It's fairly common that a child might struggle in school. Challenges could range from personal, behavioral, intellectual, and social, so chances are your child at some point or another might face struggles academically.
Although gaining an education is important for future professional success and a staple of being able to function in daily life, at what point should we draw the line of being concerned over standardized tests and report cards? Teachers can only help a student so much, yet parents have the ability to encourage their child by advocacy, involvement, and constructive yet empathetic communication. Even though it is not a guarantee that your child will receive top grades, the struggle will be lessened by the confidence promoted in your child.
10 Express Concern & Intervene Early
Mother's intuition, which is a 'gut feeling' or an intuitive inkling, can be a powerful indication that tells you that something isn't right for your child. If you feel like your child might be behind, socializes or plays differently than other children their age, or isn't meeting developmental milestones at appropriate expectations, it's important to express concern early, even if it's before your child is school-aged.
It's proven that developmental disorders such as autism or communicative delays have a higher success rate in treatment if therapy is intervened at an early age.
9 Be Involved At The School
Showing your child that you have an interest in their learning can also be very encouraging to a child who is struggling in school. Even if you aren't able to actively volunteer because of work schedules, lack of transportation, or physical limitations, keeping open and consistent communication with your child's educators allows you to be informed of your child's progress.
Showing interest and being involved at your child's school also shows that you are readily available to give support. It validates to your child that their intellectual, emotional, and mental needs are important to their parents.
8 Advocate For Support
Realistically, not all children receive adequate support needed through the educational system. It could be caused by overcrowded classrooms, lack of teachers and educational assistance, or your child is one who 'slipped through the cracks.'
In every classroom, it's estimated at least 2-3 children have a specific learning disability, which doesn't include the other children who have developmental and behavioral disorders. Despite your child struggling, teachers may brush off the fact that your child needs extra assistance. Advocating for what your child needs to excel in school may require persistence.
7 Highlight Your Child's Strengths
Intelligence isn't only measured by what you can achieve academically. In fact, there are nine types of intelligence: naturalist, musical, logical-mathematical, existential, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, intrapersonal, and spatial. Therefore, their strengths may not shine as brightly as they should when school generally only measures academic performance.
Giving your child the opportunity to develop and practice what they're already strong at can be helpful in developing confidence. The confidence gained by doing something your child already excels at can be a great encouragement to stay resilient in school.
6 Focus On Your Child - Not The Grades
Report cards and standardized tests base grades on 'normative assessments,' which compares one test-taker to another. Yet, said best by Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Even if your child doesn't score top grades in school, it's imperative that you as a parent stays mindful of how far your child has come. Focusing on your child, instead of grades, can be a great assurance to your child. Remind them that as long as they put in the effort, tries their best, and perseveres through academic challenges, you won't be let down.
5 Value Your Child's Expression
Letting your children communicate how school is making them feel can be more than just verbal expression. Some children struggle to identify feelings such as apprehension, anxiety, or strife. If you acknowledge they may be having a hard time at school, and talking about it doesn't seem to help, perhaps expression needs to be attempted with a different method.
Some examples that could be helpful for promoting expression in children are music, singing/dancing, art, athletics, writing, and exploring nature. If they have a way of channeling overwhelming feelings, like school-related anxiety, into a method of expression, it will help ease the severity and duration of struggling in school.
4 Discuss The Benefits Of School & Not Just The Academics
There are so many benefits to school other than just grades. Of course, we want our children to learn the necessary skills to be able to efficiently function in life, like having adequate training to obtain decent employment in adulthood. However, children also learn about themselves, how to socialize with other children who range in ages, and to appreciate the importance of community.
Teachers and educational staff at school become additional emotional and mental support for your child. Peers and friends also play an important role in developing who your child is.
3 Chunk Time References
12 years of required schooling can be a long time for your child to consider, especially if they are still in elementary school. This can lead them to become quickly discouraged, particularly if they are struggling in academic, social, or behavioral areas.
Chunking up time references such as elementary school, middle school, and high school could be an "easier pill to swallow," so to speak. It could also be helpful to discuss with your child that after high school, they could pursue post-secondary, trade, or career in an area that they enjoy or already excel in.
2 The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Schooling doesn't last forever. Even though we never stop learning in life, the knowledge we gain won't always be measured by grades or quality. Sometimes the only time one truly shines is when one is in their element and impartial to judgment.
Reminding your child that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel can help when they are struggling in school. All of the experiences they gained in school, both good and bad, will strengthen their coping skills that will be helpful in dealing with future stressors. Developing a healthy mindset at an early age will promote a happier outlook on life.
1 Be Mindful of What You Say
Words spoken to a child by a parent eventually becomes the child's inner voice. Since what you say is so influential to your child's sense of self, it can easily bolster or cripple their self-esteem. Parents don't want to feel as if they need to tiptoe around their children, but they can be mindful of what they say, especially on subjects that the child is already sensitive in.
Even though you want your child to do well, being mindful of words and tone of voice spoken when you are talking about school can make a big impact. Remember, you are your child's biggest advocate, supporter, and inner voice. Use words wisely.