E.C. asks from Canton, MI on October 16, 2008
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
M.M. answers from Lansing on October 17, 2008
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!!
L.S. answers from Detroit on October 17, 2008
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.
J.K. answers from Grand Rapids on October 17, 2008
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
D.S. answers from Detroit on October 17, 2008
Hi E.. I'm a high school science teacher. I can tell you my opinions from the classroom and as a parent. First as a parent: do not think your child needs less supervision. Middle and High school ages are the formative years before adulthood and your child needs you more than ever! As a teacher: I want you to research the book/DVDs "Love and Logic" by Jim Fay. It has very useful strategies that will help, and you my use what you are comfortable with at home. Always offer your son choices and tell him the good and bad consequences of all choices. Help to stear him towards the right choice. This will lesson the disciplinary feeling and let your son own some responsibility (do it with everything!). Set up a routine for nightly homework/studying. Let him have some free time but it must be the same time each day after school. Use Saturday mornings as "get it done" time and the afternoon as freedom. Your son will/needs the routine in order to establish good habits in organization, time management, and neatness, this will hopefully translate into feeling confident as well. Now also, many children are actually afraid of success and may feel that a parent's expectations are too high to reach. So don't over pressure your son for great grades. Instead ask him what grades does he want and what grades feel good to get. You need to show him that achievement has many forms and that since he is adjusting to a new school, he needs to adjust his goals too. Please, get him into an school team sport if possible. These go far in helping the adjustment and pent up, physical frustration. Take a deap breath, HUG your sons and tell them often that you always LOVE them and want them to find a way to make themselves happy. This goes a LONG way.
S.D. answers from Kalamazoo on October 16, 2008
C.T. answers from Kalamazoo on October 17, 2008
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.
F.W. answers from Detroit on October 17, 2008
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.
M.W. answers from Kalamazoo on October 17, 2008
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.
A.H. answers from Detroit on October 16, 2008
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
G.B. answers from Detroit on October 17, 2008
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.