Do you have a child that is not doing well in school? Looking for some tips on how you can help your child succeed in school? Well, I am happy to have Leon Scott Baxter, the author of the newly released parenting book, Secrets of Safety-Net Parenting, (affiliate link) and the founder of the website SafetyNetters.com share with us his tips for how to help your child do better in school. He’s been an elementary school teacher for eighteen years and he is parent of two happy, successful daughters, ages eleven and fifteen. The first step is talking with your child about why they are not doing well in school and addressing any issues. If your child still seems to resist studying for school, these tips should help.
What Do You Do When Your Child Is Not Doing Well In School? Find Your Child’s Passion!
I have been a parent for fifteen years, but a teacher for eighteen. So you might think that in my mind, a child’s success is determined by his academic progress. And, you’d be right…when I’m wearing my “teacher hat” (a velvet green number with a tassel). But, when I don my “daddy hat,” (a fedora-like thing with a feather) I realize there’s more to success than school. Here I will share with you my parenting advice for when your child is not doing well in school.
Isn’t School Integral for Success in Life?
Some of the most successful people in the world did poorly in school (Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, Peter Jackson, Peter Jennings), while others even dropped out of high school (Richard Branson, Quentin Tarantino, Vidal Sassoon, Jim Carrey and Elton John).
The thing is, as parents we often look at our child’s success through the lens of academic growth. And, why not? That’s what our children are spending most of their time doing, seven hours a day, five days a week for thirteen years. Why wouldn’t they be good at school since they spend so much time there? Yet, some kids, just struggle academically, and for many, they begin to dislike going to class, feel bad about themselves, and give up on school.
What’s a Parent to Do?
Often we yell and fight and struggle with our children. We threaten and consequence when they don’t want to study, won’t do their homework or don’t pass a test. But, the secret is not in pushing school so hard. It’s all about finding their passion.
When a child who struggles in school is allowed to explore their passion, anxiety vanishes and suddenly they enjoy what they are doing (biking, painting, dance, building).
When anxiety is gone, you as a parent have the opportunity to join your child in the passion she loves, and your child will make a positive association with you as the parent who is participating in what she loves, and not forcing her to do what she avoids.
How To Find The Passion
To find your child’s passion, you watch him. What is it that he gravitates toward when the TV is off and the screens are put away? Listen to her. When you are driving her to soccer practice or sitting at the dinner table, what does she talk about? Good chance this is her passion.
Do I Give Up On School?
Not at all. Here’s the beauty of passions. Once a child finds their passion, they return to it, and the passion becomes a strength. Once they have a strength, they feel successful. When a person feels successful they also begin to feel confident and able to venture into areas that are more challenging.
How Does That Relate to School?
Your daughter wins an art contest. She’s elated, on Cloud 9. You tell her how proud you are of her. You offer kudos and praise. Then, you tell her, “Let’s chip away at some of that homework and I’ll take you out to a celebratory ice cream.” Good chance she’ll jump into that homework for a number of reasons:
- She’s got endorphins flowing from her recent success.
- She is associating your interaction positively since you previously were a part of her passion, and
- She has seen that success takes work. Winning the art contest took patience and practice to make her passion a strength.
Now, she may not ever become the top student in her trig class or get an A+ on her English final, but with confidence in her passions, success in her strengths, and a parent there to support, but not force, there’s a good chance that she’ll stop resisting school, especially when she starts seeing the successes on her report card. With the anxiety level lowered, she will resist less, and start to find more success at school.
Success builds confidence, which leads to working harder which brings her back to more success, a wonderful success-confidence-academic cycle which will make everyone pleased. I hope you find my parenting advice for when your child is not doing well in school useful. Feel free to leave comments or questions.