One Reason Why Your Kids’ Grades Dropped this Year (and what to do about it)
by Nadine Briggs
The pandemic brought on so many unexpected challenges for kids. Parents know all too well that the remote learning, hybrid learning, quarantining and multiple transitions of the pandemic were taxing to say the least.
The academic performance for many kids was much lower during Covid than at any other time. We had more than one child or teen confess that they were failing one or even all of their classes. These academic struggles caused the kids to worry and fret over their grades and futures. The thing is, it wasn’t their fault. They are smart, capable kids so what was going on this school year?
For many of the kids in our program, executive function skills are lacking and the pandemic stressed this part of their brains to a huge extent. When kids had to move from in person classes to online learning, everything changed in terms of how they kept track of assignments, how they managed their time, the ability to ask questions of peers or look over that what classmates were doing, and the way they handed in completed work. The kids really struggled to adapt this part of their brains to be able to perform under the new circumstances. In addition, they usually resented parents who tried to help them get organized. Some teens reported that they did not understand the intense anger they felt when parents suggested ways to improve their executive function.
Poor academic performance can be viewed by parents as laziness. Kids are often accused of simply not trying hard enough. They tell us that they feel terrible about the bad grades and the classes they failed. It caused them an enormous amount of stress and it has hurt their self-esteem. The further they got behind in their assignments, the more anxious they became and the more overwhelmed they felt.
So what to do about it?
- Reassure them that this year’s grades do not reflect their actual intelligence. They are smart kids who were thrown into unfamiliar territory.
- As parents, keep in mind that one bad academic year will not ruin their lives. The kids might even have learned that executive function skills are something that they need to spend time learning how that they understand what can happen.
- Parents, if you’re concerned, read up on executive function strategies or hire an executive function coach. They will need to learn to manage their time and be organized for college and jobs.
- Keep in mind that these skills also come into play when planning social time with friends. Many parents will say “my son (or daughter) never hangs out with anyone outside of school.” Consider that this might be, in part, because they literally have no clue how to make that happen.
They are not lazy, irresponsible or unintelligent. They lack the organizational skills to act on their intellect. We need to remind them of that and reassure them that they are capable, when the have the tools they need. This was one year on their lifelong journey and they will still grow to be who they are meant to be.
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