If you have a child that seems to excel at everything he or she does in the academic realm then you are very lucky. This is not something that every parent is able to report when speaking about their children. There are times when children struggle in school. When this happens it can be very stressful for the parents as well as for the child. However, there are ways to identify if your child is struggling. Once you are able to recognize the signs and verify there is an issue, you can begin the process of identifying what is creating the challenge. Every child is unique and parents need to play an active role in helping their children succeed at their education.
First, let us explore some of the common signs that you should look for when your child is struggling. One of the major signs of a struggling child is failing grades. This should be a red flag to any parent. Take the time to look at your child’s school work and progress notes. If you have not been receiving any graded papers from your child or their teacher, then you definitely need to call or email your child’s teacher and request a meeting. Communication is the key and you need to be vigilant with this otherwise, if not paying attention, your child could fall through the cracks and get too far behind to recover. I experienced this first hand this year with my daughter’s English teacher.
My daughter is in fifth grade and since the beginning of the year she has had a standing homework assignment. Each Monday a list of vocabulary words comes home for which she is to alphabetize them, write each word five times and then use each word in a complete sentence. The problem is that my daughter never seems to be familiar with the words, their usage or pronunciation. Each week she struggles and when I ask her why she always has the same comment, my teacher never goes over the assignment in class. I confronted the teacher, asked him about lessons and asked if he reviewed the homework in class on Fridays or if returned it to the students with comments later. Incredibly, his answer was neither. He told me that he just had an aide check it off as complete and then tosses them in the trash.
Another sign that your child is struggling may be an increase in anxiety when it is time to go to school. You might notice that every evening when it is time to prepare for the following day, your child becomes very anxious. A really large indicator of problems is when you attempt to take your child to school and they pretend to be sick or simply refuse to go. This can cause a lot of stress between parents and children. This is a signal that you need to open some lines of communication with your child, their teachers and perhaps other school officials to help determine what is going on. It could be as simple as your child has a test that they have not prepared for or complex as your child developing physically and mentally and them not knowing how to interpret the changes.
You may also notice that he or she does not want to discuss their day with you. As children enter Middle and High School this often happens as children become more independent. However, don’t give up just start asking better questions. Instead of how school was today or what did you learn today? You might try asking what was one thing that really struck you as funny, odd or interesting today in science or art class? I usually get an animated, lengthy story about how one of their friends or classmates asked a silly question or misinterpreted the assignment. These questions keep us talking and allow me a glimpse into my child’s life, I find out who their friends are and what issues are important to them right now.
Third, watch for behavior reports related to your child. The school should notify you if your child is getting into trouble while he or she is at school. If your child suddenly begins having behavior problems at school then you need to meet with all individuals that have an interest in or information about your child at the school including teachers, playground staff, parents, step parents, siblings and your child. You need to determine what is causing the behaviors. Do you know who your child’s friends are? Has there been a change at home such as a move, divorce, a sibling moving in or out, or heath issues that might affect your child’s behavior?
Now, there may be any number of reasons why your child may be struggling. Do your best to identify and eliminate any conflicts that may have there origins in the home. Once that is done, start with the obvious. He or she may have a difficult time hearing or seeing the chalkboard during the lessons. Ask the school nurse to test for hearing and site deficiencies and request your child be moved to the front of the classroom. He or she may be bullied by another student, group of students or even a teacher. There may be great stressors at home that are contributing to anxiety and an unwillingness to attend school a well. For this reason, it is important that you partner with school officials. Often those officials, counselors and teachers will recognize signs before the parent. Open, direct communication is the only way to begin helping your child.
Sometimes it is very easy to work with school professionals and teachers in order to get your child the help that he or she needs. Take Linda as an example. She began receiving reports that her daughter was not completing her assignments during class. Because of this, she was falling behind in her studies and her grades were dropping. Linda immediately contacted the school and her daughter’s teachers to determine what may be causing this problem and what they could do to help her.
Following a lengthy investigation between the teachers and Linda, it was discovered that Kasey was having trouble with a few of the other kids on the playground. She was overcome with stress and worry about what each day would hold for her and she was focusing on her fear rather than on her studies. Once the problem was made known, the school officials were able take the necessary steps towards decreasing the incidence, including talking with other parents, which alleviated Kasey’s stress. The teachers and principals agreed to communicate with Linda through email each week and she was given grade reports every week. She was able to have an effective relationship with the school that defiantly benefited her child.
This does not happen all of the time. Not all parents are this lucky. Actually, if you take some time and consider Adam’s story then you will see that there are some school officials that are not very helpful at all. Adam’s daughter was struggling with completing her work as well. The school did not bother to inform Adam of this issue and she finished the first nine weeks of the school year with failing grades. When Adam contacted the school to inquire as to why he had not been informed that his daughter was struggling in her classes, the teachers informed him that they had sent notes home with his daughter and that they did not receive any response from Adam. They had assumed he knew there was a problem and that he was dealing with the issue at home. Unfortunately, this was not the case and now his daughter was failing and was so far behind it was going to be near impossible to catch up.
Things like this happen all of the time. Parents need to remain in constant communication with their child’s teacher. They also need to speak to their children on a daily basis about what is going on at school and uncover any issues their child may be facing. Parents can not assume that all educators will communicate effectively with them. This was not the case with Adam and is too often not what happens.
When parents communicate with school officials they are able to help their children before it is too late. When parents are engaged they can also help determine what is causing the complications. It may be as simple as moving a child to the front of the class so that he or she can see the board. Problems can often be avoided or resolved quickly by having a child’s eyes or hearing evaluated. The bottom line is that parents need to play an active role in their child’s lives not just their education. They need to ask better questions and they need to insist that the school and teachers do the same.

Author's Bio: 

After graduating with a B.A in English, Leslie Youra continued her studies and earned a degree in Education as well. For almost a decade, she taught adults and teenagers ESL, GED preparation and basic skills as well as helping them to find their talents and use them to follow their passion in life. Along with her students, Leslie also helped teachers unlock hidden talents and find their purpose as well. She supervised, motivated and started hundreds of high school students on the road to lifelong learning, greater productivity and growth.