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When your child comes home with a bad grade

March 12th, 2008


“What! You got a F in the class??!!”

What is your reaction when your child brings home a bad report card, a poor test grade, or a note from the teacher?

After you go berserk and raving mad, then what should you do?

Before you ground your child for the next 5 years, analyze the situation carefully before you decide on the course of action. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Is your child making effort but consistently bringing in bad grades?

2. Is it a rare occasion that your child brings home a bad grade?

3. Is your child a great student all along but for the past few months, he’s been getting bad grades?

Your answer will determine your course of action. Remember, your goal is to help your child improve. It is not to punish him.

Here are some things I would do based on the circumstances:

Scenario #1 Your child has been barely getting by with C’s pretty much throughout his school years and now he has slipped into Failing the class. He even seems to be putting in effort. While not every child has to get straight A’s, every child has the potential to do better. He needs some extra help.

  • Have him tested for possible learning disabilities. An outside professional will be helpful.
  • Find him a tutor. Seek help at the school or find private tutors. Some local libraries offer tutoring also.
  • Free up time for studying. Maybe your child has too many outside activities such as clubs and sports and need to cut out some of them. Too many good things is not a good thing.
  • Limit free time. TV, computer, video games, going out with friends – all should be restricted until there is improvement in the grades.

Scenario #2 Your child has always been a conscientious student and always gets good grades. He feels terrible about the bad grade. If this is the case, I suggest you give your child a big hug! Perhaps he got the idea that you only love him based on his achievements. Give him some reassuring words such as, “I am proud of you.” Maybe this test or this subject was just difficult for him. Spend some time checking his homework for him, and offer tutoring if this subject continues to be a problem.

Scenario #3 Your child has always been a pretty good student. But lately you notice his grades slipping. This is out of character for him.

  • The first thing to look for is drug use. We don’t want to believe it, but we must face the fact that many kids from good homes experiment with drugs. I suggest doing random home drug testing with home kits that they sell at the store. You may fear that your child will hate you, but it’s the most loving thing you can do to help him if he is going down the wrong path.
  • Has there been family trauma such as divorce, new baby, death of a loved one? Are the circumstances in life more than he can emotionally handle? He may need some professional counseling to help him deal with life. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s better to sort things out with a professional then to build up a lifetime of pain.
  • Think back to when the grades started falling. Was it one month ago? Talk to your child gently and ask him what’s been different since a month ago. Are there signs of abuse or bullying at school that is causing a problem for your child? Was there some trauma that occurred that you need to be aware of? Listen to your child carefully. Be prepared to step in to help him.
  • Get a physical with your doctor. Perhaps there are changes in your child physically that needs attention.

Photo by Conspirator

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  1. […] talked to many frustrated parents who have underachieving children. Their kids are bringing homes low grades, but they could be doing so much better at school if they’ll only apply […]


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