Could you be contributing to your child’s academic struggles without even knowing it? Many students are struggling needlessly for a variety of reasons that may include diet, sleep patterns or over stimulation. While your child may have some academic struggles that require intervention, check out some of my commonly overlooked causes that often contribute to academic struggles.
If your child is struggling academically, their sleep patterns may be to blame. Kids, (especially teens) need much more sleep than adults and some simply aren’t getting enough. Parents often complain that they are dragging their kids out of bed in the morning to get them to school on time. The problem? Their brain may be on a different schedule. When kids stay up too late, their body will try to “catch up” on the sleep they are missing. Other kids might be able to wake up on time, but remain both exhausted and irritable most of the day. To help your child get back on track, remove any distractions from their room at least an hour before bedtime. Even more important is to stick with a consistent bedtime and waking schedule to help their brains get into a rhythm. A well-rested child is much more prepared to handle the long school days and barrage of new content on a daily basis.
Poor Eating Habits:
Sometimes it can be an uphill battle to get kids to eat healthy, but definitely worth it. Lots of kids are super sensitive to both caffeine and sugar like both my daughter and me. If your child is on a “sugar high” or even “crashing” it may become very difficult to concentrate in class. The key? A diet that includes lots of good fats and proteins on a consistent basis. When kids refuse breakfast it often leaves them depleted and unable to focus on new information during class. A great smoothie or protein bar can be an easy breakfast for those kids who simply don’t want to sit down for a big meal. If your child is a picky eater, check out my post here with tips to banish picky eating. In order for kids to be their best, they must fuel the body appropriately and you can be the best example of that!
If you don’t know how terrified I am of screen time, click here. Screen time can be a disruptive force when it is unregulated. Teens seem to spend hours in their room doing “homework” that requires them to be online. IPads and tablets have become a tool to help younger kids “relax” and unwind. Screens not only disrupt sleep rhythms, they also provide students with instant gratification in just about everything they do. If they don’t know an answer, they simply “Google it.” When students are challenged in a classroom setting, their tolerance for struggling through a math problem or reading comprehension passage is significantly reduced. Since we have to encourage them to struggle a bit and push through difficult problems and tasks, screens really hinder the development of this skill. Allowing your child some screen time is okay! After all, most adults I know use Google for just about everything. However, we have to make sure that they are practicing these key problem-solving and critical thinking skills away from their screens. A little regulation goes a long way to helping your child develop those other skills necessary for academic success.
In today’s society, participation in extracurricular activities begins as soon as possible. The mad rush to get children involved in an activity for the sole purpose of putting it on a college application is almost dizzying. With all of that pressure and practice, some students find themselves beginning their homework assignments well after 8:00 pm. If we are expecting them to succeed, we cannot possibly ask them to start homework assignments well into the night. On top of that, many kids don’t have any downtime whatsoever. They are so exhausted from their activities that they are unable or unwilling to be engaged in their academics. Do I think we should eliminate all extracurricular activities? Absolutely not. Do I think we need to assess the amount of time commitment we are asking of our children? You bet I am. When the bulk of their time is devoted to activities outside of the classroom, it’s no wonder they cannot keep up with the demands of their school work. In this case, it’s all about balance. Activities can be a great way for kids to learn key social skills, but these social skills cannot be in lieu of academic skills. Try to prioritize their favorites and leave the rest for summer break.
In this super fast-paced world, the demands on our children seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. When we have concerns about our child’s progress, it’s easy to think that our children need academic intervention. Take a look at some of the changes you as a parent can make in your child’s daily activities and habits. I can almost guarantee that you will find some welcome changes in their academic progress!
Mom, wife, educator, and loyal friend. Passionate about all things reading and writing. Sharing parenting tips with an educator’s lens.