There are several reasons for decline in a child’s performance. K L Nagaraju points at three major causes that could potentially upset a child’s academic growth
Every parent wants their child to do well in school. Culturally, we value scholastic achievements to a great extent. Arrival of the progress report is a great event and either there is celebration or disappointment, based on the outcome.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with expecting the child to do well. But parents have to check for the reasons for their child’s lack of progress and do their bit to redress the problem. We can look at the root of the problem to check if it lies within the child, at school or at home. An objective assessment of the situation can help remedy the situation.
Problems within the child
Physical disability or illness of the child could adversely affect the child’s performance at school. Frequent medical checkup and advice is desirable. Children at this age are frequently afflicted with ENT problems. Parents have to guard their children against recurring allergic reactions which affect the health. Vision and dental problems also come in the way of performance.
Underage or lack of physiological maturity could be disturbing factors. Parents are in a tearing hurry to put their wards in the school. In the age of play homes, preschool or kindergarten education, they forget or fail to appreciate the fact that the child needs to grow to perform age-specific tasks. Psychologists have charted milestones for attainment at different ages.
Also, these milestones are reached by different individuals with different speeds. We cannot expect all children to reach milestones simultaneously.
Intelligence and personality factors contribute to achievement of expected learning outcomes. They are the product of nature and nurture. Hence a stimulating environment augurs well for these traits to develop.
The neuron connections in the brain develop fast between the ages of three to eleven and therefore the parents need to ensure that their children get exposed to a variety of experiences and exposures.
Problems within the school
To accommodate growing needs, our schools have to cater to a large number of students. Overcrowded classrooms have become order of the day. Teachers cannot extend individual attention. To carry out meaningful correction of notebooks is a tall order for the teachers. Unhealthy teacher pupil ratio can adversely affect the teaching learning process. Parents are advised to keep this factor while selecting a school for their child.
To get good teachers is another difficulty. Lack of encouragement and ineffective teaching can really put the child’s career in jeopardy. Because of inept teachers and teaching methods, the child may lose interest not only in the subject but with the school itself. This can be really dangerous. The schools have to take great care to remedy the situation.
Strict teachers may intimidate students. Loving and caring teachers can turn round the most disinterested child. Critical remarks by the teacher can inflict incalculable damage on the psyche of the children. Change of teachers or school can also be traumatic. Children need to be helped in the transition when change is inevitable.
Unfavourable peer pressure can also cause stress. They should learn to manage this pressure by not resorting to comparisons. After all, learning speeds are different due to individual differences. Each child has certain strengths and they have to be identified and nurtured.
Problems within the family
Sometimes, parents themselves are responsible for the slow academic growth of their wards. Emotional insecurity at home due to disharmony among parents puts the child in a disturbed state of mind. Parents who nag and find faults with their children put them in a distressed state. Instead of getting help they are ridiculed and belittled.
Their efforts are not recognised and rewarded. Some parents believe in corporal punishment. Children are threatened of dark rooms, deprivation of food or such other silly and archaic punishments. Excessive punishment can only be detrimental to the child’s mental growth. Partiality among siblings is also not fair.Lack of play is also a reason for under performance. Children need to play, preferably outdoors. They should get opportunities to play and socialise.
Interaction with peers during play develops many desirable qualities. Physical development takes place along with mental and social development.Parents need to look up at the issues raised above and help their children. If they are unable to help, a visit to a counsellor is a good idea. A counsellor can always help the students with study-related problems. An objective analysis of the situation and a practical set of solutions help the children.
(The author is retired assistant commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan)