Ask your struggling child’s teacher these questions to help you uncover the problem and get your child back on track.
It’s a few weeks into the school year and already your student is frustrated. Despite how excited they might have been to go back to school, it seems like they have hit a wall. There you are, with a struggling student and you do not have an explanation as to why. You look forward to helping with homework, but they seem totally confounded by the concepts in their homework. Oftentimes, your child’s teacher will reach out to have a conversation about your child’s performance. You’re ready to connect with their teacher to find out what’s happening and how you can help – but what are the right questions to ask?
The first question to ask every teacher is fairly straightforward:
“How engaged is my child in class?”
As students progress through school, there are naturally units and concepts that come easier than others to each student and concepts that your student finds plain boring. If your student’s teacher sees her engaged, working hard, but still struggling some, then the unit or concept itself may be the issue.
The situation certainly isn’t insurmountable for your child, but it will likely take some additional work on the part of the teacher, your student and you to find the right resources to help your child connect with the concepts she is struggling with. This could be additional materials that present the concepts using different learning modalities that align with your child’s learning style or simply some additional time at lunch or after school working longer on the confusing parts of the lesson. School is supposed to get harder, afterall!
“How is my child interacting with other students in the classroom?”
If your student’s teacher has observed your student not thriving as you would hope, the next piece to understand is whether it is something internal or environmental.
It is possible that she is intimidated or shy around the group of students in the classroom and nervous to speak up when she does not understand a concept. Conversely, she could be so happy to be around her friends in the classroom that she is actually distracted by wanting to play or interact with friends, rather than focus on the lesson.
Even worse, there is always a possibility that she could be getting bullied by the other students in the class. Often times our children are embarrassed to admit to their parents or adults when they get bullied or uncomfortable around their peers. If she is acting irregularly or distracted, it will be up to the teacher and potentially you to work with your child and the school community to make sure she can focus on the lessons at hand.
“Is my child more engaged in certain types of lessons than others?”
It is quite natural for kids to have minor health distractions that can disrupt their ability to concentrate. If a student is great with listening and taking part in class discussions, but struggles with learning concepts through reading, perhaps they are in need of a new pair of glasses.
“Is my child better at different times of day?”
If they are dialed in during the morning sessions, but crash hard and can’t concentrate after lunch, it is possible that their diet is preventing them from focus. Inconsistency generally can be a simple indication of part of how or when learning is getting to your child being blocked in some way.
Teachers should always be willing and excited to have these conversations with you and your student. The better your child does, the easier and more fulfilling the job of the teacher, afterall!