As parents, we want the best for our kids, and one of the biggest dilemmas we might face is watching them fail to succeed in school.
It’s easy to start the blame game – blaming your children for not working hard enough, teachers for not teaching well, yourself for not being able to help them more.
But to solve a problem, we must address why it happens.
Why might students fail to succeed in school?
No Two Children Are the Same
The first thing you learn when you become the parent of more than one child is that no two children are the same.
Some children come out of the womb and seemingly know what they want and how to express it.
In contrast, others have great difficulty articulating what they want or need.
As learners, some children seem to have a keen ability to adapt to every situation; others panic because of the smallest change in routine.
Some children can work independently, while others depend heavily on parent or teacher’s assistance to accomplish the smallest task.
Nurturing a child into an independent learner is often a bumpy road.
It is tough to sit back and watch your child fail when the goal is to succeed.
When to Step in and Help
Allowing kids to suffer the consequences of achieving a lower grade for having missed an assignment or failing to prepare 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 feels confused and does not understand how 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 support.
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 children with differing abilities have a unique dilemma:
What if your assistance will result in a reduction of classroom-based services?
With a solid foundation laid in elementary school, the average student will slowly take on more independence.
By the end of middle school, he or she should be able to prepare for tests and complete assignments with little prodding.
For the differently-abled child, parents may still need to help with refocusing, time management, and organizational issues.
The child must also develop advocacy skills; he or she must 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.
The Top Six Reasons Why Students Fail to Succeed in School
1. 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.
After all, these are 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.
2. An Inability to Complete Tasks
You need to encourage your kids to be thorough in every task and not to quit until they’re done.
Help your child identify the areas that are giving them problems and empower them to seek extra help in school, as need.
Teach to your child that they 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.
3. 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 thought of failing to succeed in school can 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 your kids can master them.
4. Too Much 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, are all responsibilities your child should learn.
Students who routinely leave books or homework at school must learn the cause and effect of 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.
5. Lack of Desire
Many students are underachievers; although capable of completing their schoolwork, they lack the initiative or motivation to succeed.
These are students that can do the work, are highly intelligent, but have decided that other things are more important.
In many cases, they’re distracted by outside factors, emotional issues, or not challenged enough in school.
In some cases, there may be an undiagnosed learning difficulty, so be alert and seek professional help.
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.
He or she may have 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, they’re asking you 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.
It also teaches your children that they need to be accountable for their own actions.
6. Not Knowing How to Learn
Sometimes, kids fail to succeed in school because they don’t know how to learn.
Sitting your child down with the textbook does not automatically translate into results, because, as we discussed at the very beginning, no two children are the same.
And this extends to learning styles as well.
One of your kids might be a visual learner and may benefit from the structure of lessons in school, which is a very visual place.
But the others might be auditory or kinesthetic learners.
What works for visual learners won’t work as well for them.
Visual learners learn by translating information into mental images, so books with illustrations and graphical elements, videos, etc. work well for them.
Auditory learners, on the other hand, retain information better by listening.
They distracted easily when reading, but they can remember what they heard in class or what they heard on a podcast.
Kinesthetic learners thrive when interacting with their environment.
They might appear restless and fidgety sitting with a book, but their excellent motor skills mean they can learn by doing.
They love experiments and projects and like figuring out how things work first-hand.
Figuring out the learning style of your child and then helping them adapt their learning strategies accordingly can help them succeed in school.
In fact, a mismatch between learning style and the expectation that a child can sit at a desk and read a book for an hour can lead to procrastination.
Once they realize they learn more naturally when matching their learning style, the improvement in your kids’ ability to learn and recall information will surprise you.
Hopefully, this article gave you a better understanding of the top six reasons why students fail to succeed in school.
What are your thoughts?
I’d love to hear from you!
[ Updated – September 25, 2020 ]