If the title of this article attracted your attention, that may be a clue. Chances are, you have wondered if it is time to take the next step to help your child succeed. The course grades and admission test scores your child earns during their middle and high school years will have the greatest impact on their ability to get into their chosen college. Your child knows this which only increases the pressure on them to perform well. It is important for parents to understand these pressures, recognize when their child is struggling, and be prepared to take the next step to help them.
Children, especially in middle and high school, do not usually like asking for help. Saving face and outward appearances are extremely important to them. You are your child's first line of defense. Knowing them so well, it is easy for you to recognize their frustration and worry when an assignment is too complicated or a class is too hard. Most students will hit a road block on occasion. Discovering when your child needs a tutor boils down to the frequency and severity of those road blocks.
There are certain signs that are common among students who need extra help to achieve success. Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Avoids talking about a particular class. When discussing the day and what they learned in school, your child’s avoidance of talking about certain subjects is an early indicator that they are having trouble. It is an attempt to avoid disappointing you. Your child needs to know that they can come to you when they are struggling and that being open, honest, and upfront is the best way to get the help they need.
- Falling grades. Bad grades are the easiest indicator that your child needs help. Be careful not to write-off a bad grade as a one-time occurrence. By the time two, three, or four bad grades appear, your child is already way behind. Don’t just pay attention to grades on test and quizzes, pay attention to homework grades as well.
- Avoiding homework, studying, and projects for problem classes. Often avoidance of studying and homework are misunderstood by parents to be laziness or procrastination. In fact, this is another early indicator that your child is struggling and is unsure how to face the challenge and help themselves.
- Frustration, anger, and a poor attitude when working on homework and projects. Your child knows they are struggling. The longer they struggle, the more apparent it will become to those around them. Observing their behavior is a great way to uncover if your child needs more attention.
- Time spent on school work is well beyond expected completion time. While this could indicate trouble with a specific class, it could also be the symptom of a much larger problem. The larger problem being that they have poor study habits. Poor study habits will only harm their grades (and confidence) as they advance through school and take more difficult subjects.
What You Can Do
Don’t wait until the first report card to get your child more help. Once you recognize that your child needs additional help, begin the process of finding and choosing a tutor. You will also want to reach out to your child's teacher for help getting them back on track. Communicating your concerns and discussing class expectations will help you when sharing your expectations with the tutor. When it comes to learning, the earlier intervention happens, the better the outcome.