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Why Do Kids Fail in School?

Life in school is hard. There are social demands at the time when a child’s brain and body are undergoing incredible changes. Students are asked to memorize more esoteric information in vast quantities than in any other time in their lives. Reflect back on your own school experience. On top of a regular school day, there’s homework and extra curricular activities, and there is a lot of pressure to succeed at all of it. Many students regularly put in 12 hour days and still are required to work more on the weekend. A typical high school work load is far greater than that of middle manager. It’s easy to falter, especially if something is wrong.

Illustration depicting several factors that can cause failure in school. Listed are: poor language skills, problems with attention controls, disorganization, issues with social skills, insufficient memory, and difficulties with fine motor control.

There are many reasons why kids may not thrive in school. Most fall into several major categories: poor language skills, problems with attention controls, issues with social skills, difficulties with fine motor control, insufficient memory, and disorganization. Everyone has problems with some or even all of these, but most manage to compensate or overcome minor failures and succeed in their life pursuits, if not in a classroom.

Students that are failing are not doing so because they “want to” or because they just “don’t care.” Usually, these children have problems that were too difficult to overcome without help. They desperately want to be praised for their intelligence and be assured that they are not dumb. They want to be productive and successful. They just don’t know how. Telling them to “shape up” or “work harder” does not provide them with the information and strategies they need to turn their school performance around. After repeated failure, many children stop trying, develop low opinion of themselves and their abilities, and even fall into depression or destructive behavior patterns.