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Struggling learner
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Is my child a struggling learner? 5 obvious signs

A struggling learner hardly ever says, “I have a problem and need help.” It is common for parents and teachers to realise there is a problem after seeing consistent bad grades. At this point, the child has very little interest in doing schoolwork or enthusiasm to improve.

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It is up to parents and teachers to observe a child’s behaviour long before to know if something is wrong. If you notice signs of struggling, then you can offer the child help very early. The signs are obvious and the bad grades are simply to confirm your suspicion.

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5 signs to look for in a struggling learner

1. Avoids schoolwork

A child who avoids doing schoolwork in all forms usually struggle with learning. Students are known to act sleepy, fake sick and show interest in everything else to avoid reading, writing or calculating.

This may be a simple case of the child not liking an activity that requires thinking or something more serious like Avoidant personality disorder. Parents can address the underlying issues of the learning problem by providing extra lessons or seeking therapy.

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2. Acts disruptive

Disruptive behaviour is a common sign of a struggling learner. Teachers know all too well that the loudest and most obnoxious child in the classroom is the one who has no idea what is going on with the lessons.

Usually, disruptive behaviour is a defense mechanism to prevent other students from noticing that the child is a struggling learner. Parents can pay attention to the comments made by teachers about their child’s behaviour and arrange for personal tutoring immediately.

3. Dislikes other children who do well

Some children are outright envious of others who do well at school. Parents may notice a child displaying feelings of resentment towards siblings, friends and neighbours who announce their great achievements.

Instead of telling a child to act happy for others when they are not, parents should address the reason for the attitude. Look into your child’s books a little more, ask teachers some questions and get extra help for weak areas.

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4. Obsesses over physical activities

A lot of students who obsess over sports, gymnastics, video games and random play are known to be struggling learners. They are constantly chastised for having too much fun and not knowing when to get serious. But it is only natural for them to focus on something that makes them feel comfortable.

This action should tell you to do something to help them with the activities that are being neglected. It is not necessary to stop all fun activities. Just create a time table that allows more effort to be allocated to schoolwork and get your child some private lessons to address weak areas.

5. Seems to have a low self esteem

Many times, a child having a low self esteem has a lot to do with unsatisfactory performance at school. A child may be trying his or her utmost best at studying and trying to get the lessons right, but to no avail. When your best seems to not be enough, it can stir up emotions of hopelessness.

Parents must recognise when children display feelings of sadness, wanting to be alone, sleeping more than usual and lacking interest in everything. Talk to your child about getting a private tutor to assist with weak areas. You may be surprised to learn how helpful this suggestion might be for a struggling learner.


These are 5 signs of a struggling learner that should prompt you to take action and get extra help for your child. You can provide extra lessons with a class outside of school, seek therapy, arrange private tutoring, open your child’s book more often, ask teachers for guidance, create a study time table, and talk to your child more about how you can help.

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See also:

Learning is hard: 5 steps to knowing your work

Delayed student in a traditional classroom

Distracted student and focus needs

Unfocussed student needs interesting lesson

Undisciplined student: Don’t give up on him

Bad grades: Tips for students, parents, teachers

Lack of focus: A guide for parents

Autism signs parents should take seriously

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