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Teens' Trouble with Grades

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

Q: My 13-year-old-daughter and 15-year-old son both seem to be underachieving in school. I've tried every method I know to help them improve their grades, with limited success. Their teachers tell me they are capable of B-level work, but they continue to bring home Ds and Fs. They are good kids, but can't seem to find the right motivation to excel. How can I help them?

A: You want to help your children achieve in school; however, they have reached the age where they have to understand the consequences of not being motivated to do well academically. They need to become students who are internally motivated to do a good job because they see school as a way to maximize the options open to them after high school.

While you may not directly be able to motivate your children, you can help them set long-term goals that will give them the direction and motivation to succeed in school. For example, if your children are taking computer classes, have them visit your workplace or a friend's office to see exactly how important it is to be able to use a computer. This could motivate them to do well in their computer classes. Career guidance from a school counselor could help your children to explore various career options and put them on the right track.

Exploring and setting long-term career goals should be helpful in turning things around for your children. You also need to talk to their teachers to see if you can find out more about why they're unmotivated. Do they have the skills needed to handle their classes? Are they finding school fun? Do they have friends? Do they participate in school activities? Do they have ongoing conflicts with teachers or fellow students? Lack of motivation can stem from problems in any of these areas.

Be sure to visit colleges with your children and encourage them to participate in sports. Either of these activities could motivate them to make better grades.

It's possible, your children are not challenged sufficiently in their classes and find the whole school experience a waste of time. Or they may be enrolled in classes that are too difficult for them. Don't discount the role their attitudes play in affecting their school performance.

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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.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of 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.


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