First grade is a very exciting and scary time for a lot of students. There are a lot of new things happening in your child’s life: their school day is longer, their friendships are getting more complicated, and their academic lives are demanding in a major way for the first time. This is also the time when you are most likely to start noticing any learning differences and challenges. As many as 1 in 5 children in the United States struggle with organization, reading, writing, math, focus, and time management. What’s important to remember is that even if your child is struggling compared with their classmates, each child learns and grows at their own pace.
Signs of Struggling
Of course, the first sign your child may be struggling will be their grades and schoolwork. Low grades and their teacher’s feedback is usually the first signal there’s a problem. If they are spending an excessive amount of time on their homework, whether or not they’re getting the right answers, that is also a tip they are having a hard time.
This is also a good time to catch any academic-based anxiety. Take care to watch and listen to your child when they talk about school and tests. They’re dealing with a lot of new expectations academically, and they may feel a great deal of pressure to succeed. Even if they are doing well, they may still feel worried about upcoming tests or their daily workload.
There are also several signs your child may be struggling with reading in particular. Learning to read is a big part of being successful in first grade, but not all children are fluent readers right away. By the middle of first grade, your child should be able to read at least 100 common words and know the letter-sound associations well enough to read words in age-appropriate books. However, many children don’t know these sound associations or will guess words instead of sounding them out. These are big signs that your child is missing some foundation in learning how to read.
Socially, your child may also be experiencing very different problems and challenges. Conflicts with their classmates, even bullying, can start to emerge in first grade. This may make school not a positive experience for them, and if they talk about “mean” kids often or give other indications of bullying, that is something to talk to them more about.
How to Help
- Talk to your child’s teacher. The teacher’s feedback and advice are going to be an important first resource in helping your child succeed. The teacher is the one who sees where your child struggles firsthand, and they will likely know how to help or where you can get resources.
- Give your child more physical activities. Your child may benefit from having more structured physical activities outside of school, such as a team sport, dance, or martial arts. This gives them the chance to burn off excess energy, allowing them to better focus during school. They can also have a chance to make friends outside the classroom.
- Talk to your doctor. If you suspect your child may have a learning difference, your first step should be to visit the doctor to have their professional opinion. First grade students can start to show signs of learning challenges, but you shouldn’t take drastic action right away. For example, it’s very common for first grade students (who are usually 6 or 7 years old) to have trouble focusing in class and having excess energy, but most will not have ADHD.
- Enroll in Math Genie.Whether your child is having a hard time in just 1 subject or in school generally, the teachers at Math Genie know how to help. Math Genie can help a lot with reading especially, helping your child learn phonics and mechanics they may be lacking. They will also have fun learning new things and engaging with the program, building their confidence while getting kind and helpful feedback.
Whether your child is struggling in school or on the playground, there are plenty of resources available. Always make sure to listen to your child, and don’t worry if they don’t pick up on everything right away. Every child is unique and learns at their own pace.
Genie Academy offers a range of after-school educational activities for students, encompassing areas such as mathematics, reading, writing, and coding. Spread across New Jersey, including a location in Plainsboro, these programs are specifically crafted for students from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade.1