What to do when your child is falling behind in school?

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

What should you do when you are worried about your child academically? Maybe you notice that your child cannot do any of their homework independently, grades may slip for older children. Maybe your kid comes home really grouchy daily, seems stressed, or is even able to verbalize that they are struggling academically.

1.Make sure the teacher is aware by making sure homework does not come back perfect, or letting the teacher know that you corrected it together. When my child has no clue even after my husband or I try to help I may leave it blank and write a note on top. If 5 math problems are taking you and your kiddo an hour, put a little note on the homework or drop your child's teacher an email. If my child has no understanding consistently in a subject area (everyone has an off day or a topic that is just hard for them) I always let the teacher know.( For tips on how to communicate effectively with your child's teacher see my first blog in this series "How to Talk Teacher": https://www.faabconsulting.com/post/how-to-talk-teacher) Sometimes parents fall in a trap of wanting their children's work to be returned in perfect condition, and they unintentionally do it for them. This doesn't help their teacher to understand what they are capable of and what they need support in.

2. Maybe you've decided to help your child (and yourself) by setting them up with a great tutor! Make sure your teacher is aware of this. You can discuss at conferences, on the phone or through an email. Ask the teacher what topics they should be working on. It's also important to let the teacher know that you are providing "intervention" and "academic support," in case you need to make a case later for a 504 (support plan) or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan, Special Education) later. I once was successful in "gently pushing" a school to test a child that they weren't as concerned about by emphasizing how much outside support the parents were providing and showing that there were still academic struggles.

3. Partner with your child's teacher and make it easy for the teacher to be honest with you. That means to check your defensiveness at the door and do a ton of listening before reacting. Some teachers will stop sharing if they are worried they're going to be met by an angry parent, and can you blame them?? I even empathize with the teachers, "I'm sure if I'm struggling at home helping ______(insert name), it must even be harder for you with 20+ kids in the classroom to support." Show them that you are all on the same team.

4. Keep a paper trail! Start an email folder