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Students with poor study skills make it necessary for parents to become actively involved in overseeing homework.

When Your Child Struggles Academically

The conscientious child who works independently and efficiently needs little supervision when doing homework. At the other end of the independence/efficiency spectrum is the child who chronically procrastinates, does the minimum possible, submits late, incomplete, and inaccurate assignments, and disregards the effects of his or her attitude or behaviors.

Children with learning problems, or who are substantially behind grade level, require more parental guidance and supervision than those with good academic skills. Frustrated or demoralized students are often tempted to avoid work that exacerbates their feelings of inadequacy. To defend themselves, struggling children may delude themselves that if they don’t really try they can’t really fail. This conscious or unconscious rationalization makes their academic deficits all the more problematic.

Students with poor study skills make it necessary for parents to become actively involved in overseeing homework, which often becomes a battle. The child who does not establish goals and priorities, plan ahead, record assignments, attend to details, take notes, follow instructions, identify and remember important information, and anticipate what the teacher is likely to ask on a test, is waving a red flag. Without parental intervention and supervision, he or she will probably capsize academically. Ultimately, many will throw in the towel on their education feeling defeated and no longer continue to try.

Work closely with teachers and keep the lines of communication open.

Amanda Smith, Director

Monitoring your child’s homework is essential if she is struggling academically and has acquired a pattern of counterproductive behaviors, but this intensive supervision comes with risks. If your child feels he or she is being constantly scrutinized, they may become anxious, resentful, and resistant. They may also become emotionally and academically dependent on you. The risk of dependency increases if you take ownership of their academic problems and attempt to correct every mistake they make. You must constantly make informed judgement calls as you weigh how much help to provide. Too much help can be as disadvantageous as too little. To determine the appropriate amount of assistance to provide, take into consideration your own intuitive impressions as well information from the assessments administered at school.

There are things that can help both at school as well as at home. If you your child has academic deficits that are confirmed by the school you can request that learning assistance be provided for homework. For example, you may request that assignments be modified so that they can complete them within a reasonable time frame and with a minimum amount of help or that they use a flexible grading scale until he or she can catch up. Copies of notes taken in class can also be beneficial as many students who struggle academically are unable to take clear concise notes during class which may be necessary to complete their work after school. 

At home, to supervise your child effectively you need information about their particular strengths and weaknesses academically. For example, a student with weak reading comprehension skills will require more assistance as it will impact all subject areas. Discuss with the teacher how you can best help your child with homework. Does she want you to correct mistakes or simply make sure the work gets done? Does she want you to help your child write the book report or simply proofread and edit them? It’s important you examine these areas with your child’s teacher and if she requests that you become actively involved in the monitoring process, ask for suggestions about how best to do so. Check in regularly with your child’s teacher. This will tell you if your child is completing homework and turning it in as well as whether or not they are using their class time effectively.

By the time students reach middle school and high school the expectation is that they are responsible for their work. If you feel your child is not sufficiently responsible to work independently, discuss your concerns with your child’s teachers or their school counselor to formulate a plan that will help them succeed by utilizing a feedback, monitoring system, to keep them on track.

It may be time to consider additional help. An after school tutoring program can help focus the on areas of greatest need while building the student’s confidence and helping to develop good study habits. The key is consistency with whichever strategy you choose. There is no quick solution, it will take time and patience. Assemble your child’s support team, work closely with their teachers and above all keep the lines of communication open.

Visit tutoringcenter.com or call 734-785-8430 to learn more about The Tutoring Center’s classes and programs.

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