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5 Red Flags

5 Academic Red Flags in Kids

Your child's moods and behaviors about school are everything. Here's what you DON'T want to see.

With school in full swing and fall break over, it’s time to check in with your child to see how school is going. You may have already felt an instinctual tug that the answer is “not so good.” For kids, feeling confused or behind in the classroom impacts their mood and behaviors in ways you can see.
“One in six kids in the U.S. are struggling in school to the point where they’re really suffering, really feel like they’re failing — and a lot of them are failing,” says Dr. Arthur Lavin. Lavin is one of the lead authors of a 2019 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that recommends pediatricians be consulted when there are academic issues. As virtual learning caused kids to check-out academically during the pandemic, it’s important to get on top of what’s going on with your child now.

Academic Red Flags

  • Dislike of school.  No one likes to do things you don’t feel good or successful doing.  If your child is talking about a dislike of school, there is probably a reason.

  • Task avoidance behaviors during homework time.  While not too many kids like sitting down to do homework, it’s a fact of life. If your child’s behavior flares up before or during homework time, he may need for additional help.

  • Increased homework load. Bringing more work home, or taking an excessive amount of time to work signals trouble. Connect with the teacher to know what the homework expectations. You need to know what is “on track” and what is excessive for the amount of work, and time it takes to complete it at home.  

  • Low self-confidence and statements of defeat. “I’m stupid, I can’t do this, I give up.”  It’s not uncommon to want to shut down when things get challenging, but pushing through until you grasp the topic can actually build confidence if you can make it through to the other side.  

  • Complaints of tummy aches. Feelings of nervousness or anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms of discomfort. 

  • Making excuses for work. “Everyone did really bad on this test, so it’s ok” or “this teacher is horrible.”  It can be hard to admit when something is difficult and it’s easy to point the finger at someone other than yourself.  If you notice your child placing blame on others, stop to look and listen a little more closely at what is really going on.  

If any of these 5 Academic Red Flags are waving in your mind about your child’s performance, give your pediatrician a call. It’s a first course of action before searching for academic support because your child’s emotional life matters.

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.