As parents, find ourselves worrying about every aspect of our children’s lives at one point or another. But probably one of the main causes for concern is how they’re performing in school. How well they do in school largely affects the colleges they get into, the career paths they choose, and how they feel about themselves. If you’ve noticed that your child is struggling in school and getting help from a tutor or a teacher, it might be time to tackle the issue from a different angle.
In case you’re unsure of what you should consider next, we’ve put together a list of ways you can help your child feel less stressed in school, and overall.
Consider changing their learning environment.
While conventional schooling works well for a lot of students, some elementary school and high school students benefit better from alternative types of schooling. If homeschooling is not an option for you or your child, consider looking into charter academy programs in your area. Charter schools tend to offer smaller class sizes, so if your child depends on one-on-one interaction, this would be the right fit for them. There is also much more academic freedom, which means your child will be able to spend more time learning about things you two decide on together, alongside their normal mandated curriculum. Some charter schools also offer scheduling flexibility, like on and off days, half days, remote learning, and more, so your child can spend as much or as little time as they need learning in the classroom and on their own.
Some areas have specialized charter schools, with specific emphasis on art, language, sports, and more. These tailored programs often lead to better student achievement by working their regular curriculum into their elective charter program, which some students prefer to charter schools that take a more traditional route.
Give them a confidence boost.
As an adult, you know that when you don’t feel great about how you look, it can have a negative effect on your mood. Our kids are not immune to this feeling. In fact, most children develop their sense of self-esteem around kindergarten and begin worrying about their body image around age eight. Their bodies change so rapidly in such a short amount of time that once they finally get used to something, it starts changing again. From some baby fat at the waist to knees that seem too knobbly to being the short or tall kid in class, how your child looks matters to them even if you think they’re the most beautiful person on the planet. And while they might look like an ordinary kid to you on the outside, there’s a chance they’re feeling some major struggles on the inside.
If your child feels confident, they’re going to be more willing to take risks, they’ll be able to focus, and their mood overall will be better. This confidence can affect how they perform in school, as well. Low self-esteem can lead to low school performance because your child will tend to be distracted, stressed, and unworthy of the effort it takes to perform well.
While addressing your child’s body directly and appearance is something you should avoid, there are ways to help your child feel better in the body that they’re in. Praise your child on their accomplishments, not on their appearance. Enroll them in a fitness-based class they love, like dance or baseball. Take them shopping for petite tops and cute skirts so they have a wardrobe to fit their ever-changing body. Have open and honest talks about self-esteem and body positivity from a young age, and keep up this dialog well into their tween and teenage years. Making these subtle changes outside of school can lead to positive in the classroom.
Allow mental health days.
Have you ever rolled over a half-hour before your alarm was set to go off and just wanted to crawl back into bed and blow off your responsibilities for the day? Well, so has your child—because kids get overwhelmed too. Even if your child is doing well in school academically, you may notice that they’re stressing themselves out to get there. If they seem moody and withdrawn, they could just need a break. So if your child comes downstairs five minutes before you’re supposed to drop them off at school and says they don’t feel well and need to stay home, but you can tell that they feel absolutely fine, they might just need a mental health day. Encourage them to be honest about making the distinguishment between being ill and needing a break, and let them take the day off. And if you can, take the day off with them. You probably need it too.
Growing up is hard. As we get older, we tend to forget just how difficult it was to navigate all of those years of constant change and mood swings and figuring out the social hierarchy. But allowing your child to take even a day to veg out in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream or curled up in bed with a book instead of sitting in a classroom all day shows them that you understand that life is hard for them and tells them that it’s okay to take a break every now and then—as long as taking a mental health day doesn’t become a regular thing to avoid going to school all the time.
Rule out any health concerns.
Sometimes, our children’s health can affect their school performance. If your child suffers from headaches or eye strain, they might need glasses, If they’re inattentive and overly emotional and can’t focus, they could have undiagnosed ADHD. If they’re hard to talk to or loud and talkative, they might have hearing problems. Talk with your child’s teacher or teachers and their pediatrician to rule out any underlying health factors that might be hindering their classroom performance.
We’ll never stop worrying about our children. Even when they’re not children anymore—that concern will always be there. If your child seems to be struggling in school, do what you can to help them achieve. Because before you know it, they’ll be out of school and off to college.