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Signs Your Child is Struggling in School and How YOU Can Help!

As parents, we work incredibly hard and with tireless (even though we’re really tired) dedication to ensure that our children have the best possible start in life. We try to be there to encourage them over the different hurdles that they face and help them up when they fall.

But when it comes to the issue of struggling in school, we can be clueless about the best steps to take and even what we should be looking out for. Some children mask their emotions and levels of distress if they’re struggling whilst others act out. It can be a minefield and a hot-button emotional topic for parents. A lot of parents sometimes feel as if their hands are tied when it comes to matters to do with schools.

Here are some signs that your child may be struggling in school, what may potentially be causing the issue and what you, as a parent or caregiver, can do to help.

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How Do I Know If My Child Is Struggling In School?

There are a number of key warning signs that may indicate trouble in school. If you notice any of these it may be well worth your while to get in touch with the school to ask for their observations or request to see the school guidance counsellor or chaplain.

These excellent indicators come courtesy of Very Well Family.
• Your child may refuse to discuss any aspect of schooling with you
• Your child exhibits a major change in attitude regarding school, homework, teachers and even friends
• Your child may be spending what you consider to be an excessive amount of time on their homework
• Your child’s behaviour may have shifted at school and they may be getting into trouble
• Your child’s teacher may have written to you or spoken about a concern as to the child’s aptitude, concentration, behaviour or social circle
• Your child may have issues with eating or sleeping
• Your child may have a noticeable (negative) change in grades or achievement

You may be seeing some, all or none of the above changes in your household. Upheaval at school can have a trickle-down effect that will play out negatively in your home. This may be causing your family distress and tensions may be running high. This discord may be further exacerbating the problem and your child may well be highly stressed both at home and school – a horrible emotional place to be in.

teenager studying books concentrating // struggling in school

What Causes Children To Struggle In School?

There are a vast amount of possible reasons that your child may be struggling in school. When you are searching for possible causes, ensure you do not use language that in any way blames the child or causes them to feel shame. Do not poke or prod to the extent that they withdraw from your questioning.

If in doubt, consult the services of a professional. Some of these causes require the hand of a specialist whilst some may be able to be addressed by your GP. Take advantage of any and all help that the school has to offer in order to extend your ‘parenting village’.

Word to the wise – discussing your child’s struggles in school with friends, family and colleagues who do not have professional insight may cause you to be overwhelmed with advice. Some of that advice may be helpful but a lot will possibly be counter-intuitive. Your child’s privacy is of the utmost importance so ensure that you do not unnecessarily breach their trust and cause them to feel ashamed.

boy frustrated covering ears

Here are some reasons why your child may be struggling in school:

• An undiagnosed learning disability, cognitive impairment, visual impairment, aural impairment or some other condition may be manifesting as your child becomes older and the classroom environment changes.
• Your child may be feeling bored if they are doing work that they are already capable of. Not feeling challenged may be causing them to withdraw or rebel which could have a knock-on effect on their school work.
• Some children struggle in school because their accumulated social skills are at a lower level than their classmates. This includes things like the ability to adjust and adapt, resilience, the ability to focus, the ability to control themselves and the ability to use critical thinking skills and socialise. Not having a firm grasp on these factors may be a reason for their struggle.

Your child’s individual struggles will be their own and this is a puzzle that you, as the parent, must unpack.

mum talking to daughter while holding hands on couch

How Do I Help My Child?

As has been previously mentioned, consulting with the appropriate professionals is the best step that you can possibly take. Gather as much information from the school as possible and use that as your ammunition to get your foot in the door with the right person. Talk to your GP first to ask for their advice and to get referrals.

You can make your home a place of peace and refuge. If your child is upset all day at school, make sure that home is a safe space of calm and consistency. Yelling and fighting every night about homework will not put your child in the frame of mind for an attitude adjustment. Think about how you would like to be treated if you were struggling like this at work and adapt a solution to suit your child.

If class work is the issue, consider a private tutor to help unpack concepts that you find difficult to understand. Support the homework policy set out by the school but adjust it to make homework a calmer process.

Help your child develop their organisational and study skills. These are not personality traits that we are born with – they are formed over time. Model what organisation looks like and talk about how helpful you find it.

Has your child struggled in school? Can you share some advice for other readers?



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  1. 01/04/2019 / 6:20 am

    Good post. I would also add, in older children, they may just stop doing their homework (and say they have none).

  2. 01/04/2019 / 2:32 pm

    You have provided a very comprehensive post here. I would always be wanting to know if something was happening ‘at school’ and so ask the teacher..do not ‘ask the other mums’ because that can end badly. Also consider if something significant is happening at home because that makes one big difference too.


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