When children are doing poorly in school, adults often jump to the conclusion that it’s only about their grades or their achievements in class. This is not always the whole story. A student struggling in school could be going through a lot of things. Things that are often hidden from the surface.
As a student who went through a lot of emotional ups and downs during my formative years, I know this to be true. Students aren’t always simply struggling with the material or content. Often, they are falling victim to other issues that trouble young kids.
Trouble in School
When a child is being bullied in school, this severely impacts their ability to be successful. Bullying often causes self-harm, depression, anger, and many other troubling things. All things that can negatively impact a child’s experience in the classroom or at recess. If your child is exhibiting signs of being bullied or is perhaps the bully, seek intervention from the school counselor. They are trained professionals and can offer additional resources to help stop the bullying.
This impacts students far more than parents or teachers can know. There are approximately 12 million students across the United States who experience food insecurities. Many of these students can be found in rural areas as well as intercity schools. Malnutrition causes lack of energy and inability to focus and can lead to rapid grade decreases. It’s important for parents and teachers to know that if a child is struggling in school – it could be starting in the home.
No Connections with Teachers
Having a teacher in school that you trust and respect can be huge. Especially for young children. If your child has not developed a positive relationship in their school, this can be very detrimental. Teachers are role models for their students. Without role models, kids can begin to make poor choices or go down rough roads. Help your child develop a positive relationship with a teacher in school. That way, if they are struggling, they have someone to talk to as well as someone to push them to work harder.
Trouble at Home
Changes in the structure of a child’s household impact them much more than we know. Whether they are moving from their childhood home or their parents are going through a divorce, these changes have the power to impact a child’s performance in school. This makes those teacher connections even more important. Teachers who understand what changes are affecting their students can help prepare them for the changes as they approach. This is the same for parents.
Changes to a families’ income status can also affect a student’s grades. If mom or dad gets laid off from an important job, this often leads to changes that students aren’t always prepared for. Be aware of how this might impact your kids and try to get ahead of it. Teachers – be on the lookout for students who aren’t assimilating well and offer strategies.
For single child families, this isn’t so much of a worry. But for families like mine (five kids and two parents), sibling disputes are a real issue. I fought with my sister all the time and this definitely impacted me at school. I found myself getting distracted by my emotions and getting behind in lessons. Watch how your children interact with each other and be sure whatever dispute they have doesn’t follow them to class.
Trouble with Life
Anxiety or Depression
Students suffering from anxiety or depression have a high chance of failing classes. This is due to the emotional stress one is under when they go through what I call “emotional slumps” or the extreme lows. These disorders are not to be ignored. If you think your child may be experiencing symptoms of these common ailments, speak to a medical professional immediately. Get ahead of the emotional trauma and do what you can to ensure your child doesn’t get behind in school because of it.
Fear of Failure
This one is all too real for the “perfectionist” student. These students love holding themselves to high expectations and pushing themselves to be the best. And there is nothing wrong with that – until they don’t reach those expectations. Fear of failure can result in lowered motivation and lack of confidence – two very devastating emotions. If you have a student who strives to be perfect, help them set realistic yet challenging goals. Teach them that failure is a key aspect of learning and success.
Lack of Motivation
People often call these children lazy. The reality is that these students are likely focusing their efforts elsewhere. Maybe they are a tremendous soccer player, a top player in the world of Call of Duty, or a devoted humanitarian. No motivation in school is hard to get through, but it isn’t the end of the world. For teachers, offering incentives can be hugely helpful. Whether that’s a pizza party for a high class average on a test. Or a promise to have open computer time after a project. Incentives can be powerful tools when wielded responsibly.