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Poor School Performance in Adolescents

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is poor school performance?

Poor school performance means you are having trouble in school. The problem may be with a single class or with every class. Your grades may go down quickly or more gradually over time.

What are the signs and symptoms of poor school performance?

  • Not wanting to go to school, or not going to certain classes during the day
  • Trouble finishing homework, or not turning in finished assignments
  • Low grades in one or more class
  • Not wanting to talk about school or show a report card
  • Feeling bored in class or not being able to keep up with the teacher

What causes poor school performance?

  • Bullying that prevents you from focusing on school work or going to class
  • Poor self-esteem or a need to be perfect in every class
  • Not enough sleep every night
  • A learning disability, such as dyslexia (trouble with reading and writing)
  • A change or problem at home, such as moving to a new house or the death of a loved one

What can I do to help myself with school?

  • Talk with your family about school every day. Talk about how your classes went. Talk about a favorite class and what you enjoy about it. This may help you be more comfortable talking about classes that are more difficult. It is okay to have subjects that are more difficult than others. The important part is for you to keep trying. Poor school performance can be a problem for several years. Be patient stay positive.
  • Have your parents come to your school when invited. This is a chance for your parents to meet and speak with your teachers, and see your classroom. Your parents can talk about possible solutions to any problems you may be having. For example, you may be able to record classes or have another student in class take notes for you. It might be helpful to talk with your parents about each of your classes and teachers before a parent-teacher conference. Tell your parents about any problems you are having in the class. This will help them speak in detail with your teachers.
  • Create a daily homework routine. Set a regular time for homework. You may have an easier time finishing an assignment if it is broken down into small steps. You may also need to study for short periods at a time if concentration is difficult. Take a short break when needed, but then go back to the homework. Ask a parent or another trusted person to go through your homework when you finish. Ask questions if you do not understand something. Your parents and teachers are there to help you.
  • Organize your school materials. Gather all books and finished homework for the next day before you go to bed. This will prevent you from losing track of belongs or forgetting to turn in homework.
  • Work with a tutor if needed. You may need more help than a teacher can give during the day. A tutor can help you understand concepts and how to solve homework problems.

What else can I do to help myself?

  • Get enough sleep every night. Sleep can help you concentrate in school. You should not be falling asleep in class. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Make the time earlier in the evening on school nights. Have your room quiet and dark. Do not watch TV or use the computer right before bed. Electronic devices may keep you from sleeping well.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods can help you focus during the day. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you plan healthy meals and snacks. Eat breakfast before school, and bring a packed lunch or money for lunch. You may also need a healthy snack during the day.
  • Limit screen time as directed. Screen time includes the amount of time you watch TV, play video games, and use the computer. Limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours each day. You may need to use the computer for homework assignments. This can be in addition to the time you spend for fun.
  • Exercise every day. Exercise can help you think clearly. Exercise can also improve sleep. Aim to exercise for an hour each day. Even 30 minutes a day on most days of the week is helpful. You may want to make exercise a regular family activity. Walk, ride bicycles, or swim with your family. Family and friends can help you stay motivated and active.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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