He is, but you’re not. Here’s why your tween may not have done well in school.
You’ve just received Junior’s report book at the end of the school year and it’s not what you had hoped for. His grades are much lower than you expected, his teachers comment on his lack of motivation and, yet, he has a couldn’t-care-less attitude. You know that he has the potential and, so, it’s heartbreaking to know he has such a playful attitude to learning. While you want to knock some sense into him and boost his enthusiasm for the next academic year, you are aware that the more you press him to adopt a positive approach towards the classroom, the more he will resist.
There can be many reasons for his poor school grades, so it’s important to find out the real reason for it. These could include the following:
He doesn’t take school seriously
Although it is obvious to you that school matters, your child doesn’t see it that way. Explain that he needs have a more responsible attitude, just like that of his peers, and that while he should enjoy school, his grades are important. Ask one of his role models (for example, a favourite uncle) to have a chat with him about this as well.
He doesn’t have a good school routine
Work out a fixed schedule that covers the time between waking up each morning and finishing homework each day. This helps him get into the habit of, for example, checking that he has his books, getting to school on time, searching his bags for notes from the teacher, and doing his homework regularly.
He has difficulty concentrating
Perhaps his attention wanders too easily in class, leaving him easily distracted and bored. This can result in poor grades. Speak to his teacher if you think this may be a factor. In the meantime, try to remove all distractions when he is doing his homework.
He has a learning problem
Every teacher is trained to work with children of varying abilities, and there should be a suitable range of learning materials in the classroom. Once a learning difficulty is identified, she will use appropriate teaching methods that are most effective to meet the pupil’s individual learning needs.
He has disorganized study habits
Suggest that your nine-year-old draw up a realistic timetable for studying at home during the week – he may find it useful to have this pinned up in his bedroom. Remember, though, that most children study best in bursts, followed by a short break.
He doesn’t like his teacher
The relationship has a crucial influence on his enjoyment, progress and achievements in school. If he doesn’t like her or is even afraid of her, he won’t fulfil his learning potential. However, point out that part of the teacher’s job is keeping the class under control and that he should always follow her instructions.
He has been set unrealistic goals
Perhaps your academic expectations are too high – a pupil who realises he can never meet the high standards expected of him, no matter how hard he tries, will eventually give up and stop trying. The challenge for you and his teacher is to set educational targets that are attainable.
He has an unmotivated peer group
At this age, Junior is heavily influenced by his friends’ attitudes. If they are not interested in school, you can be sure that, soon, he won’t be interested either. Talk to him about his school pals, about their exam scores and about their general approach to learning. Encourage his friendships with motivated pupils.
Through discussion – not confrontation – with your child, you’ll eventually begin to uncover the real reason for his poor exam grades, and then you can help him achieve more in school next year.
By Dr. Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, November 2014