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What To Do When Your Child Is Falling Behind In School?

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Updated 2/26/2022

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 assuring the homework does not come back perfect, or if you do offer support to your child, let the teacher know that you corrected it together.

In my home if one of my children has no clue how to do an assignment even after my husband or I try to help, I often leave it blank and write a note on top or send a quick email that my child doesn't understand the content. Your child's teacher truly appreciates your partnership.

If five 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. Struggling with how to communicate with your child's teacher, check out the blog below!

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).

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 so you can keep a copy of all of the communication between you and your child's school. If you talk on the phone or in person, jot down some notes with the date. This will all be important if later the school needs to take a new approach to your child as a learner. Sometimes it's important to push for the next steps, including some testing.

5. Ask for your concerns about your child to be brought up at the next BIT meeting. BIT is the Building Intervention Team. Some states may have different names, simply ask for your child's struggles to be brought up with the intervention team.

This consists of all of the best resources in your child's building! Speech and Language pathologist, Occupational Therapists, Special Education Teachers, School Counselors, Social Workers, District Psychologists... This will put your concerns about your child on their agenda and is the first step to the school determining if your child requires additional support.

Sometimes all your child needs is a little extra attention from their teacher and you can best assure this happens through developing a positive partnership!

Want to learn more about about children with school struggles, how to navigate difficulties as a parent and right size your expectations? Check out my book, "I Love My Kids But I Don't Always Like Them!" A survival guide for parents.

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