5 Signs a Student is Struggling in School

Smiling children.

Halls filled with the melodious sounds of laughter and glee.

Students bubbling with excitement during science experiments.

Heated group discussions bringing critical concepts to the fore.

Ah, the bliss of a perfect school environment.

struggling student in school

In an ideal world, all children enjoy learning, want to go to school every day, and are placed in an environment that encourages them to be the best they can be. However, the reality is that schools are filled with children with diverse needs and interests which makes it almost impossible to create an inclusive learning environment that makes learning fun.

Grades are a clear sign that a child is struggling in school. Nevertheless, there are several warning signs that you should look out for in your son or daughter so that you can help prevent those bad grades on the next report card. The academic struggle is often born from some type of psychological struggle. Here are some psychological red flags that you should look for to determine if your son or daughter is struggling in school.


Struggling to Sleep or Eat

Changes in your child’s sleeping and/or eating patterns can be an indication of anxiety or depression due to poor academic performance. The solution isn’t to purchase sleeping pills or take your child to an eating disorder specialist. Instead, you can:

  • Talk openly to your child without being judgmental
  • Visit the school and talk to your child’s teachers
  • Review your child’s notebooks to track progress


Negative Behavior Shift

A child who was normally calm but who is now aggressive and angry (or vice versa) may be struggling in school. Several reasons can be provided for sudden behavior shifts, but it’s a good idea to determine whether struggling in school is the main culprit. Speak with the school’s guidance counsellor to get a better idea of when the behavior shift began and how it has impacted your child’s grades. You may even need to schedule a few sessions for your child to see the guidance counsellor.


Taking Longer than Normal to Complete Homework

It’s good to have a homework schedule for your child. Although the difficulty level of homework will increase as your child advances in grade levels, a child who is consistently going beyond the homework schedule time may be struggling. Observe as your child completes homework and answer these questions:

  1. Does your child seem frustrated?
  2. Is your child doodling or doing something else to detract from doing the homework?
  3. Are more than 60% of the answers incorrect when you look over the homework? Granted, you may not be able to answer this question if it’s a subject area that’s unfamiliar to you.


Persistent Family Issues

Issues at home negatively impact your child. As the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) states, “The impact of everyday conflict between parents on their children’s behaviour and mental health is driven by how the children understand the problems in the relationship as well as the nature of the conflict itself.” Some children may become anti-social, others may become depressed, while many others may experience other psychological issues.

Persistent family issues place undue stress on a child. Researchers have found that there is a statistically significant link between stress levels and motivation. Without motivation, the chances of your child succeeding in school are slim. Your child will need a counselor if your family is experiencing conflict. Speak with the school’s guidance counselor or arrange for sessions with an external counsellor if that’s preferred.


No Longer Talks About School

Most children bemoan being forced to go to school but they still enjoy socialising and have a favorite class or two where they learn something. If your child has stopped talking about school altogether, that’s a warning sign that something may be wrong. Your child may be falling behind in class and, therefore, genuinely not have the slightest clue about what’s going on in school. Schedule meetings as quickly as you can with your child’s teachers to determine if your observations are correct.


Final Words

Bad grades are the final warning sign that your child is struggling in school. You want to catch the problems early enough so that you can address them before the mid-term and end-of-term exam periods. Look out for behavior changes, sleep or eating disorders, time for homework completion, the impact of family issues, and an overall disinterest about anything related to school. Collaborate with teachers and the school’s guidance counselor (or a preferred external counselor) to help your child perform at his or her best.

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