My child is falling behind in school. How can I help?

High school is an important time in your child's education. Helping your child stay on track with their high school studies is crucial for their academic and professional development.

In Ontario, the courses students choose to take in high school will determine their post-secondary education and their career path. Publicly-funded schools offer a wide variety of courses for students who have different interests and career choices. It may be helpful to be open to your child's interests and academic goals, even if they are not what you expected.

Here is some information to help you if your child is failing courses or wants to drop out from school:

Course Levels

Transitioning to high school can be difficult for some students. If your child is failing multiple courses or finding it hard to keep up with the workload, they might need to select courses at a more suitable learning level.

There are four levels of courses that high school students may choose from:
  • Academic/University: these courses focus on theory and prepare students for university after graduation
  • Applied/College: these courses have a practical and hands-on approach to learning, which is more suitable for college after graduation
  • Locally Developed: these courses are recommended for students with specific learning needs
  • Open: these courses are designed for all students

You may want to talk to your child and their teachers to determine if it is necessary to change course levels.

Student Success Programs

Ontario's Ministry of Education has created Student Success programs to support high school students' learning and their individual needs.

Guidance Counsellors and Community Support

It can take time for your child to adjust to the new environment and culture at their school. Perhaps your child is facing difficulty with other students and this is causing them to fail courses.

Every high school in Ontario also has guidance counsellors who are there to help students who are facing academic issues or personal problems. It may be helpful to ask your child to make an appointment with their guidance counsellor and talk to them openly.

You may also want to encourage your child to join a youth group with other newcomers who are experiencing similar challenges. Many settlement agencies and community centres have youth programs that could help your child socially and academically.

For More Information

  • Ontario Curriculum - Information on secondary school curriculum in Ontario. From the Ministry of Education.
  • Student Success - Information on Student Success programs and initiatives to help your child's learning needs. From the Ministry of Education.
  • People For Education - A parent-led organization working to support public education in Ontario's English, French, and Catholic schools.
  • Newcomer's Guide to Secondary School - A guide outlining what you need to know about secondary schools in Ontario to your child adjust smoothly. From Settlement.Org.
  • New Youth - Resources to help newcomers and young Canadians in high school.
Last updated: July 12, 2016 4006092