School can be a challenging environment for any young person. Some children struggle more than others with school and this can lead to poor performance and a lack of a sense of well-being that they should freely enjoy through their school years. Many factors can prevent children from achieving their full potential and becoming fully integrated in school life. These include:
Personal experiencesChildren and young people who experience personal challenges through family issues or poor relationships with friends and other significant adults in their life may struggle at school as they feel stressed. Unhealthy stress in a child’s life will make it difficult for them to concentrate on tasks at school and may make them feel isolated and ‘different’ from their peers – thus impinging on their performance and ability to enjoy school life. Children who suffer in this way need to be able to talk and have open conversations about their thoughts and feelings so that they do not feel alone and unsupported. Childline is always available to listen to and support any child or young person up to the age of 18 in Ireland who would like to talk about any topic on their mind.
Unrealistic expectations for children and young people to perform well in their school workWhilst having high expectations and believing in educational outcomes for children can be very positive, it is important that these expectations are realistic. Children can become more stressed when they constantly fail to achieve educational expectations. It is very important that all children experience positive achievement and do not feel pressured to ‘measure up’ to their peers. Children need to be aware of their own self-worth and understand that everyone is valuable and has different skills and talents. Children who experience a sense of failure may present with behavioural problems in the classroom. Allowing children to openly discuss their fears and feel supported throughout their time at school is likely to lead to a happier classroom environment for everyone.
Poor communicationIt is important that parents and teachers have an open line of communication to discuss any struggles children maybe experiencing. This can help ensure children feel supported at home and at school.
Peer pressureChildren may be challenged by ‘peer pressure’ . They may feel that they should do things they really don’t want to do because all their friends are doing likewise. It is important that children are supported to understand that it is okay to say ”No” to things that they are not comfortable with.
Bullying‘Bullying is an intentional negative behaviour that is repeated and is directed against a person who has difficulty defending himself or herself.’ (www.tacklebullying.ie). As a parent it can help to be familiar with the signs of bullying and to know how you and your child can report bullying
Lack of funding and resources in schoolsThis can inhibit a child or young person with additional learning needs to perform to their potential as they may not have full access to specific resources within their school which may be helpful to them. These can include Special Needs Assistants and technology supports.
- Tusla: the Child and Family Support Agency: www.tusla.ie
- Parentline: confidential helpline for parents and guardians 1890 927 277 or 01 873 3500 Open: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 9. 30 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
- National Parents Council if you have a query on any aspect of your child’s education, contact 01 887 4477 or email [email protected] Monday & Tuesday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wednesday to Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.