Is Your Child Having Problems At School?

“Yes” is the honest answer. No schooling experience can or will always be positive and run smoothly. Challenges are natural and an important part of the learning process. Children develop coping skills when they are having difficulties with academics, friends, siblings, teachers and parents.

Are you saying to yourself, “How is this happening? I have spent countless hours selecting the right school for my child.”

You can blame yourself for making a “mistake.” Or, perhaps, you did the best you could to find a school and you are not satisfied with the outcome. You are in the company of many caring and devoted parents who question what is really happening in their child’s classroom: “Is my child learning anything?” There are productive ways to deal with school issues that seem to cry out for help. Here are some suggestions.

Positive Interventions to Help Resolve Learning Challenges
     1.  Develop an understanding of the problem your child is having by asking your child and your child’s teacher how serious the learning challenge really is. By having two different perspectives you will have a better sense of the problem. Is your child more troubled by his/her issues or is the teacher more concerned? Ask yourself: “Am I ignoring my child’s challenges or over-reacting? Am I putting my own issues onto my son or daughter and not seeing the real issue.” For example, reading was hard for you. Is reading as hard for your child or are you projecting your feelings onto your child? Making friends was hard for you, so perhaps you are imagining that your child has the same problem that you had with friendships.
     2.  Make a plan to work on your child’s challenges, which might include academics or social emotional issues. The plan should include talking informally to your child and offering to help.
     3.  Make a chart or some form of accountability criteria to measure progress and stalling points.
     4.  With an understanding of the parameters of the problem, look for help from an expert.
     5.  Point out positive growth along the way, which provides motivation and encouragement.
     6.  Find motivation that is meaningful, and give rewards for work that is well done.
Reaction and Strategies That Make Learning Challenges Even More Problematic
     As hard as parents try, sometimes their plans backfire and learning problems become more difficult to solve. Here are some strategies to avoid.
     1.  Understand that ignoring the challenges your child faces because you are too busy or don’t want to spend the time it will take to assess the issue and to remediate it make the problem grow bigger.
     2.  Blaming someone, such as yourself or your husband, is counterproductive because it is not a problem-solving strategy. Rather, blaming creates tension and resentment, which stresses your child further and takes you farther from your goal.
     3.  Do not adopt a dramatic scenario or an exaggerated personal narrative, such as, “My child is not under-socialized; he/she is on the autistic spectrum.” “My child won’t read and he/she is not gifted.”
     4.  Over-focusing on a problem will merely intensify your child’s anxiety and prevent them from moving forward.
     5.  Adopting a self-fulfilling prophecy, such as, “M y child cannot do any better,” is a recipe for disaster. Positive attitudes are critical to your child’s success.
Learning and social emotional challenges can be resolved if they are dealt with slowly and with a great deal of attention to problem-solving. If you can accept that school problems arise that are normal and useful learning opportunities, your child will learn that struggling with a challenge is an important lesson. When children do their best, their perfectionistic attitudes will go by the wayside and more work is accomplished.