Parenting is no cakewalk, as rewarding as it is, and when your child is falling behind at school, it can become even more challenging. While it seems like every day brings a new suggestion from a new expert about the best way to reward and motivate teachers, improve standardized test scores, and otherwise ensure every child gets the education he or she deserves, when your child is struggling to learn, these suggestions can take you on an emotional roller coaster ride that ranges from relief one day to despair the next.
Regardless of how you feel, however, when your child is failing, you need to take meaningful action to set things right. Here is a look some of the things you can do when your child’s learning has left the building.
It can be difficult to acknowledge how serious the problem is — to yourself, to your child’s teachers, and to your child — but without that acknowledgement, and the subsequent communication that can come on its heels, no solution is possible.
Set up appointments with your child’s instructors, and listen to what they have to say regarding your child’s academic performance. Ask questions, and work hard to avoid getting defensive. Seek out stories about times your child did and didn’t connect with a lesson, and be sure to take notes.
Once you have some information and insight, sit your child down and tell her you know she’s struggling. Be gentle but direct. It may be that something very specific is interfering with her schoolwork, but more often than not, the reasons for her difficulty will be more complex than a single conversation can absolve.
By starting to talk about her problems, however, you’re paving a path toward finding a solution, and you’re ensuring that all the players involved — you, her, and her school — are on the same page.
Consider Alternative Schooling
Sometimes, a traditional schooling environment isn’t going to have the resources needed to solve your child’s learning woes. If that’s the case, you may need to look into alternative schooling options. Whether you look into boarding schools known for their academic programs or you opt to home school your child so you can give him the individualized attention he needs right now, alternative schooling can jumpstart the learning process, ensuring he gets back on track educationally.
Get an Assessment
Even if you’ve had your child assessed for learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, and other troubles that would explain why she’s started to slump academically, it’s wise to get a second opinion. Some children’s complications aren’t as easily diagnosed as others, and while it will take extra time, and — in some instances — money, a thorough assessment will at least rule out what the causes of your child’s academic problems aren’t.
Get A Tutor
Whether your school system has a list of qualified and background-checked tutors or you enlist the aid of the college whiz kid next door, finding your struggling child a tutor may be all she needs to stop failing and once again start succeeding academically.
Some children need the assistance of a tutor just to keep their minds on the task at hand. Still others need the focused attention that one person can give them. Also, because a tutor will probably explain certain aspects of your child’s schoolwork to her differently than her teacher did, she’ll expand his opportunities for learning and understanding.
Some children are more prone to stress than others, and when they notice they’re starting to struggle in a subject, the ensuing anxiety can create an avalanche of trouble in every arena. Help your child reduce his stress by encouraging more time for play and fun that are intentionally not tied to any achievement measures.
Children in contemporary American society have a lot more pressure to shoulder than did their peers a few decades ago, and not all of them withstand that pressure well. It may be that your little one just needs to blow off steam and enjoy herself more regularly, and her academic failings will once again become successes.
Speaking of stress, what is it you expect of your child academically? Some parents are happy with A’s and B’s. Others demand A’s on every assignment and test. While every child and family culture is different, it may be time to revise some of your expectations of your child so that they better suit the person that she is.
While you need to ensure she still strives to achieve and works with consistency on her schoolwork, she simply might not be MIT material, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a wealth of other potential waiting to be developed.
Don’t stay passive when your child is struggling with schoolwork. With these approaches and options at the ready, you should be able to get him happily back on track — even if it takes some time and effort.