My Teenage Son and School, What to Do?

Updated on June 03, 2011
H.G. asks from Arlington, TX
22 answers

I need help ladies. My son is in the 8th grade and it doesn't look like he's gonna move on to the 9th grade (highschool). In texas we have a standardized test that must be passed to keep moving up. We just found out he failed it again which means he will be retained. He has known all year there's bo easy outs this time. He has failed his classes all year and I told him no summer school. I just don't feel like he should be able to play and goof off all year then go to summer school and slide by. The school does offer summer school and one more shot to pass the test to go to hs, but if I let him do it there you go, he gets away with it again. What would y'all do? I lpve him so much but I just feel like he's never gonna learn. Help!!
**he has been tested for concentration issues as well as add/adhd. He came out normal in all catagories. His teachers tell me when nick wants to he does all that is expected of him, but he is" influenced" by his peers.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

That's just it! He failed because he plays allday and doesn't do the work. That's why im so mad. Ss for him will not be punishment. All his friends will be there. He does nothing allday but lay around and he's allready grounded from everything because of his grades. I feel like im just running face first into a brick wall.

God bless you Leslie! You hit the nail on the head! I guess I just needed reassuring. Love all you moms. And no no hitting up the drug house!

Featured Answers



answers from Phoenix on

I would let him go to SS even if it's a "treat" for him. Ground him from everything until he can show that he'll work hard in school. Hopefully, this will help. Hang in there, mom!! Good luck!!

Edit My Answer
5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Jen C. I can't imagine an 8th grader thinking of summer school as a good thing. What would he do all summer if he wasn't in summer school?

I'd send him to school, plus hire him a tutor, plus have him find/or find him a summer job or regular physically demanding chores to pay for the tutor. I'd call it his "get into high school summer bootcamp".

Edit My Answer
5 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

I agree with D.M. He should be allowed to go to summer school. I also think his social life should depend on how he does. If he is doing the work, passing the classes, being responsible at home with his chores etc...then he can hang out with friends. He needs to know how serious this is. Then, if he doesn't pass and has to be held back and he'll see that it was a consequence of his actions (not yours). Best wishes!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I would let him go to summer school, I do not see that as an easy out since he will have to miss his summer sitting in class. Seems a fitting punishment.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Have you had him tested, Mom? It could be that he actually has a learning disability that no one has caught. Some kids play because they cannot figure out school, especially when things get harder.

Can you afford tutoring this summer? I would send him to summer school and get tutoring, and make him earn his privileges, whatever they are. That should include him getting to have his phone, TV, computer, X-box, friends, etc. Summer school is just more school, and he gets no fun without you seeing the actual work he is doing. Your summer school teachers don't have as many students, and you very well may be able to work closely with them to know what he is and isn't doing.

Having to go to school for a straight year may be just the kick in the butt that he needs, knowing that he'll have to do it again. He may not be college-bound - not everyone is - but he NEEDS to graduate from high school. Give him the means to do that, whether it's summer school or not.

There are some kids who are so close to failing that they end up doing evening school and getting what amounts to a GED (I'm not sure if that's in every state). I had a friend whose son did that. She had him work during the day so that he understood responsibility. (It was either that or send him to a boys' home.) It worked. He shaped up and ended up graduating night school. (I went to his graduation.) He did go to IT Tech school and is married and has a job. He wasn't a good student, but he has a job now and a good life, which is what we all want for our children, whether they work in professional jobs or not.

I really do hope that you will have him tested for LD's. It sure would answer your questions if you find out that this is his underlying problem. Then he should get the support he needs from the school system.

All my best,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Summer school has homework. YOU drop him off and then YOU pick him up. Make sure you and your son meet with each and every summer teacher,at the end of the first day. Summer school is a long class time for each summer so the classes go fast. He will have to keep up.

Ask about homework. Ask them if they post homework on line.. Then make sure your son completes the homework. Let these teachers know you want to know if son does not complete the work or turn it in..

IF your son has some sort of learning difference you should already know this.. Then he may need a tutor. If it is just that he is lazy, you can change that by making sure he can not go out with friends to have them over until his homework is completed.. No spending money for the summer unless he meets your expectations.

He needs to mow the lawn each week or every other week.
He should prepare at least one dinner a week. He also needs to start doing his own laundry. Teach him how starting tomorrow.

Disconnect the TV the Video game machine each day until his homework is complete. If you have to hide the cords, hide them somewhere different each day.. Between your mattress or at the bottom of your lingerie drawer int he pocket of a winter coat in the closet, or in the tampon box are great ways to hide them.

No going out on summer school nights.

Also NO spending money, unless he completes the full week of classes and homework. If even 1 day is incomplete or not turned in.. no money for the weekend.

Your son needs so responsibilities so that he can feel some ownership and some successes. I am going to guess he is really bright and in the past he has done the minimum work and has passed. But now that will not work.

The TAKS test for the average kid is not hard.. Most of the kids we know say it is boring. They are shocked to learn someone has not passed it. IF your son would do the classwork, he could easily pass the test.

Has he been taught how to take the test. Read the questions first, then read the Question.. Use the pencil to underline the answer from the passage. Then go back and re read it and make sure the underlined passage matches one of the answers offered..
I used to tutor boys for the TAKS.. Most of them just got lost in all of the boring reading that was required.. The math problems are almost totally math situations.. so again having to read through it was boring..

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Why is he not passing? Effort or ability? Without much detail I tend to think he should go to school this summer to go into HS w/ his friends. Social development is just as important, and not giving him this last shot (he has to pass) might be something he holds against you. Let him go to school, but also give him summer "jobs" - lawn mowing, cleaning etc. to develop a sense of responsibility. IF he does well with them at the end of the summer - reward him. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I would make him go to summer school. Whether his friends will be there or not, he is still going to have to put in the effort, and if he doesn't then he gets held back.....

I am really not sure what keeping him out of summer school is going to teach him??? Maybe you could help me to understand what you mean by that. Why would that be a good punishment?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Let him attend summer school and give it another shot. I taught middle school math here in Texas. Portions of the TAKS test can be really challenging. Kids that were retained in 8th grade seemed to care less and less. It did not motivate them in any way, for the most part they didn't see a point in trying and became even more apathetic. Let him try and look for other avenues to motivate him. If he stays at home all summer, what's the point in that...don't try and you get a stay cation? I'd send him to school and quiz him over materials in the evenings. Make him accountable for his learning. If it requires stripping your house of everything fun, so be it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

My son just finished 9th grade. He failed English simply because he was not doing the work. I have opted not to send him to summer school because I think that sends the message that it is okay to fail b'c he has an "out". So, he will be giving up an elective next semester to retake this English class.

If you son has failed all of classes because he is simply not doing the work, then I see no problem with letting him repeat 8th grade. It will give him time to mature before going to high school - and if his peers all move up, hopefully take away some of the bad influence.

Doesn't it just drive you crazy to watch your intelligent child just fail. Arrgghh - I just wanted to eat mine I was so mad at him. LOL

Good Luck
God Bless

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

There need to be consequences for actions. As a high school teacher in Arlington, I just have to say that if all parents thought the same way you did, we would have a much better school system. Just imagine, parents and teachers working together getting these kids back on track. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsfield on

I think keeping him in 8th grade for another year is a good idea. Hopefully it will not only teach him a lesson, but give him more time to mature and it's a plus that the kids he was hanging around before won't be there any more. With any luck, he'll choose better friends.
Best wishes!!! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would let him go to SS. This sounds exactly like I was in Jr high and I went to SS several summers and FINALLY in 11th grade, I decided to get my act together and made A's & B's until I graduated.

Not to be nosey, but how is his home life? My home life was very chaotic and it was hard to concentrate on anything, let alone school.

Also, I read a past posting of yours re: the suspicious house in your neighborhood and it really does sound like a drug home. Do you think possibly he may visit over there and has maybe gotten into drugs? When I was in 8th grade that seemed to be when a lot of kids experimented with drugs. So sad, because they are so young.

But I would let him go to SS and maybe he will straighten out. Is there another SS he can go to, so he won't just be around friends? Good luck to you, I know this is frustrating!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It sounds like there may be a learning disability. My daughter was the same way and I thought the same thing. She was lazy, did nothing, school was not her first priority ever. As I watched her struggle, I came to the realization that there may be something more. I took her to be evaluated and sure enough there were learning disabilities. Nothing severe, but enough to slow her down and allow for the dis-interest in school. If kids have trouble learning, they get easily lost and lose interest because they can't keep up. Before you lose all hope on your son, talk to his doctor and see what he suggests. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It's a tough one, one one hand retaining him may break the bad peer influence if his friends move on, on the other hand he may completely loose interest in school...
If it was my kid I would probably do summer school and than change her school in the fall to break the peer influence. At this age it won't be much longer before he'll be able to drop out or disengage from school completely, so I think some drastic measures are reasonable.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This is tough. If he is retained, that could backfire because he could resent being left behind when all of his friends move up which could lead to more behavior issues. BUT, retaining him could solve some of his problems because those friends will move up. Based on my own experience with a certain family member, when he makes new friends, he will probably choose the same kind of people to hang out with. I would lean towards sending him to summer school and like someone else said, make him earn things and time with friends based on how he is doing in school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Have you considered homeschool? Some kids have a learning style that is incompatible with the conventional school system. They get burned out because they aren't wired for it. Here's a helpful article about school burnout by Dr. Raymond Moore:
There are many, many ways to homeschool; families in all kinds of situations are finding ways to make it work. This could be a wonderful option for your son. I hope it works out for you!
God bless,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Lesley. Make him repeat 8th grade. It's a good consequence, and you are right to nip this in the bud NOW.

9th and 10th grade is usually when they crash and burn, if they are going to. I've seen enough teens do this that I now know that it is a really good idea to get really tough with them at this stage in the game.

Getting into high school will be a good motivator for him. Make him feel the consequences of his actions, and repeat 8th grade. Don't worry about him resenting you. They resent you anyway at that age. :)

p.s. - If Summer School is actually rigorous -- 8 hours a day with real homework for 6 weeks -- then conceivably summer school will be a good substitute. However, if you know it to be easy, then repeating 8th grade will be best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rockford on

I would send him to summer school. You can make his summer otherwise not so fun by treating him as though it is the regular school year and not summer - like early bedtime, no games or tv in the evening, homework time, limited time with these "peers", etc. The research seems to show that retaining an older child makes them much more likely to tune out of school altogether and drop out later on. In fact, the older the child is when he is retained, the chances of dropping out jump nearly exponentially. Retention should be for more serious academic emergencies, and not for someone who can do it but slacked off. The potential negative outcome is not justified. Change his tune in other ways. The other mamas have given great advice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Maybe instead of doing summer school through the school, you do summer school through a different program? Like maybe Sylvan, or homeschool him or hire a tutor for him? Then, it's not the reward of being in summer school with his friends, but he still has the option to try to pass?

The other option is, if he doesn't want the summer school options above (not the school system version where he gets to be w/ his friends), then he has to get a job working---being in school is a privilege if he works at it. If he chooses not to work at school then he needs to earn his keep elsewhere, like mowing lawns, bussing tables in a restaurant/burger joint, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Sounds like he fell in the wrong crowd if he's influenced by his peers. It happens. I wasn't big on doing work in high school. Retaining him will also drive a wedge between him and his peers. Being in 2 different grades will distance them even if they're in the same halls and such. It just does most of the time. Sounds like he's using summer school as his scapegoat so not letting him do that and just feel the consequences of his actions is a good thing on your part. That's what I would do too. Maybe it will wake him up :)
I'm glad you had him tested. I will have to keep that in mind if it happens to my daughter because I roll my eyes when people mention add/adhd just because it's overly diagnosed (I shouldn't but my bro was misdiagnosed for 10 years so I have neg attachments to it).
In the fall when he's held back, be on his back about all his homework... be in communication with all his teachers and all that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am sorry you are going through this. Can you let him go to school this summer at a different school or district? I am sure it is very frustrating that he has screwed around all year but putting him back will make a difference in his future life and you have no guaranty that he will pass next year either. Sounds like a complete change of scenery is what he needs to regroup wthout his friends. Perhaps you could move or stay with friends so he could go to a different school so that he loses the losers but gets his SS. Good luck!

Next question: My Son Was Retained in 8Grade