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If your child is struggling at school, here’s what you can do to help them

Javeria Adenwalla

Javeria Adenwalla

Javeria is a writer, a yogi and an absolute lover of life. She reports live from the trenches of motherhood, stepping on metaphoric landmines, and sharing her experiences with unwavering optimism as she raises her three musketeers. Whenever life throws her off balance, she swivels back to zen mode with the power of yoga. When she’s not busy mastering the art of parenting,...
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 8 mins read
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School can be tough, but for some kids, it’s like trying to ride a unicycle while juggling pineapples – a daunting task. When homework starts piling up, exams loom like dark clouds, and grades take a nosedive, it’s easy for a child to feel overwhelmed and disheartened.

As a parent, caregiver, or educator, you may have seen this scenario play out before your eyes and wondered, ‘What can I do to help?’ We’re about to share some practical tips and strategies to support the struggling student in your life. Think of it as a survival guide for the academic jungle, a treasure map to unlock your child’s potential, or simply a friendly reminder that no one has to go through it alone.

Before we dive into creating a practical plan to support your child’s academic struggles, it’s important to recognise the signs that may indicate they are struggling in the first place. By catching these warning signs early on, we can jump in and give them the support they need to get back on track.

Signs to watch out for

Kids can be experts at hiding things. Whether it’s a secret stash of candy under their bed or a failed math test in their backpack, they can be masters of disguise. But when it comes to struggling in school, there are a few telltale signs that may give them away. From mysterious headaches and sudden mood swings to procrastination tactics that would make a sloth look like The Flash, these clues can help you decipher the code of your child’s academic performance.

Some of the red flags that might indicate your child needs a little extra support to thrive in the classroom include:

  1. Difficulty completing homework or assignments
  1. Consistent poor grades or a decline in grades
  1. Increased frustration or stress related to schoolwork
  1. Refusal to go to school or frequently skipping school.
  1. Avoidance of social situations at school.

It’s normal for anyone, including us, to have a bad day but if you notice the above signs forming a cycle instead of being a one-off once in a while, it’s time to take action.

Common life changes that can impact a child’s school performance

Changes in a child’s life can have a significant impact on their academic performance and overall well-being. Sometimes, school struggles are caused by changes in the child’s life. Some of these changes may include:

1. Moving to a new school: A child may find it challenging to adjust to a new environment, teachers, and classmates.

2. Family changes: A divorce, separation, or death in the family can be emotionally challenging for a child and affect their concentration and motivation in school.

3. Health issues: Physical or mental health problems can cause a child to miss school, struggle to keep up with classwork, or experience difficulties with learning.

4. Bullying: Being bullied or harassed at school can make a child feel unsafe, anxious, and fearful, and this can affect their academic performance.

5. Learning differences: Children with learning disabilities or differences may struggle to keep up with the pace of the class or find certain subjects challenging.

6. Social adjustments: Children may have difficulty adjusting to social situations at school, such as making friends or dealing with peer pressure.

7. Changes in routine: Changes in a child’s daily routine, such as a new schedule, can lead to difficulties with time management and organisation.

8. Family relocation: Moving to a new area can be stressful for a child, as they have to adjust to a new community, culture, and lifestyle.

Tips for parents to support children struggling in school

If your child is struggling in school due to the above reasons, we can support and approach the situation by:

Acknowledge the situation:

As a fellow parent, I believe it’s crucial to recognise our children’s struggles and show them that we understand the difficulties they’re going through. It’s essential to create an open and supportive atmosphere where our children feel comfortable sharing their emotions and worries without any fear of judgment.

Seek help:

If the child is experiencing health or learning difficulties, parents should seek professional help from a doctor, therapist, or educational specialist.

Children with ADHD may have an even more challenging time at school. They may struggle to focus on assignments, follow directions, or sit still for extended periods. Try to work closely with your child’s teacher to create a plan that supports their needs.  Here are some strategies you can discuss and begin with:

  • Breaking up assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Providing frequent breaks throughout the day allows the child to move around and refocus.
  • Using fidget toys or other tools to help the child stay focused.
  • Encouraging the child to use a planner or other organisational tools to stay on top of assignments

Provide stability and routine:

A stable routine at home can work wonders for our kids. Setting consistent bedtimes, meal times, and study schedules can give them a sense of structure and help ease their anxiety, especially in case they have gone through a change in the family.

When knowing what to expect each day, can help them feel more in control and confident in tackling their schoolwork. So, try to maintain a routine that works for your family and helps your kids thrive.

Offer emotional support:

If your kid’s going through any family changes or social adjustments, it’s important to offer them emotional support. Let them know that you’re there to listen and talk about their feelings. Provide reassurance and encourage them to use positive coping strategies like exercising, drawing, or spending time with friends.

With your help, they can navigate these challenges and come out stronger on the other side.

Encourage involvement:

As parents, we all want our kids to feel happy and confident in their school environment. One way to help is by encouraging them to get involved in school activities and meet new friends. By doing so, they can feel more connected to their new environment and boost their confidence.

Encourage your kids to join clubs, sports teams, or volunteer groups. Who knows, they might just discover a new passion and make some lifelong friends in the process!

Monitor progress:

We know that keeping up with our kids’ progress and communicating with their teachers can be a bit of a balancing act. But trust me, it’s worth it! By doing so, we can celebrate our little one’s successes, no matter how small, and offer extra support when needed.

Regular check-ins with teachers can also help us catch any potential issues early on and nip them in the bud. So, let’s stay in the loop, communicate with our kid’s educators, and give our children the boost they need to succeed!

What to do if your child has no friends at school

We all know that socialising at school is a key part of our kids’ development. Sometimes our little ones may need a little nudge in the right direction to get them started.

There are a few strategies we can try. For starters, we can encourage our kids to join extracurricular activities or clubs that cater to their interests. This can be a great way for them to connect with like-minded peers and find a sense of belonging.

Another approach is to help our children develop their social skills. Cue the role-playing! By practicing different scenarios with our kids, we can help them feel more confident in social situations. Teach them to listen actively, ask thoughtful questions, and show empathy towards others.

Every child is unique and has their own strengths and challenges when it comes to socialising. As parents, it’s essential to support our children in developing their social skills at a pace that works for them. We can encourage them to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, but we should also be mindful of their individual needs and temperament. The goal is for our kids to feel comfortable and confident in social situations, but it’s important to remember that not every child will be the life of the party, and that’s okay too!

Positive influence on behaviour

Let’s face it, we have a lot of power over our little ones – for better or for worse! So why not use that power for good by showing them some positive behaviour and attitudes towards education? Let’s throw a little party every time our kid does something great (even if it’s just tying their shoes!) and encourage them to take charge of their own learning. One way to do this is by setting some goals together – both small and big – and then really whoop it up when they reach them. This will help build up their confidence and show them that hard work pays off in the end. Plus, it’s a great excuse for a high-five or a victory dance!

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it’s okay if our children need a little extra help.

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