It is normal for children to occasionally struggle and have varied levels of school performance. Sometimes additional help from a teacher or tutor may be enough to increase skills and confidence. Parents and caregivers can support a child who may be struggling in school by offering praise for hard work and achievements (even if they differ from traditional benchmarks) and encouraging them to try new things. Additionally, teaching the child to focus on the learning process (rather than the outcome) and supporting a child’s interests in areas outside of school can help build confidence. It is also important to minimize school absences.
When to Seek Help:
If academic problems persist, it is important to talk with both the child and the school. In some cases, consultation with a healthcare professional may be recommended to determine whether the issues are related to a learning or mental health disorder.
Parents and caregivers should take note if a child experiences academic warning signs that may indicate a learning or health issue.
Warning Signs Include:
- Regular school refusal or avoidance.
- Homework refusal.
- Boredom at school.
- Lower grades than typical for child.
- Decreased confidence regarding school.
- Regular disciplinary actions (i.e., detention or suspension).
If a child continues to struggle in school, it is important for parents and caregivers to keep a record of specific incidents. Additionally, the frequency, intensity, and duration of occurrences should be noted. This information will help the healthcare professional determine next steps, which can include achievement testing, testing for specific learning or attention problems and/or other factors that may be contributing to academic difficulties for the child.
Sometimes caregivers consider removing children from school to avoid these difficulties. In the long run, removal from school can lead to additional social and academic problems and does not address the issues leading to these difficulties. Work with your child’s school and/or Special Education Department to develop a plan to identify and support the learning needs of the child.