No matter how many hours they spend in the classroom, there will always be students who need extra help with their homework. Sometimes these are kids who have learning disabilities, but academically advanced students can struggle with certain subjects too. Concerned about your child? The following information can help you decide when (and how) to seek outside help.
Signs Your Student Is Struggling
A poor report card or consistently low test scores are obvious indications of a struggling student, but sometimes the signs are harder to see. Other, more subtle behavior indicators to look for include:
- Spending longer than indicated on assignments.
- Not completing homework.
- Getting easily frustrated or distracted.
- Skipping school.
- Poor conduct in the classroom.
- Becoming anxious at the mention of school.
- Making careless errors.
- Not working at grade level.
How to Help Your Struggling Student
While difficulty in school can be frustrating for both children and parents, there are steps you can take to ensure that your struggling student gets the help he or she deserves.
Find the problem areas.
Students struggle in school for a variety of reasons — an undiagnosed reading delay, the need for stronger study skills, or a poor understanding of basic math concepts, just to name a few. Consider diagnostic testing if you aren’t sure where your child truly needs help.
Look for underlying issues.
Bullying, disappointments, undiagnosed illnesses, or recent changes in family dynamics like births, deaths, or divorce can all affect school performance. If this is the case, academic intervention won’t fix the problem — and you may need to seek help from the appropriate professionals.
Talk to the teacher.
Teachers are a wealth of information. They can offer insight into your child’s behavior and performance at school, as well as valuable recommendations of educational books and websites that can provide extra guidance for you and extra practice for your child.
Get more involved.
Parental involvement in education is a key predictor of academic success. If you aren’t sure how to get more involved, you may benefit from a Parent Coach, an individual who has been specifically trained to help parents capitalize on learning opportunities in everyday life.
Hire a tutor.
One-on-one instruction makes a tremendous difference for a student who can’t keep up in a class of 20 or 30 other kids. You may be able to find a competent classmate or older student willing to help, but if your student is really struggling, a professional tutor may be worth the expense.
Compare online tutors, large companies like Sylvan, and locally-owned tutoring companies in your area to determine who can best empower your child to succeed.
Take advantage of community programs.
Many community organizations host educational camps, classes, and after-school programs, which can be a great opportunity for kids to participate in fun, learning-based activities outside of the classroom.
Enroll your student in a class or camp in a subject where he struggles, or choose one where you know he will excel. The former will provide extra practice and instruction, but the latter will boost self-esteem — and serve as a positive reminder of how much fun learning can actually be.
by Alyssa Chirco
Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, parenting blogger, and mother of two from St. Louis. A graduate of Washington University with degrees in English Literature and Film Studies, she now spends her days playing Legos, diffusing sibling rivalry, and hoping her house will magically clean itself. Alyssa is also a contributing editor for ParentingSquad.com, and a Guest Perspectives Blogger for Dr.Greene.com.