Is Your Child is Struggling at School?

There will come a time when many children and teens struggle at school. And not just in primary school but also in college or at university. what can you do as a parent to help identify when a child is struggling at school and how to help them succeed. School struggles show up in any number of ways – from bad grades, peer troubles, or even emotional or physical problems. These problems can negatively affect both the students and parents as parents might see emotional or behavioural problem pop up at home too. A struggling student can lead to a stressed out parent. How do you recognize if your child is struggling at school?

Signs something is wrong at school

Unfortunately most kids won’t come and talk to parents to their teachers about school problems. After all it can be embarrassing to have to talk about not understanding school work and in many cases young children don’t even where to begin the conversation.

It’s important for parents to be engaged and interested in their child’s education and their progress at school. Take the time to ask what they are learning at school. Can your child coherently explain what she or he is learning? Does it make sense to you? can they show you how to solve math problems? Are they able to “teach” you what they have learnt at school?  If you are getting short answers from them or ” nothing fun today at school” start asking to see their school work and have them take out their books and show you what they did at school.

Homework completion and test results? 

In younger children and teens look for homework completion and test results scores. You are looking for completed homework. English, history or geography homework needs to be written in complete sentences, is understandable and makes sense. Math homework shows their math work on how they solved the math problems. Remember most math books have an answer key in the back of the book or at the end of each chapter.

Is the teacher marking their homework with too many “Xs” or requesting they redo the work? Are you getting teachers notes asking your child to hand in late, missing, or incomplete assignments? Are they doing poorly on tests? Parents who regularly monitor and engage in school discussions and what their children are learning at school won’t be surprised by poor midterm reports cards.

How is your child’s attitude about school? Positive or negative? Is your child complaining school is boring or the teacher picks on them? It’s time to investigate and speak with their teacher(s). Are they getting into trouble at school for being fidgety at school or losing homework, books or their own belongings at school? Do they trouble remembering where they placed their belongings or following instructions with sequences? Do you find your child doesn’t pay attention to details in their homework or often makes careless mistakes? These could be signs of ADD or ADHD. Talk with your child’s teacher and visit your family doctor.

Is there a change in their moods?

Have you seen a change in your child’s or teens moods since school started? You may notice that your child is irritable, aggressive, bad mood before or after school.  Children and teens can become depressed due to poor school performance. Many kids are aware they are not doing as well as their peers and are aware they are falling behind at school. Young children can become whinny and clingy wanting to avoid class and school. Again investigate what’s going on – talk with your child’s teacher and visit your family doctor.

If you find yourself fighting every time you discuss school. It’s time for you to book an appointment with the teacher. What is the teacher noticing and what might be happening at school? Avoidance about discussing school could mean academic troubles. It might also indicate that your child is anxious about going to school or is experiencing some form of bullying or social isolation. Again talk with the teacher and book an appointment with  a therapist to help your child learn ways to cope with anxiety or any bullying issues.

Sometimes it could be something as simple as your child is struggling to see the blackboard. Maybe your child needs to be closer to the front of the room or visit the ophthalmologist for an eye exam and potential glasses. Could your child have a hearing issue?  Visit your family doctor to rule out any physical issues.

Investigate and take Action ASAP

Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that our child is struggling at school. It’s important for your child’s success to take action today.  See your child’s teacher as your best resource to knowing your child academically. Book an appointment to go over your child’s or teens school work and tests to pinpoint where the problem started. Did your child miss key concept due to a field trip in another class or because they were away from school that day or that week?

Too often parents wait until the ‘signs’ of failure have already caused their child too much frustration. Parents should seek help at the first signs of school struggle, which include frustration or frequent tears during homeworkgirl stressed studying time, coming home with failing grades or constant “re-dos,” or the child expressing that he or she just doesn’t “get it”. The child’s teacher should be your first source for help.


Does my Child need a Tutor?

Private or group tutoring might be the way to go to help your child catch up. If you child has missed key concept some individual one on one school help  could help fast track them back to success.  A tutor isn’t just for drilling your child in spelling or math lessons.  Tutors can also help your child learn study skills, organizational skills and how to manage their time and school projects. Children diagnosed with a learning disorder, such as ADHD or dyslexia can benefit from after school tutoring. Your child’s school may have a list of qualified or approved tutors or they may know of teachers who are willing to provide outside of school classes. Some schools may have a resource teacher who can spend time with your child during school hours.

Who’s responsible?

While you may offering your child extra support to help him or her learn new concepts manage their school work or get caught up at school, it’s important they remain responsible for their schoolwork.  Remind your child, he or she is responsible for their schoolwork and projects. It’s vital that he or she knows that they are being held accountable by you and the teachers to do their part in their education. Remember to praise your child for working hard and for persevering. Children who are praised for putting in effort are more likely to keep trying when they encounter setbacks.

Do we need psycho-educational assessment?

After you’ve talked with the teacher, hired the tutor, and your child is still struggling at school it might be time to consider a psycho-educational assessment. You may choose to have one done or your child’s school may suggest an assessment.

Bring samples of your child’s homework, projects, teacher’s comments and recent report cards. The results from a psycho-educational assessment will point out your child’s strengths, weaknesses, learning disabilities, and if your child is a gifted. You take the psycho-educational assessment report back to your child’s school. After reading the results the school may create an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child’s exceptions. This IEP will follow your child throughout their education and can continue with them to post secondary education. IEP are updated annually.

An IEP is not a“ I don’t have to do homework” get out of jail card. Now your child will need to learn coping skills and tools to overcome and circumvent any identified weaknesses or learning disabilities. Students have access to many resources available today to help them succeed. Universities and colleges have student success centres or access centres to help accommodate and promote student success.