Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Failing Seventh-Grader

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

Q: My 13-year-old son is failing the seventh grade. He's been on the verge of failing every year since the fourth grade. I always have to help him buckle down and study during the end of the school year just to make sure he passes. We had him tested last year for a learning disability -- he's an average student with a normal IQ for his age. What can I do?

A: Neither retention nor promotion is going to help your child succeed in school. He needs special help to conquer the academic or behavioral problems that are bringing him to the brink of failing and being held back every year.

Don't assume the entire burden of helping your child pass this year. Schools have many professionals that can help you. Contact the school psychologist, school social worker, guidance counselor, principal, or a school problem-solving or intervention team. Not only will these people have ideas for you, they will also have suggestions for your child's teachers. Furthermore, they can initiate testing to find out why your son continues to have problems in school. And they can place your child in tutoring, counseling, and special before- and after-school remedial programs that could definitely make a difference for your son.

For the rest of the school year, your son needs to spend at least one hour each day at home on his schoolwork. This work should be done in an area where you can observe him. If he doesn't have homework every night, ask his teachers for alternative assignments that he needs to complete to improve his grades. As far as helping him with homework, try to limit your assistance to making sure that he understands the assignments.

Start next year out right by expecting your son to spend at least one hour a day on his homework from the first day of school. Also, you should request a weekly report on his grades so you will know how he's handling his classes and whether or not he needs special help early in the year.

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.

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 Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!