Children often seem to lose interest in school. They may find the work boring or too hard, or they might have more serious problems, such as bullying. Thankfully, the reason is usually something less dramatic and the situation only temporary.
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Children are not yet grown up, and they have shorter attention spans than us adults. This temporary situation, if prolonged, may lead to a drop in grades and a decline in education. So, what can parents do to reignite their child's interest before academic struggles begin? This guide provides advice and useful tips to address this concern.
Children's schoolwork may suffer for various reasons, as each child is unique. Here are some common causes to be aware of:
Teachers aim to bring out the best in their students and should notice if a child is struggling. However, if you identify issues before they do, arrange a meeting with your child's teacher (in primary school) or subject teacher (in secondary). During the discussion, inquire about specific areas where your child is falling behind. Teachers can identify reasons and propose plans for improvement, providing extra help or suggestions for home support. If learning difficulties are suspected, they can guide you towards necessary assistance or refer you to the school's SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator).
If your meeting is prompted by concerns, communicate them to the teacher, explaining observations at home. Teachers, being observant, can shed light on your child's behaviour and performance, helping you understand potential factors such as difficulty with peers, challenging coursework, boredom, or fatigue.
Maintaining open communication with your child's teacher is crucial for their education.
Once you notice your child falling behind, initiate a conversation with them. Communicating with children can be challenging, so choose opportune moments like bath time, bedtime, or car journeys. Avoid questioning them immediately after school, allowing time to unwind. Ask about their day, progressing to specific questions about the best and worst parts. Even brief answers like 'Boring,' 'Nothing,' or 'OK' may reveal underlying issues.
Stay calm and focused during the conversation, sticking to facts rather than emotions. If you've spoken to their teacher, discuss decisions made and planned actions. If not, address their poor performance, gently asking for explanations. Encourage your child's input on resolving the issue, listening to their ideas while having your own plan, such as establishing a dedicated study area and a homework routine.
The best way to assist your child at home is to start early, preventing them from falling behind. A Save the Children study found that 84% of children not meeting expected standards by age 7 struggled academically thereafter. Literacy is crucial, so encourage daily reading. If your child has fallen behind, adjust your approach to homework, creating a distraction-free study area and a consistent homework schedule.
If your child completes all assigned homework punctually, you'll likely see improvement. Sometimes, a little extra effort is all it takes.
While excelling at school should be rewarding in itself, some children may need extra motivation. Exercise moderation in using rewards and punishments. Punishments need not be severe, and rewards should not be excessive. It's crucial to reward effort rather than achievement, recognizing that children have varying abilities.
Emphasize rewarding effort over achievement for a more balanced approach.
Exercise moderation with after-school activities, as too many can adversely affect schoolwork. However, a couple of enjoyable activities can enhance behaviour and academic results. Extracurricular activities teach the value of hard work, whether in sports, arts, or other clubs. Learning a musical instrument, in particular, has shown to improve various skills, including literacy, maths, language, memory, spatial awareness, and IQ. If your child enjoys an activity, encourage them to continue for a few weeks before considering alternatives.
If your child is falling behind, private tutoring is a viable option. While private tutors offer one-on-one attention, they can be expensive. Online education sites provide a more affordable alternative, costing around £10 per month. To address your child's challenges, identify the causes, communicate with both your child and their teacher, and actively support their learning at home. Taking an interest in your child's education sets them on the right path for life.
Do you have any questions about education? Explore the EQ Knowledge Bank, a valuable resource with articles addressing specific questions from parents. Covering not only education but also offering advice on parenting issues such as promoting self-confidence, preventing bullying, and ensuring online safety.