14 yr old DD failing classes - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 04-21-2010, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter is 14 and entered H.S this past September. In Junior High she had great grades, but since her first report card she has been failing 4 out of her 7 classes. The 4 she fails are the core subjects, Math, English, Global Studies and Science. At this point she has lost her laptop, cellphone, cable box and TV in her room, her door to her room has been taken out and she is not allowed to go anywhere with her friends, and you know what...it doesnt phase her
I have tried screaming at her, crying to her, talking to her...nothing seems to be working. She says she will try harder and when I get progress reports and report cards its the same failing grades. I have went to talk to her guidance counselor we have given her a conduct card that must be signed by the teacher daily and myself...she brings it home and its not completely filled out she "forgot". I really do not know what else to do. I feel i have tried everything except hit her which was the approach my mother had and didnt help much so I see no point in it.
Shes not depressed, she has friends and she has no learning disabilities. Life at home isnt bad, shes close to her dad and I, I just dont know what to do. Any advice from Mama's who been there?
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#2 of 21 Old 04-21-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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If it were my kid, I would want to sit her down, calmly, and ask what's going on. Is there a problem? Has something happened? Because kids this age generally don't go straight from doing fine in school to failing all the core subjects without some kind of *event* causing the change.

Even then, I might not expect an immediate answer. Let her know you want to help, but respect that whatever it is may take time for her to talk about.
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#3 of 21 Old 04-21-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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Why is she getting the bad grades? Is she not doing her work? Doing it but not turning it in? Does she have test anxiety? Have you met with her teachers? "Try harder" needs to be very specific. What does she need to try harder? Does she need better organization? A down grade from honors classes? A quieter study corner?

Screaming and crying are a complete waste of your time and energy. Rather than focusing on the grades, I'd focus on the fact that the ways in which her teacher communicate with her about how she is doing show that there is a problem, and I'd play detective to figure out what the problem is.

I'd also call for a parent conference. At our school, we have the option to do them as a round table with all the teachers at one time.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 21 Old 04-21-2010, 05:25 PM
 
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Hmmmm, this is a tricky one. All I have to go on was my experience in highschool, because it sounds very similar to what your daughter is going through.
In highschool it can sometimes be hard to find your "place". There are all these groups and cliques and most kids are just trying to find were they belong. I had grown up in a really rough neighborhood so even though I myself was not rough I was comfortable around those that were. Somehow I ended up hanging out with the VERY wrong crowd. We skipped class a lot and all the usual "bad kid" type stuff. I really felt out of control and didn't know what to do. I had always been an honor student, was a member of the academic teams, even took my ACT when I was in the 7th grade. Suddenly I was in highschool and failing everything. I finally found a way out of the situation by joining art and drama clubs that my new "rough" friends wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. I moved on and had straight A's the next 3 years of highschool. That first year did hurt me though, my grade point average was embarrassing. If it had not been for my high ACT scores and a very well written admissions essay the admissions board told me I would have never been allowed to attend the collage I went to. I later made friends with another girl that had almost the same problem as I did only her social problem was that she was a cheerleader and it was the cool thing with them to see how low they could get their grades and still stay on the team, just float. She eventually quit cheer and her grades picked back up.

So could this be a social thing? I would ask her. Try to help her find a way out. I would even be willing to let her attend a different school if she thought she needed that extreme of a fresh start.

It may not be what I have written about but it was the only thing that I could think of that would explain the behavior.

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#5 of 21 Old 04-21-2010, 06:44 PM
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Can you take a day off from work or other kids, and spend a day following her to her classes? Students don't generally like this, but it can really shed light on what is happening in school and what issues are contributing to poor grades. It also sends a strong message about how important school is.

"Try harder" is usually not a helpful suggestion for teenagers, because they don't know what they are supposed to do to make that happen or which efforts will be effective. They usually need to change tactics.

I would also suggest that you start working with your dd now to choose the extracurricular activities she will participate in next semester. Being involved with a school club or team often puts students in touch with other motivated students whose habits they can adapt for themselves. Also, students on teams have a coach looking out for them and their grades. You as the parent still have to be involved in that, but an extra adult who can offer privileges that involve a high level of peer interaction can be a huge help.
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#6 of 21 Old 04-21-2010, 08:57 PM
 
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Are you sure there are no LDs? Was she ever tested? Sounds like working on some executive skills would be helpful!

I agree with the PP about social issues in high schooler.

Consciously mothering 3 girls and 2 boys
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#7 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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I agree with the people that say "try harder" doesn't really give much direction. I mean really, what does that even mean? It's so general that even as an adult I can't just "try harder" I need to know what things are lacking and what needs to be done to improve them.

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#8 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 02:07 AM
 
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Here is my advice as a teacher:

You need to sit down with her instructors and find out why she is failing. I'll bet it is because she is not turning things in. If a student is mightily checked out then basic everyday assignments are the first thing to fall off their radar. Unfortunately this often puts parents in the position of being a sort of academic gatekeeper, but honestly I think that this is OK. If you can get a detailed plan of what sorts of things are coming up in the near future assignment-wise, and then actually make sure to visually see those things from your DD, you can begin to teacher her some academic organization.

Not all teachers are willing to put in the time it takes to maintain this level of communication with a parent, but most teachers are also pleased when parents become more involved.

Get thee to the trenches!
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#9 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank yu all for your insight and ideas. When she came home yesterday me, her and her dad sat at the table and had a long discussion. On Saturday I recieved a progress report that showed little improvement so we dealt with that saturday and i chcked her school bag and books. Found notes to friends back and forth and found a mess of school work. I went and got her all new supplies, new pens, binder, folders etc to start "fresh" again. Then yesterday before I wrote the post I recieved a call from a teacher stating she was in class and doodled the entire period, produced no work. So when she came home we all sat down and I asked her if anything was going on that I can help her with. She said no, everything was fine. I asked what changed that now she is struggling, are the honor classes too hard? she was honest and said shes capable of doing the work but is so different than junior high in the sense that all her classmates did their work and in her classes now no one does anything, and shes just following the class. Then we had a long talk about that. I explained to her how she has to go about making the changes and what steps she has to take. I am going to the school today to meet with her teachers and get a copy of the hw on a daily basis thru email and she will sit at the diningroom table until shes done, not in her room. I think this will be her turn around, I really hope so.
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#10 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 10:18 AM
 
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This happened to me too, I was being bullied endlessly for being a "geek" so I stopped working hard. Make sure this is not the case for your daughter!
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#11 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 10:32 AM
 
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How does SHE feel about her school performance? Are grades important to her, or to you? Does she want to do better, or is she just paying you lip service?

Our school posts grades for every assignment for every class on-line. It doesn't always tell us what's coming up, but it does tell us when something is not turned in, or if the grade is poor. We try to check it weekly; if one of our kids is struggling, is out sick for a few days, we check it daily.

Definitely talk to the teachers. It's the end of the school year, so it's getting a little late to establish those relationships, but a good practice for next year. I try to meet face to face with every teacher at the beginning of the year, and I email all of the teachers right away, so they have my email address (I put my phone number in there as well). I make sure they know that I am accessible, and that I want to know what's going on. Teachers in our high school have been very open to this level of communication.

I hope this is a bump in the road for you and your dd, and it doesn't last much longer.

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#12 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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Sort of off topic: Why did you take the door off her room?

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#13 of 21 Old 04-22-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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OP, I think your plan to get more involved with school on a day-to-day basis is a good one. She may need more structure in terms of getting schoolwork organized. Also, keep talking to your dd. Something has changed. An honors student going to failing sounds like a call for help, a sign, something. Has her group of friends changed, is she new to boyfriends, is there bullying, something physically wrong, attention troubles?

It's great that you are talking to her and hopefully, you will get this sorted out quickly and have your dd happily back on track. Good luck!

--Karen, mom to a super girl (and a sweet cat), wife of a great husband, proud public school teacher. Fortunate to have a wonderful life!
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#14 of 21 Old 04-23-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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My 13 yr old DD started doing poorly in school all of the sudden and through a lot of changes I discovered that she really wasn't recieving any positive feedback and a lot of you better start learning to deal with real life attitudes fom the teachers. It makes sense because of the demographics in my area, but was really hard on my daughter. You might ask her what environment she would succeed in, how she learns, what interests her and how she thinks you could help her. It was months of conversations for me that have brought my daughter and myself closer and the satelite conversations were also incredibly enlightening.
Good luck and remember that grades are but one aspect of a healthy child and they can change. If she seems to be a generally "good" kid except this one thing, I would really get in the school and on the phone and find out other ways she might need support.
I also think the fresh start is a great idea, helping her get organized and accountable for her work before she gets in so deep it doesnt seem worth it to try, thats a hard place to be.
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#15 of 21 Old 04-25-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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My son went though a couple of stages of this throughout the years. The last one - last year, Junior year (the worst year to pull this kind of stunt) - I gave him "the talk" once and then left it alone. He'd basically not do homework, and then pull out a passable grade (still kept him in the top 5% of his class) at the end. Last summer, though... he told me that he wished he'd listened to me 'cause he knew he screwed up. But it was a lesson learned, and one not repeated despite Senioritis.
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#16 of 21 Old 04-25-2010, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
Sort of off topic: Why did you take the door off her room?
I removed the door for 2 reasons first one being that I did not want her to lock herself in the room and alienate herself from the family and also becuase I feel she needs to earn that rigt to privacy.
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#17 of 21 Old 04-25-2010, 08:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommy2threekiddies View Post
I removed the door for 2 reasons first one being that I did not want her to lock herself in the room and alienate herself from the family and also becuase I feel she needs to earn that rigt to privacy.
something is seriously wrong that is far bigger than her grades.

Have you considered family counseling?

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#18 of 21 Old 04-25-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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I don't think that the punishment route is going to help very much, and it definitely feels like this is punishment mode versus consequences mode. My advice is to back way up, and like many pp's have said, try to get to the "why' of all of this. I don't think that this is a place to speculate. Everyone has their own experience to offer, but that doesn't mean it's your dd's. Frankly, sometimes I think that we treat kids as more mature and more capable than they are. Look at what's in front of you: a child who you say has gone from good grades to failing grades, in honors classes. Teachers telling you that she's checked out in class, defensive about her performance. She really sounds like she could use a good assessment of the strengths and weaknesses that she's bringing to this higher level work. It is not uncommon for LD's to present when the demands of a higher grade or higher level work present themselves. It is not uncommon for very bright and gifted kids to struggle with executive function issues. ADD in girls looks a little like this. Depression can look like this-even when we think our kids aren't struggling. I don't know-there's a lot here I would want to be exploring before I assumed that my child just wasn't doing the work.

If she's not making it in honors classes maybe she needs to come down a level while you all help her get her feet under her. Pull for places she can be successful, and give her the message, very explicitly, that you are on her side, that you want to know how she feels about this, what she wants, and that you are there to HELP her.

And, for goodness sake, please put the door back on. Your daughter desrves the dignity and respect of her private space right now. She is a young woman.
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#19 of 21 Old 04-26-2010, 12:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mommy2threekiddies View Post
Any advice from Mama's who been there?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommy2threekiddies View Post
I removed the door for 2 reasons first one being that I did not want her to lock herself in the room and alienate herself from the family and also because I feel she needs to earn that right to privacy.
Well, did she do something fairly drastic to warrant taking the door off? Did she hide something in her room where the logical consequence might be to take the door off?

I strongly disagree, I don't think children need to earn privacy, I think they have a right to privacy just as part of basic human dignity. UNLESS they give good reason to believe they're actually hiding something. Innocent until proven guilty, you know?

I am currently there with our 15 y.o. dd. She also locks herself in her room and hides out. She's avoiding her pesty little brother, and the noise the rest of us make. Grades: she has a D in math. She has OK grades in everything else, including honors English. If we can scrape up the money we'll hire a math tutor.

Like you, the hiding out bugs us as well. So we encourage her and invite her to be with us, we gently tease her for being a pretty typical teen. Dh and I make a point of spending time specifically with her, even if it's just watching a TV show together every evening after her little brother goes to bed. This is time for her to curl up next to us and we talk about what we're watching.

I would not hesitate to take her door off the hinges if I suspected dd was involved in drugs or alcohol or even cigarettes, or maybe if she were getting too heavily involved in her boyfriend. As it is, none of those things are true, they're not even on my radar.

Is there something else that's coloring your relationship with your daughter, aside from the grades and the hiding out in her room? Did she do something to get into major trouble, again, aside from the grades?

I don't know if I have some sort of diagnosable 'learning disability' or not. But I did struggle through out school. Typical 'under achiever', smarter than my grades indicated. I didn't do homework. And I got hell from my mom for it and it ruined our relationship. Basically she made my inabilities a moral and character issue, when really I needed some help. Again, it ruined our relationship.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#20 of 21 Old 07-07-2010, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It has been a while since I updated but I wanted to thank you all for your advice and let you know I did evaluate how I was handling the situation and made some changes and in turn she did as well. I did give her the room door back and access to some computer time we sat and talked for hours and the outcome was that from the 4 classes she was failing she actually ended the year passing all classes except 1 which was math that she has struggled with since very little. She is in summer school for that one class but the way I see it she did sooo much better and tried so hard and improved =) so once again thank you all
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#21 of 21 Old 07-13-2010, 09:41 AM
 
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Congratulations to you and her!
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