Far too often, parents do not realize their student is struggling in school until they see the report card or get a call from the teacher. They feel blindsided upon hearing that their student is not only skipping important assignments and projects but failing the class altogether. As a parent, you may have felt that you were keeping up to date on your student’s studies by asking questions about homework and school. However, this may not be enough; students have subtle ways of showing they are not progressing in school.
Here are some signs to look for that show your student may be struggling:
Avoids Talking About School
Parents love to ask the age-old question, “So how was school today?” If your student is a teenager, then you may receive the typical, one word response “Fine.” Many parents accept this answer as satisfactory and do not press for more information. Instead, always ask details and get the specifics. Ask questions about certain classes, find out what they like and don’t like about them.
Pay close attention to what their responses are. If your child continues to talk very little or becomes agitated with your questions, then it is possible they may not be doing so well. They may even try to change the subject or find ways to take the attention off themselves. Some students refuse to talk about school altogether, or get upset and angry when the topic is brought up. Their reaction to a conversation about school can give you an idea on how they are doing in their classes.
Never Has Any Homework
When you come home from work, you may find your child sitting on the couch, watching TV. You ask, “Have you already finished your homework?” Your child either responds with a “Yes”, or “I didn’t have any.” These two responses should immediately raise a red flag. If your child says they have already completed their homework, ask to see what they have worked on in order to check for any mistakes. If your student refuses to show their homework or says something along the lines of “I did it at school,” then there is chance they are avoiding completing their homework altogether.
In the case your student claims there was no homework, check Blackboard or whatever online system your child’s school uses. Many teachers post homework assignments and grades online for parents to see. The backpack may be another good way to see what they are working on in school. Often, folders and binders will contain the necessary take-home assignments. An absence of homework is a sign that your student may have given up on school, and is steadily falling behind.
Frequently “Sick” on School Days
You may notice that your student comes down with some sort of bug or illness on a regular basis. It is important to not rule out any serious symptoms, but be wary that these claims may be a way to avoid school. Your student could be using the “sick” card in order to get out of a big test, or to buy more time to complete a tough assignment. Perhaps they feel defeated when it comes to school in general, and do not want to attend when they feel they will not succeed.
Communicate with your student’s teachers to find out what issues they are having in school. Teachers are the best source of information when it comes to pinpointing the exact difficulties your student is having. Try e-mailing them at least once a week in order to stay current on the work that is being administered to your student, and always ask for instructional tips for homework help.
It is important to remain calm and supportive when discussing school with your student. Your mission is to help them succeed, and this cannot be done if you berate them for struggling or failing. It could be a great idea to seek a tutor who can help get them back on track, and monitor their progress in an unbiased way. Sometimes it takes an outside figure who will not judge or blame the student for their actions to take control of the situation.
If you find your student exhibits any of the signs mentioned above, do not use the “wait and see” method in hopes your student will take charge of their studies on their own. The longer you wait, the more likely your student will continue to regress and getting back up to speed becomes exponentially more difficult.