Progress Reports Are Here! Help!
Charlie started 9th grade this year. Last year was hard for him, and his grades were C’s when they had been B’s. But he and his parents chalked it up to middle school distractibility (those hormones are something aren’t they?). But he was gung ho for 9th grade and ready to rock and roll. The only problem---he’s doing even worse than he did last year! Help!
He has lots of missing homework and his test scores aren’t so hot either. The progress report, which comes out in the beginning and middle of October reflected his performance.
Sarah started 11th grade this year and her 10th grade results were B’s. She cruised into the new year feeling confident and ready to go. The only problem—chemistry is really hard! Her progress report isn’t what she hoped for—by a long shot.
The same is true for Charlie, who started 8th grade this year. His grades have been steadily nosing down since 6th grade, but he was going to turn it around this year. After a long summer of kicking around with friends and family vacations, he vowed that this year would be “different.” Guess what—it turns out that is more of the same! Help!
Our phones at the Behavioral Health Department of The Everett Clinic (425-339-5453) start ringing off the hook when progress reports come in. All of those good intentions in September have turned into poor performance in October. While change is easy to make in the first few days of school, it takes something else to sustain those changes into October.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But its follow through that gets you into heaven.
So what is this all about?
First of all, some grades are significantly harder than others. Third grade, 7th grade, 9th grade, 11th grade, and the first year of college are big jumps up in demand for homework, study, and complexity! The bar goes up much higher than the grade before. Frequently youngsters think that they can apply the same amount of effort in this new grade, as they applied the year before. They discover that they have to run faster and harder to keep up.
In other instances, kids with problems with attention, concentration and motivation discover that they still have those problems, despite their intention to do better. Guess what? Their study habits haven’t improved over the summer! Desire to do better is not enough.
Some kids bump into learning challenges that they have always had, but now because the bar is higher, they are feeling it more. Julie was never good at math, but wowie, geometry is so much harder than algebra. Joe was never a top-notch reader, but “Catcher in the Rye” requires better reading comprehension. Sarah wasn’t much for remembering science facts last year, but biology is a big bummer.
So what can parents and kids do?
Assess the problem. First of all, don’t panic. Okay kids, be honest with yourself. Moms and Dads take a hard look at what’s going on. Sometimes more elbow grease is required. Other times, it’s necessary to scale back on other activities (video game time, phone time, etc.). Maybe Charlie has to cut back on sports. Try to assess what is causing the problem.
Look for solutions. Some kids just need more structure. They need a regular time and place allocated for homework every day- no ifs, ands or buts. They need their parents to hold their feet to the fire. Other kids may need help with the subject matter that they struggle with. Tutoring and extra help may be required.
My youngest daughter had difficulty with math in the 11th grade. We hired a college student to help her. He was a good-looking, smart junior at UW. She always looked forward to her sessions with him! Get help. School counselors and teachers can make suggestions that can be helpful. It can be helpful to get a therapist involved for an objective view of what is going on and what fixes may be needed. As a parent, it is impossible to see your child objectively.
So how is it going?