Your son has always gotten good grades… maybe even been an exemplary student, and suddenly, he starts coming home with failing grades. What could this change be due to? Why is he suddenly getting these bad grades?
It is logical, and normal, that we worry about our children’s academic performance , because it is an important aspect of children’s development . But so is the emotional sphere , where we often find the explanations for the first.
In this article we reflect on the causes of these “new” bad grades and also on bad grades in general. Why do they happen? How to help our children in case their grades start to get worse?
Possible causes of poor grades
Lack of motivation
One of the most common causes of poor grades is lack of motivation . The lack of motivation has to do with the difficulties in connecting with a genuine interest in the learning process.
And this, in turn, is explained by different reasons: difficulties in understanding the teacher ‘s explanations , she does not like how the teacher does the classes, the topics are not of her interest, she is bored because she understands everything too quickly (high capacities) , etc.
That is why this first cause is so generic and behind it even more reasons can be unraveled, which we will learn about throughout the article.
Although it may seem paradoxical, the truth is that students with high abilities can get very bad grades . The main reasons? Boredom and not feeling stimulated in class.
And it is that, what happens to them is that by understanding things much faster, daily tasks do not pose a challenge to them and also, they have more time to be distracted and bored . And in this scenario a lot of demotivation can arise, which makes it difficult for them to get good grades.
Lack of understanding of concepts
It is evident, your child grows and with it, the academic demand from school. Subjects are getting more and more difficult and your child may not understand some concepts, which explains the reason for these poor grades.
And it is that what happens many times is that there are children who prefer to stay with the doubts to ask and solve them, either because of shame , fear of being laughed at, insecurities , etc.
Not having a study habit or routine
Perhaps before your child had a more or less structured study habit, and now he has lost it (because he prefers to play, or for other reasons), or before he did not have it because the subject was more affordable for him , and now that the academic requirement it is higher, it needs it and it does not have it.
And hence those bad grades that have surprised the whole family. Let’s not forget that studying and learning need routine, structure and habits! And that these must be cultivated and trained. Without these routines, it is much more difficult to concentrate and learn.
Special educational needs
Another possible cause of your child’s poor grades is that they have some specific need that we have not detected (it can be, from a learning problem or disorder , or attentional difficulties , to a neurodevelopmental disorder, intellectual disability , etc.).
If your child, who has always gotten good grades, begins to worsen his academic performance, he may be suffering from a situation of bullying or bullying that has not yet been detected.
That is why it is so important to ask and talk openly about the subject with him, as well as to observe and be attentive, as parents and teachers, to any possible change in his behavior. Bullying is a very traumatic experience that must be prevented and treated as soon as possible to prevent children from suffering.
Finally, a depressive disorder could also explain this change in our son’s grades. Childhood depression exists, and it affects 3% of children around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is mainly characterized by a loss of interest and/or enjoyment in activities that used to generate pleasure, added to a depressed mood most of the day and other symptoms such as changes in appetite, irritability, sadness, feelings of guilt, etc.
The importance of motivation in learning
Is a reality; learning must be appealing and stimulating to children for it to be truly meaningful . And in all this, motivation plays an essential role, since it is the facilitator of this entire process.
According to an article by Mariana Carrillo and collaborators, published in the education magazine Alteridad, motivation is what determines how much energy and desire we face something.
The two types of motivation
We find extrinsic motivation, which is what moves us to do things to “get something”, a reward, an external reinforcer that can be anything (for example, studying to get a degree), and intrinsic motivation, which moves us to do things for the sheer pleasure of doing them (for example, reading because you enjoy reading , with the activity itself).
In this second case, the motivation comes from within (intrinsic), and not from without. In the field of learning, motivation predisposes children to learn with more enthusiasm and enthusiasm.
Thus, it is important that we take care of these two types of motivation in children, especially the intrinsic one, because without them learning is much more tedious and difficult to achieve.
How to help our children if they get bad grades?
Beyond promoting his motivation in learning, something essential, we find other key ideas that can help us accompany our son on this academic (and also emotional) path in the event that he gets poor grades, such as:
- Understand him, listen to him and ask him . For example: Is there something that worries you? Are you motivated at school? Is it difficult for you to understand the teacher? How do you feel going to school?
- Investigate the causes of this decrease in performance; ask open questions from curiosity, empathy and love (never from reproach or judgment).
- Carry out a tutorial or meeting with your tutor to obtain more information and start working in coordination.
- Relativize the situation ; maybe it’s just a “bad streak”. And above all, don’t make him feel guilty or put pressure on him.
- Offer you our help; “If you want, I can help you do your homework or explain what you don’t understand.”
- Accompany you in the construction of the study habit (and the study plan) ; define schedules, subjects, etc. The curriculum must be realistic and motivating.
- Involve you in your own learning process; encourage him to write down the exams , to have the routine of checking the agenda every day, to investigate the subjects or topics that interest him the most, etc.
- Find one day a week to go to the library ; either to study or to look for books that can motivate you.