'To the mums with kids struggling at school, I see you.'

Thanks to our brand partner, Kumon

As a mum of three boys, I’ve learned that every child is different and they all learn differently. But sometimes, we can’t help but play the comparison game. I remember being so proud of my eldest boy’s vocabulary when he was just two years old, only to realise one of his friends wasn’t just saying "bird"; she was naming every kind of bird she could see.

Rather than losing sleep over comparing my children to others, my mantra became "they all get there eventually". This may be true of talking, walking and being able to feed themselves, but it is less straightforward when it comes to academic learning.

Now that all three of my children are at primary school, the differences between them have become increasingly obvious.

Image: Supplied. 


While my eldest boy has thrived academically, my middle boy didn’t seem to take to school in the same way. He struggled to read in his first year of school, and we encouraged him and practised with him. But one day he came home and told me he was "dumb" and my heart broke.

Fast forward a few years, and he’s now an excellent reader but still struggles with other aspects of learning. In many ways, he’s a square peg in a round hole kind of child and would prefer to play the class clown than risk getting a wrong answer in front of his friends. So if your child is struggling in school too, I see you. You’re not alone. And there is help available.

Seek support. 

My son has had some amazing teachers at school, and they’ve gone above and beyond in supporting him and communicating with us. Make sure you’re available for those conversations as much as possible, because if your child is anything like mine, they won’t want to tell you much about their school day other than "fine" and who they played with at lunchtime.

Even the most amazing teachers are working within the limitations of the classroom setting, though. One teacher and 20 or 30 students means that giving all children consistent one-on-one attention is impossible.

This is where an after-school program like Kumon is ideal. I used to think external learning was for gifted students who wanted to excel, but it’s also amazing for any child who’s struggling academically and could benefit from individualised support. 


It’s designed to help children with reading and maths, and because it’s tailored to their specific ability, it builds confidence and helps them advance at their own pace, establishing a strong foundation for later levels of learning. They are currently offering a two-week free trial in the month of August, which is a great way to discover if it's the right fit for your family.

Involve your health professionals. 

As well as academic support, it's essential to check all of the health essentials for your children. Speak to your GP and get their general health checked, get an eye test done, test their hearing and work out if there’s anything else going on with them that might be impacting their ability to concentrate and learn.

Consider the basics like diet and sleep as well — these can have an impact on academic ability and retaining new information.

Be their advocate. 

Image: Supplied. 


Accept that you need to be your child’s voice and advocate for them at every stage and in every conversation. Your child might tell you things they’d feel too embarrassed to admit to their teacher, or you might have observed things at home that would help in the classroom.

Speak up and tell their teacher what you know or what your child has told you, and be prepared to have tough conversations if needed.

It’s hard talking about what your child is struggling with when we’re so programmed to focus on their positives and see the best in them, so be prepared for this to be an emotional rollercoaster — for both them and you!

Don’t be hard on yourself.

We all want the best for our children and for things to come easily. For some reason, when they struggle, we often blame ourselves. I was definitely guilty of thinking my son’s struggles were a reflection of my parenting. 

Where had I gone wrong? I’d read to him from a young age, encouraged him and celebrated him. Where did I fail?


But of course, it’s not your fault — we all just think and learn differently. The best thing you can do is talk to other parents and share your experiences. The more I’ve spoken about my son’s struggles, the more common I’ve realised it is. So many parents have similar stories or have told me their own children are also struggling in some way.

It’s tempting to think every other child is progressing easily, but it’s just not the truth. So, build your village of sanity-saving parents who 'get it'.

Focus on the little wins.  

Your child needs you to be their cheerleader. Celebrate every win and praise their progress. Even if they roll their eyes or say they’re sick of hearing it, trust me, they’re not.

Point out how far they’ve come — whether it’s mastering a new level of reading, solving a maths equation they used to struggle with or spelling with confidence, remind them of what they’ve achieved. The more you focus on the positives, the more they’ll want to share their progress with you at the end of each day. 

My son’s schoolwork has gone from being left crumpled in the bottom of his bag to being presented proudly at the end of each day.

And seeing the pride in his little face is pure, heart-filling joy.

Sign up for a two-week free trial in mathematics or English at Kumon this August. Find your nearest centre here. 

Feature Image: Supplied. 

At Kumon, confidence begins with the basics. Trial Kumon English or Mathematics over two weeks and find out how they develop a strong foundation for future learning. With the basics in place, students have the confidence they need for success at school.
To register:
1. Contact your local Kumon centre to register for an information session
2. Have your child assessed for Kumon Mathematics or English, and discuss a study plan
3. Arrange for your child to study worksheets and attend classes over the two-week Free Trial period
4. Meet with your Instructor to discuss your child’s Kumon experience.
Limited availability. Ts and Cs apply.