So your child’s report card came and there it is: 3 Fs, 2 Ds, and a C. He’s officially failing school.
“What happened?!” You say to your child. Your child responds: “I don’t know.”
Before you blow up and ground him for the next 3 months, take a few deep breaths. There are numerous reasons for why your child is failing school and each reason comes with its own solution.
Take a moment and read the check list below for some ideas for how to manage the situation and to get you both through this stressful time.
1. Assess your child’s stress level
- Recent changes in his life? Your child may be going through an adjustment which can oftentimes interfere with grades. Divorce, loss of a loved one, new home, parents with job changes, and illness can all affect your child’s performance at school.
- Overloaded with extra activities? Activities are fun, but they must compliment your child’s schedule, not overtax it. Overload in activities can interfere with homework time and sleep.
- Depressed and anxious? If your child’s mind is riddled with worry, or his sad mood has him sluggish and unmotivated, these can be significant factors contributing to challenges at school. Read here for more information on depression and anxiety.
2. Talk to the teacher
- Teachers usually have good insight into their students’ behavior. They can see if behavioral issues are getting in your child’s way, or he seems confused by the content, or if he is sleeping through class. Teachers don’t want to see your child failing school and can provide some good ideas for getting him back on track.
3. Contact the school to discuss a plan to correct the grades
- Dyslexia, ADHD, vision difficulties, autism and other health impairments can cause significant barriers to the learning process. These are typically identified in the preschool and early primary school ages, but sometimes the learning difficulties don’t become as apparent until the school work becomes more difficult and your child falls further behind.
- School districts have a responsibility to assess your child for learning challenges and if certain criteria is met, provide interventions to help so he doesn’t continue to fail school. This is called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Sometimes your child’s learning challenges can be assessed and managed without an IEP. Schools typically want to proceed with pre-IEP meetings to see if the challenge can be managed by more immediate tweaks to your child’s learning environment. This can be a helpful step. Read these resources to learn further about your options.
Bottom line: Failing grades are no joke. Acting swiftly to determine the origin of the problem is your best bet. And try to manage your frustration and disappointment so it doesn’t compound the issue with your child. The problem is not your child, it’s whatever is going on with your child. Staying focused on the solution can help you both get through this tough time.
Please comment below: Did you ever fail a class? What happened? What did you need the most at that time to help you succeed?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.