trustees, Justin’s service on the Board began in 2012, and he was Board President from 2013 to 2017. He is President of William Walters Company, a real estate investment and management firm, specializing in multi-family properties. He and his wife, Michelle, are graduates of the University of San Diego and have two children who both attended Park Century School. They currently reside in Jackson, Wyoming.
Anthony JaffeAnthony Jaffe is a Managing Director and head of CMBS Origination for J.P. Morgan’s West Coast office in Los Angeles. He was previously head of CMBS Origination at Credit Suisse and Managing Director of Natixis Real Estate Capital. Before joining Natixis Real Estate Capital, Mr. Jaffe worked at Credit Suisse First Boston and was part of creating the premier real estate finance company on Wall Street at the time. Additionally, he was one of the pioneering members of Nomura Capital, a leading real estate lender in the United States and a group credited with the application of securitization to commercial real estate finance. Mr. Jaffe is on the Board of Governors for Cedars Sinai Hospital, served as a member of the Park Century Board of Trustees from 2011-2019, is a Philanthropy Honoree at UCLA, and is Founder of the Tom Drysdale Fellowship at NYU where he received his bachelor’s degree.
Zeb Little, Ph.D., M.D.Dr. Little is a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist.
Dr. Jayme Neiman-KimelDr. Neiman-Kimel is a board-certified pediatric neuropsychologist and leading specialist in neuropsychological assessment for children and young adults. Over the last 20 years, Dr.Neiman-Kimel has built a practice that has provided services to schools and expert witness testimony, and she maintains a private clinical practice.
Kelly PriestMs. Priest is an ardent advocate for supporting the social-learning needs of children, teens, and adults. She is the founder of Kelly Priest & Associates, a resource for parents and teachers of children with mild to moderate social learning differences. She is a social-cognitive-development specialist, a faculty trainer, and parent educator.
Bruce SavettMr. Savett is the principal and founder of Granite Peak Partners Inc, a commercial property brokerage firm with headquarters in Santa Barbara. A PCS alumnus, Mr. Savett was the third student enrolled in the school and the son of founding trustee Lou Savett.
Bennett Shaywitz, M.D.Dr. Shaywitz is a leader in applying functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia in children and adults. He is the Charles and Helen Schwab Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology) and the Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.
Gail SpindlerMs. Spindler had a 45-year career at Park Century beginning as a classroom educator and retiring as Co-Director of the school in 2013.
Benjamin SpragueBen Sprague is a PCS alum and son of former Board Chair Marianne Sprague. A former television producer and entertainment executive, Mr. Sprague was recently appointed CEO of the Earl Warren Showgrounds Board of the 19th District Agricultural Association, located in Santa Barbara.
Kearney N. Visser Ph.D.Dr. Visser is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in treating children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Visser is trained as a cognitive behavioral therapist.
Wendy WachtellMs. Wachtell is the President and CEO of the Joseph P. Drown Foundation. The Foundation attempts to reflect directly the interests of founder Joseph Drown, focusing its resources on education, medical and scientific research, community, and health and social services. The Foundation's goal is to assist individuals in becoming successful, self-sustaining, contributing citizens, funding programs that break down barriers preventing a person from continuing to grow and learn.
Identifies how learning differences affect students.
Evaluates best ways to approach a student’s learning style.
Recommends effective learning programs and testing accommodations.
Test early, and explore both private testing and through your school.
Considered the most comprehensive type of assessment and completed by neuropsychologists
Provides an in-depth assessment of skill and ability linked to brain function.
It also includes a review of medical and other records, interviews with the child, and the administration of tests .
PCS requires this test.
Park Century & testing
The specialists at
PCS can review and will guide our parents honestly to the best education fit.
We also look at results of a psychoeducational evaluation, the WISC V (Wechsler Intelligence Scale) and a student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program).
Visit our testing page for more details.
Once you receive your child's test results, you'll then determine where your child is going to need additional support in their learning programs. You could choose to piece together a team of outside specialists to supplement their current learning program or explore schools like Park Century that will tailor the curriculum to each child's individual needs and will have many of these specialists all under one roof. The trained staff at PCS can assess your results to determine if the school is a good fit, and guide you in your next steps.
Top Resource Links
Developmental milestones by grade*:
Learning Disorder vs Learning Disability?
Specific learning disabilities" (SLD) and "learning differences" are terms used interchangeably to describe children who learn differently.