Homeschooling     Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12     Education Guide    

Help for the underachiever



Insight into the underachiever dilemma

Insight into the underachiever dilemma


Prior to the 1950s, there is no record of the word “underachiever.” Most parents would agree the concept has grown and broadened in the ensuing decades, particularly recently. Thankfully, terms like “emotional intelligence” and “soft skills” (i.e. innate “people skills” that can’t be taught, but are extremely useful) have entered the lexicon, conveying some value on “intelligence” that can’t be measured academically or through an IQ test. These have joined “street smarts,” “horse sense,” and “common sense.”

If you feel your child falls into “underachiever” status, Armin at MrDad.com offers a guide that can help clarify if your child is, indeed, in that category, and if so, possible remedies to get them operating at their highest potential.

But first things first: Armin offers a list of problems that can be attributed to a child’s performance that have nothing directly to do with the child or their ability. They are:

  • There’s not enough of a challenge
  • There’s too much or too little competition
  • He’s having conflict with one or more of his teachers
  • He has an unidentified/undiagnosed learning disability
  • There’s a mismatch between his preferred learning style and what’s possible given the limits of online education in the COVID-19 era
  • He’s feeling a lot of pressure from his peers
  • He doesn’t have enough opportunities to be creative
  • There’s too much—or too little—structure in the classroom
READ MORE: Child Behavior: Is your child an underachiever?

Also, underachievement may also be caused by factors within the home, such as:

  • Conflict between parents
  • High levels of stress in the home (which are almost guaranteed these days)
  • Overtly protective parents
  • Parents’ unrealistically high expectations or demand for perfection
  • Low expectations from the parents (this is clearly not the case for you, but in families where the parents don’t care, the children have no motivation to work hard and achieve)
  • Health problems
  • Sibling rivalry

What to do? Mr. Dad offers a few suggestions:

  • Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher about the problem.
  • Communicate regularly with your child. In a non-judgmental way, ask your child how things are going and whether he thinks he’s doing his best work. If he agrees that he isn’t, ask what he thinks he’d need to improve his grades.
  • Listen carefully. If your child needs a little help with organization, help. If he needs more (or fewer) reminders about homework and projects, adjust accordingly. If he needs a tutor, get one. If he needs incentives and rewards, think of ways to provide them (but stay away from bribery)
  • Join a parent support group for gifted children and encourage your child to participate in activities that involve other gifted children.
  • Arrange for an evaluation by a school- or private psychologist who specializes in helping underachieving children.
  • Continue to encourage your child’s interests, regardless of the level of school success.
  • Adjust your expectations if necessary. Even gifted children have limits.
  • Never, ever give up on your child.

That last one is the most important. Never give up on your child!



More Homeschooling


  • Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program

    Adventure Awaits Students Ages 6-9

    The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program for children ages 6-9 has quickly become one of the Nature Museum’s most beloved programs. Originally created out of the needs of families undertaking distance/learning, the program has proved so popular it has remained in place by demand. read more »
  • Indoor spots for teens to play

    Older kids need exercise too

    A list of places for teens to have fun indoors read more »
  • World's No. 1 STEAM Program Launches New STEM/STEAM Book Series

    New Challenge Island chapter book series with a spectacular, hands-on STEM/STEAM twist!

    Challenge Island has been providing kids with award-winning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning adventures for almost two decades. On National Stem Day (Nov. 8), the magic of the world's No. 1 STEAM program will combine with the magic of reading to launch the first book in the Challenge Island STEAM book series. read more »
  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • The Mama Bear Effect Launches New Resource to Combat Child Sexual Abuse

    Parents of young children and those with special education needs now have a free tool to educate children about their bodies and boundaries

    Parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapists now have a new tool to educate the most vulnerable population of children, those who need specialized assistance with learning and communication. read more »
  • How to help high-achieving students manage stress

    Tips and insight for parents

    School administrators at Howard County Public Schools (HCPS) in Maryland were surprised to learn that high-achieving students wanted to get rid of class rank—a measure of student success that weighs higher-level classes differently when calculating grade point average. The class ranking system created an unnecessary burden, students said, and discouraged them from taking the classes they really wanted. read more »
  • Libraries in the Hudson Valley

    Visit your local library for books, classes, events and more

    Libraries are a great resource for families. Not only can you check out a book, or two or three...you can also find classes for kids and adults. Some have summer reading programs, book clubs, homework help, career education and family-friendly events. read more »
  • Stem toy that kids are guaranteed to love

    Kids can learn all about the digestive system

    Have your kids take a journey through the belly with this STEM kit from Meandmine. HVP staff's grandkids review this fun toy and it gets 2 thumbs up! read more »
  • How to be funny, and how not to be

    Famous comedian Roy Wood Jr. offers tips

    Being funny can be a kid’s superpower, but it can also become a weapon to wound. Comedian Roy Wood Jr. helps fellow parents guide children accordingly. read more »