How to help teens struggling in school

When I was teaching, the hardest month of the year was always October. From the outside looking in you may be thinking “the school year is just getting started” or “the spring has a lot more stressful things,” but I can promise you, October was always rough for everyone, especially for teens struggling in school. I called it the October Slump. As the initial back-to-school enthusiasm wears off, many students find it difficult to stay on top of their academic responsibilities.

Keep reading for a list of common reasons for this slump and practical strategies to help teenagers overcome it.

1. Academic Overload

Teens often face an increasing academic workload in October, leading to stress and feeling overwhelmed.

Solution: Encourage your teen to create a realistic study schedule, prioritize tasks, and break them into manageable chunks to reduce stress.

2. Lack of Motivation

The initial excitement of the school year can wane, causing a drop in motivation.

Solution: Help your teen set specific goals for October, fostering a sense of purpose and achievement to reignite their motivation.

3. Social Distractions

As the school year progresses, social engagements can distract teens from their studies.

Solution: Encourage your teen to balance social life and academics through effective time management and prioritization.

4. Seasonal Changes

The transition from summer to fall can impact teens’ energy levels and moods.

Solution: Promote physical activity, outdoor time, and a healthy sleep schedule to combat seasonal changes’ effects.

5. Encourage Self-Care

Teach your teen the importance of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Solution: Share self-care strategies and practice them together to strengthen your bond and provide valuable life skills.

In our summer podcast (listen here), we discussed how these issues can sometimes be mistaken for laziness. Open communication is essential for helping your teen during these moments.
Here are some questions to ask:
  • Is their work appropriately challenging?
  • Where can I help them find control in their life?
  • Are my teen’s needs being met?
  • Is their body going through changes?
The October Slump is a common challenge, but remember that each teenager is unique. With patience, understanding, and guidance, you can help your teen overcome this hurdle and achieve academic success. Be prepared for the month ahead and empower your teen to thrive academically.
Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

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