How to help a teenager struggling in school? Adolescence is a period of physical, cognitive, and psychological maturity. It comes with many changes like growth spurts, self-awareness, a heightened affinity towards risks, and a sense of independence.
For teenagers, high school is more work, complex concepts, higher expectations from themselves and their families, plus extracurricular activities. With this much pressure, it is unsurprising that some of them begin to have a hard time in school. Some of them start to get into a pattern of poor grades and disruptive behavior.
Why do teenagers struggle in school?
School is a large part of a teenager’s life, therefore, problems in school are mostly indicators of crises in parts of their lives. Many of them struggle with their academics and, more often than not, it is not because they are intellectually deficient.
Learning disorders that may have been overlooked in early childhood may surface. These are usually characterized by difficulty with reading and comprehension, trouble understanding and forming written language, trouble using numbers and understanding mathematical concepts, difficulty translating images into meaningful information, trouble recollecting information, and inability to focus. Common learning disorders include Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyscalculia, Auditory Processing Disorder, and Dysgraphia.
Furthermore, one of the most influential factors in learning is the competence of the teachers and their methods of teaching. Incompetent teachers and unfavorable learning methods can leave teenagers struggling to comprehend lessons and cultivate effective study habits.
Plus, the need for independence which results from the thrills of being on the threshold of adulthood, and the sometimes overwhelming peer pressure, can make teenagers engage in risky behaviors like having reckless sex, smoking, drinking heavily, abusing drugs, and cultism. Hence, they have little or no interest in school activities and develop poor study habits which will reflect in their grades and overall school experience.
Mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety can also contribute to teenagers’ struggle in school.
How to help a teenager struggling in school.
The first step to helping a teenager struggling in school is to ascertain the problem. It is expedient to pinpoint the exact issues they’re dealing with first so you can focus on the best options that will suit their needs. If you suspect a learning disorder, you can seek help from a counselor.
There are also a plethora of resources that can help you understand and diagnose your teenager correctly. Studies have shown that teenagers with learning disabilities are prone to depression and behavioral problems. Therefore, seeking professional help is advisable to zero in on the problem and take necessary steps towards recovery.
The school’s role.
The safety and support system of a school’s management is instrumental to the students’ well-being. Thus, the school management has a huge role in ensuring that the school environment is conducive for learning.
- Employing well-trained staff adept at handling teenagers.
- Helping their students get professional help, in the case of mental health disorders.
- Building and maintaining a secure and supportive environment for teenagers.
- Incorporating social-emotional learning into the school’s curriculum.
- Investing in staff mental health.
- Review disciplinary policies to ensure fairness.
Role of teachers.
A Teen’s success in school is largely dependent on the expertise of their teachers and the learning methods they employed. We all experience the world in different ways; in the same vein, we assimilate knowledge in diverse ways. However, the intellectual needs of each student must be catered for.
The teacher’s role is to study and understand the various learning styles of their students. Understanding and experimenting with these methods will profoundly influence their teaching techniques and how they handle their students. For instance, group projects and individual assignments should be based on individual methods of learning.
Ignoring or not recognizing the diverse methods of learning might leave some teens lagging and struggling with their academics because their suitable modes of learning have been neglected.
Moreover, teachers should focus on the strengths of their students. Every teen is good at something: sports, talking, fashion, math, and so on. It is the responsibility of the teacher to help them recognize, appreciate, and develop their strengths. That way, they will develop a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Some teenagers who experience disorders like ADHD often experience severe disorganization. Therefore, educators should set up timetables for tasks that need to be performed to promote coordination, like study plans and group work. Also, because they have a hard time coping in school, teens may struggle with decision-making.
Teachers should encourage them to engage in things that interest them and give them a sense of empowerment. Most importantly, teachers should be compassionate about the inadequacies of their teenagers and encourage them to pursue their passions and become better versions of themselves.
Role of parents.
At this stage of their lives, even though they might not act like it, adolescents need their parent’s unwavering attention. They need all the support they can get to scale through challenges at school. Communication is key: It is the duty of parents to find out why their teen is struggling in school.
Regardless of how disappointed they may feel, they must not judge, yell, or compare themselves with other teens. They should be emphatic and encourage their teen to express himself. Adolescents tend to get defensive and rebellious when they feel like their opinions do not count.
Focus on their strengths:
Parents should make it a priority to discuss things that their teens are passionate about e.g. social media, music, writing. They should encourage their wards to pursue their interests, but gently emphasize the importance of education.
Contribute their quota:
For instance, if a teen likes to write, his parents should buy him a creative writing course, and get her an instrument if music is her passion. When adolescents can focus on things that give them a sense of accomplishment, they will feel less overwhelmed with school work and find it easier to cope.
Speak with their teachers and administrators:
They interact with the teens every day, so they know more about their attitude towards schoolwork. They can help parents understand the situation better. They can also liaise to find solutions.
If a teen struggles with school work, parents should offer to help them with it. If they are getting bullied at school, they should take the necessary measures to ensure that it stops. Also, if a teen is dealing with mental health issues or learning disorders, parents should reach out to a professional and ensure that they get the help they need.
Most adolescents have trouble at school because they do not know how to manage their time, prioritize studying, or focus. It is the parent’s responsibility to motivate them and provide the resources necessary to take relevant courses.
As parents, what part do you play in your teen’s struggles at school? Do you burden them with housework? Are you always harsh and unaccommodating? Do you nag or ‘lecture’ them after the slightest mistakes? Parents should reflect on these questions and make their homes emotionally safe for their ward.
Parents must understand that adolescence is a crucial stage in life. They should be patient with their wards as well as kind, compassionate, and respectful to their teenagers.
Together, these approaches can help teenagers understand what learning methods work for them, balance school with their other interests, withstand the necessary pressures of high school, and morph into well-rounded, responsible adults.
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