Handling a Poor Adjustment to Middle School

Dear Teacher

My son is having a difficult time adjusting to middle school. His first report a card was a mix of grades with an A and B, but several D’s and F’s. He worked very hard to get C or better in elementary school, but athletically, he’s a solid golfer. Should we take away golf until he pulls up his grades? We want to emphasize the importance of academics. — Lack of Success

Admittedly, moving from elementary to middle school can be a difficult transition for many students. This certainly appears to be the case for your son. He may not have figured out yet how to juggle the demands of several teachers, changing classes, and multiple assignments. Learning how to do better manage could turn things around for him.

Your attitude needs to be one of helping your child cope rather than punishing him. Be aware that there is absolutely no guarantee that forcing your child to quit something he loves will improve his academic skills. 

Praise your son for doing well in some of his classes. Then ask him if he can pinpoint exactly why he is having trouble in the others. This will give you an idea of what special help he needs. The people who can help him turn things around are his teachers at the school. Ask the counselor to schedule a meeting of all of his teachers, yourself, and your son to see what can be done to get him on track.

At the meeting, the question should be raised about whether the classes are appropriate for his ability level. Would dropping a class and taking a study period be the correct move? Does he need a tutor to get the hang of how to handle the classes in which he is receiving Ds and Fs? Can individual teachers provide the help he needs? Would being in a resource room make a difference? Could he possibly have a learning disability holding him back from academic success?

Your son is probably very frustrated and unhappy about his lack of success at school. Hopefully, his teachers will be able to help him succeed in all of his classes by building on what he is doing right in the classes where he is receiving As and Bs.




Predictable Books Help Children Recognize Patterns

What are predictable books and why should young children read them? — Curious

Predictable books, or predictable pattern books as they are often called, repeat certain words of phrases, sequences, or episodes over and over again throughout the book. After hearing the book several times, young children can predict the story and are able to repeat the words, thus participate in the reading of the book.

While it may drive you crazy to read the same story again and again to your preschooler, the predictable nature of books like these helps your child recognize sounds words, and language patterns. These are some of the early building blocks of reading. Children also enjoy knowing what comes next in a story. And exposing your child to good literature early in life will help develop a love of reading.

Broaden your child’s world by reading some of these predictable books together: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Is Your Mama a Llama? Ask the children’s librarian at your public library for additional recommendations. Nellieedge.com also has a good list of books.

You can ask us questions online at dearteacher.com.

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