How to Uncover Learning Problems and Help Correct Them

By Huntington Learning Center

“I hate school.”

If you’ve ever heard those three words come out of your child’s mouth, you’ve probably felt sad and helpless—wondering what you can do to make things easier for your child. However, what you may not fully understand is the meaning behind and complexity of your child’s declaration.  For many children, academic struggles tend to snowball into a variety of other problems, such as self-esteem and behavioral issues and more.

What’s actually going on

In his book, “Why Don’t Students Like School?” cognitive scientist Dan Willingham discusses how the mind works and what it means for the classroom—and notes that “if schoolwork is always just a bit too difficult for a student, it should be no surprise that she doesn’t like school much.” For students to enjoy school more, Willingham says, they must consistently experience the satisfaction that comes with successfully solving a problem. Without the proper foundational skills, however, students are ill-equipped to do so. 

Children are naturally curious, but it’s also a natural inclination to give in to frustration, tune out and give up if schoolwork is too difficult for them. Certainly, each child’s circumstances are different, but most school problems can be attributed to a child becoming disengaged with and/or overwhelmed by the work that is expected of them. And as problems persist, children feel hopeless that they will ever be capable of doing better.

Discovering the problem

While it is important to communicate with your student and his or her teacher, it may take deeper digging to get a good understanding of what exactly is causing your child to struggle. You’ll need to identify specifics about your child’s academic performance, then analyze further.

For example, if reading is hard for your child, it’s important to pinpoint what skill gaps are causing him or her to fall behind grade level. Is your student struggling to differentiate and hear individual letters and letter blends? Or is the problem spelling and vocabulary? At Huntington Learning Center, teachers perform an academic evaluation of every student, which provides detailed information about a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses and is a starting point for instruction.

Correcting the problem

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to tutoring. Therefore, targeted instruction is the best method. You will have the best chance of success in helping your child succeed in school if you pinpoint and correct the specific underlying challenges.

Keep in mind that it may take time for such a program to yield results. Your child will need to put in the effort and you will need to keep in touch with your child’s teacher, tutor and your child. It may surprise you, but your child may even welcome the assistance, as he or she will finally be able to get the help he or she needs.

If you continue to hear your child complaining about school, don’t wait to seek help. The sooner you step in and develop a plan of action, the sooner your child will be able to catch up in class, raise those grades and boost his or her confidence.