Surprising reasons WHY YOUR KID is under performing in school
Her World Malaysia|May - June 2020
You’re understandably frustrated that your child isn’t living up to her potential. But before you blame her attitude, check if these conditions are hindering her academically.
EVELINE GAN

You know your kid is bright, but why does her report book show otherwise?

While you may be tempted to blame laziness, a bad attitude or her ‘terrible’ teachers, experts say the reasons for your kid’s bad grades are not always straightforward and can be due to various factors.

For instance, poor school performance can be a sign of undetected health issues.

A case in point: Optometrist Titus Wu has encountered his share of students who struggle to keep up with school work due to undiagnosed vision issues.

“A mother of a seven-year-old girl I saw shared that her daughter was not doing well in school. She always thought it was because her child was not interested in studying,” says Titus, a consultant at Titus Eye Care.

As it turned out, the girl had uncorrected myopia in one eye and lazy eye in the other.

“When the girl first got her prescriptive glasses, she was ecstatic that she was able to see everything clearly,” Titus recounts.

“We worked with her for a period of six months to improve her vision, and that was the period when we saw massive improvement in her academic performance.”

Here, the experts pinpoint surprising five reasons for your kid’s poor grades, and what you can do to support her.

“I can’t see well”

Does your kid squint when she looks at distant objects or get headaches after reading for a short while?

Does she tilt her head in an odd manner, constantly rub her eyes or blink excessively?

If you notice these signs, she might have undiagnosed vision issues, such as myopia and astigmatism, that could affect her school performance.

“Sometimes, children who have poor eyesight are assigned to the front of the class, hence masking the issue,” Titus explains.

“Left uncorrected, myopia and/or astigmatism may lead to a squint, which may result in lazy eye (reduced vision function caused by abnormal development of the eye).”

A common misconception is that kids who pass their eyesight test during school check-ups have perfect vision necessary for learning well. While the vision screening initiative by the Ministry of Health has picked up serious eye conditions in some children, there are some limitations, Titus says.

“The vision screening only checks how well your child can see. Sometimes, due to various reasons such as a crowded environment, distractions or child being shy, the results may not be accurate,” he explains.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Have your kid’s eyes checked by an eye care professional every six months, from around the age of four years, Titus says.

Studies show that getting plenty of sunshine and outdoor play can lower the risk of myopia, he adds.

The recommended outdoor time is three hours each day. But if you cannot spare the time, aim for an hour per day, he says.

Prolonged near work may signal the eye to grow longer, causing myopia to kick in. So, remind your kid to take visual breaks after every hour of revision or reading. “While doing near work, make sure your child is in a brightly lit room with a desk lamp. He should be sitting upright and make it a point to read at an arm’s length distance,” Titus says. Get more eye care tips from websites such as www.myopiaprevention. org and www.amoptom. org/eyes-vision/commoneye-conditions/myopia (Association of Malaysian Optometrists).

“What did you say?”

Even if your child has 50 per cent hearing loss, it is easy to miss it, says Dr Lynne Lim, Senior Consultant Ear Nose Throat – Head and Neck Surgeon at Lynne Lim Ear Nose Throat and Hearing Centre.

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