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How to deal with a child failing in school

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  1. shawn1224

    shawn1224 Ex CEO-DNPSEA foundation VIP Member

    My wife recently got a call from our son’s teacher and I found out that my 10 year old son is failing fifth grade. He has not been turning in his homework on time (if at all), he’s scoring miserably on tests and come to find out he has been hiding all his work in his book bag. I work from sun up to sun down so it’s hard for me to spend enough quality time with him, but I always find time to question him about homework and how his progress in school is coming along. He even went so far as to forge a signature on his progress report card which is just unacceptable. My wife is nearly in tears because we expect so much more from him and what really disheartens me, is that this is so out of character for him. He’s normally a soft spoken, well mannered kid who loves doing things for other people. Up until fifth grade he has been a straight A student on the honor roll.

    As I’m typing this now, I’m getting ready to head home and my first instinct is to lay into him with the belt but even then I’m still puzzled as to what could be the root of the problem. We have no family issues at home, I always talk to him, and my kids never want for anything. I just can’t fathom how he can be failing fifth grade. I’m wondering if it’s just sheer laziness but then again that’s out of character for him as well.

    Any advice from parents that have had similar situations would be so appreciated.

    I apologize, wrong lounge. If a mod could move it, thanks.

  2. RichieHD

    RichieHD Well-Known Member

    I'm not a parent yet, soon, but not yet- but trust me, this is never the answer. If you bruise him and he goes to school, they will blame his failing on his "unsafe home environment". You sound like a good guy, don't let that happen to you. Sit him down and talk to him. Is he just being lazy? Did his hormones kick in early and he's being spacey because of some girls? Find out some info. Never go for the belt unless he hits you or your wife or does something unforgivable. I know it's unfortunate that he failed, but a lot of kids do. We've all gotten into our fair share of trouble. Try and talk through it. :)

    Let us know how it goes.
    ElasticNinja likes this.
  3. clutchy

    clutchy Well-Known Member

    Kids don't just turn all of a sudden and shift behavior for no reason.

    Something is going on, whether it be in school, bullying or maybe even the teacher singling him out. Something has changed and it would be extremely beneficial for you to find out and squelch it.

    My guess is punishing him won't do anything to solve his or your problem. My guess is the poor performance in school is an attempt for attention or asking for help of some kind.

    Start asking questions; who are his friends, does he have new friends? Is there a girl? Is he getting enough attention from the teacher at school? Talk to the principal and his previous teachers and then go talk to his teacher. Something is different and it should be pretty obvious.

    You have to break this before it becomes habit b/c it sets up really really really bad future pattern of behavior.

    If you aren't able to figure out what it is demand compliance in the form of homework monitoring. Get a list from the teacher and check it against what your kid shows you. Ask questions and receive proper answers from your child. Be persistent. Once he figures out that there's no way out except through it will go alot better.

    disclaimer: i am not a parent, but i was a kid once and something similar happened to me in 3rd grade. It was the teacher. I really wish my parents had figured it out...
  4. mauiblue

    mauiblue Well-Known Member

    Bullying comes to mind if this is out of character of your son. Maybe someone in school is giving him a hard time. The teacher could also be the root of the situation or could shed some light on the issue. Many variables that needs to be sought out and confronted. Go easy on the boy and hope you and your wife the best.
  5. AndroidSPCS

    AndroidSPCS Well-Known Member

    I think that's a big issue there. Make the kids work for stuff. They should want for stuff.

    If they have everything handed to them then there is no motivation to do well in school.

    I had a paper route when I was young. I wanted a lot of stuff but I had to earn it.

    My kids now have to earn the stuff they want.
  6. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum Moderator

    Agreed with the others ... an A student does not turn into a failing student in one year. There are other factors at work. If it's external, punishing him will make him feel guiltier and less likely to open up to you. Find out what the problem is and let him know you are there to support him, not yell at him. Let him know you are concerned, not angry (even if you are) At that age, he hasn't formed the maturity to understand the ramifications of his misbehavior.
  7. Monstruo

    Monstruo Member

    Three problems with this. I suffered all three.

    1. He is being put down by a teacher, or another student.
    (I used to get bullied in Elementary School, it tortured me enough that i did things my parents would never have thought of. No homework, horrible grades, forging, etc., and worst of all, i acted like i was fine even though i had bruises under my shirt.)

    2. You and your wife are not there enough to make a solid bond even if you think you have that "solid" bond.
    (My parents aren't usually home and my brother doesn't care. The pain of it kills, literally. I hide the pain, makes it even worse, but i have no choice. My role model [father] isn't anywhere to be found, so i bury it deep and keep moving forward.)

    3. You beating him, or yelling, any over negative action, it just isn't the answer.
    (It doesn't work, period. It made me more aggressive, careless, stupid, and more depressed.)

    Be there for him, it's a long and harmful road. If it keeps going, he's going to go one of two ways, keep going with it, or end it (Literally take his life).
  8. Kaessa

    Kaessa Well-Known Member

    Taking a belt to him won't solve anything, and will probably just make things worse.

    My youngest son was having a similar problem, and homework monitoring was the answer. Check with his teachers to find out what his assignments are going to be, and make sure they get done. Missing assignments get privileges removed (my son had video games, then computer, then tv privileges removed). My son went from Ds and Fs to As and Bs with this method. It's HARD, though, because you have to follow through with every single assignment. It only took about one school year, and now I don't have to babysit him at all, and he's proud of the grades he brings home.

    Everyone else is right too... there could be an underlying problem like bullying. It's hard to concentrate on school when someone is beating the crap out of you every day.

    Make sure there are no medical or vision problems, either.
  9. ScorpDX

    ScorpDX Well-Known Member

    Have you in the last year gotten him a computer/cell phone/playstation/xbox/ect? Anything where kids can get lost for hours and neglect school work?
  10. 330D

    330D From My Cold Dead Hands VIP Member

    I have no advice for you other than to LISTEN to your son. He is telling you something whether you realize it or not. I'm not putting you down for that, I'm just saying. I am very fortunate thus far, as I have a 10 yr old also, and we haven't had too many big issues we couldn't work through. I dread the day when something that I can't handle arrives. It inevitably will.

    Shawn, I truly wish you my best with your situation. TALK to your boy. Take him out for dinner, just the two of you. It will help. Don't give him the belt, nothing he has done deserves that. He is a kid who is going through a tough time, and he needs to know you support him.

    Again, good luck, man. Keep us posted.
  11. Kelmar

    Kelmar Done by choice VIP Member

    I'll throw a different hat in the ring.... Perhaps he's just being 10? Myself and my brothers all went through similar situations around that age. Talk to him, make sure he knows right from wrong and be a good parent. :)
  12. I hate how one of the first places people look to blame is the teacher....

    Have a teacher conference

    lose the bookbag. Serious. If he's having organizational issues, or trying to hide them, get him a folder for each subject and let him carry that, no bookbag. Until he can prove he can handle a bookbag.

    use a daily planner... What I mean is, have him write down his assignments and homework. Have him get teacher to sign it at the end of the day where she can also note behavior, or upcoming assignments. but here's the tricky part where most parents fail.... the first time he "forgets" to get it signed, you better have, and follow through with major consequences. Honestly, even if he's a good kid, he will test you on the planner.

    Make him bring home all his books everyday. Yes, he can carry all 4 subject books without a bookbag.

    ok, that is stuff teachers will suggest and they do work.... I will add the stuff a teacher wants to tell you, but can't....

    time to step up DAD.... I notice one of the first things you did was make an excuse why you can't do something (working sun-up to sun-down) You know, I hate it for ya, but maybe you should have thought about it before knocking up your wife 11 years ago. MAKE TIME!!! hell yeah I know working 12 hours is tough, and then stress over jr's grades adds to that but I'm really feeling sorry for you seeings as it was your choice to do this.

    Mama also needs to step up and act like a parent. Crying about it, dumping it on you to handle is unacceptable as well. again, she chose to have this kid 11 years ago, time for her to take care of her responsibility.

    So, forgive the bluntness of the post, but it's easy to have a kid, the tough part is raising the kid for the next ~18 years
  13. ... and there is nothing wrong with a belt if warranted. Overuse it, though, and it loses it's effectiveness.

    my daughter is 13 now, the last time I spanked her (I used my hand as I couldn't figure out the right technique for belts like my dad) was when she was in 2nd grade. while that was the last time I did it, it remained on the table and she knew it. She never got to that point where she needed it again. Despite the underlying tone here suggesting it's abuse, it is not. There is a line you can dang sure cross, you just can't let emotion take over when you use it and know when you got the point through.
  14. Vihzel

    Vihzel Destroying Balls Everyday VIP Member

    I guess the only thing that I would recommend at this point is to talk to him. Depending on your relationship with him, he'll open up to you if you put it in the right manner. Perhaps try to get him out for some ice cream and talk to him then about it. Beating him would only make him even be more closed and it can have a lasting negative effect on him.
  15. .....yeah, like a negative association with failure.... horrible
  16. Vihzel

    Vihzel Destroying Balls Everyday VIP Member

    Without even knowing why he's not doing well in school and as the OP said... Which is out of character for him? That's very good parenting.
  17. sounds like it's working really well
  18. Kaessa

    Kaessa Well-Known Member

    Wouldn't it be a better idea to find out what the actual problem is before resorting to beatings?
  19. yes, I do.... but the way everyone was talking on here, beating should NEVER be done. Whippings do not necessarily mean beatings. There is a line. But there is nothing wrong with it if that's what ends up working.
  20. Monstruo

    Monstruo Member

    There is no line, get it straight.
  21. dan330

    dan330 Well-Known Member

    ok... i will give you another option...
    I dont know your kid or how popular he is ...
    at 5th grade... his hole life importance is.. acceptance from family and friends.

    maybe... he just finally got in with the "cool" crowd in his grade... and they think he was to geeky getting good grades.
    Now that he is accepted.. and not caring about school work go him there.

    He might be just trying to fit in and not know how to balance grades with peer pressure.

    that was just a guess..
    only way to know.. is to keep talking to him.
  22. Nessa D

    Nessa D Active Member

    My eldest was the same. I have to check his dairy every night and make sure it's all done. I also receive notes sent through the mail from his teachers once a month. After a lot of pushing, he is finally doing what he's supposed to. This is his first year of High School! (He's 13). I wanted to set him right before it became an issue.
  23. mauiblue

    mauiblue Well-Known Member

    Hate it all you want. Why wouldn't it be "one" of the places to look at? I've read and seen a few news reports where teachers, counselors, and administrators have turned a blind eye to bullying and was one of the causes that students have problems in school. Not all teachers were models in their field.
  24. Weazol

    Weazol Well-Known Member

    this is what I was thinking too. and despite what everyone says my parents took the belt to me and I straightened up real fast. (actually my mom tried it and I laughed at her.. then I had to wait till my dad got home... oh man I should have just acted like my moms hurt.)
  25. Thefoodman52

    Thefoodman52 Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I don't think the physical punishment for wrong doing is the right answer at all.

    My dad used to paddle me with a wooden... thing... with holes drilled through it. He did that all the way up to like 4th grade. He stopped paddling me because I was starting to get almost as tall as him, and I was starting to develop. After that it just turned into yelling and screaming when I did something wrong or dropped down to something like a low B in school.

    At this point, even today, say I... didn't make my bed before I left for work or my desk is a mess because I was trying to find some cables or something the night before. I get a nice long (ignored) lecture about how my room is a pig-sty and I wasn't raised to be a slob when I get home that night. Even for little shit, like say I leave a cup on my desk, or some other minor thing that only I have to deal with; I get either lectured about it, or yelled at.

    I can tell you this from MY perspective: I just don't give a **** anymore, point blank. Most of the time I just lean up on something and stare vacantly behind my dad's head and just say 'uh huh' when he pauses expecting a response. I just repeat that until he leaves... and it seems to work. I made the mess, I have full intentions of cleaning it up, I don't need to hear about it every time I do something deemed 'wrong'. If I've done something wrong, there's a GOOD chance I realize what I did, and I'm going to do whatever I can to correct the problem.

    What I'm trying to convey here, is too much 'punishment' is not going to solve anything. I realize I've fallen under the statistic, but it's just how I feel at this point, truly and honestly. I don't care. Granted, I'm 19, and I know my dad is trying to make sure I don't do stuff like this on my own once I get out of the Navy, but damn. I'm sick of hearing the same old song and dance OVER and OVER again. I get slightly angry and annoyed when I hear the light switch in the hall firmly smashed up to turn the hall light on, and my dad's heavy trodding steps on the carpet up to my door at this point. When I hear that, I just hit pause on whatever I'm watching, mute the TV, or shut the screen off on my computer and turn the speakers off. Then I just unlock the door (I lock it, because otherwise he barges in multiple times through the night for stupid stuff), sit back in my computer chair, and prepare to drift off into bliss.

    You have to see what's causing the issue in school with your son. Talk to him about girls, if he's starting into that stage yet. Wander onto the topic of bullies, anything you think could either be getting at him. Hell, he might just be thinking that it's getting hard in school, and he doesn't want to do it anymore. Just talk to him about how it's something we all went through, and no matter how hard it seems, don't give up because it pays off in the end. My dad always uses(d) the same quote with me: "Do you want to end up with a job where you have a name tag on your shirt, asking 'You want fries with that?', or do you want a job you like?".

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