Do you suspect your child is having problems in school? Are they having trouble with homework, or are they not acting as they usually do? Whether they attend a private or public school, it often doesn’t matter. As you know, childhood is difficult: hormones are changing, new social pressures arise, and social media poses new problems we haven’t altogether confronted.
If you believe your child is struggling in school, you’ll need to keep a careful watch. Read our warning signs of school problems, courtesy of NeuroHealth in Arlington Heights, IL.
1. Talking About School Becomes Off Limits
If your child has always talked about what’s going on in school and then stops doing so, something could be wrong. They could be spending too much time on their tablets as a way to escape. This may add to the problem.
Your child may have school problems if they’re simply bored. Boredom may stem from an inability to understand a subject.
Your child may also have school problems if they suffer from learning difficulties. There are many common learning difficulties, from subject-specific learning disorders to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (otherwise known as ADHD).
2. Your Child Doesn’t Feel Challenged at School
This major warning sign is one that typically hides in plain sight: when a child complains about being bored with school.
In some cases, the boredom may be a kind of coping mechanism. This happens when the child cannot understand the material and decides to disengage from it entirely.
In other cases, such boredom may affect very gifted children. If they do not feel challenged by their curriculum, then even the smartest children may get bad grades because they don’t care about class.
It’s even possible for precocious or gifted children to think their homework is beneath them. Children who don’t feel challenged by the material they’re working on are more likely to lose interest in and not put effort into their work.
When children say they are bored by school, it’s important for parents to discover the source of that boredom. It may be that a change in study habits or even a change in classroom environment may cure their boredom.
If this is the case, have a candid conversation with your child and teacher. Tell them that if they do the work and prove they’ve mastered it that they can potentially take more advanced courses.
3. Your Child Seems Distracted or Disorganized
From talkative classmates to cluttered workspaces, classrooms can often be overwhelming and distracting to kids. And some kids are more negatively impacted by this type of external stimuli than others.
If your child is struggling due to distractions, talk to the teacher to see if there are ways to reduce the stimuli, or ask your child what they’d need to be able to better focus.
You should also confirm their distraction isn’t secretly some form of school anxiety, as some kids who are stressed out by schoolwork or other students may choose to mentally check out. It’s also possible, however, that your child is struggling because of organizational issues they have at school. If your child is spending time looking for their materials or trying to keep themselves organized at school or home, they won’t be able to effectively learn the materials.
4. Teachers Voice Concerns
It can be very easy to dismiss any concerns teachers raise about your child. After all, you know them best—right? The way forward is to engage with the teacher and work together as a team—the teacher, your child, and you.
Teachers may well be spending more time with your child on a weekday than you are. They may see things that you don’t; it’s important to be open to the issues your child’s teacher raises. Misbehavior could be a cry for help.
5. Too Much Time Spent on Homework
Bear in mind that some teachers will give out more homework than others. It’s important that you have a general idea about how much homework your child is normally given on any particular day.
If you notice a pattern of excessive time spent on homework, your child may be encountering school problems. This might be a sign for more help. Check in on your child. They may be spending longer on a subject to master it.
6. Bad Scores Despite Studying
Parents typically view bad scores as a simple equation. If a child fails a test, that must simply mean they did not study hard enough!
This is why it is important for parents to take an active role in their child’s study habits. Such help gives the parent a chance to personally evaluate if the child thoroughly studied for an upcoming exam.
If the child studied thoroughly and still did poorly on the test, it may be a sign of a deeper issue. For example, the child may be struggling with a learning disability and not even know it.
Parents who suspect a child may have a learning disorder should consult with both the child’s school and local physicians for additional screenings and advice.
7. Changes in Friends or Activities
It could be that your child has suddenly stopped pursuing an activity you know they used to enjoy. Have they also started hanging out with a new set of friends? Such a big change could also mean something is amiss at school and needs sorting out.
This could also be accompanied by lower grades. If you’re a busy parent it can be easy to simply put this down to your child not understanding the benefits of education. However, it could mean that your child is struggling a bit.
8. Sudden Changes in Behavior and Attitude
Some main signs that a child is struggling with their classwork are not academic. For example, a major sign is if they have a sudden change in their behavior or attitude.
If a child previously loved school and no longer wants to be there, it may be their way of expressing their academic struggle. Such children may even try to fake illness to avoid going to school.
Another example is when a previously well-behaved child is suddenly misbehaving at school. Such bad behavior may be their way of lashing out at the teaching and materials that they no longer understand. This is commonly referred to as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
In such cases, parents should not assume simple discipline will fix the problem. Instead, they should try to determine why their child is struggling and how they can best help.
9. Problems with Sleeping and Eating
Most children need 8-10 hours of sleep every night to be able to properly function. So, if your child is playing video games or staying up too late that may explain why they’re doing poorly in school.
If this is the case, implement a bedtime and take away their cell phone or computer to reduce their exposure to the kind of blue light that makes sleeping more difficult.
Additionally, they may be struggling because of poor nutrition. Kids who skip breakfast or go to school hungry tend to be more distracted and unable to focus. So, make sure your kid has a hearty breakfast and has the snacks they need to keep their energy up throughout the school.
If your child is aware they’re having problems keeping up at school, they may be worried. Children are often anxious to please and may feel they’re letting you down if they’re slipping behind.
What to Do if Your Child’s Struggling in School
If you believe your child can’t focus on homework or if you believe they’re struggling in school, don’t get overwhelmed. The reasons are varied and the signs are different. The best bet is to keep an open dialogue with your child at all times. That way, you’ll always have the opportunity to step in, help, and encourage. Your child will be well on their way to prevent academic probation and to succeed in school.
Contact NeuroHealth Arlington Heights for Consultation
Even if your child is college-bound or is in college already, they may be struggling still. At NeuroHealth, we’ll provide expert consultation for your child, no matter the age. If you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule an appointment, please contact our Chicagoland facility. We’re happy to assist you and your family.