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Top Reasons That Kids Struggle in School

by Sara Mahuron, studioD

Parents often struggle with understanding why their child struggles at school. Rather than searching for answers on your own, spend some time with your child to see if the two of you can find the cause. Kids struggle with all sorts of issues; some of them are short-lived or easy to remedy while others can be more complex. The important thing is that you recognize she is struggling and let her know you are in it together.

Learning Disabilities

Recognizing that your child has a learning, developmental, social or behavioral disorder is important. Your child may not understand what is happening to her -- or you may mistake it for something else and your child may shut down. To treat it or gain control over the disorder, you must get your child help. If your child seems distracted, socially aloof, withdrawn, easily stimulated, anxious, violent, otherwise troubled or is acting out in any way, seek help quickly from a counselor or the school. Disorders such as ADHD or anxiety may be to blame and require medical intervention.


A little bit of boredom builds patience -- but severe boredom can lead to problems at school. The cause may be lack of motivation, or your super-star may be too brilliant for her learning environment. When learning no longer seems fun, it can cease. Talk to your child and her teacher. Finding the root to this problem should be simple. Your interest on its own might be enough to get her motivated. Or if school is too easy, challenge yourself to find her a more stimulating learning environment.

Health Problems

Sometimes a physical problem is to blame. Perhaps she has trouble seeing or hearing. Lead poisoning can lead to under-performance and should be ruled out if your child could have been exposed to lead. Children who miss a lot of school due to illness may fall behind. Skipping breakfast and dealing with hunger the first part of the day can negatively affect performance. Make sure she is getting a good night's sleep and that a sleep disorder is not to blame.

Relationship Problems

Everything that happens at home or with your family can affect her learning experience and behavior at school. Family problems, social problems, financial problems or relationship problems can all be difficult for children to deal with. The first sign of this might be when she begins struggling at school. Parents are at an advantage when it comes to recognizing this culprit as they know firsthand what is going on at home. Educators can only guess. Problems at home are also ones that parents have the greatest control over.


In some cases, it is the school, not the child, that is the problem. If this is the case, your child will likely clue you in to this. Frequent disagreements with teachers or staff should be investigated. Sometimes children do better with certain teachers who are able to teach to their learning styles. Check your school's report card to see how the school is performing overall and get involved so you know firsthand what is happening.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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