The school experience can be a daunting one for many children and there are plenty of reasons why. For instance, the standardised schooling experience excludes students who have diverse learning needs and talents. Those students who fail to fall within the operational framework of a very regimented academic experience can feel excluded, demotivated or even worse, alienated.
This is a troubling scenario because standardised education systems measure student abilities purely on subject performances during examinations and it excludes those students who display outstanding talent in other areas, for instance, art and sport.
This negative experience is further compounded by other factors like peer pressure, unfulfilled social needs and growing-up aches and pains. As a parent or an educator, it is important to know that these troubles are normal and are best tackled through acute monitoring and intervention. For that, it is important to watch out for the signs or the unspoken cries for help.
These are some important signs you could watch out for:
1. Falling grades:
Not every student can recapitulate Maths and Science with ease. If they are struggling in school, the report cards will show you what you feel instinctive. However, report cards should be treated as a measure of improvement and not as a measure of intelligence.
It is important to dissociate from the idea that grades are the only true representation of a student’s abilities. Falling grades could have a lot of reasons, but most of them point to some form of struggle whether internal or external.
2. Worrying demeanour:
Students who struggle with academics usually also have trouble with authorities in their classroom or school. It is difficult for students in schools to rationalise their feelings and they express it only in the ways they know - either through misbehaviour or by completely shutting off emotionally in class. Having said that, it is important for parents and teachers to rectify the problem and not the student.
3. Lack of interest in school:
If your child or student starts skipping school or finding ways to avoid anything related to academics, you’ve got to worry about it a little. Find ways to engage in a conversation with the child without pushing them back into school as it can traumatise them. If your child needs a mental break, allow them the space for it while you figure out how to solve the problem at hand.
4. Your child is stressed:
Stress can manifest in various ways. Some children react to stress by lashing out and indulging in misdemeanours. Others find it difficult to sleep, eat or focus on too many things including those that are enjoyable. Watch out for these signs and let your child know that you understand their stress.
5. Teachers tell you what they see:
As a parent, it is not easy to receive any critical or negative feedback about your child from their teachers. If the teachers are expressing concern, do not take it personally. Teachers are trained professionals who have spent years observing developmental changes in children and they could be the missing link to solving the big puzzle!
Since schools are reopening everywhere now post the pandemic, it is only natural that your child will struggle initially. They had to rewire the way they work for almost two years because of the pandemic and if your child is struggling with that transition, do not be worried about it.
Not everything is a cry for help but sometimes the “cry for help” can be very subtle and understated. Trust your instincts and leverage professional help if you find that your child needs intervention beyond what you can offer as a parent or a teacher.