Reasons Why Your Child May Be Struggling in School

It’s really tough for a parent to watch your child struggle in school; especially when you know your child is bright and has always been a good learner. It’s even more difficult when a child who has always been an excellent student suddenly starts bringing home failing grades. While it’s tough for parents, it’s important to remember that it’s tough for your children too; they are struggling and may not even understand why themselves. They could also be too afraid to tell you what’s wrong for fear that they will be seen as a failure, or that you will be angry with them.

When you notice your child’s grades starting to slip or when they begin misbehaving at school, there’s usually an underlying reason. Teachers will let you know when there’s a problem but they have so many other students that they are generally not aware of an underlying cause. The only way to get to the bottom of the problem and find a solution is to talk to your child.

Sit down alone and let them know that you are not angry; you are simply trying to help them. Encourage them to talk, let them know that you know how smart they are and that they deserve the very best. Sit with them while they do homework, or bring home workbooks at their grade level and see if you can figure it out.

There is an entire list of possible issues that are causing your child to struggle in school, and together you can figure it out. To help make the process easier, here is a list of common reasons that children struggle so that you know where to begin looking.

The Eyes Have It

Many times the underlying cause of school struggles is vision problems. If your child complains of frequent headaches or you notice him squinting a lot, it may be time for a trip to the eye doctor. If you notice these things, ask your child about how well they are seeing. Ask where they sit in class and if they sometimes have trouble seeing the board or other presentations. Many children, especially if they are a bit older, will pretend that they don’t have a problem because they don’t want glasses.

If you think their eyes are the issue, don’t take their word for it when they say otherwise; book an appointment with an eye doctor to find out for sure.

Word Jumbles

If everything you looked at appeared like those childhood games of “Unscramble the Word,” you can imagine that it would be pretty frustrating after a while. This is how children with dyslexia feel every day, but since they cannot explain what they see, the problem is often overlooked.

When you are reading with a child and the information just does not seem to compute, or they have a very difficult time reading words or remembering what they just read, your child may have dyslexia. This disorder makes it extremely hard for your child to process anything written, and could explain why a child who is excellent at hands-on projects does not do well with math and spelling.

Learning or Behavioral Disorders

Disorders in children are just like those in adults; you feel horrible and have no control over it. It’s actually worse for children because they don’t even know or understand what’s going on. Problems like ADD or ADHD make it nearly impossible for your child to learn, comprehend, remember, or even manage to behave. These disorders can be treated through therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

If you suspect that your child’s struggle in school is more than just an attempt to test boundaries, don’t ignore it; the sooner your child is diagnosed and gets help, the sooner he’ll be back on the road to success.

Victims of Circumstance

Whether you notice it or not, children are greatly affected by the things going on at home and all around them. They are incredibly perceptive, and just because you don’t talk to them about any struggles that are happening does not mean that they are not aware that something is wrong. If there is a lot of stress, fighting, or other unhappy things happening in the home, or if there has been a death or even the birth of a new baby, children are impacted. You often are not aware they anything is wrong, but their feelings are reflected in their grades and school performance.

If a once perfect student and happy child is suddenly acting out and failing classes, it may be time to take a look at your home situation and how it is affecting them.


Sometimes the brightest children are the ones who suddenly struggle the most. You know that they know the material; they just seem to give up and take absolutely no interest. Many children struggle because they are not being challenged enough; they are completely bored and tired of doing mundane things that they already know how to do. Don’t allow your child to go from genius to failure because he’s bored; talk to teachers and principals and see what you can do to either have more challenging work given to your child or have him bumped up a grade.

1 Comment

  1. Many children are diagnosed with ADD when the trouble is actually a processing disorder. For these kids, looking at lots of math questions on a homework assignment is completely overwhelming. It's too much to process, not because they can't do the problems, but rather because of the intimidating number of questions causes them extreme stress. A fifth grader might cry or refuse to do a lengthy assignment and older child might fib about assignments and leave them undone. Have your child tested if you can afford it. This way you'll have a written report you can share with your child's school. Special accommodations will be put in place such as reducing the number of math questions they are required to do as homework, extending time to complete tests or lengthy assignments. Many schools offer special programs to help these students stay organized as it's incredibly hard for them to take notes, hold on to old review sheets and tests needed for exams, and organize their time. At home it's important for parents to be aware of weekly assignments and help they children work bit by bit, working for 25 minutes at a time and taking 20 minute break in between. It you are vigilant about having updated reports on your child's learning differences, you can arrange for them to have extra time completing the SAT and ACT tests as they prepare for college.

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