Author Topic: How to get my son to get his grades up?  (Read 1614 times)

dustinst22

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How to get my son to get his grades up?
« on: June 22, 2018, 08:53:04 PM »
Maybe my expectations are too high, but I know my son can do better in school.  He just finished elementary and finished his last semester with all B's.  I was pretty disappointed, but he seems fine with it and says "well, I tried my best" (which I know isn't true).

Has anyone else struggled with this and have any suggestions?  I don't want to be my father and come down too hard on him, as it never worked for me growing up.  My wife and I own an online business from home, and spend a lot of time with him and helping with his schoolwork, etc.  She is especially involved, volunteers at his school, helps with all his homework and reading, etc. 

It's not so much the grades that bother me, it's his attitude that B's are good enough. 

expatartist

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2018, 09:08:47 PM »
You have my sympathy Dustin22! It can be difficult to not come down too hard on kids when they're not working to their potential. Like your dad, my parents were very hard on me for too many Bs, the rare C was a disgrace. Their solutions were punitive and surveillance-oriented (consistent grounding and exclusion from activities, sleeping on my sisters' floors, having teachers send home weekly reports of homework completion). Glad to hear you're not cracking down without asking questions first.

Though not a parent, I work with kids in private schools, most of whom have insane pressure to perform. Part of my job as an artist is creating projects that serve as a reminder there's more to life than exams and grades. I have very high standards of behavior and performance, but the context is different from that of the classroom.

Wandering off topic. Anyway, perhaps you can think of questions to ask your child in an informal setting, ways to elicit reasons he's not interested in achieving A's. The fundamental reason I didn't perform to my potential in the classroom is the priorities prized there (conformity, etc) weren't ones I agreed with. It would've been hard to articulate at his age, but perhaps you can help him to do so while gaining a better understanding of his worldview. This will help you to guide him more effectively and build a trusting rather than antagonistic relationship.

MarciaB

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2018, 04:10:48 AM »
My thinking is along Expatartist's lines, that "achieving" those high grades isn't what your kid thinks is worth his time.

Thought experiment: perhaps the cool kids get mediocre grades and matching that is what he is aiming for. If only the nerds/dorks/freaks get A's, well then he certainly wouldn't want to join them, right?

Or perhaps the kids who get the A's are a certain ethnicity, and your kid isn't that type, so he can't get A's, right? Or kids who get A's get excluded from the most fun social events. Or the best teams during recess.

You get the point - is there a motivation to get the grades he does that has nothing to do with academics?


MayDay

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2018, 06:24:39 AM »
I have a kid entering 5th grade this fall. He is spectacular I. Math, and according to standardized testing pretty awesome at language arts too.

But at age 10, although he pays (some) attention and dies his work. But he just isn't passionate about anything except math.

I was a kid who got all A's because of some kind of internal pressure or neurosis or perfectionism. Later in life I went much more towards getting 85% of the outcome from 15% of the effort. It's much less stressful :)

It's weird/hard to see my kid not care, but I think it is healthier. I don't really want a fifth grader to be neurotic about grades! I want him to be well behaved and respectful and learn enough to be well educated and we'll rounded. But he's never going to be an English major or an author or whatever,so really who cares if he gets an A or a B.

accolay

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2018, 07:16:37 AM »
Starting Middle School? How important is it to get A's in elementary school? Are there any school related academic activities you could get him involved next year?

My grades throughout school were absolute garbage. My parents were basically hands off, so I think it's pretty good that you're involved. I'm not sure where I would have ended up if they had put just a teensy bit of pressure on me starting earlier. I remember thinking that most of the homework was a waste of time as in "I could be better at this if I wanted to, but who wants to spend time doing that shit when I could be doing anything else?" The things I wish I had payed more attention to now were math and science specific, and I think if I had made more friendships or been more participatory in the few academic extracurriculars available, I would have been better off. The music was probably the only reason I didn't drop out becuase I had friends there and it was interesting and fun.

If anything, as long as your kid can read (and comprehend) he can do anything he wants.

dustinst22

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2018, 07:44:12 AM »
Thanks everyone, gives me some perspective.

He's a really good kid, and he has great friends (glad he's not hanging out with the 'cool' kids where he'd get in trouble).  His friends are more of the nerd/geek types and all get very good grades, and I thought this would rub off on him some.

I know that it's just elementary school, but I remember for myself, this is where the habits are formed for later.  I didn't get good grades throughout school, and I think it started in 5th grade.   It wasn't until after high school that I finally got my shit together, so I went the hard route -- don't want the same thing for my son.

I've decided I'm not going to be the overly demanding parent .  What's most important to me is that he enjoys school, so that's my goal right now.  The area we live in is a very affluent one with excellent schools, and many of parents tend to have very high expectations.  I'm amazed at how accomplished some of these kids are at such a young age. I think I'm falling into the trap of comparing him and I need to stop doing that.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2018, 07:53:06 AM by dustinst22 »

Noodle

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2018, 07:51:36 AM »
I think the first place to start is to figure out what's going on with his motivation and grades, because it could be so many things. The teacher might be able to tell you (of course you probably can't reach him/her right now but maybe in the fall) or you may know your kid well enough to hazard some guesses. Or if a parent asking him is making him clam up, a grandparent or other adult might get an answer. It could be that your kid is just extrinsically motivated, and has decided that his cost/benefit analysis lands around Bs. He's at the age where kids start noticing what the "cool kids" are doing, and if it's not cool with his peers to try too hard, he may not want to either. If the teachers are starting to change expectations around homework and grades with kids' age, maybe his old methods of getting stuff done aren't working and he doesn't know how to fix it. Maybe he's like my sibling who only got work done for teachers who he liked or teachers who were tough enough to overcome his natural resistance. Maybe there are too many distractions with electronics or outside activities and you need to change up the home environment.

If it makes you feel any better, my sibling who got the worst grades (and drove our parents bonkers in the process), and his spouse who worked for a number of years without a college degree, are by far the biggest earners of their generation in our family.

I would address the fact that he told you he had tried his best when he did not in a separate conversation--he may just have been repeating something that he has heard many times to get out of an uncomfortable conversation, but although grades have a variable relationship to success in life, character does not.

Hula Hoop

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2018, 07:54:48 AM »
I'm no expert but maybe you and your wife should be more hands off about homework and school in general.  Our older daughter is doing her last year of elementary next year.  We don't check homework or even look at it. We do remind her to do it and hold off on other weekend activities until it is done but we let her handle it in her own way and by herself.  Of course, if she has questions, then we help as best we can. 

We've always thought that homework is the kid's responsibility, not the parent's, and if she can't handle it by herself then it's probably not age appropriate and/or the teacher is not doing her job.  We also both work full time and never volunteer at school.  Anyway, letting our daughter do her homework herself and learn to deal with the consequences if she doesn't finish something etc. seems to have worked well for her and she gets good grades.  We plan to follow the same path with the younger daughter who just started elementary.


When I was a kid, my parents both worked full time in demanding jobs and never looked at my homework or volunteered at school.  it was good for me as I learned to handle things independently at an early age and got good grades because I felt responsibility.  I remember my best friend had a stay at home mother who always hovered over her while doing homework and it didn't seem to work too well.

accolay

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2018, 08:37:38 AM »
I know that it's just elementary school, but I remember for myself, this is where the habits are formed for later.  I didn't get good grades throughout school, and I think it started in 5th grade.   It wasn't until after high school that I finally got my shit together, so I went the hard route -- don't want the same thing for my son.

Chip off the old block? Perhaps he has to find his own way?

dustinst22

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2018, 08:41:20 AM »
I know that it's just elementary school, but I remember for myself, this is where the habits are formed for later.  I didn't get good grades throughout school, and I think it started in 5th grade.   It wasn't until after high school that I finally got my shit together, so I went the hard route -- don't want the same thing for my son.

Chip off the old block? Perhaps he has to find his own way?

Could be haha.  Though I would not recommend the route I took, I was lucky :).  I don't want him to go through that.

Maybe I just need to relax.

Mon€yp€nny

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2018, 09:47:15 AM »
Hi Dustinst22,

My 8 year old was/ is also underachieving. She didn't pass last year. We had her tested cause we wanted to know the reason. And actually, it wasn't very surprising to us, the reasons that were found. The teachers and staff are going to work on those issues with her next year (a small course and just talking with her).

 I'm not saying you should get your child tested but maybe the teachers and school staff can help you find the reason(s) behind his underperforming. Or maybe you could try to find it by talking to your child, your gut feeling and thinking about your issues as a child and your partner's. Cause our girl got my biggest issue and her dad's in our school careers.
It could be anything, a social, emotional, practical or education reason.

Roadrunner53

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2018, 10:08:02 AM »
I am not sure what you can do to get your son to get better grades but in my world, if I had gotten B's, I would have considered myself a genius! LOL! I struggled with school the entire 12 years. Math especially. I was a dunce. I personally think teachers were boring back then and had no enthusiasm or willingness to think outside the box. Some kids learn differently. I used to despise history, now I am a bit obsessed with it and love reading about people and their struggles and hardship. How bridges and pyramids were constructed. So much interesting stuff. My Dad was a history major in college and I used to throw it in his face that history sucked and was boring. He used to become pretty furious with me. Wish I could share my love of history now with him. Math was my lifelong struggle. Back in my day not everyone learned algebra. I just made it thru business math. In my late 30's I got a job with a research company and at times they used algebra and DUH, hieroglyphics to me. Mostly I didn't have to use it because my bosses did. However, years later I got a job at another research place and my boss who was brilliant asked me to do some calculation in algebra. There was no way I could weasel out of doing this and I had to admit I didn't know algebra. OMG, I felt like an ass. This guy was a graduate of MIT and his brains were falling out of his ears he was so smart. He must have thought I was an idiot.

First I would tell your kid in a nice way that you would like to see him pull his grades up and what does he feel he needs to accomplish it. Does he need homework help? Maybe your kid is creative and his mind is on other things, even sports or computer games. If it is computer games, maybe you could buy some games that were geared towards learning and thinking strategically. Something where he has to solve problems. Could you hire a tutor? Is there a way to find out what the future subject matter will be so you could obtain materials to prepare him for what is coming down the pike? You could make it fun by getting interesting books and not the boring ones. I can remember my school books were probably 15 years old when I got them and the pictures were black and white. There were no interesting stories about the pioneers it was all generic dull stuff. Kids need to feel a passion for what they are learning to get good grades. I read a true story of a girl and her sister who were captured by Indians during the wagon train days. It really made me appreciate what the pioneers went thru and it made it more real to me. Not just some boring old slanted textbook that just gave you white washed history.

Some teachers are terrible and so boring the kids minds drift off. I had a history teacher in 8th grade that was a pretty old guy. He was monatone and so boring I could have run out of his class screaming down the hallways. I had another history teacher in High School that was fun and made it interesting and I thrived in his class.

My Father tried to help me with math and every single time it was a shouting screaming match. I struggled so much and he couldn't understand why I was so thick headed. Somehow I did pretty good in life and was making better than $60K a year before I retired.

Johnez

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2018, 12:43:04 PM »
I was an underachiever throughout school, and honestly Bs sound pretty good compared to what I was getting ha. Some of my problems back then was stuff I had nobody to talk to about. Both my parents were alcoholics, dad violent at times (though I was kinda unaware), my damn parents *forced* me to keep my hair long, which got all sorts of harassment at school and very few friends, and I was actually pretty smart, or a complete moron depending on who I was being yelled at/praised by. My junior year in high school was the year I got kicked out, they sent me to continuation school. Said it was impossible to graduate so bye bye. Looking back, this was their attempt to keep their "graduation rates" up. Anyhow, I was pretty shocked over there, I thought I had problems. Pregnant girls, guys on drugs, holy shit-I screwed up. Figured out how the system worked and completed enough units so that it was mathematically possible for me graduate, and transferred back into my old school for my senior year.

So I'm not sure the point of my post here, maybe a bit of perspective. I'd say grades really aren't looked at hardly at all until high school. The colleges your son might attend aren't going to look at elementary or junior high. I would instead focus on his passions. These are going to be the motivation for success. Sports, music, building stuff? Stoke those. An adult needs a foundation for how to try hard and achieve something. Turning in papers and studying for tests is a part of that I suppose, but that kinda sounds like boring office work that a ton of people here are trying to escape. If he learns to pursue his passions, might lead to a better adult world for him.

Just a fellow parent here wanting my kids to have better opportunities in life than me.

Roadrunner53

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2018, 01:07:58 PM »
I went to Catholic school from first to fifth grade. I really don't know what my problems in learning were. We only had one teacher for all the subject matter during the day. One nun to teach it all. One class room we sat in all day long. One thing I reflect back on was I didn't get that learning math was something that each chapter builds on the other. Like addition, then subtraction, then multiplication, then division. I thought of it as I didn't like it and the next chapter would be better and we could forget about the last chapter. So I just didn't get it and then the problems started. If I didn't have a handle on 1+1 =2 then multiplication and division were impossible for me to learn. That was the beginning of my issues. Not liking it from the get go. I had a really hard time learning my multiplication tables and at some point found one of those cheat sheet ones found on notebooks. I cut it out and hid it and cheated when I needed to. However, it did help me memorize eventually! I even had to go to summer school a few times. UGH! Those were the days!

Teachers need to make learning interactive and interesting. Some of the old teachers need to retire. They are bored to death and the kids are then bored and just watch the clock waiting to get out. I went to public school from grade 6-12. Some teachers were good and some were crypt masters.




TheWifeHalf

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2018, 02:17:48 PM »
My 3rd child:
He got B's all through school, A's mixed in there now and then, and we were determined to not have him equating getting A's to his self worth. We would not add that stress.
This was back in the '90s (born in 1988) - that boy loved his Nintendo. I remember telling him, in elementary school,  he had to read one book to me to earn 2 hours of Nintendo. It worked. Reading became fun because he earned something he wanted.  A lot of times I would catch him reading. It was the Nintendo instructions for a new game, but still, it was reading!

We gradually realized he wasn't like THH or me, or either of his older siblings. For instance, one time I had to pick him up after school, and a bus with kids going home went by. Every single window got rolled down, a kid's hand or face was out while they yelled "Bye Ben"

He has the ability to make people feel comfortable around him, and every where he's worked, even now, people just like him! (This makes us me believe he tends to favor his mom rather than his dad)

When he got in high school he had a special place to do his homework. I could here his chair wheels going back and forth, heard him dancing around, but he got his homework done. I talked to the doctor, thinking ADHD or something, and he said it didn't sound like he had a hyperactive problem. We decided I should continue as I was doing and keep an eye on him. He seemed to be dealing with things on his own, not hurrying not worrying. I'm sure if THH or I kept on him, it would have affected him, adding more stress.

He had a B+/A- gpa, so was not one of the best in the school, but he was reliable, did what he said he'd do, and the teachers loved him too.

I grew up in the Vietnam war years, so the military was never mentioned as an option, but Ben told me the summer before his senior year, he wanted to join the Navy. (Ok, Mom, suck it up and put on a happy face.) The Navy office had a program that the kids could come every month and get a feel for the Navy. He did all senior year, and was more determined that this is what he wanted.
He tested in to the Nuclear Propulsion (rate? that's the only wood I can think of that feels right, may be wrong) did a little research, and I even called the county nuclear power plant and the HR lady told me "You send me a guy who was in nuclear propulsion in the Navy, I'll hire him immediately" so we were convinced, if he wanted it so bad, ok! We just didn’t want him to come out with no type of education. They said he had to sign up for 6 years, which he gladly did.

He had 2 years of training in NC that was kind of like ‘college on speed.’ When we went down to ‘graduation’ he won some award, I forget the official name of it, but it sounded like something the best student would get. He did NOT have the highest grades, but once again, the ability to make people like him and having a good work ethic, was apparent in winning this award.

Forgot to add: When he went to boot camp, in Chicago, on the first day there was a big group of them, and they said they needed someone to wake a little earlier to clean the men’s restroom. He said he immediately volunteered, his thinking was, he got up early before school to rock on the rocking chair to wake up, he’d just use the cleaning time to wake up!
I suppose little things like that was the reason he won the award.

So then, he was on the USS Ronald Reagan., his first choice. He kind of sat in front of a computer mostly, and we figured, his Nintendo training is being used. When he got out of the Navy he showed us that he had been given a plaque and a photo, Sailor of the Day. I think there were like 5000 sailors, and every day one was chosen. I just thought, hm, I bet people liked him.

He got out of the Navy, despite $100,000 to be given to him when he enlisted again, (and if done in a war zone, no taxes), so we knew he wanted out. I told him as the years went by, he’d appreciate more and more the things he experienced in the Navy. And that’s coming true.

He got a job with the gas company, it included a 4 day training in Columbus, then he went door to door checking gas lines in houses. I remember him telling me a gal who was on the police force had him sit down for coffee and talked to him awhile.
It wasn’t in the best part of town, but he wore an obvious gas co shirt. He said one day there were a bunch of high school age kids, (he thought maybe they were a gang) and they told him, “Don’t worry, we won’t hurt you.” He said he even stayed and talked to them a little.

See, people like Ben!

Then, the refinery where THH works was hiring. They hired 20 people out of 3000 applicants. Every now and then people would see THH and tell him how much they liked Ben.
He had to quit because his wife got a job, had been looking for 2 years, near Boston.  He figured he could get a job anywhere, but an opportunity for his wife, like this, may never come along again, so he stopped working there. I think I surprised him because we could tell he was a little anxious telling us his plans to quit, but no need to be. We understood, and wished them both well. We told him that when there was a strike, the first since before THH was hired, and the union agreed to things that affected the younger guys,  it was probably best to get out of there.

Oh, forgot to add, when he put an application to the refinery,  a week earlier he  had applied to the nuclear power plant.  They really really wanted him, I suspect because they called the Navy office that Ben had first gone to, so kept upping the ante, but in the end, he decided on the refinery.  See, he had an interview at the nuclear power plant, and the guy told him that was probably one of the best interviews he’s had in a long time. I don’t know, would he just tell someone that?
Ben had to make a decision, and chose where his Dad worked. (someone had come to THH and said Ben was the best interview/tester in the entire class). Again, would people just say that? They still come into the control room and ask about Ben.

So they moved to Boston, and Ben already had a interview scheduled before he got there. He said the guy that interviewed him there was a Navy nuke dropout, so he was just in the regular electrical rate, whereas Ben was nuclear propulsion/electric . (I’m so sorry, I have forgotten the correct terms for some of this stuff in the Navy) The interview was supposed to be 2 hrs. 10 minutes they talked interview stuff and the rest of the time they talked about the Navy!
I have a box behind my computer that my other son says is a backup in case the electricity goes out. Ben says he goes around to hospitals and places that use such things, and checks them/does maintenance.

The nuclear propulsion rate of the Navy, the job at the nuclear power plant, and the job at the refinery all take someone calm under pressure, and has shown in his past work that he has the ability to learn.
None of them seemed to require someone who got all A’s, but more a good work ethic.

Is he about 11, 12? This thread might be of interest 
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mini-money-mustaches/holding-kids-accountable-over-the-summer-needing-ideas/

Keep an eye on him and encourage things that he shows an interest in, even if you think it’s stupid. He’ll come away knowing Mom and Dad believed enough in him to take chances to let him explore, even if he decides it’s not for him.
When Ben was in high school, his brother had already graduated (was a good, but not best, golfer), he signed up for the golf team. Before we had to buy anything, Ben wanted to quit, and we agreed with him. He said he loved just playing golf, but being on a team, and them depending on him, was not something he wanted to do. (He was in the LEJGA too, but there, they were not on a team, it was individual) We could tell making him stay in would cause more stress.

If your son is ok with B’s, would pushing for A’s cause him stress?  Just remembered, at the time I talked to Ben’s doctor about ADHD, he said we should go talk to ?? I can’t remember the name, or what kind of doctor he was, but one thing I remember him saying is that some kids just have too many ’structured’ things to do. He said, “Don’t you remember when you were little just going outside to play, or having friends over, just to play?” He said that some kids just need that. (that’s right, he was what we call a ‘head’ doctor)
We kept our kids busy, because busy kids stay away from alcohol and drugs. But we got the signal from Ben, that he needed a little more of ‘just play.’

So, that ended up kind of long, sorry. I’m going to send it though because your son is at the age where trying to find himself, in good places is important.
Best of luck
« Last Edit: June 23, 2018, 02:30:00 PM by TheWifeHalf »

Roadrunner53

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2018, 03:01:01 PM »
TheWifeHalf, that was a very moving story! Thank you for posting that for all of us to read. I don't have kids but yours is a testimonial that all kids march to a different drummer and to let them spread their wings. Great story!

Johnez

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2018, 07:16:46 PM »
I agree, great story TWH, well worth the length. Another great reminder that grades arent the be all end all they seem like they are at this very moment. Thanks for sharing!

Hula Hoop

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2018, 03:14:42 AM »
I have a whole bunch of young adult nieces and nephews via my husband.  Out of all of them the one who earns the most left (was thrown out of) school at 15/16 to go to a vocational school and become a welder.  He's 22 and now makes a very good living and generally has his act together.  Anyway, if your son is getting Bs, he's fine.  This nephew was failing classes.

dustinst22

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2018, 09:42:49 AM »
I have a whole bunch of young adult nieces and nephews via my husband.  Out of all of them the one who earns the most left (was thrown out of) school at 15/16 to go to a vocational school and become a welder.  He's 22 and now makes a very good living and generally has his act together.  Anyway, if your son is getting Bs, he's fine.  This nephew was failing classes.

I too earn far more than anyone in my family, and didn't do well in school.  However, I did well despite my bad grades certainly not because of it.  My path would have been so much easier if I did well in school, and opened many more doors/increased my probabilities.  Basically, I know from experience that life would have been easier had I accomplished more in school -- I'm hoping my son can learn this earlier rather than later.  Of course, by the time he hits the job  market AI will be running everything :).

Thanks everyone for all the great posts, especially TheWifeHalf -- thanks so much for sharing your story, very illuminating. 

Laura33

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2018, 08:28:58 AM »
A few thoughts:

1.  As others have said, you need to figure out the "why."  One possibility that stands out to me from your story is that if he is hanging around with the "smart" kids, he may think of himself as the "dumb" one and assume that he can't do as well, in which case he tells himself "I did my best" (even though he didn't) as a way to protect his ego.  My DD is pretty fragile sometimes, and she would often prefer not to try than to try and risk failure, because at least that way she can tell herself that she could have if she had tried, she just didn't care enough.  Or: he is approaching adolescence; maybe his underachievement is a way to demonstrate his burgeoning independence from you, since you guys seem to be so involved in his school.  Or maybe there is an executive function thing -- school demands start to pick up around 5th-6th grade, where kids are needing to put multiple concepts together; if your kid is like mine and, say, never really mastered the order of operations in math, the increasing demands will reveal gaps in his learning.  Or any of 100 other things.  You need to figure out the "why" -- you can't find a proper solution before you know what the source of the problem is.

2.  Whatever you do, do not overemphasize grades.  What you want is to see your kid's best effort; if he is trying his hardest and can only pull a C in something, that is actually ok.  Your focus should be on developing an approach that will focus on measuring and observing the degree of effort, of building the habits that will lead to success.

3.  Carrots work much, much better than sticks.  If your kid is like mine and you criticize the grades, he will crumple instead of buckling down.  Some kids need building up more than extra pressure.  So what are the habits you want to see?  And what are the things your kid cares about?  Find some way to create a positive incentive to do the things you want him to do, and then let the chips fall where they may.

Example:  my DD was very ADHD and got really burned early in school (long story) and so would throw 45-minute fits before even sitting down to do 15 minutes worth of easy homework.  Our getting frustrated/angry/stern just made things worse.  So I thought, what does she care about?  Answer:  the school cafeteria -- it was the first time she had the ability to choose from a selection of total crap without parental interference.  So we set a new rule:  every day that she sat down to start her homework without fussing, she'd earn $0.25.  Two days was a bag of chips, a whole week was a full lunch.  It took literally two days to cure her.  And then once she had that skill mastered, we moved the goalposts to completing her homework without fits or getting distracted.  Etc. 

Example:  now that she is older, her big issue is having the confidence to ask for help -- she would not go to study sessions before/after school, she would not ask the teacher to explain something she didn't get, she'd just tell us "I got it" and then come home with a C on the test.*  UGH.  And what good would it do for me to constantly nag her to go to study sessions, when in two years she's going to be in college and I won't be there to nag her anymore?  She needed to learn that "learning" doesn't mean "completing the packet the teacher gives you" -- it means "stick with it until you actually understand it, and ask for help if you need it."  So how do we get her to do it?  Especially given that she has never been the kid who liked "stuff" -- there was never a "thing," or an activity, or anything that she really loved that we could use as an incentive.  So, again, money:  she loved being independent and having her own money.**  So we agreed to pay her for the "extra" stuff that she did -- not regular homework or test prep, but going to a before- or after-school study session, or asking the teacher, or doing Khan Academy on issues she needed more help on.  It's been about a year and a half now, and it seems to be working; her grades are much more consistent, but even more important to me, she seems to get the concept that she needs to stick with it until she understands it -- she asked DH and me for help understanding particular issues more this past year than in her entire previous school career. 

This is totally a YMMV thing, btw.  I don't recommend doing the same thing we did, because your kid is different and will respond to different things.  What is important is the framework:  you need to figure out what habits your kid needs to develop to succeed (and what bad habits he needs to break that are getting in his way); and then you need to come up with a positive incentive that will persuade him to adopt the successful habits until those habits are so ingrained that he just does them naturally.

*Mind you, this is a kid with a @140 IQ.

**I generally do not recommend paying kids for schoolwork, ever.  And note that we do not do that -- we pay for "extras," for the habits that we want her to build.  But even with that, I would dearly love to have used some other incentive, if there was anything else that would have worked for our kid.  But there isn't, and this worked like a charm, so I'm going with it.

partgypsy

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Re: How to get my son to get his grades up?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2018, 02:10:35 PM »
Honestly, looking at elementary grade level work and worrying that he is getting b's versus A's is is maybe not the level of attention you should be giving it. Not everyone is going to get A's nor is it mathematically possible. Also, not every kid is really into academics, but may excel in more real world environments because they are personally invested in it.   
I think it's important to make sure he is acquiring the classroom curriculum, digesting it, and progressing at grade level. Have those regular parent teachers conferences, so you can get insight in his overall strengths and weaknesses. Assist him in the areas he is weak. As he gets older, have conversations of "why" it is important to do well in school. 

To give you an example, my daughter went through periods where she didn't get the best grades in elementary and middle school, though she tests at the 95%+ level. She would voraciously read, but didn't participate in either the summer reading programs or the school reading challenges. I worried about her lack of motivation. But really, she hates make-work. If it's something interesting to her, she will put time into it. She has just finished her first year in HS and was insanely busy both in schoolwork and extracurriculars, and doing great academically.  In the same way my nephew who is very bright and skipped a grade early on, had a few years in middle and high school where he languished and just played video games with his friends alot. But when he got to the point of realizing, oh yeah, I want to go to college and possibly go to this level of schools, he started kicking butt.

On the other hand, my youngest daughter has pretty severe learning difficulties (dsylexia, discalculia). I was emotionally very invested in her reading and doing better in school, and it was really hard to see her, basically failing over and over. But through this whole process it was something I had to learn as well, that she is always going to be a different learner. She may never fluently read. She is going to be on a different track in school than the majority of her peers. But it's not my job, or really even her job, to make sure she gets a certain grade. It's to help her give her the tools for learning so she doesn't get discouraged and she makes continual progress.   

 
« Last Edit: June 25, 2018, 02:12:13 PM by partgypsy »