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Poor School Performance in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.


Poor school performance

means your child is having trouble in school. The problem may be with a single class or with every class. Your child's grades may go down quickly or more gradually over time.

Common signs 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
  • Saying he or she is bored in class or cannot keep up with the teacher

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has new or worsening problems in school.
  • Your child seems angry, withdrawn, or depressed.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Help your child with school:

  • Help your younger child get ready for school before he or she enrolls. Read to your child. Help your child learn colors, numbers, letters, and shapes. Teach your child to count, write his or her name, and draw shapes. These activities will help your child learn skills that he or she will need in school. It will also help make learning more natural for your child.
    Read with Your Child
  • Have your child tell you about school every day. Ask your child how school went. Older children might have less to say about school every day than younger children. Your older child may tell you about a favorite class but not mention an a subject that he or she is struggling in. It may help to tell your child that it is okay to have subjects that are more difficult than others. The important part is for your child to keep trying. Poor school performance can be a problem for several years. Be patient and help your child stay positive.
  • Go to parent-teacher conferences and open houses. This is a chance for you to meet and speak with your child's teachers, and see the classroom. You will get information about how your child is doing in each class. You can talk about possible solutions to any problems your child may be having. For example, your child may be able to record classes or have another student in class take notes for him or her. You may also be able to ask your child's teachers if they notice any bullying toward your child. Teachers and school officials can also give you information about getting your child tested for a learning disability.
  • Create a daily homework routine. Set a regular time for homework. Your child may have an easier time finishing an assignment if it is broken down into small steps. He or she may also need to study for short periods at a time if concentration is difficult. Encourage your child to take a short break when needed, but then go back to the homework. You can also help by going through your child's homework when he or she finishes. Praise your child's effort more than you praise perfect answers. If your child is struggling in 1 subject, it may be hard for him or her to be perfect.
  • Help your child be organized. Teach your child to gather all books and finished homework for the next day before he or she goes to bed. This will prevent your child from losing track of belongs or forgetting to turn in homework.
  • Hire a tutor to work with your child if needed. Your child may need more time and attention than a teacher can give during the day. A tutor can help your child understand concepts and how to solve homework problems. If your child has a learning disability, you may need to find a tutor who has training in learning disabilities.

Other ways to help your child:

  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep every night. Sleep can help your child concentrate in school. Your child should not be falling asleep in class. Set a bedtime for your child to follow. Make the time earlier in the evening on school nights. Make sure your child's room is quiet and dark. Do not let your child watch TV or use the computer right before bed. Electronic devices may keep him or her from sleeping well.
  • Offer your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods can help your child focus during the day. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Your child's healthcare provider or dietitian can help you and your child plan healthy meals and snacks. Make sure your child has breakfast before school, and a packed lunch or money for lunch. Your child may also need a healthy snack during the day.
    Healthy Foods
  • Limit your child's screen time. Screen time is the amount of television, computer, smart phone, and video game time your child has each day. It is important to limit screen time. This helps your child get enough sleep, physical activity, and social interaction each day. Your child's pediatrician can help you create a screen time plan. The daily limit is usually 1 hour for children 2 to 5 years. The daily limit is usually 2 hours for children 6 years or older. You can also set limits on the kinds of devices your child can use, and where he or she can use them. Keep the plan where your child and anyone who takes care of him or her can see it. Create a plan for each child in your family. You can also go to for more help creating a plan.
  • Encourage your child to exercise every day. Exercise can help your child think clearly. Exercise can also improve sleep. Your child should aim to exercise for an hour each day. You may want to make exercise a regular family activity. Walk, ride bicycles, or swim with your child.
    Black Family Walking for Exercise

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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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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