17 yr old failing at school...need advice

Evie - posted on 03/03/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My 17 yr old son is failing in 3 subjects at school. He was also struggling with some subjects last year. We provided him with tuition last year which I thought was a waste of money. He managed to pass the subject though but the tuition did not make him get an A. This year, we are not able to pay for tuition. His teachers are not that helpful and his school counselor is hopeless. Supposedly, if you get an F in a subject, it is mandatory to go to study time during the school day. I find that the teachers or counselors do not really reinforce that and do not really monitor your child attending these study times. Even when he does, the teacher does not really sit one on one to try to help him. I feel very helpless as to what to do to help him improve his grades. And I do not really want to email the teachers or his counselor as it does not produce any results. At the beginning of this year, he has been diagnosed as having a mild to severe depression (chemical) and he is seeing a professional counselor and a psychiatrist. He is on Abilify but he doesn't think he has improved although I do notice that he is more caring and does things that he wouldn't normally do. It's been almost 4 weeks since he's been taking the medication and the dosage has been increased slightly since last week. Last year my husband and I were very upset about his grades and we have talked to him many times. We are at a point where we do not want to push him too much especially with him being depressed. I think he knows his responsibility for his education and feels the pressure. Whether he is doing his best, I am not sure. Right now, we think that whatever happens, happens. If he is not meant to have good grades and get into a good college, so be it. I would greatly appreciate some advice on this.

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Jaydee - posted on 03/03/2011

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Hi Evie ~ I teach at-risk students at the high school level. My students are either at-risk for various reasons or they recieve special ed. services because they are behind their peers academically. The fact that your son has recieved the diagnosis of depression speaks volumes for this behavior and I am glad that he is recieving medical assistance. Because boys are growing so fast at this age, make sure that his weight and medication are closely monitored ~ every two months is recommended. When a child is clinically depressed, school is the least of his priorities which is not typically in his control. The medication will help to level out the chemicals in his brain and with your love and guidance, he can slowly pull out of this frustrating void. Firmly emphasize with diligence the expectation of high school graduation. Monitior his daily grades (does your school have an on-line program of checking your student's grades?). Many failing grades are due to missing assignments. Requiring him to keep a daily organizer that you check each day could be a solution. I would strongly suggest you make the teacher/home connection ~ even if you feel it is irrelevant. Helping your child success in school far exceeds the feelings/productivity of the school staff. Even if they think you are a high maintenance mom, your child is more important. Give your son constant and genuine support and love during this time. Give him space with expectations. Be strong and make yourself available to him when he is ready to communicate. Good luck!

Louise - posted on 03/03/2011

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At this age you can not force a child to learn they either want to or don't. I have raised two sons the first was a high achiever and want to learn the second was bored at school and really could not be bothered. no matter how much we tried to help him he put in very little effort. If you have not got the backing of the teachers you really are going to struggle. All you can do is sit him down and ask him if there is anything you can do to help him, ask him what he finds the most difficult and if having a study partner would help. The only time I could get my son to study was to have a few of his friends over to do the homework together and I would provide the piza and soda. This worked well as they helped each other and it made study fun and social.

But that said and done it is up to your son to study for his exams and if his heart is not in it no matter how much study he does the exams will not go well. We found it better to back off and let him do his own thing, taking his pressure off him a little. In the end my son passed all his exams with some surprising results even though I thought he had not put the effort in. Your son is not daft he knows that these exams are going to affect his future so let him decide what it is going to be!

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