Every Parent and Teacher puts in the best of efforts to help each child achieve optimal academic performance. In spite of this, not all children rise up to the expectations of the teachers or parents. These under achievers are ‘scholastically backward’. The reasons or
causes for this scholastic backwardness are several.
If a child gets poor marks, we may brand him ‘lazy or stupid’. No child, we should realize,wants to be lazy or careless. Therefore in a young child’s poor school performance should be seen as a ‘symptom’ reflecting a larger underlying ‘disorder’.
I. CAUSES IN THE CHILD
Causes for ‘Poor School Performance’ in the Child may be Physical problems, Intelligence deficit or Behavioral disorders.
i) PHYSICAL PROBLEMS
A student started faring poorly in class. Her teacher complained that the girl fails to copy what is written on the blackboard and does not complete her notes. Had the mother and teacher realized to communicate or observe quicker, the student could have been treated earlier by an eye specialist for short sight.
ii) POOR INTELLIGENCE
Some infants are slow to start standing, walking or talking. Such children may have inadequate global brain development. Therefore, they may have only below average intelligence.
iii) LEARNING DISORDERS
Some young children doing poorly at school are actually intelligent. Minuscule brain areas concerned with the skills of reading, writing, spelling, mathematics or language have not developed adequately. This intelligent child understands what he is taught and is able to answer orally, but is not able to express the same in writing.
iv) OTHER NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS CAUSING LEARNING PROBLEMS
A student is a problem child in school: persistently restless, walking around the class, nudging the next child in the assembly or breaking something all the time. This student is hyperactive and cannot hold his attention.
v) EMOTIONAL DISORDERS
Some children may have an inherent fear of going to school. Some may be emotionally unstable due to reasons like anxiety, while some others turn out to be disobedient or defiant.
II) CAUSES IN THE ENVIRONMENT FOR POOR SCHOOL PERFORMANCE
No child can do well in a deprived or discordant environment at home or in school. Causes like poor discipline at home or in school, broken homes or fighting parents, frightening friends or punitive teachers, frequent change of school or medium of instruction etc. can lead to poor school performance.
It is important to note that in a single child, more than one of the above causes may be affecting the child’s scholastic performance at the same time. Unless a teacher or parent is keenly aware of these causes, many children may get wrongly branded. Such children may end up receiving no educational support or remedies at all.
When you are confronted with a child performing poorly in class, think of the above causes before blaming, branding or punishing them.
Dr. Philip John MD (Psych)
Director, Peejays Foundation for Clinical Excellence
An Advocacy and Awareness Initiative