School is hard for kids at any age. When they’re really young, it can be frightening to the point of tears. When they’re older, the problems tend to be with their peers rather than school itself, although some classes can be challenging. Kids deal with things like bullies, teachers who play favorites, and peer pressure.
No matter what grade your child is in, there are ways to make school easier for them, and here are just a few ideas.
1. Consider homeschooling
The first thing to consider is the severity of your child’s struggles. Are they having a hard time keeping up with some of their classes? Or is the school environment too harsh for them to manage? Does your child get relentlessly bullied by other kids while the administration turns a blind eye? Is your child too far ahead of their peers and not getting any benefit from their classes?
Regardless of the reason, if your child is struggling hard in school, consider teaching them at home. It’s estimated that just over 3% of American kids are homeschooled, and this number tends to fluctuate. Although it seems like a small number, studies have shown that homeschooled kids tend to perform better academically, so it’s worth considering.
2. Stabilize their home environment
Even though a child leaves their house to go to school, what happens at home will follow them into the classroom. If your home tends to be stressful or unpredictable, they’ll carry some anxiety with them to school, and that will impact their performance. The best thing you can do for them is work on creating a stable environment at home. There are different ways to do this, depending on your child’s age.
If you have a young child, establish a daily routine for things like waking up, brushing their teeth, eating meals, taking naps, and playing games. With a routine, they won’t feel like you’re constantly telling them what to do after they’ve spent an entire day at school being told what to do by their teachers.
If your child is on the autism spectrum, you can stabilize their home routine by getting them in-home ABA therapy sessions. If you already have a therapist, consider moving their sessions into your home to support your child’s need for familiarity. The benefits of therapy can be enhanced when a child gets to remain in a familiar environment. For instance, play is part of ABA therapy, and when sessions are conducted in your home, those play sessions can be done with your child’s favorite toys.
3. Don’t overload them at home
It’s easy to forget how exhausting school can be when you haven’t set foot in a classroom for decades. When your child comes home, they’re going to be tired. Avoid overloading them with tasks and responsibilities the minute they set foot in the door. Yes, the dishes need to be done and the trash has to be taken out, but those things can wait.
Give your child space to unwind and decompress after school because they probably need it more than you think. Give them time to take a nap and then start their homework and other household chores. Also, don’t make their to-do list too big. You can teach them how to be responsible without creating a burden.
4. Ask deeper questions
Most kids will say they’re “fine” when asked how they’re doing even when they’re not. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes they’re embarrassed, but other times they don’t feel like anyone will care. Unfortunately, some kids start spiraling into depression and their parents never know.
Start asking more interesting and in-depth questions than, “How was your day?” Ask your child if anything good happened, or if anything bad happened during the day. Encourage them to share their experiences and feelings where they won’t feel judged. Most of the time, if you can get your kids to talk, you’ll hear about all kinds of situations that can be pretty serious.
Keep the lines of communication open as best as possible so that you can intervene on their behalf when necessary.
School will never be perfect, but you can make it better
If your child is struggling in school, do what you can to help. Start by reducing their burden at home and support their need to unwind after a hard day. If things are really bad, consider alternative options, like home schooling, to create the foundation they need to thrive.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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