Friday, May 12, 2006

My teenager is in the doghouse. We just got his report card and he got a C in Spanish and and a C in biology (he got As and Bs in his other courses). My wife and I were very disappointed. He is a bright kid and usually gets better grades. Both classes should be pretty easy for him. We are convinced he just didn't work hard enough. Like a typical teenager, he had a lot of excuses. It was the teachers' fault. They didn't treat him fairly, the tests didn't follow the book, etc. I've already talked to one of the teachers on the phone and I'm going to make an appointment to see the other one. In Spanish, he apparently didn't study for the mid-term and failed to turn in a couple of assignments. When he comes home, I always ask him "Do you have any homework?" and he almost always says "No." I think he's just absent-minded, unfocused. He's a very honest fellow, so I don't think he's deliberately lying to me. Last night I told him that as parents we can use the carrot or the stick. My son gets plenty of carrots. He gets a nice allowance, he is enrolled in several expensive extra-curricular programs and he is regularly chauffered around town to friends' houses (he's 14). We are now going to use the stick. Figuratively speaking of course. My wife and I do not believe in corporal punishment. In this case, the "stick" is assigning him our own homework. We bought him a novel in Spanish and he's going to have read it for 30 minutes a day after school. I know what you're thinking: how will I know if he's really reading it? I won't know and its not important. If he's sitting at the table with that book in front of him, he won't be watching TV or playing games on the Internet. It's basically about rewarding positive behavior and punishing bad behavior. According to the Spanish teacher, his main problem is not paying attention in class. One hopes that he will read the book (it's a kids mystery) and improve his Spanish. But even if he doesn't read it, I think that sitting at the kitchen table for 30 minutes without any electronic distractions will have a way of concentrating his mind on his schoolwork. The Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital has a nice site called "A Survival Guide for Living With a Teenager."


  • If he's being honest, where does all that "I have no homework" go when it's time to turn it in? ;)

    What improves test scores is regularly reviewing the work _at home_. not doing last-second cramming. That's where you can twist the knife and improve his scores at the same time -- have him sit home and study most every night. Otherwise it'll be cramming and/or trying to cheat off of friends to improve his grades enough to get you off his back.

    As for knowing if he read the novel, you could ask the Spanish teacher to quiz him on it, couldn't you?

    By Blogger KC, at 5:16 PM  

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