How should parents support a student who has fallen behind in school?

School is one of the most stressful things for students to go through. Often times children feel overworked and misunderstood by adults. Teenagers have a lot going on during this pivotal point in their life and learning so many subjects can often be overbearing. On top of going to school and doing all the homework given by teachers, students are also expected to eat three proper meals, exercise, get a decent amount of sleep every day, and do other everyday necessities. Due to the amount of everything going on in a student’s life, schoolwork easily becomes too much to handle.

With how different schooling and everyday life has become over the years, many parents of these students don’t understand what their child is going through. A good way for parents to understand is to be patient and empathize with them. Shannon Doyne from The New York Times spoke with the psychologist Lisa Damour about this subject who says, “Empathy will get you further than anger.”  With all the stress from school, sometimes a student just needs their parent to listen to them. It’s a good, healthy way to express their emotions and it creates a closer relationship with them. It also gives them a chance to learn about the struggles their child is going through so that they can provide the proper support for them.

After listening and talking with their child, another way parents can help their children with school is by giving them the proper help they need. Tutoring is a great form of help that can be provided if that’s what the student prefers. Parents can also encourage their children to seek extra help from teachers. This may entail promoting their child to ask more questions during class to help them engage more in the subject. They may also suggest staying after school to ask the teacher to explain more about the material they need help with.

Another way adults can help is to reassure their children that they’re doing okay. Falling behind can add to the pre-existing stress which makes everything seem a lot worse. They may feel like they have let their parent down or even let themselves down. Letting them know that they’re doing all that they can do helps them feel more comfortable in their current situation. 

When my senior year started I felt completely unmotivated, especially with the Coronavirus happening – everything was so different. It was hard to adjust to all these sudden changes happening such as online classes. English was never my strongest subject, so with all of the essays and papers I had to do, I felt constantly stressed. I always felt behind in that class which made me stress over the work even more even if I was already spending hours doing all I could. A simple “good job!”, “you’re going great!”, or “you’re doing your best, and that’s what matters” would have helped so much. I remember waking up one morning to an email from my English teacher saying “proud of you!” and was so happy I cried for hours. I felt like I made someone proud and I actually accomplished something with all the effort I put into it. At that moment that class became so much easier to do, it felt like so much weight lifted off my shoulders just by a few words of reassurance.

Just by these small things, it’s easy for parents to help their children. Staying calm and listening to what their child has to say is key to the start of helping them bounce back to where they need to be.