Like everyone else, I am there too. I home schooled up until this year (6th grade) and my oldest son also started having trouble at 4th grade. We did the Stanford tests and he always scored low. The problem is, when I sit with him, he does excellent on his work. We used a computer based curriculum which scored assignments and tests. He got all A's if I would just sit with him, not helping him, just sitting with him. So I know he is a very smart kid.
We see a counselor because we've been through a divorce. The counselor said that as smart as he is and as low as he scores on tests, there may be a learning disability. His doctor, his teachers, and other counselors all said he is not ADD, so I never thought there was a problem. I'm very leary of diagnosis of learning disabilities as I believe some of these kids are just lazy. I just don't get it. For a kid who did very well until 3rd grade, did they suddenly pick up a learning disability in 4th? Why does it seem like all boys suddenly aquire this learning disability in 4th grade? And aren't all 6th graders going through hormonal changes? Could that have something to do with it and we call that a learning disability? I'm just not sure. So, I'm going to have him tested just to see if someone can explain this to me.
This year our district has 6th grade in Jr. High. He feels like the big man now and is more interested in friends, sports, girls. He really wants to do well in school, but he just can't seem to get motivated to start homework. He also lies about it stating what he has to do, then 10 minutes later lying and saying he only has half the amount. I often catch him reading a magazine or playing with his tech decks when he is supposed to be doing homework.
I've made it clear to him that he is no longer an elementary school kid and he is the one responsible for his homework and grades. I am there to help him whenever he needs it. I don't allow TV, games, or music until all chores and homework are done. If he decides not to do the work, he will suffer the consequence of staying back a grade.
All this to say I think your son is very normal, but I know how frustrating it is for you. I would have him tested, offer your help as often as possible, don't punish for grades, but do offer consequences for lying or being lazy about doing the work (if the teacher reports homework is missing or not finished, he'll have to drop after school activities until he can prove he is doing what is expected of him). He needs to know that he is responsible for his future. It is hard for moms to allow our kids to fail, but letting them face the consequences is the only way they will learn to be responsible.
I'm with you T.. All we can do is encourage them, offer our help, and pray for them. God bless you.