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Seventh-Grader Won't Turn in Homework

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My son is in seventh grade in a magnet school. He is very bright, but he is on the verge of being kicked out of the school. His test scores range from C's to A's, but he doesn't turn in his homework. We know he is doing the homework and watch him put it in his backpack for school. But where it ends up, we don't know. He says he wants to stay in the school. We have stressed that we know he can stay if he is more responsible about turning in his work. We have recently caught him lying to us about things that he says he did. We have talked with the school guidance counselor along with his teachers and have tried everything they have suggested. Please help. We only want the best for him. The other schools in our area don't compare to the education he is receiving in this school.

A: You must be very frustrated but you also must look at who is responsible for this situation -- in spite of all that you and the school have done -- your son. The only way any of us learn is through experience and tough consequences. That consequence may have to be getting kicked out of the magnet school. Hopefully, this will be a temporary situation; if you first talk with the school about the possibility of his coming back if he does well at his home school for a semester (quarter). You don't necessarily have to tell your son your plan.

Another possibility is that your son does not want to be in the magnet school. Is the pressure too much? How are his relationships with other students? Does he want out? What does he say? Very few seventh-graders are really ready emotionally and mentally for highly structured intellectual studies, even if they are very bright. Right now your son is not benefiting from this educational structure, as is shown by his grades and his deceptions. He may benefit more by being in the regular school with less pressure and time to mature. With time in the regular school, he may realize that he wants more of a challenge and be willing to do the work necessary at the magnet school.

Whatever your decision, make it together as a family after exploring all the aspects of the problem.

More on: Expert Advice

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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