Student Struggling in School: 8 Simple Things You Can Do at Home to Help
Experts share how parents can help if their student is struggling in school and showing signs of school-related stress or anxiety.
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5. Establish and maintain routines.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids struggle with the structure of school,” Fuhrman says. Accustomed to attending school in their pajamas while lying on the couch, simply getting dressed and out the door is a big change for kids. If getting ready in the morning is a struggle, try making a checklist, with pictures for younger children, of what your child needs to do before they leave the house in the morning:
- brush teeth
- get dressed
- eat breakfast
- put homework in backpack
This way, instead of repeatedly telling them what to do, you can just ask what’s next on the list. Laying out clothes and even setting the breakfast table the night before can also save valuable early morning minutes. You can make a similar checklist for bedtime routines.
“The more that they’re held accountable at home, the more they’ll do at school,” Fuhrman says. Dr. Bren adds that predictability, routines, and structure can give kids something to hold onto when so much feels in flux. “Think of shaking up a snow globe,” she says. “Anything we can do as parents to give anchors to our kids while that snow is flurrying is helpful.”
6. Don’t over-schedule your kids—leave room for down time.
It can be tempting to sign up for activities every day of the week now that after-school programs are back in session, but Dr. Bren believes it’s best to keep commitments to a minimum. “I recommend parents pick one sport and one other thing, maximum. Don’t feel compelled to over-enrich your child,” she says. Unstructured down time also gives kids a chance to decide for themselves what they would like to do, offering a counterbalance to a day of being directed by adults.
7. Keep or modify some routines you established during the quarantine.
The return to school is mostly an enormous relief for parents, but it also marks the end of an era that, while challenging, may have provided rituals that helped your child feel secure. Nightly dinners may no longer be possible with commutes and athletic practices, but perhaps you can all sit together at the table on Saturday and Sunday or have family breakfast instead. Daily midday walks won’t work, but evening or weekend strolls might take their place.
8. Encourage plenty of sleep.
One of the greatest advantages to remote school was that it allowed students to sleep in and greet the day more rested. Make sure your children’s bedtimes are earlier to accommodate early-morning wake-up times and set screen-time limits to discourage scrolling before bed, as this can make it harder to fall asleep.
With families spending the day apart again, knowing what’s going on in your child’s life, and how to help, requires intent and attention. “You have to be really tuned in to your kid now,” Fuhrman says. Knowing that you’re there to listen and offer support may be just what your child needs to help them weather this transition.
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