March 03, 2008,
M.K. asks from San Rafael, CA on March 01, 2008
My daughter is in 7th grade. Just today, we got the progress report letter and her grades are slipping. In elementary school, she always got straight A's and A+'s, and now she slipping to B's and B-'s. I'm really worried, especially since when I get home from work, she doesn't appear to be doing much work. In elementary school, she had advanced classes and still knew the material so she didn't have to study at all. In middle school, she has advanced classes but she's slipping. I don't know if it's because she hasn't developed good study habits.
My husband and I are considering motivating her with bribes so that she will study and work harder. Any advice?
R.C. answers from San Francisco on March 01, 2008
Consider what is really going on for kids in this age group - where are they in terms of emotional( and physical development) Alot of people who work with kids think that time period is a kind of 'wash' academically. Maybe her need is to have growth & development a priority right now. Think HORMONES - it is a BIG deal not simply a side line event to the schooling process of children. Doesn't that warrent a little breathing room.
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B.R. answers from San Francisco on March 02, 2008
I've taught Middle School, and B's in 7th grade advanced classes are as hard to get as A's are for earlier years. The material is much more difficult, and there is a lot more work. Do talk to her teachers to see if they think anything is wrong. Otherwise, show her that you are pleased with her B's. A kid who feels pressure to get nothing but A's can become a perfectionist or totally stressed. On the other hand, easing her into better study habits would help her out a lot as she enters high school. Make an appointment with her Core teacher, and make sure you let him/her know that it's not the grades you are worried about, it's the study habits. The emphasis on grades alone drives teachers crazy!
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B.W. answers from San Francisco on March 03, 2008
I have an awesome daughter who is now 19. Her middle school years were challenging, due to hormones, self-image issues, peer pressure, etc. the whole gambit. I didn't worry much about her grades because she was always harder on herself that I would be. I was more concerned with her emotional development during this critical time. I was fortunate enough to have a home-based business and so was home when she came home from school, and I think that helped alot in keeping the communications open between us. Her friends often came over also to work on homework together, which helped with motivation and peer support. But two other things that were critical were being involved in some sport, which boosted her body image and self confidence, and being in a girls peer support group. There is an awesome program called Girls Circle, which was started by two women in Marin County. It is a facilator-guided curriculum-based group which provided my daughter with a safe and confidential space to share her worries, fears, successes, to know she wasn't alone, and to gain strength from the other girls in her group. The topics ranged from peer pressure to body image to sexual identity to family relationships, everything their thinking about at that age. Her group started in fifth grade and stayed pretty much together through high school! In her case, they all went to the same school so that support extended to their school life also. The website is www.girlscircle.com.
C.B. answers from San Francisco on March 03, 2008
My daughter is going through the same thing. We had her tested and are awaiting the results because there seems to be some kind of gap showing up. But I think more than anything she is learning that it takes work and proper organization to achieve the best results. She has always achieved A's easily. Junior high is when they need to take a big step toward autonomy and self management. Not an easy thing for a hormonal, emotional age. We have been helping her stay organized and talking through time management. "Let's figure out how long it's going to take to do this assignment..." etc. Once she has some structure she can usually acieve the goal. When she gets her test results back we can then re-assess. But we can also feel more secure in expecting her to use the skills of time management we are teaching her more autonomously.
D.W. answers from San Francisco on March 01, 2008
I think you need to start by finding out what is going to in her social and emotional life. Acedemics for girls at this age is very much tied together with how they feeling. A slip in performance could be a sign of depression, or a reflection of hearing that "cool kids aren't supposed to be smart," having difficulty dealing with hormonal changes, and so on. While addressing the result is fine, you also have to dig to figure out the core.
J.L. answers from San Francisco on March 02, 2008
My 4th grader's grades starting slipping after she missed school due to a family trip. She wasn't getting back into the swing of things and feeling really behind. She has become distracted with school before and is typically a very good student who needs little help on homework.
YOur daughter's distraction is either something at school is upsetting her - maybe a friend and her are not getting along, or she is losing self confidence after one bad grade and it becomes a cycle. Think about how her self-esteem is, anything bothering it? Praise her, encourage her, spend more time with her, letting her know that you can help her get back on track with grades. Mine, was overwhelmed and I just kept praising her and making sure she knew together we'd get her caught up. Which she is now and feeling much better. Finally, hormones change everything so don't know where she is on that, maybe be affecting her too.
C.M. answers from San Francisco on March 02, 2008
I would be very careful about jumping in with bribes. I have raised 2 children, a son now a junior in college and a daughter who is a senior in high school. If you use bribery then it can become a power struggle if she decides the bribe is not enough and she wants more or realizes this is more important to you than to her then you are really over a barrel and I have watched parents go through this and it is not affective.
I would start by talking to her and trying to find out if something is goging on at school. This sets the expectation that grades are important and your expectations plus starts her thinking that these grades are important to her because they affect her life and opportunities, etc.... I would suggest emailing the teachers and seeing are her grades going down because she isn't turning in the homework, her test scores are pulling her down, her classroom behavior or participation is the problem, etc... That again gives you information to help direct her how to improve her scores and offer of help to her if "she" wants it. Let her know that you are "willing" to talk to her teachers if she need extra academic help and get tutoring if needed until she understands the material well enough to continue without help, etc... Again you are there to help and that you aren't going to let this just slide but in a positive proactive way. Sometimes this is enough to get the child more vested if nothing else just to keep you from intervining.
Remember friends are a huge influence, maybe it isn't cool to be smart around her so called friends or maybe she doesn't want to stand out at school for being smart, etc.... bribery will not solve those growing pains....Good Luck these middle school years are hard years but they do set the ground work for how she (and you) will approach challenges is high school and college.
K.V. answers from San Francisco on March 02, 2008
I agree w/the other moms, could be a social/emotional thing....wants to be cool & fit in. I also suggest you don't start bribing her w/money for good grades...she's then motivated for the money, not the good grades. Give her a bit of breathing room. I know you like the A+'s, as would I & all parents, but B's aren't horrible. Have a talk w/her teachers & your daughter as well. Let her know that you still expect her to do her best & try her hardest. This age just sucks! I recall it from my own experience at this age & then the 3 years I spent working in a middle school. There is so much going on for kids emotionally & hormonally (SP?) & having a social life becomes a HUGE factor at this age...being friends w/the 'right' kids & having the 'right' clohtes tends to get in the way of academics. Good luck!