The school year has begun!
It’s an exciting time for you and your children, so many new milestones, fun new activities, and learning that will take place this year. The school year can bring more than a chance to learn something new into your household though. It can mean more stressful evening and morning routines, and the anxieties of school failure.
School failure is often defined as repeating a grade, expulsion, and or dropping out of school early. However, children that are significantly below grade level for reading, math or social skills raise concern. Some students that graduate from high school may not be sufficiently proficient in requisite skills if they suffered from school failure at some point in their academic career.
There are steps that you can take as a parent to help your child if you start noticing signs of potential school anxiety, underperformance, and apathy towards school. Children who aren’t doing well often say they “hate” school, or become averse to speaking up for fear of being wrong or ridiculed. If your child has: stopped loving their sports or after school activities, their grades have dropped from A’s to C’s and D’s, or they are hanging out with completely different friends at their school than before, it may be time to step in to help your child.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher
Scheduling a time to talk to your child’s teacher, outside of the regular parent-teacher conferences can help you get a better idea about the subjects and areas where your child may be having issues. Their teachers can also help you by telling you what they observe about what is happening in their classrooms with your child.
A few key questions to ask can be: Have their participation levels dropped? Are they sitting or hanging out with different students than before? Is my child just tired, bored, or uninterested in the subject material, or are they actually overwhelmed by the work? Have you seen a change in their attitude towards you or their class?
These questions can help give you the answers you need to be able to support and guide your child.
Ask What Questions Not Why
When you talk to your child about their school performance ask “what” questions, not” why” questions.
“What” questions prompt your child to explain the facts of what is happening and their behavior. “Why” questions tend to get answers that are more like excuses and tend to have the child looking to shift blame for their anxieties, behaviors, and performance.
Simply sitting down in a quiet space and telling your child what you’ve observed lately with them and their school performance can be instructive. “I see your grades are slipping below what we know you can do,” or “We’ve noticed you becoming more irritable/don’t want to get out of bed lately/you’re getting in trouble for silly things like talking when its quiet time.”
Then ask them, “What is happening that is making you….? What is happening that makes you not like subject x or y?”
Once you and your child talk it will be easier to help support them at home with the help that they may need.
Help Your Child Manage Their School Work
Children need supervision, structure, and support to make sure that they are completing their work correctly and feel that they are being held accountable. Once you speak with their teachers, find out if there is extra help offered for subjects they are struggling in at school or in after school tutoring, etc. Be sure to support them with extra time and review at home in those tricky areas.
As always in these kind of situations everything may seem like its happening only to you and your family, and that can add stress to an already stressful situation. But it isn’t! There are many resources, and helpful advice out there for you. One of the first resources can be our Pediatricians, who can help direct inquiry into different issues both at home and at school, as well as help figure out the next steps. We have appointments open and ready so give us a call at 540-349-3225 for Warrenton Pediatrics and 571-446-0700 for Linton Hall Pediatrics!