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What to do if you feel like you are struggling at school

What to do if you feel like you are struggling at school

What to do if you feel like you are struggling at school – for some of us this feeling follows us throughout our time at school, college and university. Or sometimes it’s something we experience in our transition years. But – it’s a feeling that can be overcome!

For some of us school is not an easy breeze. We may sometimes struggle with it whether it be exam stress, homework overload or something completely different. This may cloud our perception of school and our ability. These feelings can also impact our mental health and may cause us stress and anxiety. It might make us believe that school is not for us, that it is too difficult or that we are not smart enough to do well. We may be crushed by the thought that we are destined to fail at school and that our experience of it is doomed to be full of misery. Of course, the thing is, none of this is true! With the appropriate help and support, any one of us can realise our academic potential.

Don’t panic

If you do start to think that you’re struggling with school, it is important to not panic or blame yourself. Remember that everybody struggles at some point or at something. The fact that you find it difficult is not necessarily an accurate reflection of your own intellectual ability. Young minds all learn differently! Your struggle might reflect that your current method of learning might not be best suited to you. How you learn and how your own brain processes new information is often not a conscious choice. So…don’t be too hard on yourself if other people’s methods don’t work for you.

Struggling at school - make it happen

Find the root cause

Before you attempt to seek solutions, it’s a good idea to try to identify the root of the problem. Perhaps you learn things at a different pace and your class is going too fast for your needs. Are you able to ask your teacher if things can be slowed down or repeated for you? Are you comfortable asking for a particular point to be explained to you? Consider if you might be more comfortable in another class? Or have a conversation with your teacher about the pace of the lesson and ask for their advice.

If you are struggling with a particular subject, try to identify which aspect of the subject is causing you trouble. It is usually not the case that you find EVERYTHING in the subject difficult. There is no benefit to just giving up and saying that what you do is not productive. Pinpoint which aspect you don’t understand.

It might be that you don’t understand a fundamental concept which may be having a cascading effect on the following topics. It might be that this is making you believe that you don’t understand the whole subject. If you are able to identify the specific part of your school work that is causing anxiety, you can easily ask for some advice and support from your teacher and even get some extra help.

Think about how you’re managing your time

Perhaps, the struggle is coming from the amount of school work and homework you have instead of the actual content of the work. If this is the case, and you’re feeling that you’re suffering from a high workload then speak with your school. They can talk about coordination strategies that they could adapt to help you manage your workload better. Alternatively, if you find yourself struggling because of your own time management abilities then this may be something that you will have to work towards improving. Think about tracking your school progress using a timetable like the one HERE.

It is also worth noting whether the difficulty comes as a result of having started a higher key stage of learning. Are you find yourself struggling at the start of a new academic year at high school? Remember this is to be expected because you will be learning more challenging material. The skills to excel and navigate this new material might not yet be fully developed. As you progress through the year and learn more content you will start to piece things together and things will start to click and make more sense.

Read more HERE about how to manage an increased workload and learn some top tips that can help!

Take action

Once you’ve identified the root of the problem, you can figure out the best course of action to take, when to take this action and ask for advice and support. Did the struggle come as a result of having started a new school year? If so then it might be worthwhile waiting a month or so to allow yourself to acclimatise to the challenge of the new tasks. Or, if the cause is more immediate, like a fast-paced class or an overwhelming workload, then seek support and help early. Preferably try and get support within the first few weeks of identifying the problem. If you leave the problem to fester for too long then you risk being too late to effectively combat it. You can also be faced with the possibility that the problem will accumulate and affect your other subjects. Avoid this and seek help and support early!

Getting help at school

Don’t stress – ask for study support

Seeking extra tuition might be one solution if you find yourself struggling with the content or pace of the class. Have you thought about having a person sit and talk you through the problems? One-on-one might help you to get a better understanding of the topic. It is also an opportunity to ask questions and iron out any misconceptions in your understanding. All of this can have a positive impact on your academic performance.

Consider joining an after or before-school club dedicated to providing extra help and support in your subject. Or, ask one of your classmates if you can study with them. Asking one of your peers to talk through a particular problem or feeling is very effective. They are likely to have recently come across similar obstacles and have a fresher perspective on how to navigate through them. If talking to a peer makes you feel social anxiety, take a read of our article HERE on ways to help.

You are not alone!

And, don’t forget, the thing is, if you are struggling, you are not the only one. Anyone can have a tough time understanding things – it’s how and when you take action to change things that make the difference. There will always be a person you can turn to for support. It might be a family member, a parent or a teacher, take a moment to ask for some extra support or advice if you are feeling that you are struggling.

If you are about to start secondary school and that’s what is causing you to feel stressed or anxious, take a read of this article HERE. It looks specifically at the feelings you may experience as a young person moving into secondary school. Or why not try out our related article HERE that looks a bit more at feelings around social anxiety and how to empower positive mental health?

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