What To Do When Your Child Is Struggling In School
Every parent dreads hearing that their child is struggling academically. But, the truth is that many kids struggle at some time during their school career. No matter how much you try to help, as a parent, you may feel helpless in the face of falling grades, inappropriate behavior and urgent messages from the teacher. Here are some strategies to help you and your child get through tough academic times.
Don’t Allow Homework to Drag On
While it’s perfectly acceptable for kids to have homework, it’s not okay for it to take up all of their time outside of school. Not only is never-ending homework stressful for your child, it can put your nerves on edge, too.
If your child is making an honest effort to get the work done, and it’s still taking forever, it may be time to discuss the situation with the teacher. Ask how long work should be taking, and set a time limit at home. If the work doesn’t get done in the allotted time, allow your child to move on to something else and let the teacher know what’s happening.
Let Your Child Be Frustrated
It’s natural for kids to get frustrated when they’re stuck on a subject; you may even see their tempers flare when they run into a problem. Don’t let their anger provoke you into making the wrong response. Your child isn’t angry at you, or even at the work. They’re angry because they feel helpless to solve the problem.
Remember that you haven’t done anything to cause the upset, and it will pass as quickly as it started. Your best bet is to let the frustration run its course (within reason), and then sit down and try to work through the problem together.
Recognize the Difference between Academic, Social and Emotional Struggles
Not every struggling child is having problems doing the required work. Sometimes, the problem has emotional or social roots, rather than academic ones. Dealing with each type of problem requires a specific set of tools, but you can make a big difference just by making sure your child’s accomplishments are commended appropriately. Don’t let achievements go unrecognized just because there are other struggles happening at the same time.
For academically-fueled problems, talk to the teacher and get advice on how you can help. Be prepared to invest in a tutor if necessary. Don’t expect academic problems to resolve themselves, or to be handled quickly. Make sure your child knows you’re available if they need help with their work.
Social struggles are common for children in all age groups. After all, it’s not as if humans are born with an array of interaction skills; these behaviors must be learned. Help your child develop their social skills by organizing supervised play-dates, giving advice about making friends, and allowing your child to go at their own pace in social settings. Encourage them to try again when things don’t work out well.
For children who are struggling emotionally, it can be helpful to remember that every child matures at their own pace. Emotional struggles may require the help of a professional counselor, but make sure you don’t attach a stigma to the process. Talk with your child about how they’re feeling in difficult situations and remind them that it’s very important for them to be themselves.
Stay Organized & Your Kids Will Too
For many kids who are struggling in school, the problem is organization. Sometimes, kids are so excitable and energetic that they forget simple things like bringing home their books. Help them learn organizational skills that will alleviate some of the problem.
One excellent option is to use “Have to Do” lists, with things they have to do before they leave school for the day. Remind them in the morning before school to check the things they “have to do” before coming home in the afternoon, such as making sure they have the books and papers they need for completing homework tasks. It can be tough to make organization a habit, but it can be helpful all throughout life, not just during the school years.
Accept that Conflict is Part of the Deal
Throughout history, there has always been conflict between parents and children, be it over school struggles, chores, or even just what to wear from one day to the next. Conflict is part of the deal when you’re raising a child. Accept it and embrace it, then turn it to your advantage. Helping your kids get through school struggles can give you the skills you need to guide them through other problems later in life.