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What Not To Do When Your Child Is Struggling At School (And What To Do Instead)


School struggles can manifest in any number of ways – from bad grades, to peer problems, and more. But these problems don’t just stay in the classroom – they can negatively affect both the student’s and parent’s well-being at home too. A struggling student can easily lead to a stressed out parent.

It’s easy to get distracted from the underlying causes and instead place blame on other factors. To help you resist this tendency and ultimately give your children the educational support they need, we’ve defined four common reactions to avoid, and positive strategies to use instead.

Avoid the Assumptions

What not to do:

Assume that you know the cause of the problem. While it may seem that your child is simply resisting or not focusing on school work, this is usually just a symptom of a deeper issue.

What to do instead:

Get to the root of the issue. Speak with your child as well as his or her teacher to get to the bottom of what’s contributing to the problem. By understanding where the problems are coming from, you and your child will be able to both confront them and fix them, together.


Subtract the Distractions

What not to do:

Let your child do homework in front of the TV. Children who are distracted by external factors take longer to complete the work, and rarely work at full capacity.

What to do instead:

Build a comfortable homework station where your child has all of the right tools at arm’s reach. The station should be comfortable and customized to your child’s needs and interests and should be a spot to retreat from household noise where your child can focus on the work at hand.


Start Asking Questions

What not to do:

Ask “how was your day?” without follow-up questions about school and class. Most children (and adults, for that matter) are likely to just say “fine” when posed with this question, even if a problem or struggle is occurring.

What to do instead:

Ask specific questions about school every day based on what you know is going on in class. Talk about anything from the test your child had to what he or she did at recess. Fostering open communication with your child shows that you can be talked to with no fear of being reprimanded.


Follow The Rules

What not to do:

Tighten up existing homework rules – such as when homework is done at night. While having a routine is beneficial for children, if existing rules aren’t working to your child’s benefit, it may be time to re-evaluate.

What to do instead:

Make a new rule or routine. Ask your child when he or she wants to do homework, and what works/ doesn’t work with the existing rules. Creating a routine together presents many benefits from making your child will feel that his/her opinion is valued, to creating a routine that meets your child’s specific strengths and preferences. Together these lead to happier students and higher quality work being done.


Most children ultimately face school struggles at one point or another. When this happens, make sure to give them the support they need. Use open communication to make sure you each properly understand the issue. Then, provide students with the resources they need and a safe, healthy working environment to help them on their way. Getting to the bottom of school struggles early on will help prevent issues from coming back later.

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