• Michelle Mason, Ph.D.

What to Do When Your Child Is Struggling in School?


When your child is struggling in school, it can be difficult to find the help your child needs.

You could skip these steps, and get tutoring for your child. Your child could get help in a timely manner and would get exactly the help needed.

If you think that your child may meet the criteria for special education, you can skip these steps. You should write a letter to the principal, your child’s teacher, and the director asking for a special education assessment. I will be writing a blog about the steps to get your child assessed for special education.

We are going to go through the steps you need to do to get your child help at school.

Step 1—Visit your child’s doctor.

Take your child to the doctor to check their hearing and vision. If you suspect that they may have ADHD or on the Autism Spectrum, have your doctor check that, too.

Step 2—Parent-Teacher Meeting

Call your child’s teacher to set up a Parent-Teacher Meeting. Bring a list of your concerns, and:

At the meeting:

  • Listen to the teacher to see if they have the teacher has the same concerns as you do.

  • The teacher should explain:

  • What is being done to help your child in the classroom.

  • What school interventions (outside the classroom) are being offered to your child.

  • What you can do at home to help your child.

If the meeting did not go well, contact the principal and ask for a meeting with the teacher and the principal or ask for a Student Success Team Meeting. You may want to consider tutoring.

If the meeting went well, four to six weeks after the parent-teacher meeting, contact the teacher.

Has the teacher seen improvement?

Have you (parent) seen improvement?

If there isn’t improvement, you can consider private tutoring or ask for a Student Success Team Meeting. Your child’s teacher may have already contacted you for this meeting.

Step 3--Student Success Team (SST) Meeting

The purpose of an SST Meeting is to develop an action plan to help your child succeed in school.

Participants at an SST Meeting include: Parent, Teacher, Principal, SST Coordinator, and other staff—parent can request other staff to be at the meeting.

SST Meeting Preparation

Before the meeting, you should have prepared a list of your concerns. If possible, bring samples your child’s work that shows what you are concerned about.

SST Meeting

At the meeting, the team (including you) will review of interventions already implemented, and investigate if they have helped. If they have, they should continue to be implemented. If not, new interventions should be developed. All interventions that will be done should be included in the Action Plan. The Action Plan also includes what the parent will be doing, as well as the school.

Action Plan

Possible School Interventions (It depends on the needs of the child. This is not an exhaustive list).

  • In-school interventions

  • After school interventions

  • Check in-Check out (someone checks in with your child before or after school)

  • Counseling at school

  • Behavior support at school

  • Many others

Possible Parent Interventions (Again it depends on the needs of the child. There could be other suggestions made at the meeting).

  • Check backpack daily for homework and communication

  • Parent training

  • Private counseling

  • Private tutoring

  • Schools do not usually recommend private tutoring because they ultimately have to pay for it.

  • However, if you ask if private tutoring would be helpful, they will generally say that it may be beneficial.

  • And others

At the end of the meeting, the group decides when to meet to again to see if the action plan has worked. This is usually 8-12 weeks later.

Next Steps

If your child has not made progress by the next meeting, you have a lot of decisions to make. Does your child need private tutoring, private counseling or other services? Do you want your child to get special education services? I can help you through this process.

Repeating a Grade

The school may suggest that your child be held back.

There isn’t any research that supports holding a child back in a grade.

#helpstrugglingstudents #tutoring #StudentSuccessTeam

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