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Tshepiso Makhele
5 minute read
26 Nov 2018
3:43 pm

What to do when your child fails a grade

Tshepiso Makhele

Poor concentration is a very common problem when it comes to failing grades.

Picture: iStock

Failure can never be a pleasant feeling, no matter how positive one tries to be. For any child or teenager, failing a grade can be devastating and extremely depressing.

For the child, it can’t be fun watching your friends move to the next grade while you get left behind to repeat a grade. For a parent, this reality can also be a scary one, often leaving you with guilt feelings, wondering if you have done enough to assist your child, and asking yourself in some cases if this could affect the child’s chances of getting into university or technikon.

But as demoralising as that report can be, a child should not allow it to be the end of their education, or feel so demoralised that they end up quitting school –and it’s your job as a parent to ensure that this does not happen.

So get to work. Help your child get back to the drawing board, and to leave the feelings of sadness and depression behind, allowing them to refocus on doing better. Yes it’s normal for them and you as a parent to feel a bit depressed about the failure, but dwelling on this will not put a pass on that report card.

As a parent it is important, however, to understand that repeating a grade might have damaging effects on a teen’s confidence. It is the time in their life when youngsters start comparing themselves to others, so they might end up feeling inadequate. The kid who failed is not necessarily less smart than the other kids who have passed.

So make an effort to be encouraging and be your child’s best cheerleader, while helping them pinpoint where they went wrong with their studies. Because, at this point, feelings of shame might start to grow.

Stress the bright side. Tell your child that although they are repeating a grade, they will at least have a headstart on everyone else in the class. They will know a little about studying ahead, and how much time is needed for which assignments, tests and exams. After all, they have learnt something from their previous experience of failing that grade.

Picture: Thinkstock

It’s vital for any parent to remind their children that it takes great commitment to get great results. Encourage your child to have friends who have focus, who are hardworking and serious about their studies.

You know what they say, “You can’t hang out with chickens and expect to soar with eagles”. Association is important – make a child grasp this concept.

Be a parent. Take action and don’t be afraid to address issues that need to be addressed. Sit down with your child and try to uncover the causes of them not having passed the previous year.

Peer pressure can cause a child to pick subjects that do not suit them personally, leading them to be overwhelmed with the work. Try to get to the bottom of the issue by communicating calmly with the child.

Find out if homework gets completed on time and if school work is thoroughly understood. It is your duty as a parent to do so, so play your part.

Mental health or stress can also play a huge role in causing a child to fail a grade. Don’t let denial prevent you from helping your child, but rather establish if any of these factors may have contributed. Stress can lead to trouble in concentration, and mental health issues, such as anxiety often have the same effect.

Hard as it might be to find out, substance abuse problems can also be a cause of failing a grade. So try to get to the root cause of the problem in order to root it out.

Picture: Shutterstock

Poor concentration is a very common problem when it comes to failing grades. Your child may or may not be mindful that he/she has concentration issues, and hence is missing out on important discussions in class – so it’s often best to have a word with the teacher and get their view on your child’s behaviour, and their work performance, allowing them to offer advice on how you as a parent can best help your child do better.

Kids with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can struggle with concentrating in class, and this condition does not necessarily have an age limit when it comes to diagnosis. A child or adult can be diagnosed at any time of their life, in their teen years as well.

For some children, structure is the problem, and an inability to control the amount of time they have. As a parent, make an effort to create a schedule for a child, specifying playtime, homework time and home chores time, that way affording them a structure that will guide them.

Find strategies to assist them to be more organised in terms of their school work and remembering which work is due when.

Asking for help for teenagers is still a notion foreign to them. Offer them that help without them having to ask you first. How about you organise a tutor at home or ask a teacher for some extra lessons for your child at a reasonable fee?

Sometimes a child just needs a little bit of a push in the right direction, a bit of motivation from people they respect, and a parent that refuses to give up on them. Be that parent.

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