Identifying Future Academic Problems

Question: We have two children - one in third grade and one in sixth grade. Both get mostly average grades, so we haven't been too concerned about how they are doing. What are the signs of potential, or even serious, academic problems? - Want to Know

Answer: Both third grade and sixth grade are very important years for identifying future academic problems. The major concern in third grade is how well a child reads. If a child isn't reading on his or her grade level, it is a red-flag warning for parents of potential problems. Children who are poor readers in third grade will have trouble easily understanding the content in their textbooks during the later grades. After third grade, good reading skills are essential in order to do well in almost every class.

Sixth grade signals a big change, as most children are receiving less hands-on help and direction from their teachers. They now need to have solid study and organizational skills to become independent learners. At the same time, children need to have good basic reading, writing and math skills in order to ensure future success in school.

Here are some other warning signs that might indicate that your children are having or might have serious academic problems. They should be discussed with your children's teachers to find out if they really are serious problems:

  • Grades are going down, especially in subjects that your children have previously handled well.
  • The teacher is sending home notes about learning and classroom problems.
  • A negative attitude about school has emerged.
  • A loss of interest in studying has occurred.
  • Homework is not being completed.