You probably never met a parent who doesn’t want their child to be a straight-A, honor roll student. Parents love it when their children are achieving at school both in academics and extracurricular activities. It gives them a sense of pride and makes them feel they are parenting right.
This is why seeing your child struggle in school can evoke all kinds of emotions, particularly if their performance is steadily declining.
Common Reasons Children Struggle in School
You may feel disappointment, guilt, shame, or even inadequate as a parent. However, there is a list of reasons why children have academic struggles at any grade level and they may not be linked to your parenting skills. Some of them are:
- The classroom environment
- Learning disabilities
- Stress from the home environment
- Problems, e.g., bullying in school
- An inherent dislike for school
- Vision problems, e.g., nearsightedness
- Level of difficulty in the course material
- Trouble focusing, e.g., due to ADHD
Ways to Figure Out Why Your Child is Having Academic Challenges
Although you may be eager to help your child improve his or her performance at school, you may not know how to approach the issue. The first and foremost thing to do is to learn why your child has educational struggles. This can help you come up with the best solutions based on your child’s needs.
Here are 4 important tips to help you get started:
1. Talk With Your Child
Starting an open and honest conversation with your child can reveal lots of information that may help you figure out the underlying reason. Allow your child to speak while you listen actively in a supportive and non-judgmental fashion. Perhaps the struggle is tied to one particular subject/course or the poor performance may be across the broad. Feel free to make notes and ask your child probing questions to get to the bottom of the situation.
Find out if your child thinks the problem is with the teacher, students, coursework, peers, problems at home, or failure to do homework.
2. Assess the Difficulty Level of the Course Material
Course material that is not appropriate for the grade level is one main reason why students become disinterested in a subject or school itself. At times, a student may even give up on learning when the school work is too challenging for them.
To determine if this is the root problem, examine your child’s course material and textbooks. In some cases, a student may need an introductory course to prepare them for the main learning materials. The school may also give or recommend additional resources to help simplify the school work.
3. Meet With the School Teacher
Once you have a good idea from your daughter as to why she is performing poorly, you can then schedule a meeting with his teacher to address your concerns. It may be a good idea to speak with the principal if necessary to iron out problems that fall within the scope of the school’s administrative department.
For example, you can request a referral for academic evaluation. The evaluation is done to assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and identify any learning disabilities or obstacles.
4. Request a Pediatric Evaluation
Some students have learning challenges due to biological, physiological, mental, or behavioral factors. Your child’s pediatrician can do a thorough medical evaluation to look for signs of learning disabilities as well as attention deficit disorder (ADHD). A hearing and vision tests can also identify vision problems such as nearsightedness or lazy eye. These are all common problems that affect school-aged children and can get in the way of their academic performance.
For example, poor vision due to being nearsighted can cause headaches and prevent your son from seeing what is written on the chalkboard. Your child’s doctor may then refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and/or treatment.
Any child could have problems learning or adapting to the school environment. Assure the child that he’s not in trouble, but that you are only trying to help him overcome the hurdles. The sooner you identify what are the underlying reasons, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to help your child get back on track. You may also enlist the help of a private tutor to accelerate the process.
With the right support, your child can adjust and overcome this phase.