My Child Is Struggling In School

By now, you’ve received your child’s second quarter report card. How did the first half of the year go, do you think your child is capable of more than their grades reflect? Are they struggling academically or socially?

Here are steps to take when your child is struggling in school:

1) TALK:

Have an honest conversation with your child and your child’s teacher(s) – be certain everyone understands your child’s strengths, needs, and recognizes his/her learning challenges, and potential as a learner. Work together on strategies that are effective at home and school.


If your child is not making progress on their educational program, or if special education services are not producing results, request a meeting with school administrators or the Committee on Special Education (CSE).


Know your child’s 504 Plan or IEP and their rights. Write down data and points to share with the school team, and create a timeline of everything that’s been tried so far. Communication reminders:

  • • Maintain a positive relationship with school staff as you work together to help your child find academic success
  • • Start the meeting with what’s going well instead of what’s not working
  • • Listen to the teacher’s input and take notes about what is discussed
  • • If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification
  • • Follow up is important. Monitor your child’s progress and schedule a follow-up meeting or phone conference

Preparation resources:


Keep thorough documentation of conversations and meetings you have with your child’s school including: what was discussed, changes to be implemented, follow up items, and who is responsible, emails, and phone conversation notes. Organize this information in a logbook or binder. Here is a link on creating a binder from Understood: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/how-to-organize-your-childs-iep-binder


Progress doesn’t always happen quickly. Carefully evaluate the changes in your child’s academic performance– stick with interventions long enough to see if they work.

Is your child still struggling? It may be time to:


Research school and community-based support options, tutoring, and alternative schools. Begin to visit and apply to programs.


The support of an advocate or attorney may be necessary – many in our community are free. If you find an alternative setting and choose to pursue district placement, please understand it is often hard-won and a long process. Here is a list of some Rochester-area resources: http://bit.ly/nhs-resources

You have legal due process rights under Federal and State laws to make sure that your child receives an appropriate education. A Parent’s Guide to Special Education is a great resource http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/publications/policy/parentguide.htm

Steps and resources provided by The Norman Howard School, part of Education Success Foundation. Since 1980, The Norman Howard School has been a Rochester area learning disabilities resource, providing students with special learning needs a sense of belonging and a safe environment to learn and grow. More information at www.normanhoward.orgor call (585) 334-8010.