Five Questions Parents of Struggling Students Should Ask Teachers

by Grace Dickins

You may already have some questions you'd like to ask your child's teacher at parent-teacher meetings. However, there's no reason to reserve your questions for that time of year, particularly if a student is struggling. These five questions will help you get a sense of your child's strengths and weaknesses, as well as understand how you can improve your child's academic experience.

1. Where does my child need extra help?

As a parent, it is essential for you to know if your child is experiencing difficulties or delays in one or more subjects. This question forces teachers to address an uncomfortable topic: areas where your child is lagging behind. Ultimately, you are your child's advocate, and understanding his/her weaknesses can help you correct the situation.

2. Does my child complete his/her homework?

You may think your child is turning in his/her homework every day, but are you 100 percent sure that's the case? If your child is struggling in school, it may be because he/she is not responsible about handing in assignments.

It could also be that your child isn't doing his/her homework due to lack of comprehension. Unfortunately, this perpetuates a cycle. The further your child falls behind on assignments, the harder it becomes to understand more advanced topics as the class moves on.

3. Can my child see the board?

Many kids who struggle in school do so for a simple yet unexpected reason: they can't see the board. Vision problems often start in elementary school, although they can begin at any point during the academic years. If you've noticed your child is squinting, sitting closely to the television or computer, or complaining of headaches or tired eyes, he/she may be experiencing vision problems. Your child's teacher may have useful insights into whether his/her eyesight is affecting performance.

4. Is my child organized?

Organization is an essential part of success, both academically and throughout life. If your child is frequently forgetting to bring books, struggling to locate homework, and losing track of time, these organization issues may be impacting his/her performance.

A lack of organization may also indicate that your child has a learning disability, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for which trouble with organization is a common symptom.

5. Can you share any recommendations?

This question demonstrates critical parent engagement, as well as a willingness to learn. In some cases, a teacher may recommend a solution as simple as a tutor. In other cases, the situation might call for serious measures, such as a follow-up with the school's special education committee. Even if the conversation becomes emotional, keep in mind that the teacher wants your child to succeed as much as you do.

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