Four effective approaches to support your child through academic challenges

Being a parent means sticking with your child through thick and thin, always there to offer support and guidance.

Somewhat paradoxically, it also means giving your kid enough space to figure things out on their own. Most days, parents live comfortably with this paradox. However, it becomes tricky when your child shows signs of academic frustration or detachment. Should you rush in and help? Should you wait by the sidelines for your young learner to figure it all out? 

Like most things, an effective parenting strategy involves a balancing act. In this article, explore four collaborative approaches to support your child through academic challenges. 

Talk, listen and investigate together

The first step in any parent-kid challenge should be dialogue. And that’s no different here. If your kid is struggling at school, chances are there’s some underlying reason. Your job as a parent is to gently and safely extract that reason so you can develop solutions together. 

Effective dialogue won’t begin with a tirade about improving their marks. It starts with active listening. Ask your child to describe what’s happening at school, and give them ample space to vent their thoughts and emotions. Some common reasons for academic struggle are: 

  • Stress surrounding performance and stakes
  • Feeling challenged by the quick classroom pace
  • Feeling unchallenged and therefore bored and unmotivated
  • Interpersonal challenges (like bullying) interrupting focus
  • Underlying mental health issues getting in the way of concentration, etc. 

The better you can pinpoint the fundamental issues, the better you can work on solutions. 

Consider self-paced learning

There’s no silver bullet solution for problems at school. Still, the closest thing (in several cases) can be a self-paced remote school environment. 

Remote self-paced schools allow students to work at their own speed, away from the interpersonal distractions of a brick-and-mortar classroom. Students who feel challenged by a quick classroom pace can slow things down; students who feel bored can speed things up; and students stymied by distractions will find a serene setting to focus on their schoolwork. 

Ask your young learner, “Would you like to complete your high school courses online? Would that help?” Online schools aren’t for every student, so ensure you don’t push the idea too hard. 

Collaborate on S.M.A.R.T. goals

Next, collaborate on S.M.A.R.T. Goals. This is a handy acronym for goals that are: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant 
  • And time-bound

Studies show that creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals spurs intrinsic motivation, and helps students track their progress for a greater sense of achievement. At home, establish an easy way to consult, track and – critically – celebrate these achievements. Doing so creates a positive association with work and learning. 

Promote a positive learning environment at home

Lastly, consider making your home environment more conducive to learning. Partake in conversations about Shakespeare around the dinner table; for movie night, throw on a historical film and spark a discussion about history; encourage reading; create a dedicated study space in the home, and the list goes on. 

By turning your home into an academically nurturing environment, you can imbue a love of learning into your kids – whatever age they may be. 

If your student is struggling at school, strike a balance between intervention and trust with the four straightforward tips above.