Getting to the Root of the Problem
Because there are so many different reasons your child may be having problems at school, it’s crucial to determine the cause of the problem before trying to address it. By getting to the source of the issue, you can be sure that your efforts are positively affecting your child and her or his school life. The first step in finding out the cause of the problem is to talk to your child.
- It may be most effective to simply ask your child what is causing the problem. Maybe she is being bullied, and this is causing her to act out in the classroom. Or maybe she is rude to her math teacher because she’s struggling to understand the content of the class.
- Whether or not asking your child about the issue was effective, it’s important to keep talking to him daily—not only about the problems he may be having in school, but about the rest of his school experience as well. This may help you discover things your child may not think are related to the problem.
- Ask your child what you can do to help her do well in school. Many kids may just need some additional help on their homework. Others might have difficulty adjusting after summer vacation. No matter what your child needs, do your best to help her out.
In addition to talking with your child, you should also speak with his or her teachers and school counselors. Because they interact with your child on a daily basis, they may be able to share valuable information that will help you address your child’s school problems.
- Find out exactly what problems your child is having. Is he using obscene language? Skipping class? Not turning in homework? Different types of issues require different types of interventions, so it’s very helpful to understand exactly what your child is doing.
- Ask your child’s teachers for any advice they can provide. Most teachers have dealt with more behavioral and academic problems than you can imagine, so they may have some experience in dealing with this particular issue.
[Related Article: Reach Out! Tips for Building a Strong, Positive Parent-Teacher Relationship]
- If you think the problem warrants it, talk to a school counselor about counseling or specialized classes that might help your child.
Your child may not be very forthcoming when you begin the conversation about school problems, but it’s important to be persistent. If your child doesn’t want to talk about it, let him or her know you’re always available to talk, and bring the subject up later in a comfortable situation. Don’t give up if your child doesn’t want to talk! It’s crucial that you find out what’s going on so you can help.
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Dr. David Walsh discusses how parents and teachers can work together to solve problems at school and the importance of talking—and listening—to both kids and teachers.