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Why is my child struggling in school?

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

If your child is struggling or having difficulty engaging in learning then information on why this is happening is the first step on the pathway to helping them.

We instinctively know when our child is struggling but too often we are not sure why or with what. Our lives are busy and these thoughts can get pushed to one side.

So what do we do when we see our child struggling in school?

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Seven signs your child is struggling in school

Look for these seven signs if you think your child may me struggling in school:

  1. They do not want to go to school

  2. They have missing assignments across different classes

  3. A teacher or school staff member reaches out to express concern

  4. They spend excessive time (or very little time) on assignments, tests and projects

  5. They exhibit sullen or depressed behavior

  6. They have difficulty sleeping or eating

  7. They change friend groups or start spending more time alone

As parents, our instincts are powerful - we know our children best. It is easy to forget that the behaviour we see is based on a feeling, rooted in a need.

What causes kids to struggle in school?

For example take the child who is avoiding writing. They could be doing so for many reasons:

  • Perhaps their hand writing is not automatic and writing hurts their hand.

  • Maybe they find spelling difficult or are not sure of what is expected.

  • Do they have so many thoughts and ideas buzzing around their head, they cannot sort them and don’t know how to start?

  • Or perhaps concentration is difficult and sitting on a chair makes them feel restless.

The list goes on.

The signs may indicate deeper learning issues which can include:

  • Executive dysfunction

  • Dysgraphia

  • Dyscalculia

  • ADHD

  • Dyspraxia

  • Autism

What to do when your child is struggling in school?

Often, parents will jump straight to the clinician or educational psychologist, we risk looking at only part of the child. That’s a bit like looking at a room through a keyhole.

As a specialist teacher with over 20 years of experience teaching and assessing children who have difficulty with learning, I know each one is unique.

We need to look closely at the individual to understand what the problem is and challenges they face. Difficulties will vary with age, experience, environment, and stage in education.

That’s why a person centred, holistic approach is vital. It’s not just about difficulties - strengths and interests are important too. We need to know with confidence how we can support the individual to optimise their skills.

We don’t need a formal diagnosis or ‘label’ to be finding something difficult.

Understanding needs and providing support with the right thing, at the right time, can make a world of difference.

This is where a learning profile can be an important tool to support your child more effectively.

What is a learning profile?

Using a research based profiling tool, I identify needs to inform teaching and intervention, providing strategies and guidance that makes a real difference.

Early identification gives the learner the best chance of achieving their potential and supports positive self esteem.

The Learner Profile gathers information from parents, school and the individual across key areas. These areas include:

  • Memory

  • Auditory skills

  • Senses

  • Speaking

  • Understanding

  • Time management

  • Literacy

  • Vision

  • Emotions and feelings

  • Listening

  • Attention

  • Organization

  • Numeracy

What areas are addressed in a Learning Profile?

Looking holistically, advice and strategies are bespoke, age and stage appropriate.

If there is evidence of a need for onward referral to a clinician it is clearly explained.

The Learner Profile informs and empowers parents and students, giving them the confidence to know how to support learning and maximise skills.

About the author

Kate King helps parents understand their child’s difficulties with learning. In her work as a special education consultant, she looks at the whole picture, understand parent concerns and then guides, advises and support them.

Learn more about Kate's work and find out if a Learning Profile is right for your child by visiting Skylark Consulting.

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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