4 Steps to Helping a Child Struggling in School

No parent wants to see their child struggle in school. It’s heartbreaking. But how can you tell if it is a casual problem or something more serious? What should you do?

Here are 4 simple steps to help you discover why your child is struggling in school:

1. Talk to your child.

If you have noticed that your child’s grades are starting to slide, sit down together and have a talk as soon as possible. Do not wait — it may cause more problems down the road. Your goal in this discussion is to be supportive and to discover what could be causing problems. Be empathetic, not discouraging. It may be that your child can’t see the board, or is struggling to hear the teacher. It could be a distracting classmate, a lack of confidence, or just that he/she doesn’t understand the information.

Does your child have a basic skills deficit? Can he/she read all the words in books, or spell the words he/she wants to use in a sentence? How is your child with reading comprehension and understanding what he/she is reading? Does your child struggle with basic computation skills, like addition and subtraction? These could be signs your child needs additional support.

Ask questions, take notes, and be supportive. Remind your child that you want to help make school easier.


2. Talk to your child’s teacher.

After speaking with your child, set aside time to talk to the teacher. Your child’s teacher may be able to shed light on why he/she is struggling. In fact, she may have observations of her own. Listen to your child’s teacher and share what your child told you (unless it is something your child does not want you to share). Work together to brainstorm a solution or some accommodations. It may be as simple as changing a seat assignment. Bottom line — get the teacher involved. If she does not know your child is struggling, she cannot help.


3. Talk to your child’s doctor.

If your teacher’s accommodations are still not helping, your child may be experiencing an underlying problem. Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss your concerns. Your doctor can determine if your child is struggling with vision or hearing, or dealing with neurological or developmental concerns. It will probably take more than one appointment before the doctor comes to a conclusion.


4. Talk to your child’s principal.

Set up an appointment with your child’s principal to voice your concerns and share your findings. If you have not yet found a solution, it may be time to request an evaluation to determine if your son has a disability. (Sometimes, schools may contact parents for permission to administer an evaluation.) You can submit a written request for your child to have a Multi-Factored Evaluation (MFE), which will help determine the cause of his struggles. The results of the evaluation will be instrumental in developing accommodations to help your son succeed.


In our next post, we will show show you how to request a Multi-Factored Evaluation. We will even provide you with an easy to use template. We will also review the timeline for requesting the MFE. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss this important information!

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About the Author

Dave Hoffman