Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Teen Getting Bad Grades?

If you have been reading my posts, several months back I wrote about my son and the trouble we were having with him getting horrible grades primarily due to not turning in school assignments.  Well this year he is a freshman in high school and the problems continue.  Of course, he’s 15 years old and thinks he knows everything.  He doesn’t understand why we make such a big deal out of his grades.  Basically, he is asking us to stop parenting him and let him do things his way.

The first semester passed and his grades were lackluster.  We tried taking everything away from him last year (phone, Xbox, PS3, Kindle Fire, lap top) but the more we took away, the more stubborn he became.  It was almost as if he was not going to let us win no matter what we did. 

My husband and I discussed what we could do to get him motivated.  He’s a great kid.  He’s very smart and funny. He stays out of trouble.  He typically gets good grades on tests and quizzes, but he will not do his homework (he claims homework is an exercise to help you learn the material and if he already knows the material, it's a waste of time) and when homework is 30 – 50 percent of your grade – well you get the picture.

Please let me state that we are not experts, we are not psychologists, we do not claim to have all the answers but this is what we decided to do.  We took everything away from him except his phone, which he is allowed to have during school hours only.  When he is at home, it is to be placed on the counter top in the kitchen (we didn’t want to leave him without a phone in case he needed to reach us during the day).  He is able to “earn” hours by doing his assignments, turning them in, and getting good grades. 

At the end of each week, I pull up his progress on-line.  Our school system has a thing called Progress Book where you are able to look at any point in time and see a snapshot of things.  It shows grades, missing assignments, and other comments the teacher may leave.  So, when I pull up his grades, he can “earn” 2 hours with each A and 1 hour with each B  (this is the overall grade in the class).  He has seven classes so he has the potential of earning 14 hours of playtime.  IF, and this is a big IF, he has any missing assignments for that week, he forfeits 1 hour of playtime.  So last week when I pulled up his progress on Friday afternoon, he had three A’s and one B, yet he had two missing assignments.  So he “earned” 5 hours of playtime on any one device of his choice for the weekend. 

It seems to be going well.  This is only the 3rd week and he is getting the hang of it and knows what he needs to do.  The anger towards me and my husband seems to have abated because he knows if his grades are bad, he has no one to blame but himself. 

We even drew up a CONTRACT and had him sign it.  With his signature comes the understanding that he will abide by the contract and he has taken ownership of it.  I had to pull it out once when he was arguing something wasn’t fair.  It’s in writing.  You signed it.  End of discussion.

We still have a long way to go but things are looking up.  I get to see my son more often and he actually does things with us instead of being the bitter, technology driven person that he was.  I just want him to succeed in life.  I want him to be more than I could ever imagine.  And I want him to learn that in life, no matter how old or young you are, your actions have repercussions. 

May you earn an extra hour or two of fun today :)

R. K. Avery