Nearly all children go through a phase where they lose interest in school. They goof off in class, “forget” about homework assignments and make-up maladies to play hooky. But if this behavior goes unchecked, it can quickly become a habit that spirals out of control. And the more a child falls behind, the harder it is to catch up. So if your kid is starting to exhibit some of these signs or you’ve noticed dropping grades, perhaps it’s time to look into the problem and try to determine a workable solution.
Here are just a few tips to help you get started and get your kid back on track for academic success.
How to Help a Child Struggling in School
Assess the cause.
This is an essential first step when a child is struggling in school. There are so many possible reasons for poor grades and bad behavior in the classroom that you really need to figure out the root of the problem if you want to solve it. It could be social (peer pressure, bullying from classmates, a strict teacher, and so on), emotional (trouble at home), or medical (learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia, or even vision problems). Or perhaps your child needs a little extra help (no child left behind treats kids like cattle, failing to account for differences in development). Whatever the cause, you can’t hope to discuss the problem without first knowing where it came from.
Kids are like a Velociraptor: constantly testing the boundaries. So it behooves you to be firm when it comes to schoolwork. If you let them slide, you shouldn’t be surprised to see their grades follow suit. Although many parents want to create well-rounded children through extracurricular activities (music and language lessons, sports teams, nature clubs, and so on), academic pursuits must be the priority. So if after-school activities are getting in the way, cut them out until your child’s grades are back in the black.
Talk to teachers.
Some issues may be beyond your control, such as the amount of attention your child receives in school or how he acts when he’s away from you. While kids could feed you a line about what happens in the classroom, it’s always a good idea to get both sides of the story (and read the truth that lies in the middle). So talk to your child’s teacher (or teachers) to get their take on disruptive behavior or plummeting grades. Any information you glean could help you to determine a course of action that helps your child.
Children need lots of attention, and if you’re often busy with other things, slipping grades could be a way for them to capture your interest (even though it might be negative). So if you find that you are often absent (even when you’re at home), make an effort to sit down with your kids and help with homework. And don’t forget to throw in some quality leisure time, too – it can’t be all work.
Hire a tutor.
Home tuition can be expensive, which is why it’s often the last resort, but it could be exactly what your child needs to pull up his grades. And it’s a good idea once you’ve reached the limit of what you can help with academically.