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How to Help Kids With Poor School Performance

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 12, 2022

    How to Help Kids With Poor School Performance

    It’s normal for kids to struggle in school once in a while. Maybe last week they had a problem in grammar, and today they feel that math’s topic is too complicated. It’s also common for them to find one or two subjects more challenging than the rest. But what if they’re generally falling behind in school? What if you notice that their test scores are not improving and their grades are dropping in each grading period? Here’s how you can help kids with poor school performance. 

    Poor School Performance Defined

    There’s no standard or dictionary definition for poor school performance, but generally, it means that a student is struggling to keep up in class as a whole. 

    A child might underperform in school due to a number of reasons. They might have medical problems, such as malnutrition, poor eyesight, dyslexia, a learning difficulty or disability, or ADHD. Emotional problems, environmental issues, and poor socio-cultural status might also factor in1. Bullying problems in school also greatly contribute to a child’s overall school performance. 

    Poor school performance may result in low self-esteem in kids and significant stress in parents. 

    What to Do if Your Child is Falling Behind in School

    First, remember that kids develop at different rates. Your child may be having some difficulty in their classes now, but that doesn’t immediately mean there’s a problem. It might only mean they need more time and practice. 

    If the struggles persist, however, and if they already interfere with your child’s development, consult a healthcare professional. 

    The following tips might also help:

    1. Have an in-depth discussion with their teachers

    The numbers in a child’s report card don’t reveal much about the struggles they have in the subjects. That’s why it’s helpful to talk to their teachers. Ask them about your child’s difficulties in class, what strategies seem to help, and how you can support learning at home. 

    Talking to the teachers gives insight into the possible causes of their poor school performance. Is it because they are easily distracted? Do they lack motivation? How deep do the challenges run? Answering these questions allows you to decide how to better support your child. 

    Note that kids who have medical conditions, like ADHD, dyslexia, and developmental or behavioral concerns need expert help.

    2. Ask other people from school

    On top of having an in depth discussion with teachers, asking other people from school also helps. You can ask your child’s friends and the school personnel about your child’s psychosocial functioning. Do they think your child is being bullied? Do they suspect other factors, like peer pressure or extracurricular activities, to be responsible for the poor academic performance? 

    3. Think about learning styles

    Just as kids develop at different rates, they also have different learning styles. Some kids learn better in silence, while others want some background music or light noise. Some kids are visual learners, while others prefer learning while walking around. 

    Take learning styles into consideration when teaching your child lessons. Eliminate distractions, too, and help your child become organized in their way. 

    4. Be patient. They are not struggling on purpose

    Another tip to support kids with poor school performance is to be patient with them. In their struggles, they might explode in anger, refuse to go to school when there is recitation or quiz, and refuse to study at home. 

    Allow them to express their frustration. It may seem like they are provoking you, but respond calmly. Meeting their outburst with another outburst might only further hamper their motivation to learn

    5. Take a break

    During lessons, when you feel your child starting to get frustrated, consider stopping even for just a few minutes. Letting off steam and starting fresh also redirects their frustration. 

    6. If they commit mistakes, don’t intervene right away

    Mistakes are a common occurrence when teaching kids. If you see errors in their work, don’t intervene right away. Let them see the mistakes on their own and allow them some time to correct the errors. Step in when you feel that frustration is getting the better of them or if they ask for your help. 

    7. Poor school performance doesn’t always mean they have to work longer

    It’s a common misconception to make kids with poor performance in school study longer. Allot time for home study and follow the schedule even if they didn’t finish as expected. 

    8. Get help when you need it

    Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Of course, the type of help depends on your child’s needs. If you’re unsure, bringing them to the pediatrician is the best course of action. 

    Learn more about Parenting here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

    Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 12, 2022

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