Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

From Straight A's to Failing

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My 12-year-old daughter has gone from a straight A student in second grade to one who is failing several subjects in seventh grade. Her father and I have met with her teachers, counselor, and principal; and we keep tabs on her progress (or the lack thereof). Her consistent problem is not turning in homework; her grades on tests are usually A's or B's in all subjects. We have grounded her, offered her incentives for succeeding, given her chores when she doesn't, told her that she'll never get a good job if she doesn't shape up, etc. We have special homework folders. Her father and I have done everything that we can think of and that we've been told by the "experts" to do. She doesn't care. That's the bottom line. Now what?

A: Unfortunately, many previously successful students run into a roadblock in seventh grade for a variety of reasons. The school format has changed. Seventh graders usually have to deal with more than one teacher, and their teachers give them less individual attention. Plus, there is the social factor. Suddenly, students' social lives have become very important -- far more important than academics for many students.

Back off a bit from this situation. Obviously, lectures, threats, incentives, and all your help haven't worked and have made your home an unpleasant place for everyone. Focus now on trying to discover what is causing your child to simply not care about school.

If you believe that your child feels alienated from her teachers, talk with one or more of them or the school counselor about how closer relationships can be developed. Perhaps, a teacher could take the time to speak with her more in class or work with her before or after school once a week. Is there some small group of students your daughter could join in order to work with one of her teachers on class or extracurricular activities?

Social problems for seventh graders have two sides. Not having friends and feeling unpopular can lead children to be depressed and cause them to do poorly in school. On the other hand, being too socially inclined can cause students to neglect their studies. If your child is having problems adjusting socially, the school counselor will have good advice for her. If she is going overboard socially, try having her teachers sign a form each Friday indicating whether or not your daughter has handed in all her homework. Only when she hands in all her work does she get phone or some other privilege the next week.

More on: Expert Advice

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.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women & Families
Zika virus is pretty scary. Pregnant or not, learn what steps to take to protect your family from Zika, including travel restrictions and mosquito bite prevention.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

Ommm! 5 Meditation & Mindfulness Activities for Families
Family meditation and mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and promote health and happiness. Learn some fun and easy mindfulness activities for kids, and set them on the path to inner peace!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks