33 answers

Help! My Middle School Son Is Slipping Bad.

My son just started the 6th grade and his grades in two classes are terrible. He has always been very sound in academics. He is going from all A's to a D in social studies and and C- in Language Arts. I know he is not truthful about the social studies homework. He either lies about it or will do it and then not turn it in. He says he forgets??? You would not believe how much homework he does and then does not turn it in. I realize that middle school is all new to him, but this is so different than him I am very concerned. Socially I think he is doing better than in elementary so I do not think this is the problem. How independent should I let him be. Should I let his grades suffer while he works this out? Or will this damage his confidence enough to hurt his schooling in the years to come?
ADD ON: I just wanted to add that he does have a planner given to him by the school. I check it every night but we are still struggling with his part of filling it in.

1 mom found this helpful

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Hi E.~ You are not alone! I advocate for students K-12. My "new" 6th graders are also slipping. I have found that organization is a big issue. I have gone through and re-organized some of the student's binders- labeled each folder on the outside and inside (things that need to be done-things that are finished). I have seen a big improvement in just a couple weeks. I even made them go through every single piece of paper in their locker! Teacher contact is also a big help and teacher's really do appreciate it. E-mailing is the best way to contact teachers. Good luck!!

Hi E., not only is it a BIG adjustment to going to several classes a day (and yes, it is easy to forget), but I found at this age, the alpha male joggling begins. They are all going through puberty and jockeying for "alpha" male status! My suggestion is be open to talk about this stuff as well and try to develop a routine he can follow so he forgets less stuff. I started having my boys put homework stuff directly into their backpack as soon as class is over. That way they don't have to look at their locker at the end of the day and try to remember what they need to take home. The drastic grade change sounds more like a personal problem than an academic one. Is someone harassing him? Maybe he doesn't fit in? Don't get me wrong, but in my experience, when my boys grades really fell, it was either problems with other students or a girlfriend. My 17 year old was being harassed at school and was telling no one. It wasn't until I was switching schools for him that I found out. His grades changed drastically then also. I know my kids (all 6 of them) never fit the "box" and sometimes it proved difficult for them to fit in. Hope this helps you, L. S.

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My son is a Junior now and went through the exact same thing. He was always an A student and when he got to middle school things changed drastically. He could never find anything, couldn't remember to bring things home or take things back to school, and his grades in a few of his class suddenly slipped. I felt like there had to be a "fix". There really wasn't. After talking to counselors and other parents I found that at that age kids go through a major "hormonal" change that effects a lot of how they perceive what is going on in their life. My son was so emotional if he thought the teacher didn't like him or give him respect he didn't try in that class. It wasn't so obvious at the time - but a lot of the answers came afterwards. I couldn't figure out how my son could be missing every organizational gene he was born with. They will out grow it. Every friend of mine said he would and I didn't believe them because this lasted through all of middle school. when he got into HS it was like I had my kid back. His grades are back to all A's - he is happy - his teachers say his is a model student with all of his homework turned in and on time - he is organized for class. It was like a light switch that went on and off. It is hard as a parent to experience this and deal with it. My son is my oldest so I can't imagine going through this again with my daughter - but as she is in 6th grade I am starting to see similar signs - though not as extreme - though my friends tell me to wait -there will be changes with her too. So good luck - try to be patient - and as a parent you may need to step up to the plate and help them try to be more organized. I am not saying there may not be something else going on with your son, but you may find it is as simple and normal as this. Hopefully it is just this stage and trust me, with patience and guidance from his family he will get through it.

1 mom found this helpful


If your son is having trouble remembering where he put his homework and what needs to be turned in you might want to check out the Student Control Journal from the FlyLady website:
http://www.flylady.net/pages/control_journals.asp Just toss the cover page, he probably won't want his friends to find the flylady in his binder! =)

This journal is designed to be put into plastic page protectors in a three-ring binder and folders added for each class. Notebooks at the front of every folder can be used to keep track of class notes for each subject and then put back into the binder. Homework goes directly into the folder to take home, comes out only to be worked on, and then back into the folder to turn in.

With your help the journal can help him break down his new academic load into 15 minute blocks and baby-steps so the work doesn't seem so overwhelming. FlyLady also has an Office In a Bag you can purchase at the website, click on FlyShop. This OIB is designed to fit over a three-ring binder and has places to put all his school supplies that he will need for classes. You can purchase one in blue or black and it is sturdy enough to stand up to the abuse a teenager can put it through.

I liked the post from the teacher, I think she has a great idea of paying for grades. He pays if they are low, you pay if they go up.

However, if this doesn't work you might want to talk with his middle school counselor - that is their job - and also speak with each teacher, the classes where he is succeeding and the classes he is struggling in. You might find that there is a classmate who is picking on him and the classes they share with your son are the ones he is failing.

Good luck!


Not sure if his school offers PowerSchool, but it's an online tool for parents and teachers to communicate. You can see how he is doing, all grades, in class work and I believe it also shows his homework so never again can he say no homework tonight Mom, when he actually has work!

I see you have received numerous responses but I will respond hoping that this helps. My child went to middle school in the 6th grade as well. Now an eighth grader, the problem was organization and accountability. My child had the work done and not turned in, forgot about it, lost it so on and so forth. What worked for us was an assignment book. My husband and I met with the assistant principal and all the teachers. The teachers would be responsible for signing the book each day stating that assignments were due or turned in and my child was responsible for giving them the assignment book daily. Having to have the assignment book worked in two ways. One it created a sense of accountability for all involved as a child can not fail by themselves. Secondly it encouraged my child to remember to turn in the work on time because who wants to carry around an assignment book if no one else has to.
Best Wishes

Hi E.,

I have a 6th grader as well, and yes they have lots of homework. But as a mom, I communicate daily with his teachers and check on-line to see what their assignments are. Not that I don't trust him, but I won't to be sure he's on point not missing a beat. 6th Grade sets the tone for the remainder of his Middle School years.

Get with his teachers, then he will know you mean business, and will soon get down to business himself.

Be Blessed!!

This does sound serious as he's obviously capable of doing the work and getting good grades. I'd explore going to a counselor and getting to the bottom of why he's not interested in following through at school. He might be using this to scream for attention to some other social issue.

I always look at food first, good stuff in seems to get better results. Is he taking a multi vit? And eating foods w/ omega 3 & 6, or getting a supplement for them. There needed for proper brain function. Here's a nice medical link w/ more info

Other than that how about a folder that the homework gets put away in, and then into the backpack? Or some sort of routine that works for you guys. Elementary school seems to have the routine built in. So maybe he's needing that direction. He's a smart kid, sounds like he might just need some help getting adjusted. Maybe you could e mail his teacher about all this, so he/she has more history. And knows your trying to help.
Good luck, A. H

I would have him evaluated right away by a doctor for ADD. A lot of these kids are very smart and not hyperactive, but this forgetting, not focusing thing is what happens when the work gets harder if it hasn't been noticable all along. There are medications that can be very helpful even though no one likes to use them. Is it better for him to be doing poorly and thinking he's not as smart as the other kids? I would do this ASAP before he begins to make some poor social choices out of a diminishing self-esteem and frustration.

This tends to run in families. I can sure trace it in ours! And a high IQ can be wasted when a kid can't get it together.

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