Written by: Nanny Secours
For many years the government and schools have been actively working to increase student retention, but too many students still drop out before getting their high school diploma. Research shows the importance of developing a positive relationship with school starting in elementary school to encourage perseverance and instill a desire to learn in children.
Starting in elementary school and even earlier, it’s important for children to learn to persevere in their tasks and build good self-esteem despite the challenges they may face. Children learn perseverance by experiencing small wins and being praised for their efforts.
Many factors can explain why a student is falling behind in school. Aside from the family’s precarious socioeconomic situation and the conditions resulting from it, the quality of the classroom climate, socialization with peers and the relationship with the teacher also play a role in academic motivation and success. Each student also has their own factors: behaviour, learning difficulties or specific diagnosis.
For example, imparting the love of reading to children from an early age is very important. This helps them with reading comprehension and expanding their vocabulary, and will therefore have an impact on all school subjects (problem solving in mathematics, learning and studying theory in history, geography, science and technology…). Consequently, this will have a significant impact on the child’s post-secondary education, whether going to a trade school, college or university.
Good collaboration between the parents and the teacher will help better identify the specific needs of a child who’s falling behind in school. The parent-teacher team, together with the student, can set short-term learning goals. The teacher will be able to suggest solutions to help the parents ably support their child in achieving those goals.
Good communication between the parents and the teacher will also allow for weekly follow-ups and frequent feedback to the student and parents. Teachers often suggest different alternatives to communicate easily: writing a note in the agenda, sending an email, video conferencing, talking on the phone, meeting at back-to-school night or at parent-teacher conferences.
The parents’ and the teacher’s involvement will directly impact the student’s motivation to persevere despite difficulties. It’s also important to inform your child’s teacher of any unusual situation at home or event that could affect your child’s behaviour and motivation, for example.
During back-to-school night or parent-teacher conferences, don’t hesitate to ask about classroom rules and culture, assessment activities (e.g., dictations, weekly tests), homework, or learning strategies. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of what your child’s learning environment is like and you’ll feel better equipped to support your child at home. This will also give the teacher the opportunity to get to know your child better; your insight will guide them in how they’ll interact with your child.
Although it’s advised to encourage children to be independent with homework, you may have to be more involved and supervise your child. Sometimes children refuse to collaborate with their parents, which makes things more difficult. In that case, parents can offer their help only for organizing and planning the schedule (identifying the tasks the child wants to do each day of the week). Don’t impose your ideas. Let your child experiment. Then, you can make suggestions. What’s important is to show your child you’re available to help.
Sometimes, the atmosphere can be tense when children do their homework or study with their parents. Turning to academic support can be very helpful, if only to have another person outside of the family unit who’s less emotionally involved. This person can advise you and share tips. You usually have to pay for this type of service, but it will be beneficial to maintaining a healthy relationship with your child.
There are many organizations offering academic support, such as Tutorax in Quebec City, who is a partner of Kaleido. In addition to academic support, Tutorax offers remedial education, speech therapy and language stimulation. To learn more about its special offers for Kaleido clients, visit the page about the exclusive accompanying services.
In short, to help your child who has fallen behind in school, the key is to give them short-term goals. Even if your child is having a hard time in school, don’t let stress take over. Keep your child motivated by acknowledging their small wins and progress.
Annie Martin, Bachelor of Psychoeducation
Member of Nanny secours