Students are extremely talented in many areas, but sometimes their emotions can get the best of them. What do you do when your student gets frustrated with schoolwork? Here are some reasons they might be upset - and ways to help them out.
There's something else going on. When a student has trouble focusing on work, they oftentimes have something else on their mind. Check in with your kids regularly and give them a safe space to share feelings - all the time, not just on "off" days. A quick "how was school today?" or "how are things with your friends?" can help your student decompress before a study session. Making check-ins a part of your routine means that when your student has something heavy on their plate, they'll feel more comfortable sharing. School is as much about social and emotional development as it is about grades! Make sure your student knows you care about their well-being first, and schoolwork second.
Too much work! Students can feel overwhelmed by their classes, especially elementary students transitioning to middle school or middle school students transitioning to high school. You can offer your student many skills to combat work overload. First, encourage your student to keep a planner where they can write down due dates, tests and assignments. Second, break work into chunks: for example, if your student has a science test on Wednesday and a math test on Friday, study for science for 40 minutes and math for 20 minutes on Monday, and slowly shift the time frame towards math. Ask your student how much time they think they need for each thing- they'll know! Set timers and make study time focused and productive. After they've finished one chunk, take a brief brain break before moving on. This helps students focus on each challenge individually and climb that mountain of work one step at a time.
Too much energy! Kids have to sit still all day- they need to move! If your student has the wiggles, take a walk around the block, shoot some hoops, or have a mini dance party to get out some anxious energy. Set the expectation of 10-20 minutes of pre-study play and stick to it. They can have more play time after work time. This works for adults too!
Not enough energy. After a whole day of peer interaction, your student might need a little alone time to recuperate and tackle new challenges. Have reading, knitting, listening to music, drawing, painting, or other hobbies available for quiet time. TV does not count! Naps can help too- just make sure they don't disrupt your student's sleep schedule. Make sure your student is well- fed before attempting a big study session and bring snacks - nutrition and rest are basic needs!
They gave up. If your student feels there's no way to bring up a low grade, they try to opt out. Emphasize knowledge over grades. Reference an upcoming semester when they will have a fresh start in the grade book. Find an aspect of the subject your student feels confident in, like addition in math, or vocabulary in English, or an aspect of science or history in which they have interest. So much learning happens intrinsically- chances are, studying one part of a subject will help their overall grade in the long run. Remember, there are more important things in life than just grades- like learning!
We all have our stressful days and your student will have them too. Addressing the root cause of their frustration makes your student's life more productive- and your life easier!