for the love of children…
THE UNDERACHIEVING CHILD
By Lawrence B. Lennon, Ph. D.
If parents accept the premise that it is their responsibility to help their underachieving child (which I hope they do!), I wish to offer some suggestions that have proved to be successful:
- Talk to your child. Show your concern. See if there are any personal problems at home or at school which can be resolved. But remember, regardless of any problems which may be present, children need to succeed in school.
- Talk with your child’s teachers to see the teacher’ perspectives. Ask for suggestions as to how you can help reinforce at home what is being taught in the classroom. Support the teachers.
- Set up a quiet study spot, well lighted and free of auditory and visual distractions. A child’s bedroom is usually the worst place for an underachieving child to study; there are too many distractions. The kitchen table, the bathroom, or a special study area where a child can be monitored usually works quite well.
- Set up a positive reinforcement schedule for good school behavior, good study habits. And especially for good efforts and good grades. Depending upon the child’s age, hugs, stars, prizes, etc., are great motivators.
- Institute a weekly monitoring system so you can know immediately if your child is handing in his homework, doing well on quizzes, and behaving himself in class. Let the teachers know what you are doing and ask for their cooperation. Without information from the schools, you are beat! Underachievers are typically not the best message carriers. Go directly to the teachers. Exercise your right and love for your child.
- Make sure any missing assignment is completed and handed in even if it is long past due. Poor test performance indicates a lack of knowledge and preparation. Parents and child should review and correct every exam on which the child did poorly.
- Check your child’s homework and require corrections to careless mistakes or sloppy work. When your child genuinely does not understand something, parents should become tutors.
- Quiz your child before every exam. Be sure your child understands the material. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
- Make sure your child does all extra credit projects. Underachievers need all the help they can get. When teachers make extra learning experiences available, parents should require this extra effort of their children.
- When a child continuously misbehaves in the classroom, parents should periodically attend class with the child. The message being “If you continue to choose to not be responsible, I love you enough to be in school to help you.”The best motivator—bar none—is success. Success breeds success. If a child is doing well, continue with encouragement and support and let him fly. If a child is underachieving, continue with encouragement and support, but add direct guidance. We as parents must never stand by and watch our children seriously jeopardize their futures and self-esteem by failing.Let our love for our children be matched by our courage to help them when they need it.
The best motivator—bar none—is success. Success breeds success. If a child is doing well, continue with encouragement and support and let him fly. If a child is underachieving, continue with encouragement and support, but add direct guidance. We as parents must never stand by and watch our children seriously jeopardize their futures and self-esteem by failing.
Let our love for our children be matched by our courage to help them when they need it.