Why Won’t My Child Ask for Help in Class?
It’s almost the end of the academic year and your child is still too timid to ask questions that might illuminate them. Asking for help is not easy for many bright, young students, especially in front of peers. The result can be long, disheartening homework sessions at night, or low-test scores, and a loss of self-esteem down the road.
Why didn’t you ask for help?” is a perfectly reasonable question, but it doesn’t teach your child the student self-advocacy skills she needs to solve the problem.
The good news is, that there are some simple, yet powerful strategies to help your child self-advocate and turn into a more confident learner.
Role-play with younger children to practice approaching a teacher for help.
Start by playing the role of the student, with your child playing the role of the teacher, and then switch.
This works especially well with younger children.
Walking through what it’s like to ask for help shows your child that it’s nowhere near as stressful as they thought it would be. Soon they will start to realize that their teachers are generally happy to help.
Offer some conversation prompts kids can use to begin asking for what they need to succeed.
Many kids, of all ages, are afraid or embarrassed to ask for help at school. Others simply don’t know how to properly ask adults for what they need.
“Sometimes we need help from others to help us solve problems and take actions on our own. Asking for and accepting help are important skills in learning to self-advocate,” explained Psychotherapist Allison Sibley, Ph.D., LICSW, Director of The Sibley Group.
To help, Sibley suggests teaching kids the following sentence starters and prompting questions:
I’m having a hard time with…
Oh, by the way, I might need…
I just wanted you to know that I do better when…
Do you remember when we learned…?
I need help understanding…
Could I have a few minutes… to talk about…?
Is now a good time to ask about…?
Show kids how to write an email to a teacher.
For hesitant students, email communication can avoid a lot of the stress and social pressures from face-to-face interaction in class.
One of our tutors here at Educational Connections (ectutoring.com), Emily, says she likes to share a template with her students, so they know how to appropriately communicate through email with their teachers.
“This communication and your own self-advocacy might be the most important transferable skill you can give a learner because in any scenario for learning then you can know how to reach out for help,” Emily explained.
Although we may assume high school students are already comfortable writing an email to their teacher, many are not. And most elementary and middle school students will need some guidance. So, it’s important to model the email first and involve your child in the process.
Encourage your kid to keep their emails friendly in tone and to clearly state what they need and the actions they plan to take, such as the one in the example above.
One-On-One Attention Is Ideal
Whether it is with a teacher, a parent, or a tutor, one-on-one attention provides the best possible learning situation. It allows more opportunities for positive reinforcement and personalized, specific instruction in a relaxed environment.
Looking for the convenience of an online tutor? Visit ectutoring.com. Experts there can help with classroom subjects, test prep, techniques to improve educational outcomes for students with ADHD, and college consulting. #