Education is an important wealth which a person can have in this world. In the modern competitive world in which academic achievements are considered important, scholastic backwardness causes tremendous stress for the students. Academic stress in children can present as physical, behavioural or emotional problems. Physical symptoms can be in the form of severe pain anywhere in the body (pain disorder). Pain disorder in children usually presents as severe head ache, abdominal pain, back ache, chest pain or pain in the limbs. . This condition is called somatoform pain disorder and is usually managed with psychological therapies. Children can also have other types of somatoform disorders like somatoform autonomic disorder on facing stressful situations in which the child presents with symptoms related to the organs innervated by autonomic nervous system like cardivascular symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, respiratory or genitourinary symptoms. The anxiety related to the stress have to be managed through psychological therapies in order get relief. Stress related to exams can occur in children with scholastic backwardness as well as children with good academic performance if they become overanxious or overambitious. If the child is scholastically backward, he/she should get the help of professionals in child guidance to find out the underlying etiology. If there is learning disorder, remedial education should be started.

Generally, backward children are classified into two distinct categories – in one category backwardness is determined on the basis of IQ of the child and in the other category the backward child is treated in terms of academic achievement in the school subjects. The first category is called mental retardation and the second category comes under educational retardation

With the help of intelligence tests, we can understand the degree of backwardness. If we administer an intelligence test to a large portion of unselected population and plot the scores, the result will be a smooth curve and IQ will range almost 25 to 200 and, generally, we can classify children as follows:

  1. Idiots = 0 to 25.
  2. Imbecile = 25 to 50.
  3. Morons = 50 to 75.
  4. Dull normal = 75 to 90.

Children with learning disorders have average or above average intelligence, but they have difficulty in reading, spelling, writing or mathematical skills. Another cause for scholastic backwardness is borderline intelligence (IQ between 70 – 85%). Mild mental retardation with IQ between 50 – 70% will also cause significant learning difficulty. Other causes presenting as learning problems in school going children include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behaviour disorders like conduct disorder. Children with reduced motivation also have scholastic backwardness. Unrecognized and unremediated, scholastic backwardness has a lifelong impact on the child, affecting school completion, higher education, interpersonal relationships, prospects for employment, marriage etc.

Characteristics of the Scholastically Backward Child

On the basis of research studies conducted in recent years, certain general characteristics of backward children have been generalized.

  1. Physical characteristics:

    Backward children when compared with normal children, have been found inferior in physical development. They have poor muscular co-ordination, slower reaction time, more physical defects of eyes, nose and serious speech defects.

  2. Mental characteristics:

    The chief deficiency in backward children is in the area of intelligence. They have lesser capacity of abstract thinking and to correlate various experiences. They lack the reasoning ability and also lack ability to think in an abstract way.

  3. Social and moral characteristics:

    The social development of backward children lags behind the normal children of their age. This is because of two reasons: first, the perception of social situation is a matter of understanding and second, a child’s backwardness has been apparent in the family and in the neighborhood long before he enters the school. He is rejected by his classmates and parents are ashamed of such children.

Causes of Scholastic Backwardness

The reasons for scholastic backwardness can be broadly categorized into causes in the child, or in the environment or both.

  1. Causes in the Child (Internal Factors)

    1. Low intelligence :-

      A Child with mild delay in milestones of development (either borderline intelligence – IQ: 70 – 85% or mild mental retardation – IQ: 50 -70%).

    2. Learning Disability :-

      About 10% of school going children have learning disorders. Their intelligence will be average or above average. They have problems only in reading, writing, spelling or arithmetic skills. Learning disorders are of four types – Reading disorder (Dyslexia), Disorder of written expression (Dysgraphia), Mathematics disorder (Dyscalculia) and Mixed disorder of scholastic skills.

    3. Physical Problems :-

      Chronic illnesses, problems in vision or hearing.

    4. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) :-

      Because of the inability to sustain attention, children with ADHD cannot concentrate in studies.

    5. Emotional Problems :-

      Anxiety or low mood due to any stress will lead to deterioration in academic performance.

    6. Lack of Motivation and Inadequate Time Management.

  2. Causes in the Environment (External Factors)

    1. Discordant environment at school (conflict with teachers or peer group).
    2. Poor discipline at home (marital discord among parents, alcoholism / drug abuse in family members)
    3. Sibling rivalry
    4. Overambitious attitude of parents

Evaluation of Scholastic Backwardness

  1. Look for external factors.
  2. Rule out physical problem.
  3. Behavioral analysis.
  4. Assessment of intelligence.
  5. Assessment of scholastic skills.
  6. Psychological evaluation.

Remedial Strategies for Scholastic Backwardness

One of the pertinent characters of scholastic backwardness is that they learn slowly and unevenly. They are unable to cope satisfactorily with the usual educational standards of the ordinary school. However with proper guidance and care they are capable of being educated. One important thing about the scholastic backwardness is that most of the backward children are not identified till they attend school. Conscious efforts are being made to help the child after being identified. The psychologists specify that the remedy for backwardness lies mainly in their nature and extent of the cause which produces it. Each case is unique and requires specific remedial measures. Some important remedial strategies are given below.

  1. Elastic curriculum:

    Educationists may take care in preparing the curriculum for scholastically backward children. It should be as flexible as possible to suit the requirements of the individual students. They are interested in concrete perceptual experiences. So attention must be given to the framing of curriculum.

  2. Remedial instruction:

    Generally, teaching experts provide remedial instruction for backward child or slow learners. First the deficiencies are need to be determined and confirmed by the experts and give such children some diagnostic tests. The following points are taken in to consideration for smooth working of a diagnostic programme.

    1. Gradation of teaching materials may be carefully done taking the capacity and requirements of children in to consideration.
    2. Short frequent lessons should be introduced instead of long lessons.
    3. Experts should be aware of the fact that a friendly approach in remedial teaching is conductive.
    4. To generate interest, social skills and confidence, priority should be given to art, music and drama.
    5. Practice, drill and review should be given importance. Repetition and direction should also be emphasized.

  3. Provide healthy environment:

    Emphasize should be given in providing healthy environment to backward children. The school atmosphere of children should be healthy and reasonably free. Some time poor environmental factors contribute a lot towards backwardness. So, they should be removed as early as possible.

  4. Periodical medical check-up:

    Physical anomalies are important contributory factors for backwardness in education. Poor health and other malfunctions also have similar effects. So, special medical check-up should be arranged.

  5. Give Motivation:

    Scholastically backward child lacks the experience of reinforcement. Fear of failure and disinterest are pertinent in their daily school activities. Adequate and appropriate measures should be taken to improve their academic status. When a slight improvement is noticed some motivational techniques may be used to stimulate. A teaching expert should try to instill confidence in children.

  6. Give Individual attention:

    The teaching expert may place emphasize on recognition of individual differences among students. They also should respect the individuality of the child through the helpful environment. Complete freedom should be given to children to budget their own time to bring out their assignment forte.

  7. Adopt special methods of teaching:

    Backward children require simple and short methods of instruction based on concrete experiences. Verbal instruction should be limited.

  8. Home visits by the Teachers:

    To make family environments sophisticated and healthy, the teachers should take interest in visiting the homes of the parents and advice them accordingly. An unfavourable home environment and autocratic homes are important factors for scholastic backwardness. Teacher should suggest some remedial measures to parents to improve the home environment.

  9. Maintain progress records:

    Assessment of children’s progress is essential for recommending their entry into a higher group. There should be regular evaluation of the progress of the child. The records of evaluation should be properly preserved. These records are essential for individualized treatment.

  10. Beside all these approach we can consider the Simple supportive measures from the teachers such as preferential seating of the child in front of the class, permission to photocopy notes, extra time for project submission and tests, and less home work may be requested and will go a long way in helping the chills with learning difficulties.


    Scholastic backwardness is seen in 20 -30% of school going children. If scholastic backwardness is not managed properly, it will cause significant academic stress in children leading on to somatoform disorders, anxiety disorders, depression and even deliberate self harm. Hence any child with difficulty in reading or arithmetic skills or deterioration in academic performance should be evaluated and managed scientifically at the earliest. Improvement in academic performance will help the child to excel in future life. Early recognition and adequate remediation is important and can make a big difference to the child’s future. Medical practitioners are in an ideal position to help families identify the problem early and to provide appropriate guidance. Awareness of the causes, varying methods of presentation and principles of management are essential for all physicians dealing with children on a regular basis.

    References :

    1. Text Book on Psychological Foundations of education – Pro.K.K Vijayanambiar
    2. Advanced Educational Psychology – S.S Chauhan
    3. Exceptional Children-Their Psychology and Education – Chintamani Kar
    4. Dr.Nandini Mundakar, Consultant Developmental Pediatrician, Center for Child Development and Disability ,Bangalore. Email
    5. Study Related Stress in Children – Beena Johnson
    6. Scholastic Backwardness in Children – Beena Johnson
    7. Prevalence of Scholastic Backwardness Among five to Eight year old Children – Jyothi Shenoy and Malavika Kapur
    8. Scholastic Backwardness Reasons and Remedies – Dr. Renjan Joy Mathew
    9. Causes of Scholastic Backwardness –
    10. Scholastic Backwardness (analysis of Children Coming to the Child guidance Center, Research Study)
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