Explanation of some non-academic factors that affect grades.

Every parent wishes his/her child to perform well academically and to be successful in life. A good teacher can elucidate, inspire, mentor and guide a child along the academic path. We can add value in this aspect.

However, there are other factors that may affect a student’s performance. Parents may not be consciously aware of these factors. You may like to take mitigating measures should these factors be significantly affecting performance.

1/ The study environment. Competing stimuli should be reduced for a conductive study environment.

* Living spaces are getting smaller. The television is constantly playing in the living rooms of some families. The situation is aggravated by pay TV, large screen sizes and high-powered sound systems. It may be entertainment for retired grandparents, or the parents when they are home from work. However, it is a distraction for a young child.

* The computers, the tablets and the game consoles are potential sources of distractions. Parents may be surprised by the number of videos of purely entertainment value that their child has watched on YouTube, by the number of games that lurk in tablets meant for computer-assisted learning, and by the number of hours spent playing the game consoles. Some parents may deliberately turn a blind eye as they are busy at work. It will be unfortunate when the child is addicted and studies are neglected. Parents may like to do an audit and impose restrictions or come to an understanding with the child.

* Reduce clutter on the study desk. A computer, even when it is not turned on, may be a temptation when it is sitting on the study desk of a child. Books that are not being used should be kept away. Even stickers, excess stationary and travel mementos may take away the focus of a young child. We observe that toys on the table and on the floor of the study room are a big distraction.

2/ Set aside time for rest and study on weekends. You may have worked hard all week and wishes to have fun and enjoy yourself during the weekends. Do consider that your child’s time-table is different from yours. He/she may have stayed back in school 2-3 times during the week for supplementary lessons or co-curricular activities. The weekends may just be the time he/she needs for rest and study.

3/ A child with developmental issues may benefit from medical or specialist attention. A child that cannot focus and is constantly distracted may be suffering from attention deficit disorder. Other conditions include global developmental delay and dyslexia.

4/ Adult supervision. There are many families with both parents working. They have nobody at home on weekdays to spend time with the child. A maid and/or a dog is not a good substitute. In school, we came across young children refusing to draw a card on Mother’s Day as “mummy is always working, working and working”. Try not to outsource ALL parental responsibilities.  An hour or two of tuition is less than 1% of all the time in a week. If most of the time, the kid lazes around, day-dreams and plays games, the benefits of the tuition is easily eclipsed. When this becomes the norm, the child develops poor study habits and attitudes.