Rx for School Success

Coaching your Child to Better Learning and Health

Research has shown that most children experience challenges with their learning at some point during their school years. Those children who can’t figure out how to overcome their difficulties can start to wonder whether or not they are smart. The more children worry, the harder it is for them to feel good about themselves (for example, they may feel sad, anxious or overwhelmed).

Typical challenges these children face can include the following:

  • meeting classroom expectations
  • staying focused; easily distracted
  • starting work, staying on task or finishing assignments
  • following directions
  • being able to complete homework within the given time-frame
  • knowing what is important to study for a test
  • remembering information easily (e.g., math facts, spelling words)
  • summarizing what has been read
  • expressing ideas in writing
  • working at the appropriate pace (not too quickly or too slowly)

Although it is known that health can impact learning, primary care doctors at APD have noticed that school challenges can impact their pediatric patients’ physical and mental health. Together, APD and The Center for School Success (CSS) have developed a program called Prescription for School Success (RxSS) which is offered at APD’s Multi-Specialty Clinic. CSS is a local non-profit educational organization that specializes in helping children identify strategies that will make schoolwork easier. The RxSS program helps children and adolescents understand how they learn best and coaches them in ways to advocate for their health and learning needs.

Team Approach

The goal of the program is to provide a team approach to identify and manage the type of learning issues that can affect a child’s health and well-being before those concerns get too big.

APD doctors are part of a team that also includes a Learning Specialist and Behavioral Health Specialist. The role of your child’s provider is to identify his/her patients who are struggling in school with the assistance of a Health and Learning Screener. The role of the Specialists is to help these children better understand their learning strengths and weaknesses. They will also work with the children to find ways that will make schoolwork easier.

Medical Staff

  • Douglas Williamson, MD, RxSS Medical Director

CSS Team Specialists

3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Multi-Specialty Clinic, Level 2
Lebanon NH 03766
Map of APD

Hear from RxSS in these videos:

Program Components
The RxSS program has three main components: a Screener, a Health and Learning Questionnaire, and Coaching. 

  • The Screener will be completed by the pediatric patient during well-child visits (ages 9-18) to identify any potential learning challenges that could affect the child’s health.
  • If identified to be a potential candidate for the RxSS program, the child will complete an on-line Health and Learning Questionnaire (HLQ).
  • The results of the HLQ will determine if a child is a good candidate for coaching sessions offered by a RxSS team Specialist to support the child’s best learning strategies. 
  • All of the care will be overseen by the program Medical Director and Program Coordinator. Your child’s provider will be kept informed of your child’s progress.

Health and Learning Screener/Questionnaire 
Children who have certain personal resources in their lives (e.g., connection with family and school, willingness to make mistakes and work hard) are more likely to bounce back when schoolwork gets tough. They are also more likely to have hope for the future.

Children that have few personal resources (protective factors) often give up. They can also find themselves physically and emotionally worn out. Sometimes they turn to people and things that are not healthy for them.

The RxSS screener and questionnaire are able to determine important protective and risk factors in four areas: academic, psychological, social, and biological. Extensive research has shown that these factors are related to a child’s school performance.

Health and Learning Questionnaire video

Coaching with a Learning Specialist or Behavioral Health Specialist
It takes time and support for children to move from being aware of their learning strengths and challenges to making lasting changes in behavior. Coaching helps children identify useful strategies, so they can then begin to take control of their own education and advocate for themselves.

Coaching sessions focus on deepening a child’s understanding of how to manage the way they learn best, and on developing effective strategies (e.g., time management, identifying the purpose of a task, pacing). Coaching differs from tutoring or counseling. It does not teach specific academic skills like long division or reading. It does not involve therapy.

Each 30 minute coaching session might include one or more of three steps to success: 

  • Identify and build greater awareness of the child’s learning strengths and challenges;
  • Link the child’s learning profile to his/her school experience;
  • Take action: apply strategies and practice the skill of using them independently.

RxSS Coaching Model Video


Each member of the RxSS team specializes in working with children and adolescents. Each team member serves a unique role on the team.

  • Child’s Provider: Your provider will use the RxSS screener to identify patients who are struggling in school.
  • The Medical Director: Dr. Williamson will meet with you and your child to review the results of the online Health and Learning Questionnaire (HQL). Then he will meet separately with your child and have her/him complete some tasks that will provide more information on what may be impacting your child’s learning. Dr. Williamson is a board certified pediatrician. He graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and completed his residency at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Dr. Williamson has worked at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital for over 20 years. He retired from his regular practice in May of 2019 and is currently serving as the Medical Director for the Rx for School Success program.  
  • The Program Coordinator: Nancee Tracy is the point person for the entire team. She is the main contact for the program and can answer any questions you may have. Email: tracyn@apdmh.org; Phone: (603) 442-5995.
  • Team Specialists: Dr. Linda Addante, Dr. Steven Atkins, and Ms. Beth Reed are the team Specialists. Your child may meet with one or more of them individually while participating in the program. Their role as “coaches” is to explore your child's learning strengths and challenges with him/her. They will also help your child to identify useful strategies that can make school work easier and less stressful.

Together, the team members work to better understand how your child learns best and how they can help your child be more successful in school. Being a part of the RxSS program will hopefully make your child more confident and healthy overall.

All team members meet on a regular basis to discuss children’s progress. A shared electronic medical record system keeps track of all important information regarding your child’s progress. 

The RxSS program is generously supported by individual donors and several charitable organizations, such as the Granite United Way, the Lane and Elizabeth C. Dwinell Charitable Trust and the Couch Foundation. At this time, all sessions with a RxSS Specialist are being provided without charge to patients and their families. 

However, there is a charge for the initial appointment with Dr. Williamson, which will be billed to your insurance as an office visit. You will be responsible for any deductibles or copays.

We invite you to explore these frequently asked questions about the program.

The team from the RxSS delivered a 90-minute presentation on “How Learning Can Affect Your Child's Health.” The presentation was video-taped on CATV and may be viewed here. A copy of the presentation and the handout from the event are also available.