What Are the Real Issues Affecting Bad Grades?

Dear Dr. Linda,

We have two boys, Dan in 11th grade and Luke in eighth. Dan always gets straight A’s while his younger brother, Luke, gets B’s and C’s. As the years have gone on, Dan has kept his grades up but Luke’s have gone down. Not only have his grades gone down, but he seems to have actually “checked out.” He goes to school but does poorly and doesn’t seem to care.

We’ve spoken to Luke’s teachers and they tell us that he’s simply not trying. We’ve grounded him, but nothing changed. We’ve bribed and preached, but nothing changed. The only thing that’s happened is that he’s doing worse. This first-quarter report card was a disaster. Any advice?

Sign Up for E-News

Luke’s Mom and Dad

Dear Luke’s Mom and Dad,

For starters, realize that report card grades are primarily based on tests and homework. If Luke’s test grades are low, go over the tests with Luke and find out why he missed certain questions. You may find out that one of the questions was based on an assignment Luke didn’t do, or he didn’t understand the question, or he didn’t know the meaning of some of the words in the question. You may also find out that he is totally lost in the course and has no idea what is going on. Without this information, the test grade is useless.

If you discover that a good portion of the grade is based on homework assignments, review the assignments with Luke. If he didn’t hand them in or never did them, talk calmly with him to learn why this is happening. It could be that he truly doesn’t understand the subject or the assignment. It could be that he doesn’t want to ask you for help because he knows that he’ll have to sit for a long time with you or you’ll make him redo it.

A parent’s knee-jerk reaction to that is, “That’s just too bad. He has to learn it!” Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. In fact, many kids who are trying to survive often lie so they don’t have to deal with their parents.

In addition to tests and homework, some children don’t succeed in school because they have siblings (or parents) who are/were straight “A” students. Even if it’s simply a perception, these struggling students shut down because they feel they cannot compete. These children view themselves as academic failures in comparison to “star pupil” siblings.

The most important thing to do is to talk to Luke and “listen” to what he has to say. Listen to more than just his words, though. Many children naturally try to protect themselves from punishment or avoid disappointing their parents by blaming their teachers for a poor grade: “The teacher hates me.” “I handed it in, but the teacher lost it.” You need to move beyond lies and cover-ups and identify the real cause. No child wants to fail, and Luke is no different. He wants to succeed, but something academically or emotionally is holding him back.

So, do your homework. Some parents and teachers blame their children’s poor grades on laziness when—in reality—their own laziness is the culprit. They don’t do the work to discover what are the real issues contributing to poor grades. There is always a cause and always a solution, but children aren’t equipped to remedy it by themselves. With respect to their grades as with virtually all else, be their allies, not their adversaries. No one is in a better position to advocate for their children than parents.

If things don’t improve, contact a professional, in school or out, to help you identify the problems that stand in the way of Luke’s success.


The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Facebook, Fools, Friends and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Since its inception, Facebook has been a regular target of mockery and criticism—everything from, “Do I really need to see a picture of the pastrami sandwich you had for lunch?” to “Why did you help the Russians get Donald Trump elected?”

No one likes to mock and criticize more than I do—just ask all of my former friends. And while I agree that Facebook can ...

It Was the Economy That Got Trump Elected

I am not easily shocked by much anymore. Yet, I was by last week’s column by fellow columnist Bernie Kosberg. Kosberg, whose column runs regularly in Mahopac News and sometimes in Yorktown News, said in the first paragraph: “Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of ...

God Is Just! Schneiderman Is Out!

Whenever you doubt that God is just, remember last Monday. That is the day New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned.

As you know, I have had him in my sights for a long time. He has squandered our tax dollars with more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration. Plus, his lawsuits against Big Oil and trying to nullify our double jeopardy laws. Most will go nowhere as ...

It Wasn’t About the Economy or Jobs

Soon after President Trump was “crowned” by the Electoral College in November 2016, I wrote a column about Putnam County voters that garnered some attention—both good and bad. Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of suitable jobs, but to the overarching fear ...

BOCES… What’s in a Name?

Do you ever wonder what BOCES stands for? We associate the name with a center of learning that supplements the general curriculum of local high schools by teaching students specialized trades. Beyond that, does everyone in the non-BOCES population, those who have no direct connection to the programs, fully appreciate the priceless value it brings to our communities’ young adults and their ...

Bias in Media, in Me, in You

While listening to an interview with a voter on my car radio, I thought I had excess ear wax that obstructed my hearing. The voter (whose name is Bruce) said this about one of the qualifications that a Senate or House candidate must have to earn his vote: “I don’t want anyone with ideas. We have enough of those already.”

I’m a journalist and have been one my entire ...

Dog Allergies, Part Deux

“I have some good news and I have some bad news,” I told my husband.

“Give me the good news first.”

“OK. The vet doesn’t think the dog’s ear infections are from a food allergy after all, so we don’t have to keep feeding him that hypo-allergenic food,” I said.

“Hallelujah,” shouted my husband. He was understandably ...

Cross My Legs and Hope to Die

One morning, I had a big cup of coffee as I usually do, and then I got in the car and drove 40 minutes to a clothing store I had been curious to check out. I don’t normally drive 40 minutes to go shopping, but since I am a stay-at-home mom and everyone knows we stay-at-home moms just spend our time shopping and eating bonbons, I figured, “What the hey.”

Having had the ...

CD Release Concert - New Middle Class at Putnam Arts Council

May 23, 2018

Press Release

Contact: Mike Borok  info@newmiddleclass.com

Phone: (914) 962-0120


May 19, 2018

Putnam Arts Council Hosts CD Release Concert featuring New Middle Class, with Dan Pelletier & Wendy Cody

MAHOPAC, ny: On Saturday evening, June 16, 2018, the Putnam Arts Council will host a concert ...