There is a perception that good students are those who achieve the best grades and never get in trouble. But a student can struggle with academic work and behavior and still be good. Rather than labeling students good or bad, teachers and parents should strive to help each child achieve his personal best.
The most common type of “struggling student” is the student who has academic problems. This student may complete his or her work, but not get much of it correct. Or the student may have problems completing assignments at all, such as forgetting homework and not preparing for quizzes and tests. This can be frustrating for children. They may get angry at parents, teachers or themselves. But this does not make them bad students. It makes them students who need additional help mastering the material or learning organizational skills.
Some students do well academically but get into trouble for talking too much in class and disrupting other students. Some students fight with classmates verbally or physically. Students can get labeled as “bad” when they disrupt the class, but according to the Maryland School Mental Health Alliance, 5 to 15 percent of students need specific support to help them with school behavior. Working on a child’s behavior needs to be a collaborative effort between the school and parents. Labeling a child is counterproductive.
Students can do well academically and have spotless behavioral records, but not fit in well with other students. Teachers don’t always see these students as struggling, but parents and the children themselves know there's a problem. Students who don’t have friends or are bullied by other children face significant difficulties at school. According to Kids Health, the effects of bullying can be serious, including affecting children’s future self-esteem. And bullying has contributed to national tragedies like school shootings. It’s important for educators to understand that students can have good grades but still struggle in school.
A good student is a student who tries. Just because a student has trouble academically, behaviorally or socially doesn't mean the student isn’t attempting to learn. Jeanne Geddes-Key -- director of The College School at the University of Delaware, which specializes in serving children who have learning and behavior problems in school -- says, “Although academics may be difficult for a child, the child may have other gifts, such as a talent in art or music. Parents can encourage children to achieve in these areas.” Rather than making students feel they are “bad” because they are struggling in one or more areas, parents and teachers should help them improve while celebrating the things they do well.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images