The first thing you learn when you become the parent of more than one child, is no two children are the same. Some children come out of the womb and seemingly know what they want and how to express it, while others have great difficultly articulating what they want or need.
As learners, some children seem to have a keen ability to adapt to every situation; others are thrown by the smallest change in routine.
Some children are able to work independently, while others depend heavily on parent or teacher’s assistance to accomplish the smallest task.
Nurturing a child to become an independent learner is an often bumpy road. It is very difficult to sit back and watch your child fail, when the goal is to succeed.
Knowing why students fail to succeed in school will help you to know when to step in and help.
Allowing them to suffer the consequences of achieving a lower grade for having missed an assignment or failed to prepare adequately for a test may actually benefit your child in the long-run.
The danger of over-helping is that students are under-prepared. If you are doing your child’s homework, he or she will not be able to perform the task on a test or quiz.
Educators advise that parents should only step in when their child is confused and unable to complete the assignment.
In that instance, if possible, re-explain the concept and then have them attempt to complete the assignment on their own.
Children should always feel welcome to ask for help, but as they get older, they should become less dependent on your help. Once a student enters middle and high school, the goal should be independence; daily involvement should be minimal and reserved for when he or she is unable to find the information on their own.
Parents of differently abled children have a different dilemma; what if my assistance will result in a reduction of class-room based services?
If a solid foundation is laid in elementary school, the average student, will slowly take on more independence and by the end of middle school should be able to prepare for tests, complete assignments and study for tests with little prodding.
For the differently abled child, parents may still need to help with refocusing, time management and organizational issues. The “special education” child must also develop advocacy skills; he or she must be prepared to speak up when a situation is not conducive to learning.
Still, too much help in these areas may result in a pull-back by the special education team, who should be the primary agent in helping your child to master these skills.
Why students fail to succeed in school: Poor time management skills and procrastination.
Most teachers know when a student has rushed through a project or essay. Students who routinely wait until the last minute to complete assignments will submit substandard efforts and achieve poor performance on exams.
Our natural instinct is to jump in and help “spruce up” the project, correct grammar or spelling mistakes or help our children cram for the test. Encourage good homework and study habits from an early age. Provide graphic organizers, calendars and other tools and encourage their use.
The younger a student can begin developing organized study habits, the better prepared they will be for the transition from high school to college – two very different worlds. Successful students don’t rely on parents or teachers to tell them when assignments are due or when test dates are approaching.
Why students fail to succeed in school: An inability to complete tasks.
Students must be encouraged to be thorough in every task and not to quit until it is done. Help your child identify the areas that are giving them problems and don’t empower them to seek extra help in school, as need.
Preach to your child that he cannot be too quick to give up or put off an arduous task until it becomes impossible to complete; procrastination can also lead to stress and anxiety, making it impossible to complete the task and setting up a pattern for future melt-downs. Learning a new skill or a new subject may not always be easy.
Why students fail to succeed in school: Fear of failure and lack of self confidence.
A lack of self-esteem or confidence can prevent a student from building on his or her strengths. Too much confidence can prevent a student from acknowledging and improving on weaknesses. For some children, the very thought of not being able to succeed is enough to stop them from attempting at all.
From the earliest age, children must know that we all learn from our failures and then move on. All new skills require practice and repetition before they can be mastered.
Why students fail to succeed in school: Reliance on others.
Encourage your child to develop academic independence and accountability from the moment they enter school. Each child must know he or she is responsible for their own learning: completing all tasks and assignments; bringing the right books and equipment to every class; and taking everything home each night.
Students who routine leave books or homework at school must learn cause and effect for their behavior. Establishing routines and good study habits at an early stage will pave the way for most students to develop into a self-directed learner. Talk to your child’s teacher if they find they are struggling in a particular area, and/or seek a tutor.
Why students fail to succeed in school: Lack of desire.
Many students are underachievers; although capable of completing their school work, they lack the initiative or motivation to succeed.These are students that can do the work, are highly intelligent, but have decided that there are other things that are more important.
In many cases they are distracted by out side factors, emotional issues, or are not challenged enough in school. (In some cases, there may be an undiagnosed learning disability.)
The danger in rewarding younger students for academic achievement is the pattern that they may only achieve when there is something to gain.
Hence, the crash and burn experiment. For all students, there may come a time where you may have to refuse to help. It may be that he or she waited until the last minute to begin a project, study for a test, or refused to attend an extra-help session.
Now, at the 11th hour, you’re being asked to help. While the consequences of not helping may seem dire, the lesson you are teaching may out-weigh those consequences. Saying no may seem harsh, but it may result in a better outcome the next time around.