As parents, you love your children and want them to succeed in everything they undertake. When it comes to school that generally translates to expecting them to bring home good grades — or grades in line with their natural abilities.
When your child has been working up to the level of his or her ability and, all of a sudden, grades drop, it’s not surprising that you will worry. However, before you react strongly and try to try to rectify the situation, it’s important to take a deep breath and evaluate what is going wrong.
Try not to be accusatory. By using “what” questions, rather than “why” questions, you’ll get more facts, and your child won’t be tempted to avoid blame by making excuses.
First of all, don’t panic. This may be just a blip on the screen, but it’s best to investigate it. Bear in mind that as children grow, they have ups and downs. Usually, a decline is grades is gradual, according to empoweringparents.com, so if there is a sudden major plunge, it is even more crucial to investigate.
Unearthing the Reasons For Grade Drops
Certainly, you need to determine the cause of your child’s lower grades. There are any number of reasons for a dip in performance, and your response will depend on identifying the real root of the problem.
- Is your child experiencing vision or hearing problems in the classroom?
- Is there a problem understanding the subject matter and a fear of asking for assistance?
- Perhaps there is something outside the classroom having an impact: bullying by another student, hanging around with a different crowd or troubles with a girlfriend or boyfriend?
Communicate With Your Child’s Teacher About Grade Drops
A talk with your child’s teacher is a useful step toward sorting out the issues that are involved. If the teacher is a good one, he or she should have some sense of what is going wrong, either with a child’s understanding of the subject matter or with his or her behaviour.
Talk with your child, too. Perhaps he or she doesn’t see that not completing homework or other bad habits have become a pattern, not an occasional mistake. This year’s teacher may have higher expectations than last year’s, which may account for the change. In addition, the curriculum may be more challenging than in the past.
Get a sense of your child’s view of the change in marks. Try not to be accusatory. By using “what” questions, rather than “why” questions, you’ll get more facts, and your child won’t be tempted to avoid blame by making excuses.
Ask your youngster if he or she has any solutions to the problem to suggest. Remember, however, that your child can’t necessarily dig him- or herself out of a hole without assistance.
While you’re exploring causes, it’s also time to take an honest look at yourself. Are your expectations in line with your child’s abilities? Are you placing undue pressure on your child to excel? What’s really important is that your child is learning; if he or she is falling behind in math for example, assure your child that you’re there to help. You want your child to retain a love of learning that will benefit him or her in school and throughout his or her life.
Turning Your Grades Around
If your child’s grades have dropped suddenly and precipitously, you may want to talk with a professional and have your child assessed. A trained therapist can shed some light on problems such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse. If your child needs ongoing professional help, don’t hesitate.
In order to get your child back on track, you will need to get involved in helping him or her manage homework. Children aren’t born with good study habits – they are learned. You can help your youngster develop the proper approach, which will pay off throughout his or her academic career.
Structure is important when it comes to studying. Good students have a specific space for doing their homework, someplace where they can avoid distractions. They also choose a time of day when they are at their most alert. A focus on studying also means no turning off cellphones and, if necessary, wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Remind your child that you will be monitoring his or her work during homework time.
A Plan of Attack
As a parent, you can also help your child create a plan of attack for the day’s homework so he or she knows how to approach a complex subject or multiple assignments. Generally, tackling the most difficult homework first — while a child is fresh — yields success.
You can also encourage him or her to seek help from the teacher or from peers in understanding difficult concepts. There are some excellent online learning options available that can really support your child’s learning.
If you are looking at rewards for good grades or punishment for not coming up to scratch, bear in mind that rewards or their absence doesn’t change behaviour. What does prompt a change in behaviour? Three answers come to mind:
- Being held accountable
- Learning problem-solving skills
- Having a plan and sticking to it
Most important, take heart. Youngsters are resilient and this, too, shall pass.