As a parent, it can be hard to see your child struggling in school. One often feels a sense of helplessness, not knowing why they are falling behind, or how to help.
The reasons a child may struggle at school can vary greatly, from learning disorders, to a lack of focus, or maybe they fall into one of the categories that mark a student as at-risk (more on that here).
While many students can get all the help they need, many others struggle. However, teachers and school staff often have a lot on their plates, and some students can slip through the net without getting the required assistance.
The next best thing for these students is to get help from their parents, though that solution comes with its own set of challenges.
Children struggling at school can often find it difficult to confide in their parents, due to the associated feelings of shame. This makes it harder for parents to identify when their child is struggling, and what the root cause is.
How to Identify the Source of the Problems
Once parents are aware of their child’s struggles, the first to helping is to identify the reason:
- Talk with Your Child:
It’s amazing how many children don’t speak up or ask for help because they think no one cares. Taking a few minutes to speak with them one-on-one can help them feel comfortable with you and show them that you do care, helping them to open up.
- Meet the Teachers
Most teachers want their students to succeed, and are happy to meet with parents to discuss learning issues. An open line of communication can help parents and teachers work together to solve problems.
- Seek Expert Help
School counselors, teachers, and other professional staff may already be providing early intervention for your child. It’s important to work with them, using their expertise to devise the best way to help your child.
- Identify Disabilities
If you feel that your child’s inability to keep up in class may not just be disinterest or personal issues, but could be a learning disability, now is the time to act. Seek professional help in order to identify learning disabilities as soon as possible, in order to create the best plan to help them improve.
How to Help
Once you’ve identifies the reason your child is falling behind, it’s time to move on to actually implementing strategies that can help them improve. One-to-one intervention by a teacher or other member of school staff is the ideal method but, as stated above, schools often lack the time and resources to closely monitor every student, and intervene on their behalf. It then falls to parents to act, here a few ways to do so
- Subject Support
If your child is struggling only in one particular subject, then they might just need a little extra help. Hiring a tutor will give them more time to study what they’re struggling with, in an environment where they have the teacher’s undivided attention.
Besides just teaching, a tutor can also provide help with assignments, homework, or test prep, to ensure the child doesn’t fall any further behind on their coursework.
- Educational Therapy
An educational therapist is a professional who is trained to understand an individual child’s learning challenges, and the patterns and behaviors they have developed to work around, or mask, their deficits. Some of those behaviors—avoidance, acting out, even tantrums—may have been misinterpreted by parents and teachers, who read them as opposition or impulsivity.
Educational therapy is the best way to proceed for children who have learning disabilities. Parents and teachers are often unprepared to deal with a child who has, for example, dyslexia. The best way to proceed in such a situation is, obviously, to hire a trained professional, who has the necessary training and experience, to help a child experiencing learning disabilities to do their best at school.
- Provide Encouragement
As the parent of a struggling child, by the far the most important thing one can do is to provide support and encouragement. Students struggling at school very often become demoralized, demotivated, and lose self-confidence.
As a parent, the most important thing to do is to let them know that you’re there. That you’re willing to do all you can to help, and that you really care about their problems. It’s also important to let them know that failing to get the highest possible grades isn’t the end of the world, and that the only thing they should be aiming for, is to do their best.