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Why Is My Child Getting Bad Grades – Part 1


Child struggling to study
Every parent wants their child to get good grades and succeed in school. So when your otherwise great child comes home with a bad report card, it can take you by complete surprise.

Bad grades usually show up around middle school, which is a time of major change in a child’s life. They’re experiencing social changes, they’re on a hormonal roller coaster, and they now have multiple teachers and more challenging subjects.

It’s critical to identify the underlying cause of bad grades as early as possible. Talk to your child openly and find out what’s going on together. If they’re trying hard and still not getting a good grade in a particular subject, it could mean your child needs extra help or that the subject is just not their strong point.

Under other circumstances, bad grades could be caused by poor study habits that can be modified to help your child make the grades you know he or she is capable of.

We frequently see eight particular trouble spots that negatively impact learning.  The good news is we can help!

Eight Trouble Spots That Lead to Bad Grades

1. Reading Ability

By the time a child reaches the third grade, the emphasis at school goes from learning to read, to reading to learn. If reading abilities are lagging, it will negatively impact every subject (even math).

If they can’t read or write well, they won’t be able to understand their homework instructions or test questions. They won’t have the confidence to participate in classroom discussions or complete essay assignments.

Fostering a love of learning starts with fostering a love for reading. The earlier you read to your child the better, but it’s never too late to start. Go to the library with your kids. Let them pick out books they think they’ll enjoy. Read the story to them and talk about what’s happening. Point out things in the pictures that are not described in the story. Ask questions. What was their favorite part of the book?

You don’t have to stop at picture books or chapter books. Read anything! Blogs, magazines, and newspaper articles. Read signs, recipes, and anything else that sparks their curiosity.

If you make reading a fun activity, your child will make a positive connection between reading and learning.

2. Being Disorganized

Being perpetually disorganized and adhering to hectic schedules can cause a host of problems with school work. Children are naturally routine oriented and perform best when they know what to expect.

Establish a routine early on. Wake your child at the same time each day, make time for breakfast, and leave at the same time for school. Set up a study area and time of day for homework (ideally when you are home so you can help, if need be).

Encourage children to use a daily agenda. An agenda will help them remember their assignments, homework due dates, extracurricular events, and so on. Encourage them to read their agenda before school and right after school so they know what to prioritize.

Give them a different binder for each class and encourage them to take notes. If there’s something they don’t understand they can refer to their notes and ask the appropriate questions. Try using colour coded inserts to label subject matter to make it easier to for them to return to when studying.

3. Lack of Communication

Communication is key, and everyone needs to do their part. Teachers need to communicate effectively to establish what’s expected. Parents should also get involved and ask their kids about homework and offer to help if they need it. Students need to feel comfortable asking their teachers and parents questions.

If a bad report card comes home, talk about it rather than fight about. Your child should not feel threatened by a bad grade; he or she should feel comfortable coming to your for guidance. If the teacher indicated a lack of effort, try to maintain your cool and avoid using blaming language that will cause an argument.

Part of effective communication is effective listening. When your child seeks your help, make sure you put down the paper, turn off the TV or set down your phone. Look your child in the eye when they’re speaking and give your undivided attention.

Not only will you understand the problem at hand better, but your child will feel you are invested in helping to resolve it.

4. Trouble Focusing

In our fast-paced, tech-driven world, with its endless supply of information at our fingertips, we have an ample supply of distractions. Our phones beep with every text, email, and social media update.

These days it takes a greater effort for children to concentrate on the task at hand or to sit still and listen to the teacher.

If your child carries a cell phone, teach him or her about when it’s appropriate to use it and when it’s not. Just like at the movie theater, phones  shouldn’t be on while class is in session or while studying at home.

Too often, we forget that paying attention is a learned skill. As parents and teachers, we need to help children build the skills needed to be good at focusing.

Looking for trouble spots 5 through 8?

Read Part 2

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