Why Your High Schooler Is Struggling in School and How You Can Help


High school can be an extraordinarily stressful period in a child’s life. Teens tend to go through some big changes during this time, physically, emotionally, and socially. This is on top of the more challenging schoolwork and the looming expectations of adulthood.

Here in Singapore, this stress is sometimes compounded by the competitive school culture. Whether a teen were studying in a local school or an international high school in Singapore, they would likely be exposed to a level of academic rigour and standard of excellence that is unlike in many other places around the world.

Given all this, almost all teens will experience some difficulty during this time. However, if they express negative emotions about school or have much difficulty keeping up with the schoolwork, you may have reason to be concerned.

Below are a few common reasons why teens may struggle through high school.

Problem #1: School Triggers Emotional Upset in Your Teen

Constant anger, irritability, anxiety, and depression related to schoolwork or socialisation with peers may be a sign of an underlying psychological issue or a learning disability. Such a condition may lead to a host of lifelong issues if not addressed early.

Solution: See a Qualified Adolescent Therapist

Generally speaking, everyone should see a therapist or other qualified mental health expert as often as they see other medical professionals. This is especially true of teenagers, due to their rapidly developing brains.

Near-constant stress and anxiety in teens may lead to deleterious permanent changes in their brains, which may manifest as debilitating psychiatric disorders. Finding and addressing these issues early on will help you and your teen find solutions that will not only improve their school performance but their quality of life as well.

Problem #2: They Have Problems Keeping Up with Homework

Singapore’s mainstream school system is among the most demanding in the world when it comes to homework. As a result, Singaporean teens spend about 9.5 hours a week on homework on average. Many teens may have difficulty keeping up with this workload, particularly if they have problems with their home environment.

Solution: Help Create a Better Environment for Completing These Activities

Teens should be given every opportunity to succeed at doing their homework. Not only should they be given adequate resources to complete their requirements, but they should also be given boundaries so that they can focus properly.

If necessary, you may want to remove any unnecessary distractions that may be interfering with homework. Teaching them basic organisation skills may also help them better cope with their homework while allowing them to still have a healthy social life.

Problem #3: They Have a Hard Time Making Friends at School

Proper socialisation is important for teens, as they will have to work with many different people later in life. Difficulty socialising in high school may be a precursor to other issues in adulthood.

Solution: Consider Enrolling Them in Co-Curricular Activities

Co-curricular activities may give teens opportunities to meet peers based on shared interests, rather than just school ties. As such, they will not only get to be involved in something they’re interested in, but they can also build positive relationships with peers who like the same things they do. If you’re an expat family and you enrol your teen in an international high school in Singapore, they may find more extracurricular opportunities available to them.

Problem #4: Your Child Has Problems with Their Grades

If your teen is otherwise doing well but still has a hard time with schoolwork, there may be a need for more specific solutions.

Solution: Discuss Your Teen’s Situation with Their Teachers

It’s often unrealistic to expect teens to overcome consistently poor grades by themselves. It may be a good idea to talk to their teachers, especially the ones who teach the subjects your child has problems with. They may be able to offer specific insights on what may be the causes of their issues. It may also be a good idea to see an adolescent psychiatrist as well to rule out the possibility of a learning disorder.

Problem #5: Your Child Is Chronically Late for School

If the school is a reasonable distance from home and your teen is still constantly having problems with their attendance, a sleep issue may be involved.

Solution: Check If They’re Getting Enough Sleep

If your teen is not getting enough sleep or has poor quality sleep, their attendance and school performance is bound to suffer. Try to investigate ways of improving their sleep hygiene and sleep quality, such as by upgrading their mattress and pillows or implementing a strict lights-out policy at bedtime. Also consider consulting a therapist to see if anxiety and other issues may be at play.

Empower Your Teen to Thrive in High School

By taking an active interest in your teen’s academics and mental health, you can ensure that they will not only succeed in school but become productive, well-rounded adults as well.

To set them up for success, consider enrolling them in a well-regarded academic institution in Singapore. This should expose them to a wide array of opportunities while ensuring that they experience some of the world’s highest educational standards.


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