Ups and downs in school are inevitable, and some subjects and grades might go more smoothly than others for your child. No child has a completely trouble-free school experience, but it’s important to be aware of issues that might have deeper roots and require more intensive intervention.
Here are five signs that could indicate a bigger problem:
Sign #1: Poor comprehension
Poor reading comprehension can be a sign of many different learning issues and can affect all subjects. Pay attention to how your child completes reading and writing assignments. Does it seemingly take far longer than it should to read a page? Does your child have a hard time answering questions about the reading material? Is your child’s writing often unclear with many spelling and grammatical mistakes? These could all be signs of low comprehension.
Sign #2: Poor attention span
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is mostly associated with a poor attention span, but even students not diagnosed with such an issue might need support improving their ability to focus and complete work. Take note of your child’s work habits while studying. Do you notice a lot of gazing out the window? Do you often notice that your child is on the phone or internet instead of studying? Do you notice that your child works for only a few minutes before getting distracted? This could also be a sign that there’s a lack of motivation, often due to a lack of skills.
Sign #3: Difficulty retrieving information
There are several types of memory techniques, all of which are essential for students to be able to store and retrieve information when they read and listen in class. Do you notice your child struggling to answer questions about material just read or does your child forget information recently learned? Or, does your child remember recent topics taught but have a harder time recalling topics taught a month ago? These could be signs of poor study techniques or even low reading comprehension.
Sign #4: Weak organization and time management skills
While many children grapple from time to time with organization and time management, consistent difficulty planning ahead on homework, staying organized, and paying attention to details could be signs of something bigger. Specifically, your child might lack executive functioning skills, which are essential aptitudes that allow students to self-regulate and achieve their goals. Remote or partly-remote learning has compounded this problem for many students since the information is coming at them from many different platforms and formats. Older students have many different subjects to study and plan for, so it’s important that these skills be strong by the end of middle school.
Sign #5: Poor grades in language-based subjects
As mentioned, a poor grade in any subject is a red flag that something is amiss, but if you observe problems specifically with reading fluency, writing, or spelling, your child’s challenges may be widening. It’s important to have a strong reading foundation in order to perform well in all subjects.
If you notice one or more of the above signs, or other red flags such as low self-esteem, apathy about school, or homework taking an exceptionally long time, reach out to an education professional. Communicating your concerns with your child's teacher is important to ensuring their success. Tutoring and help outside of the classroom or virtual learning environment may also prove beneficial.