For many elementary school students, the start of the school year is an exciting time to reconnect with friends and teachers, and to resume learning. Yet, after a long summer off, the exciting return to school is also a time when many classroom issues emerge. If you don’t address these challenges early on, it’s possible they’ll become more challenging to your student as time goes on. So it’s helpful to help them as soon as you can.
If your elementary school student is having a hard time getting into the swing of a new year, read on. Here are three common back-to-school issues and advice on how to address them.
Back-to-school issue #1: Forming few friendships
The classroom is a wonderful place to make friends. However, for some students, making friends can be tricky. Students who are shy or who have just moved to a new school district might struggle to make friends in what can sometimes seem like a sea of strangers.
If your student is struggling to make friends, you might notice that he or she doesn’t ask to visit other children’s homes or to bring other children over. Your student’s teacher may mention to you that they notice your student doesn’t interact much with his or her classmates, or you may observe as much when you pick your student up from school or the bus.
Encourage—but don’t force—your student to form friendships. You can encourage healthy friendships by being a good model for friendly social behavior and reinforcing when your child takes interest in his or her peers. You can also set up playdates with parents you know.
Back-to-school issue #2: Struggling with academics
Some grade jumps in elementary school seem larger than others. For example, an elementary student can expect more homework in fifth grade than in fourth grade. Academics slowly grow more rigorous over the elementary school years, and it becomes increasingly common for some students to fall behind.
Your elementary school student might be struggling with academics if he or she tries to avoid doing homework, or comes home with poor grades. Chances are, your student’s teacher will notify you when he or she notices your child has fallen behind.
To help your student keep up, positively reinforce studying for quizzes and tests, and doing homework. Praise your student when he or she gets good grades, and encourage him or her to continue working to improve if his or her grades are not where they should be. If your student is having a hard time keeping up, talk to your student’s teacher. He or she may recommend a screening for a learning difference, or recommend a private tutor.
Back-to-school issue #3: Displaying boredom
While some students struggle to keep up in the classroom, others are so far ahead that they become easily bored and under-stimulated by classroom activities. When students become bored, their effort levels may drop. They may even become distracting in the classroom by acting out.
You may notice your student is bored if he or she only talks negatively about school. Your child’s teacher may also tell you that he or she is distracting other students.
If your student is breezing through his or her academic work, you may want to chat with his or her teacher to see if your child can be given advanced work. Adding extracurricular activities can also make school seem less boring, and can give your student new skills and the chance to make new friends.