Help – My Child Is Falling Behind At School!

It doesn’t matter how old your child is, if you feel your child is falling behind at school, it’s wise to do something about it. It’s normal for any child, no matter what age, to have the occasional struggle, but when it happens on a regular basis, it needs attention from both parents and teachers.

When academic progress starts to slow down, it is often a symptom of either stress, anxiety, illness, a chronic medical issue or perhaps some psychological or neurological learning difficulties.

Naturally, if there is something physically wrong, such as asthma or diabetes, and the child is missing school because of this, then we have an obvious reason for him falling behind. However, sometimes there is nothing physical to see.

The thing to do is:

  • Make a list of the things you have noticed so far.
  • Behaviour problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Eating problems
  • Anxiety
  • Anger issues

Talk with your child’s teachers

Your child’s teacher is with him or her around six hours a day (primary school) so do chat with her and find out as much as you can, the questions you need to ask are:

  • Have you noticed anything different in my child’s learning?
  • Does my son/daughter concentrate – does he focus or seem distracted?
  • Does he answer questions in class?
  • If he can’t do something does he seem frustrated?

It’s a team effort!

When a child is falling behind at school it’s best to get a team together to help you a) find out why and b) put the right resources in place to help your child.

If the child’s eyesight and hearing are fine and his speech is normal, then once you have eliminated these possibilities, move on to the next step.

Try and think of any trauma related things that your child may have experienced. Has there been a death in the family? Even as long as a year ago? Has a beloved pet died? All these things play on a child’s subconscious mind! Have you as parents been arguing lately? Are your going through a separation? All these things can cause the child to start falling behind at school, no matter what age he is.

If you feel, as a parent, that it may be anxiety that is causing the problem, a few sessions of therapy will help, but then if things don’t improve, then a referral from your GP to CAMHS, to get an assessment would be the next step.

Look at the following list – any one of these things could cause your child to fall behind academically:

  • Sleep disorder
  • Eating problems
  • Toileting problems
  • OCD
  • ADHD
  • TICS
  • Suspected autism
  • Parents divorcing/separating
  • Death of a family member
  • Death of a pet
  • Trauma
  • Head injury
  • Chronic illness
  • Iron deficiency
  • Separation anxiety
  • School phobia
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Petit mal seizures

Be patient

It could take quite some time to get to the bottom of it so be patient and make sure you keep the communication going within the team. If your child is old enough, or mature enough, talk to him about it, don’t let him or her feel left out. By a process of elimination and some help for the teachers, teaching assistant and possibly your GP you should be able to get to the bottom of it.

If it IS a case that your child is anxious, having sleep or food issues etc.. do contact me at and ask my advice. If I feel you need to seek help further afield, I will advise accordingly.  And…remember you are not alone, and that parenting is hard at the best of times, but if you are consistent, persistent and patient – all will be resolved.

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