Underachieving 11Th Grader

Updated on January 07, 2008
C.W. asks from Alto, GA
9 answers

My youngest daughter is in the 11th grade at our local high school. She is a very smart young lady, but at school she has trouble staying organized and turning in her work on time and done correctly. She recently had a math project that she made only 65% on because she didn't communicate to me the requirements for the project and when I tried to help her, I followed the directions on the assignment sheet and talked her through it. It was blowing up a picture for geometry. She didn't explain that the picture she was supposed to do had to be more than just a line drawing. So she and I chose a line drawing from a clip art program I have on the computer. After I found out her grade, I e-mailed the teacher, who told me why the grade had been so low, and also that my daugher had been given a chance to bring the grade up by re-doing the project with a picture that was more difficult.

I can't understand why she does this. I have had to sign up for an automated report every day from school so that I can make sure she is doing her work. She also seems to be sick quite a bit, usually with a headache that nothing helps until school is over for the day. Then she is fine. I didn't have this problem with my now 21 year old daughter. I tried homeschooling them for three years, and my older daughter did her work without complaint, but I had to ride the younger daughter all the time. Does anyone have any ideas about how I can convince my daughter how important high school is? She wants to go to college and be a marine biologist, but with her grades the way they are, I don't think she will be able to get the HOPE scholarship. It requires a B average, and she doesn't have that because there are always one or two classes she does not do well in. We have tried having her stay after school for tutoring, but she really hates that and tries to make it out like the teachers don't like her and won't help her. Yet every teacher I have communicated with tells me how much they enjoy having my daughter in their class. I am at my wit's end about this. And to top it all, I am also a student at this time. I am going to college to become a RN, and I am going to start the nursing program this summer, which means I will have a lot more school work to do, and will not have as much time to make sure my daughter is keeping up with hers.

Any advice will be helpful. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

My daughter passed 11th grade. She is now a senior and very excited over her upcoming graduation. She is making good grades in everything but Algebra 3, which she says she doesn't understand. Her dad helps her as much as he can, and we bought her a computer program that explains the things she doesn't get. I think she is like me and has high test anxiety, because she understands things perfectly until time to take the test. She has missed very little school time this year, only the first 3 days because she had her wisdom teeth removed and one day since then due to a sinus infection. She is staying with my parents this semester because I have such a crazy schedule with clinicals, classes and work.

Brittany has become interested in checking out colleges as well. She is really interested in Berry College in Rome, and we are planning a spring visit. They are offering her a $7,000 - $13,000 scholarship. She is also thinking about attending the college I am attending now. The advantage to that is she would be able to live at home.

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answers from Atlanta on


I had/have the same problems with my 8 year old. We finally had a psychological evaluation and found out he has "generalized anxiety disorder". If you "google" the term and read the symptoms, see if they match, from what you have described, it matches so far.


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answers from Athens on

Something that really helped me when I was that age, I was able to spend the day with someone in the field that I was looking to go into. Find out what she would like to do after graduation and try to arrange for her to meet with them. They may be able to give her an idea of what she will need to do to get her dream job. It really motivated me to do better in science (which I still don't like). It might be as simple as she doesn't think the classes she is taking aren't going to help her get the job she wants or its may be issues with a teacher or friends.

Not to sound harsh but maybe this is a good time for your daughter to be independant. I'm not saying that she doesn't now but as long as you are nagging and reminding her of school work she doesn't need to motivate herself to do the work and do it correctly. I starting living on my own when I was 15 years old,a sophmore in high school, up until that point I rarely did anything without being told 2 or 3 times but once it was left sololy on me I learned that was not going to work any longer. Oddly enough my grades improved from a c- to a a- average, my attendance improved also and I was rarely tardy. While I did not have the ideal high school experience, it taught me a lot about being responsible for myself and sometimes we have to do things that we don't like to get what we want in life.

Good Luck with your daughter and your schooling :-)



answers from Savannah on

Sounds like me at that age (which was only 4 year ago)
She probably is ok with just exceeding the minimum and nothing more.
My motto was "passing is enough" I always aimed for a D or higher.
To this day i Don't want to go to college, i just hate school and homework.
riding her isn't going to make much of a difference but make her upset.
If shes slacking to the point you cant handle it, have her get a job so she has efforts set to some good.
I still hate school but I love to work.



answers from Augusta on

More than likely she is having boy or friends problems at school that ur unaware of which CAN highly effect a teenage girls school work.



answers from Athens on

Has she ever been tested for ADD or other learning issues. She is avoiding school for a reason and rarely is it just plain laziness. One of the signs of ADD is being unorganized. I highly suggest that if you intend for your daughter to successfully complete college that she be tested b/c she wont make it through school without disability services ( if that is indeed what she needs). Start with the school and ask for an SST meeting (student support team) and then go from there. If you do find out that your child has any type of disability, I highly recommend that you read WRIGHTSLAW.com and if she has certain problems that do not qualify her for special education ask for a 504 plan which makes additional provisions for students who need modifications based on their needs.



answers from Atlanta on

You might possibly want to check into ADD/ADHD. I have some experience living with that condition (not in myself but others around me) and it sounds a little similar. If you feel she is intelligent, creative, highly intuitive, charming, etc but doesn't seem to be able to be organized and get things done those are some of the signs. Of course, it could be normal teenage distractions, but you may want to check this out just in case. The danger of undiagnosed ADD is that it can damamge a person's self esteem because they start to think they are useless, lazy, etc. When in fact it could be a chemical problem causing their difficulties. Good Luck.



answers from Atlanta on

-First make sure she is not having peer / social problems at school. Some students don't want to go to school because they feel picked on, etc. and yet don't tell their parents about it. (In addition ask the school counselor to call her in and talk to her privately to get a feel for the situation).

-How are her organizational skills? Does she keep her binder together? Sometimes we falsely assume that students know how to organize themselves; however, if they've never been shown how to put together and use a system, there are some who can not figure it out on their own and are too embarrassed to admit it.

-Is her locker organized? You may want to ask her about the condition of her locker. Perhaps she can't find the papers she needs when she needs them (such as directions on how to complete an assignment).

-Have you attended any parent conferences with your daughter present? It is always best the student be there in order to say what is on his or her mind and to hear feedback directly from the teacher.

-Instead of telling her to attend tutoring (some students are embarrassed to attend), if you can afford it, consider hiring a private tutor who will come to your house once a week until she gets caught up.

-Depending on how she responds, you can try positive or negative incentives / reinforcers. (Positive such as rewards - allowing her special priviledges or toys for good performance. Other students respond best to having things taken away. If she is always on a cell phone, text-messaging or playing video games, those toys can GO until she turns her grades around).

-Sometimes a student simply isn't very interested in a particular subject; however, perhaps you can try and interest her by bringing up what she is learning on a day-to-day basis and applying it around the house, taking trips to places she studies, etc. (When my son was in 6th grade social studies he wasn't very excited about Mayan history until we finally went to Mexico and then it all suddenly came to life for him.)

Good luck, and know that you are not alone. Many parents struggle with similar situations. :-)



answers from Atlanta on


Alot of times children act out, so that they can be heard. There is something going on,that is affecting her ability to give 100% in school. Possiblties, peer pressures,not enough attention at home ( parents schedule), a learning diffeciency, which she has been unable to discuss with you. I have worked with many children with learning disabilities, or deficiencies, and they act on in various ways. Discuss this issue with your daughter, if you see no progress in her abilities to strive in school. I would suggest you talk to her teachers, and lastly ask for a IEP assessment.If it is something of a learning disability, an assessmnet will capture it. Best Wishes!!!!! Don't forget your daughter is about to enter into the adult world, this may be a fear for her. Discuss her transitioning into adulthood, this may relieve some tension or anxiety.

Good Luck



answers from Atlanta on

I am having the same problem with my 17yo son, I have tried everything I can think of, my next option is sending hime to job corp. Please help me also.

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