Let’s face it: school can be hard. Material can get complicated even for first graders (English spelling rules, anyone?) and technology entering the classroom doesn’t always make it easier. For many students, schoolwork is an uphill climb that never seems to stop and, as a result, some kids might struggle academically.
As a parent, it can be difficult knowing just how to help a child that’s struggling in school. After all, flashcards and storytime can only help so much. If you’re one of those moms or dads who spends their nights screaming to the stars, “My child is struggling in school, what do I do,” then this article is for you.
Let’s talk a little bit more about how to help kids and teens who are struggling in school.
Get to the Root of the Problem
Before you can tackle your child’s academic struggles, you need to find out why they’re struggling. There are myriad reasons a kiddo could be having a hard time in the classroom, and getting to the root of the problem will help you come up with an appropriate solution.
Is your kiddo unable to read the whiteboard? They may be among the 25% of kids that need glasses. Are they bored and disinterested in the material? Maybe they aren’t being challenged enough. Perhaps they have anxiety about attendance and need some help learning how to handle difficult emotions. If your child has a hard time sitting still and remaining focused on the teacher, a medical condition like ADHD could be affecting their ability to pay attention.
Meet with Your Child’s Teacher
Teachers wear so many hats. Sure, your child’s teacher is an educator, but they’re also a guide, a gardener, and a guru. They know your kiddo and their educational experience better than anyone—which makes them perfectly suited to help you attack your child’s educational issues head on.
Once you’ve figured out why your child is struggling, set up an appointment with their teacher to discuss their progress. When I taught first grade, I loved meeting with parents. Often, these conferences gave my fellow teachers and me the insight we needed to help our students succeed. At the meeting, ask your child’s teacher questions about their experience with your child. Then, work with them to create a learning plan specifically tailored to your kiddo. Just be prepared: you might walk away from the meeting with a little homework of your own. Education is a two-way street; it works best when emphasized at home and in the classroom.
Worried about taking time out of your busy day to drive to the school for your appointment? Don’t be! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have put measures in place that allow for online meetings. You can also reach out via email or classroom application like Canvas. Technology continues to impress!
Try Taking On a Tutor
With an entire classroom to worry about, teachers are pretty busy people. Unfortunately, your child’s teacher may not be able to spend as much one-on-one time with them as they need. This is where a tutor comes in.
If your little scholar is having a hard time understanding difficult or complex material, a tutor could be helpful. Some tutors are masters of a specific subject, whether that be math, language, or an obscure science like glaciology. Using this knowledge, tutors are able to help children understand material better by filling in any informational gaps they might have. Other tutors are the jack-of-all-trades type and can help your kiddo with a variety of subjects.
Tutors are especially beneficial because they help your child learn at a speed that works for them. While classroom teachers may go a bit too fast or slow for some students, tutors help kids learn at their pace. For kids with learning disabilities like dyslexia, this makes a huge difference.
Supplement Education with Games and Apps
We here at Troomi are pretty big fans of technology—especially when it comes to education. Smartphone games and applications, for example, make learning fun and accessible for kids of all ages!
In my first grade classroom, we had a few minutes every day dedicated to math and spelling games. The kids would pick up their assigned Chromebooks from the front of the classroom, take them back to their desks, and spend a few minutes practicing their math facts as they helped a cartoon bear save the world. These games got my students excited about learning, and the repetition really helped cement the knowledge in their brains.
If you’re not sure what educational apps your children should use, look no further than Troomi’s KidSmart® games and apps! Games like ABCmouse and Starfall help younger kids get excited about reading, math, art, and music. Click here to learn a little bit more about KidSmart® apps, then click here to check out the list of educational (and fun) games and apps available on Troomi smartphones.
Make Time for Meaningful Breaks
Did you know that taking breaks actually helps us learn? It’s true! Research shows that taking a purposeful break from studying or homework gives the brain a chance to rest and re-energize, so that it can continue working without any stress. Leonardo G. Cohen of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that “wakeful rest plays just as important a role as practice in learning a new skill. It appears to be the period when our brains compress and consolidate memories of what we just practiced.”
Next time your child is studying hard, encourage them to slow down and take a short break. Go on a walk, cook up a healthy snack, or do some mindful breathing exercises. Just remember: using social media or scrolling through their phone isn’t a restful break. In fact, taking a phone break mid-task actually makes tasks take longer to accomplish!
Remain an Encouraging Parent
Still asking yourself, “My child is struggling in school, what do I do?” Well, whe best way to help your children through their struggles is actually pretty simple: just be their parent.
It can be difficult knowing how to help kids that are struggling in school, but your encouragement and patience with their journey will do more for their self-esteem, and ultimately their performance, than you might think. Take some time to let your child know how much you love them and appreciate them, and remind them that their worth doesn’t come from how well they perform academically. They’re trying their hardest—and that’s enough.