29 answers

Ideas for Son Getting Bad Grades

For the last few years, my son has been struggling with grades. K-3 he always did great in school, now, since about the 4th grade, he's brought home some good grades, but he has also brought home some bad ones as well (he's in 6th grade). Alot of it, I believe, is him rushing and not really caring. It's pretty much with all subjects, except for spelling. He just brought a "D" home on a Social Studies test the other day, and had changed it to a "B-" so he wouldn't get in trouble (even though he knew the lying would be him into more trouble). I'm a pretty involved parent, which I always thought would benefit my children, but it doesn't seem to be helping my son. i have talked with his teachers each year, and nothing really changes. At the end of the year we pull in some extra credit and he ends up getting some pretty good grades (one "C", mostly "B"'s, 1 "A"),however his STAR testing is also low. I have punished him numerous times (taking away outside time, video games, TV), and rewarded for good grades, but none of this works. I feel very opposed to not having any punishment because I feel he needs to know that I expect good grades from him.....but whatever is happening is making him afraid of getting in trouble, so now we're at the point that he's lying about it.
I have emailed/talked to the teacher, sat down and studied with him, corrected homework, not corrected homework, made spreadsheets and charts.....I'm just out of ideas.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your advice. I think took a little of what everyone said and kind of changed the way I was thinking about it. I decided to take away the pressure of the "letter grade" and put more of the focus on "doing your absolute best". I did however make it very clear that "doing your best" doesn't mean you can bring home D's and F's on a regular basis. We talked about consequences for "not doing your very best"....which means that if you are getting bad grades due to missed assignements, slacking off in class, and not studying hard enough, then there will be consequences.
He has taken 3 tests since then.....2 on social studies. The first one he brought home was a B- (7 out of 8 correct), and the next one a C (6 out of 8 correct). I really felt he studied hard the night before, as we went over the study guide together. He also got a B on his math test, and was moved up to the "group 1" math group instead of the "group 2".
So we'll see. It's only the first 2 months of school. We'll take it day by day i guess. Thanks for all of your support and advice.

Featured Answers

Hi T.-
I am a school teacher, and after third grade you are reading to learn. When you have a drop in state test scores, motivation and class grades, I would almost think there is a learning problem of somekind...
You may want to talk to him and see if there is someone bothering him....if not talk with a counselor and ask if they can do some testing.

More Answers

Hi T.,
I am a middle school teacher (RSP actually) and I have just a couple of suggestions to add to what the other posters have given.

First, stop punishing him for bad grades. At this point his fear of getting in trouble is causing him to hide poor grades and thus stopping him from getting help when he is struggling (he can't say "Mom, I failed my test, can you help me study for the next one?" if he doesn't want you to know he failed the first one.

Second, talk to his teachers about what extra help may be available at the school. If there is an afterschool tutoring program, sign him up; if they can assign an inclass buddy, have them do that; if they are willing to email you the homework assignments so you know what he need to do, give them your email address; finally request a meeting of the Student Study Team, if he does have some specific needs that just can't be met in general education (ie a specific learning disability), the SST is the place to start a referral for testing in this area.

Finally I would try to replace punishment AND reward with sincere "how can I help" and "I'm so proud of you." At a certain point, success has to be it's own reward, so why not teach him that from the beginning? Besides, a proud parent can mean much more to a kid this age than a Play Station (and it's a lot cheaper !)

Keep up the good work. Your kids are lucky to have such an involved and concerned parent.

Hope this helps,

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,

This is right around the time my grades started slipping too. For me, it was homework. I simply didn't do it or if I did, it was VERY half asked. No punishment worked and no reward worked (I didn't care about grades at the time).

If I were you, step one would be to see where the problem is with his grades.

Is it testing (sometimes test anxiety can be a killer)?
Is it homework?
Is it disruptive classroom behavior?

Once you figure that out, solving the issue will be easier. Maybe you should consider getting him a tutor. The one on one time will be wonderous and often tutors are younger, therefore cooler and can serve as a mentor in addition to a teacher. Perhaps the opinion of a cool person will be helpful in his overall success. Just a thought.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you ruled out any possible learning disablities? It may just be him not studying enough, but there could also be some modifications the teacher could make to help him do better also. This may not be it, but I would check it out, because school is going to get a lot harder for him when he hits junior high and high school.

1 mom found this helpful

I think Cheryl hit it, before you continue racking your brains, make sure their isn't some type of disability prohibiting him from doing good in school. So many times children go through school not realizing they have some type of disability. It isn't a bad thing to have learning disabilities or anything to be ashamed of, if you do find out he has one the school can help you find alternative ways of learning the material. One way doesn't always work for everyone. My cousin went through most of school with dyslexia, always getting not so good grades, when they finally figured it out it explained ALOT!! now he is a bio-chemical engineer! GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!! I vcommend you on all the time you take to be active with your children, sounds like you are an awesome mome!!!

Hi, T.,

I am a teacher, and the saying is "K-3 is learning to read. Grades 4 and up you are reading to learn". It strikes me that your son's problems started at 4th grade when the reading really kicks in. If a child doesn't have a firm reading foundation, he flounders and falls. Up until grade 4 they can fake it, but then they can't.

I would have him assessed for a reading disability, and take it from there, modifying work, taking with the teacher(s).


I am a mother of 4 my oldest is in 8th second oldest is in 6th and my 2 younger ones are in 4th and 2nd and I had the same problem I am to involved with my kids school and what it boiled down to is being in his class to help out the teacher not so much on him but being a room mom for awhile watch him see if he is bored see how the teacher is teaching and after a few times of being with just my son it has helped alot and remember hes in 6th grade now and every thing is harder so he may be frustrated to talk to him and think back when you were in 6th grade tell him about a time when it was hard for you kids seem to open up when you talk about the past
I wish you the best of luck Danielle mother of 4


First, really talk with your son and see if he can identify the real problem...does he have trouble following what the teacher says, is it hard to concentrate because the class is too noisy, is it hard to read the assignments written on the board, is there a bully (or a girl) in the class that is distracting him?

Also, have your son read outloud to you. He might have a reading issue or a learning comprehension issue or even a hearing issue.

My youngest son didn't get diagnosed with his issue until he was in 5th or 6th grade. We finally had him tested by a speach and hearing specialist. He had/has auditory discrimination disfunction (well that is what they called it back then) where it is difficult to hear certain sounds and difficult to filter out background noises. We also learned he was a visual processor (as opposed to an auditory or a kinestetic processor) as his main learning style. He did a 12-session class in the Lindamood method of learning which helped a lot.

Then we had him moved in all his classes to the front right side of the room which supported his visual learning style and supported his need to be close to the teacher to be able to hear what was being said. Those simple fixes made all the difference in the world for him. (If that hadn't worked, we would have put a microphone on the teacher and a headset on my son so he could hear). We also learned that he had a slight hearing loss in both ears, primarily due to lots of ear infections as a kid and scar tissue from two sets of tubes. He did great in school after that.

Good luck - don't give up. - J.

Boys are like this, sorry. They don't care about homework or studying. (sometimes girls too) Try to make sure he knows you wont accept D or F! Then roll with it. It's gonna get worse, mine is a jr now. He started slipping as soon as he hit middle school -they will spend more time lying than doing the work. sad, but realize boys are that way. He is just now applying himself (and still not that hard) I think because he had to repeat a few courses (pay a consequence from someone besides us). But I am sure yr son has many other loveable qualities, try to focus on them.

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