Would you know if your teenager was having trouble in school? Odds are that unless they are struggling with behavior or they tell you themselves, you won’t know that there is a problem until that first progress report or report card comes home. Unfortunately, by that time, there may be damage that cannot be undone. Every quarter and each semester of your teenager’s high school career is important to their future and oftentimes parents are the last to know when there is a problem. Here are some of the most common signs that your teenager is struggling in school and what you can do to help support them.
1. Behavior Issues
Not all acting out comes from the same cause. If your teenager is getting in trouble at school or acting up during class it may have more to do with their academics than their attitude. Students who are struggling academically may take their frustrations out or may be disruptive during class. Look beyond the behavior to establish the root cause rather than just dismissing it as bad behavior.
2. Homework Takes the Wrong Amount of Time
The only way you can gauge whether or not your teenager is spending as much time as they should be on their homework is to discuss this issue with their teachers. The amount of homework varies between school years and across teachers making it difficult for parents to gauge how much time is too much time but this is an important metric because it can act as a red flashing sign that something is wrong. In some cases, struggling students will take much longer than expected to complete their assignments which can indicate a problem. However, not spending enough time can also indicate a problem as students who are struggling with the material make skip over problems or avoid assignments all together.
3. Too Many Sick Days
If your teenager seems to be coming down with every bug or has vague physical symptoms on a regular basis, they may be avoiding school for a reason that has nothing to do with their physical health. Have their doctor check to ensure there is nothing medical going on but make an appointment to talk to their teachers as well.
4. Avoiding Talking about School
Most teenagers tend toward one word non-answers when asked about school, homework, teachers, classes, etc. However, if your teenager refuses to discuss school, gets defensive or angry when you bring it up, or seems upset if you even broach the subject, there may be something going on that you should know about.
5. Social Withdrawal
Struggling in school can impact teens in a variety of ways and may cause them to withdraw from previously enjoyed activities and distance themselves from friends. If you notice your teen spending more time alone, skipping practices or meetings, quitting activities, or failing to follow-through on obligations to their friends, clubs, or teams, it can be a sign that they are experiencing some difficulty academically.
While each of the above signs can indicate a problem with academics, they are also signs of other serious problems that teenagers may be facing. If you are concerned about your teen’s mental or physical health, don’t wait to get guidance from a professional.