School isn’t easy for every child. For some, it brings periods of challenges; for others, it is a constant roller coaster of highs and lows. Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center reminds parents that ups and downs are to be expected, but there are some warning signs to watch for. “We often tell parents that when it comes to school, many children will encounter bumps in the road, but certain problems are bigger and need attention,” she says. Huntington urges parents to take this six-question quiz to see whether the issues their children are experiencing require intervention sooner than later:
- Does your child take a long time on homework? Of course, low grades are a red flag, but if your child generally takes a very long time to do homework, there could be several things going on. Your child might be struggling to focus, listen and pay attention in school. Or, your child might be apathetic and not giving homework the time it deserves, distracted by other activities.
- Are grades inconsistent? One week, things are smooth sailing. The next, your child gets several Fs. Again, all bad grades are obviously problematic, but if there are times your child does well and times he or she seems to struggle a lot, it could be a sign of a learning issue.
- Does your child seem to have trouble getting started? Procrastination is the culprit of many school problems, but it can be mean different things. Some put off school work because they dread it, while others simply have weak work habits. If your child often avoids studying or doing homework until the last minute or is always “almost done,” there could be a deeper problem.
- Has your child’s attitude taken a turn for the worse? Not all children come home from school excited and happy, but if your child has recently transformed into someone you don’t recognize, there might be academic and non-academic challenges at play. Pay attention to mood swings, a lack of caring, acting out or attitude problems (in class and at home).
- Does your child (still) struggle with reading? Parents take for granted that reading is a skill that most students have down by late elementary school, but if your child struggled with it years ago and you sense that the problems are still present, talk with the teacher. Ask if your child seems to have a hard time in class. Reading is an essential building block. Don’t ignore it if your child’s reading/comprehension skills are weaker.
- Is your child’s work ethic poor? Does your child seem disorganized in just about every aspect of life, including keeping track of homework, keeping a tidy room/desk and paying attention to details? Sometimes it takes maturity to improve these poor habits, but other times it requires helping children strengthen basic study and executive functioning skills.
Parents who answer “yes” to two or more of the above questions should call Huntington. “The sooner parents recognize and take action on school problems, the better,” she says. “Rarely do major school issues go away on their own. Pay attention to your child’s school habits, especially this year when most students are doing at least some school from home, and reach out for help if you have concerns.” Call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN to discuss how we can help your child become a better, more confident student.