When my child doesn’t perform at school

Parents often feel discouraged, disappointed and worried when their children do their best to perform in school, but the results are not what they expected. 

The first things to take are to:
  • Ensure that your expectations were reasonable and in line with your child’s abilities.
  • Keep possible situational factors in mind such as illness, changes in the environment or routine or any traumatic incidents that could have affected your child.
  • Rule out the possibilities of e.g. depression, ADHD or likewise conditions.
There can be other reasons why children sometimes fail to perform despite putting in a lot of effort, which can include the following.

1.  Motivation and support
Children who are not motivated to study will find it difficult to get started and stay focused.  They often need a lot of support. Help them to set reasonable goals to work towards and give adequate guidance. 

2.  Prioritising and relaxation
Most children’s schedules are very busy and they might become overwhelmed with activities and schoolwork. Help them to plan and prioritise to get everything done on time, with the least amount of stress. Make time to relax. Children do get tired and an exhausted child can’t live up to his/her full potential. You might want to read this article about finding balance.

3.  Interest and aptitude
A child who is not interested in the content of a subject may find it difficult to understand and study the information.  Take your child for an aptitude test and choose subjects he/she will likely need in the future. Use colours or pictures to make the content more interesting and easier to remember.

4.  Study environment
The study environment should be quiet, with enough light and good ventilation and the child should sit on a comfortable chair and table. Avoid areas where there are unnecessary distractions.

5.  Friends and bullies
Friends have a big influence on children. Peer pressure might cause a child to neglect schoolwork to try to fit into a certain group. Be involved in your child’s life, know the friends and provide your child with the necessary skills to stand up against peer pressure and bullies.

6.  Learning styles
Children learn and memorise information in different ways. Although the main teaching style is through reading and listening, some children find it difficult to learn using these styles.  Find out what style suits your child best and help him/her to use that learning style optimally.

7.  Stress
When children experience stress or anxiety it can become an obstacle towards learning, memorising and reproduction of the content.  Ask them questions on the content before a test. When children feel in control of the situation, they will experience less stress. Teach them relaxation exercises to do before writing a paper. 

Parents need to be involved and talk to their children about their physical and mental well-being, friends and interests.  Be present in your child’s life and have understanding for his/her situation and give your love and support.

Read more about these exercises that can warm up your brain before a test.