Is Your Child Failing at School?

is your child failing at school

Is Your Child Failing At School?

Your daughter is brilliant. At age 10, she can name the Heads of State of 25 of the world’s biggest economies. She is very sharp and uses analytical and logical reasoning to arrive at conclusions. Your daughter is also very perceptive. The same can’t be said about her friends of similar age. You often wonder why, despite her intellect, your child is failing at school.


Unfortunately, despite her intelligence, she constantly underperforms at school. Her teachers say she often makes careless mistakes and cannot follow all instructions. She also has trouble paying attention. Even though she is excellent at remembering important facts, when it comes to writing things down, your daughter often misses things and cannot express herself. She uses incorrect words, and her grammar and punctuation are also poor, even though she can speak without a problem. It’s just that when she writes, it seems that it’s not the same person. Your daughter has terrible handwriting. It doesn’t make things easier for her.


A Parent’s Nightmare

Many parents are clueless as to what is happening. Some parents feel their child is not studying hard enough or paying attention to their studies. They seldom look toward the real culprit. It is understandably upsetting, but there is a chance that the child may have a learning disability or a developmental disorder that proves to be an obstacle.


Contrary to popular portrayal, learning disabilities come in many shapes and sizes. Some children have dyslexia, some have dyscalculia, others have dyspraxia or dysgraphia. Can you figure out which one of these the girl in the second paragraph has?


Globally,  5% to 15% of school-age children may have specific learning disorders (1). A 2021 figure from Pakistan was quite scary:  the 2021 research was conducted for school children studying mathematics in primary schools in Punjab (2). The findings revealed that 15.4% of schoolboys and 20.2% of schoolgirls had learning disabilities related to math.


What to do if Your Child is Failing at School

Be supportive

That should be the number one priority. But what does support mean? It does not include pushing your child to do more, arranging extra after-school tutoring, or repeating the curriculum of previous grades. That is counterproductive and will only put your child under stress. The aim is to help the child jump over this particular hurdle, not erect more hurdles – yes, that is what you will be doing if you do any of the above.


Understand your child’s shortcomings

The first step is understanding the specific learning disabilities (click to read our previous blog) or developmental disorders that a child may have. This knowledge allows parents to learn more about their child’s strengths and challenges, facilitating the creation of tailored strategies that cater to the child’s unique needs. But where will the tailored strategies come from?


Seek professional help

Understand that your child will require specialized help. Along with seeking the right kind of help, it is important to remember that learning disabilities are for life. They do not miraculously disappear, no matter how badly we want them to go away. Parents and professionals must work together to help the child overcome challenges. Parental support is elemental even when the child is in the capable hands of a professional. It is also important to remember that the results won’t be visible in a few weeks. It is a slow process that requires time and money.


Be an advocate

Parents are the biggest advocate for their children. They play a vital role in ensuring their child receives the best accommodations the school can provide. This involves working closely with teachers, school staff, and specialists to develop suitable plans for the child. It may also include added financial costs. But once in place, the customized plan, appropriate accommodations and modifications help the child learn at their own pace and style.


Celebrate small victories

Most of all, remember to celebrate small victories. This will encourage and motivate your child. It will also help parents stay real and grounded as well as manage expectations they may have.


What Not to Do

Your child’s teachers hinted that your child’s poor academic performance pointed towards underlying challenges. It may have sounded like a death knell. You blame yourself for it. Subconsciously, you start comparing your child to your other kids and maybe even random kids you know. And maybe you think that it would help if your child could repeat the previous grade(s). Practice makes perfect, right? Except in this case, repetition is merely going to waste precious time. Ultimately, the child and his parents will still stand where they started – at square one.


Don’t bully your child into achieving fantastic grades or competing with classmates. Each child is unique and shouldn’t be pushed into things they cannot do. This will only add to the child’s anxiety and stress, while achieving nothing else. Avoid using labels or stigmatizing language when discussing your child’s condition. Instead of focusing on your child’s failings, focus on their abilities and potential.


Parting Words

For many parents, their children need to perform well at school and achieve good grades. But it is important to focus on children’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Not all children can excel at school and achieve top grades. Their strengths lie in other areas. Parents need to find ways to harness their children’s strengths to realize their potential. This will help them raise happy, well-rounded and balanced children.



1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. 5th ed. American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013

2. Muhammad Javed Aftab, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ashfaq. Prevalence of Students with Learning Difficulties in Number Concepts at Primary Level in Punjab, Pakistan Journal of Educational Research, 4(4), 2021

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