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Q: My 11-year-old daughter is in sixth grade this year. Previously, she was an A/B student. Her grades this year have gone from bad to worse! She's recently brought home four Fs. She says she doesn't have enough time in class to finish the work. The teachers say she's not turning it in at all. I have found unfinished work a few days old in her backpack or under her bed. How do I handle this? Grounding her does no good at all. She's a very stubborn young lady with a lot of attitude to go with it!
A: There probably is a combination of things affecting your daughter at the present time. First, the transition into sixth grade can be difficult, as teachers at this level stop spoon-feeding their students. Learning is now the responsibility of the students, with far fewer reminders from their teachers.
Try to analyze the four Fs. Were they all in one subject? Did your daughter have a bad week? Did something happen at home? Has she just started having trouble at school, or has she had problems since the start of the school year?
Have you asked the teachers why they think your daughter is not completing her work in class? Do they feel that the work is too hard for her? Do they think that she is being too sociable in the classroom or not using her time appropriately? You need the teachers' input to help get your daughter back on track.
Sometimes, students at this level are overwhelmed by having so many different teachers. We like the idea of your daughter talking individually with several of her teachers to find out how she can do better in their classes. Just getting to know them better and learning that they care about her efforts should be a step in the right direction.
Second, your daughter will benefit from learning some time-management, study, and organizational skills. Ask the school counselor about classes at the school, a local college, or a learning center that might help her learn these skills.
Finally, you should try to determine why your child now has so much attitude. Is it related to new friends, her struggle at school, or the onset of puberty? Grounding will not improve her attitude; however, helping her handle school, friends, and adolescence will.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.