Have you just been told that your child is falling behind in school? This can be a topic that all parents dread to hear. Luckily, there are several steps you can take when you first get this news. So take a deep breath, try to think positively, and take the steps we have listed below.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
Your child’s teacher is going to have the most informed scoop on what’s going on in the classroom. Chances are you won’t even have to ask, as the teacher should be more than willing to share why your child is failing or falling behind in their classes. Ask if there is extra credit they could do to catch up, or if there is anything as a parent that you could do to help your child succeed in their class. Hopefully by taking the time to schedule in a talk with your child’s teacher you may find out what the real problem is.
Make Sure They are Getting Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of inattentiveness in schools. Inattentiveness can lead to poor grades. As a reading specialist, when I taught in the public schools, I’d offer kids a bean bag chair during recess for those that needed it in my classroom. It was surprising to see the number of children who responded to my offer and took that time to take a mid day nap. Each child’s rest requirements are different, but in general children, 5-6 year-olds are going to need 11 hours of sleep, 7-12-year-olds will need 10 hours, while teenagers should get at least 9 hours of sleep.
Hire a Tutor
Ask your child’s teacher if they could recommend a tutor. Maybe you could be their tutor. They may just need to schedule in a little time with someone for some one on one help. A typical classroom in America can be jam packed full of kids. With one teacher per many children, it’s not always possible to give the child what they need in only a classroom setting.
Give Them Incentives
If your child is still in the primary grades, a reward system may work very well. While you are going to want them to be intrinsically motivated to learn, each child is an individual and may not be motivated in all of the subject areas. Consider making up a rewards chart with goals and benchmarks to achieve and then follow through with the reward.
Consider Medical Issues
Does your child need glasses or a hearing aid? It doesn’t hurt to rule out those possibilities. Do they have an un-diagnosed disability? It’s a good idea to consider all of the possibilities for their lack of success in school. It only hurts matters further to tell your child to try harder if they can’t do the work because of a medical issue beyond their control.
Look for Patterns
If your child has always struggled in math but excelled in other areas, maybe they simply are not good at math. Children are unique and gifted in different areas. If you judge a fish by how well they can climb a tree, you are setting them up for failure and a low self-esteem every time. If historically, they have not excelled in certain areas, then it could be as simple as this subject is not their cup of tea.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem. By not addressing it, you are empowering the situation to grow worse over time. Talk to your child, talk to their teacher, get answers and set up a plan. If you don’t address why they are falling behind, chances are the problem will just grow and lead to other problems like low self-esteem or a give up attitude.
I hope that these initial steps can help you as you begin to figure out ways to help your struggling child.