Righting the Off-Track School Year

The first quarter of the school year is coming to a close, and your child’s grades are taking a turn for the worse. It’s time to regroup and evaluate where this school year is headed if no changes are made. The status quo had you both feeling frustrated and anxious about the remaining months of the year. This isn’t the first time you’ve seen the grades tank. You’ve tried bribes, maybe even used some well thought out consequences, but nothing has made a significant, lasting difference. Something is just not going well, and before the rest of the year slips by, you want to pause, plan how you can help your child pick herself and her grades back up.

So where do you start? In my Calm and Connected philosophy, you start at the source, with your child. Now that your child has reached the preteen and teen years, they must be more personally invested, aware, and responsible for their own education.

Begin by planning a time to talk with your child about how you would like to help her turn her year around. As you approach your conversation, try your best to convey that you are curious about what is behind your child struggling with homework and that you want to partner with your child. Being disappointed and judgmental will likely shut your child down from communicating and not produce many positive changes.


Various causes can be contributing to your child’s difficult year. Here are some areas you may want to investigate:

Has there been a substantial change in the difficulty of work? Is she taking too many highly challenging courses?

Are social pressures intervening? Maybe she’s spending too much time socializing? Is she perhaps showing signs of depression?

Is she is having difficulties with her teachers? Perhaps there is a personality or teaching style conflict that needs to be addressed.

Perhaps she has hit the wall, so to speak in terms of being able to manage the workload effectively. Many children first become diagnosed with ADHD or Executive Function deficits when they reach the middle years since their raw intelligence is no longer sufficient to help them compensate for other weaknesses.

For children already receiving special education services, is the plan in place providing sufficient support? Are their modifications and accommodations are being effectively implemented? Especially for children who are taught that it is respectful in school not to question a teacher, learning how to advocate when truly necessary and appropriate can be uncomfortable for some children.

Is your child having trouble advocating for herself?

Here are some tips that may help your child learn to advocate for herself:

Help her truly know herself better as a learner. Is she having trouble taking helpful notes in class? Would moving her seat help her concentrate better? Would some diagrams or other visual aids help? What else might help?

Help prepare to speak to her teacher. Perhaps you can role-play or review what she wants to request.

Encourage her to go to extra help to feel more comfortable speaking one on one with her teacher. This is often a great opportunity to have a quick conversation about her requests for support.

Remind her that teachers are people, too. They can’t read her mind and don’t always know her concerns or intentions. She can give them a chance to help her by speaking up.

PTS Coaching has Executive Function, ODD, and ADHD Workshops for Parents, Professional Development for Educators and Managing Homework Workshops to help build the skills needed to help your child succeed. Visit the workshop pages to learn more today!

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