Your third-grader brings home a reading test for you to sign, and your heart sinks when you see the red F at the top of the paper, and “how did you study for this test?” underlined with big, bold letters. Your child is crushed as he shows you the paper. Your first thought is to reassure him and then ask: What’s going on here? Is the work really too hard? Does he need extra help? How will this affect his confidence? Will he lose his motivation to do well in school?
Below are eight simple questions and strategies to get your child back on track:
1. Is there an emotional reason for your child’s dwindling performance? If your child’s performance suddenly deteriorates, as opposed to a gradual decline in grades, it is important to recognize that something significant may be happening to your child socially or emotionally. Triggers such as bullying, problems with a friend at school, or an illness may be the cause. An assessment by a professional or a conference with the guidance counselor may be necessary.
2. Has your child “fallen through the cracks” at school? Has the work load become too difficult? Does your child understand the content of the material? Is he struggling to learn part of the material? Being left behind happens quite often in classroom situations. The teacher has moved onto a new topic and your child is now lost because the information she taught previously was needed to build upon for the next lessons. In a typical classroom with 20 or more, children can quickly get bogged down and the teacher does not have the time or resources to go back and re-teach to your child. One-on-one remediation is essential in this situation in order to go back and learn the concepts he missed.
3. Be aware of your child’s strengths and weaknesses are in school. We do want to challenge our children, but we don’t want them to simply give up because they don’t understand the material. If your child truly can’t do the work, schedule a meeting with the teacher to ensure your child is being given work at his level.
4. Know what subjects are struggles for your child and be prepared to review the material often. Subjects, like math, where concepts build upon each other, may cause trouble for the rest of the school year if you miss one essential concept.
5. Become a study partner with your child. Sit down with your child and review the vocabulary words. Many children need to participate in a discussion with a peer or an adult to grasp and retain information.
6. Provide a consistent place where your child can focus and do his homework and study. Some children need to sit at a desk, others do better on a yoga ball, and some kids like to lie on the floor while working.
7. Ask your child’s teacher if these grades are consistent with his classroom performance. What recommendations does she have to improve the grades? Does she see a learning issue? Tell the teacher what you see going on at home and where you see your child’s struggles.
8. Ask your child why they think they are struggling…they usually know the answer.
Bad grades can ruin a child’s confidence and put a damper on going to school. Take steps in the right direction to help your child improve their grades. If you are looking for help, Little Scholars is available to provide one-on-one tutoring to improve your child’s grades. Contact Little Scholars at www.littlescholarsllc.com/contact-us/.