School Year Off to a Rough Start? Four Surprising Ways to Fix It

rough startOnce the shiny newness of the school year has worn off, parents sometimes start to sense that things with their kid seem to be a bit “off.” Read on to learn how to deal with your child’s rough start to the school year.

Sometimes it can be hard to put a finger on it – they don’t tackle their studies with any enthusiasm, or they give one-word answers to questions (even ones that normally elicit at least three). Or sometimes the problem is completely obvious – they come home feeling confused about a certain class every day, or they have already received a poor mark.

Before the molehill becomes a mountain, now is the time to nip these issues in the bud:

  1. Ask them what’s wrong at a calm moment. Not when they’ve just walked in the door or when they are getting ready to study. Try to catch them at a time when they are completely relaxed, whether they’re chilling listening to music or you’ve taken them out for a smoothie during a study break. Many times kids aren’t even sure what’s wrong, but the more they talk, the more apt they are to eventually identify the real problem. It could be as nebulous as a feeling that the teacher doesn’t like them, or as concrete as the fact that they’re the youngest kid in a class and they feel uncomfortable being called on.
  1. Ask them what they think a good solution might be. Typically kids don’t appreciate parents swooping in to “fix” their problem. They often know what they need to or should do, but hearing it from you can really make them dig in their heels. Perhaps they need to be more assertive in class or allocate more time to studying without cramming. If they truly have no solutions, then you can suggest some.
  1. Have them keep a time diary and then take a good look at their schedule. This is a great tactic for anyone who feels overwhelmed – including us parents. You know how sometimes you think you’re only spending 10 minutes on Facebook, but it’s more like 40. Having your child track how they are actually spending their time – not how they think they are – allows them to find those pockets where they might be able to do some studying. That time spent idly reading the cereal box and harassing their sibling at breakfast or during the lag between school and practice starting might be ideal for a 10-minute review. This also might illuminate that they are truthfully overscheduled – and the whole family needs to determine what priorities should be shifted.
  1. Enlist a tutor. Nothing can relieve an overworked teen quite like having someone sit down with them – virtually – and help them with their homework. At, we have a roster of experienced experts who can take that confusing Algebra 2 or AP Chem assignment and help your child really understand it – using the chat feature, interactive whiteboard and file sharing tool to ease the process. And even though parents love our 24/7 “on demand” feature, we offer more than just one evening’s help with a challenging assignment. Tutors at are focused on helping your child understand the subject on a greater level – even going over what the teacher might be doing the next day so they enter class with a leg up. It’s a wonderful support that can really give your child confidence in a class they might be wrestling with.

Getting off on the wrong foot is no fun, but the time to course correct is before the issue gets too large. Helping your child identify the real problem and a practical solution can get you on the path to success in no time.


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