Sometimes the smallest detail could be the difference between an A and a C, so it’s no wonder teenagers have lost interest in school over the years. However, while the graduation rate has drastically decreased during the past few decades, the average grade has actually increased. (The average grade for teenagers is now a low B.)
This could mean that students are getting smarter, but GPAs only reflect the work students turned in. Alternatively, higher GPAs could be due to grade inflation (i.e. teachers scoring higher for lower quality work). If grade inflation is the cause for the shift, students aren’t getting smarter; school is getting easier.
Parents who want to help their teenagers get better grades should show a strong interest in their children’s education.
Pay attention to your teenager’s behavior
If parents want to help their teenagers improve their grades, the first thing they should do is identify how their child is not meeting expectations. There are many reasons their grades could be unsatisfactory, but you must listen to them to know how to help them.
If you see your children doing their homework, asking for help on assignments, and telling you about their classes, chances are they aren’t having much trouble in school. After all, they are showing (and sharing) their interest and motivation.
If their grades are still below average, you may want to consider helping them study or (if you can’t help them) signing them up for tutoring. However, lacking the knowledge isn’t always the problem.
School is an entirely different environment than the one you build at home. Aside from academics, teenagers are preoccupied with sports, clubs, and maintaining a social presence.
Teens could be easily overwhelmed by all their commitments, especially if they also have jobs or are applying for colleges. All these things can serve as distractions from academic performance. Friends (or lack of friends) are perhaps the most prevalent distractions.
When teenagers struggle to maintain their grades, they are likely too busy trying to fit in with their friends. (Getting good grades is frowned upon in certain social groups.)
However, not everyone is a social butterfly. Some teenagers find it difficult to bond with others, especially those with interested in getting good grades. The stereotype that teenagers can’t be cool and smart hinders a lot of potentially successful students.
And let’s not forget that kids can be cruel. Bullying has been an issue in school since its establishment, and the mediums kids use to bully nowadays go beyond being picked on at school.
Social media networks provides bullies the opportunity to publicly humiliate their peers beyond the classroom. Situations like this could be particularly stressful and even damaging mentally or emotionally for the bullies and the bullied.
Parents who want to help their teenagers improve their grades should be attentive to their behavior and stay informed on what’s happening in their social lives.
Talking to teenagers about grades
Parents and teachers work hard to teach children to prioritize their educations. However, sometime near the beginning of middle school, most children start to become far more concerned with their own social networks than their parents’ approval.
By the time they are teenagers in high school, their habits are well-established. Most often, if you don’t bring up the subjects of school and grades, your teenagers aren’t going to.
Listed below are some things to keep in mind when talking to your teenagers about their grades:
- Wait for the right time. Having a formal discussion on your teenager’s report card could do more harm than good; teenagers see this as a time for them to get scolded for doing poorly. However, if parents catch their children off-guard, they can have a cool conversation with their teens. Parents should just remember to stay calm and practice active listening.
- Start with the obvious. If there has been a drop in grades or a lack of motivation in other areas (like sports and clubs), this could be a great way to open the conversation. Let your teenagers explain their side of the story. During this discussion, make sure that you help your children realize the importance of taking responsibility for their grades.
- Find a solution together. Talk to your teenagers about how they can improve their grades and the way they feel about school. (After all, finding internal motivation is the long-term solution for good academic performance.) You should help them schedule time for completing homework. If your teenagers are really struggling, they should ask their teachers for extra-credit assignments.
Above all else, don’t get emotional over your teenager’s grades; this will only cause an emotional upset for the both of you. Be calm so that your teenager knows he can come to you with future problems.
Tips for helping teenagers get better grades
Showing an interest in your teen’s grades is the first step in helping them progress scholastically. Listed below are some more tips for helping your teenagers improve their grades:
- Visit the school. A great way to identify how to help your teenagers is to be aware of where they spend over a third of their day. If visiting the school is inconvenient, parents could start by browsing the school’s website.
- Attend school functions. Being present for school functions like parent-teacher conferences and open houses is a great way to remain informed about teacher expectations and student performance.
- Support their teacher’s expectations. Being on the same page as your children’s teachers (and reinforcing their expectations) is one of the best things you can do to help your teenagers stay on track.
- Help them get ready for school. Getting an adequate amount of sleep and a healthy breakfast is detrimental to cognitive performance. In addition, one of the best ways to do well in class is to show up. Make sure your teenagers are going to school prepared and attending all their classes.
- Help them study. Parents should help their teenagers review information and take practice tests. Implementing different methods of learning (e.g. writing, reading, speaking, listening) will help them better retain information.
- Teach them to organize. Sometimes grades suffer because students lack organizational skills (e.g. they don’t turn in assignments because they misplace them). Helping them learn to organize their schoolwork could help them greatly in the future.
- Talk to them frequently. Ask your teens questions about school and ask them to share in their experiences outside of the home. This way you will know the moment problems arise.
Adolescence is a difficult time for children, one for making (a lot of) mistakes and (hopefully) learning from them. It’s a difficult time full of raging hormones and conflicting interests between the home and social environments.
While they’re trying to understand who they are and who they want to be, most would rather have lots of friends than get better grades. Since the average grade for teenagers is a B, the teen grade range doesn’t go far beyond Bs and Cs.
Although teenagers are more likely to be distracted from their schoolwork, problems with grades can start as early as elementary school. Easy access to technology, extracurricular activities, and social networks are common distractions, but low grades could be the result of problems further from the surface.
Parents who pay attention and help motivate their children to do well will likely have an easier time helping them make and reach their academic goals.