Concerned parents may worry over the slightest slip in grades, and considering that a seemingly minor lapse can lead to bad habits that translate into a child that falls far behind, there’s nothing wrong with becoming alarmed over a straight-A student suddenly bringing home a report card full of B’s. Of course, you don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. A reduced grade here and there could be the result of problems at school (with teachers or students), a teacher that grades particularly hard, or even issues in the home. But you don’t want it to become a regular thing. So if you notice that your child’s grades seem to be in steady decline, it couldn’t hurt to address the issue, find the root of the problem, and take steps to get him back on track. Here are a few things to think about.
1. Talk to your child. The first thing you want to do is sit your child down for a little chat to find out if the poor grades are a fluke or if something more serious is going on. Perhaps he is being bullied by another child, to the point of distraction in class. Maybe the teacher was unfairly hard on him. Or it could be that he is having a totally separate issue like trouble seeing, reading, or focusing. All of these problems can be addressed, but only if you know about them.
2. Talk to teachers. If you’re child seems to hedge when you ask about the cause of his grades or he simply clams up, you may have to talk to his teacher to find out what the problem is. In fact, you should probably do this either way, just to get another perspective on the issue. It may come out that he hasn’t been turning in his homework, or that he’s been playing the class clown. Again, this is something that you can definitely deal with as long as you know it’s occurring.
3. Seek out specialists. In some cases, your child may require the help of a specialist. If, for example, it turns out that he has some kind of learning disability, you should have it diagnosed as early as possible so that he has the best chance to continue learning and performing at grade level (or the opportunity to catch up). In these situations it is best to face the issue head on and deal with it rather than wasting precious time in denial. If you’re worried about a misdiagnosis, simply get multiple opinions.
4. Offer help. Sometimes all your child needs is a little extra help, and often you can provide it by making the time to sit with him while he does his homework so that you can answer questions, offer advice, and check his work when he’s done.
5. Hire a tutor. Home tuition can be expensive, but it can also provide the impetus and extra attention your child needs to get back on track with his academic progress. If his current class work is beyond your ability to aide him, or your lessons just don’t seem to be getting through, then it’s time to bring in outside help. If you don’t want a stranger in your home, though, consider online tutoring services.