The majority of teen boys I work with have moderate to severe difficulty in school. Many are failing classes, find it difficult to stay focused, or their emotional disturbances interfere with learning. Their parents carry constant stress regarding their son’s immediate future, and even more about his eventual success.
One thing that parents can do during the summer months is to take time together to define your expectations for your son, being specific, beyond “get better grades”. Then plan, with helpful outside parties, what you can do to support your son in the upcoming school year. It is much better to establish expectations and structure now rather than later, when your son’s grades are again falling and tensions are running high.
As with all parenting during the teen years, it is important to clearly define for yourself what is and is not in your control. There are many things you can do to guide and advocate for your child, but parents also need to realize that, ultimately, the adage “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” holds true for teens.
You cannot make your child study, and harsh punishments or long lectures about how awful his life will be if he fails school are rarely helpful. Teens need:
1) Responsible role modeling by parents and other adults,
2) Help developing their own cause-and-effect thought process, and
3) Access to individualized and specialized education programs.
For some parents, navigating IEP’s and the special education system is daunting. An easily accessible resource that has been helpful to many families is www.LDonline.com, one of the best sources of information regarding learning disabilities and ADHD. The site not only has information about learning disabilities, but much of it is specifically tailored to parents.
It is important to work together with your school district in a respectful and collaborative manner, and the “sample letter” section is particularly useful for parents who are struggling to communicate with their school districts.
If more help is needed, feel free to contact me and I can refer you to local advocates and organizations to assist you with independent educational and psychological evaluation, learning disability identification, and educational advocacy.