Q:

My son is in 10th grade. One of my concerns is with his studying and schoolwork. He's smart but doesn't put effort into his work. We know he is capable of more. He ends up struggling. We have a tutor work with him and talk with the teachers, but he continues to just get by.

I don't want him to continue with this pattern in the future. He does plan to attend college, and is taking the appropriate courses. My husband and I feel that he tends to be lazy about his schoolwork. He just finishes his work to get it done. How can this pattern be changed? -- Frustrated

A:

It sounds like this has been a continuing problem. What have his teachers been saying through the years? Do they say that he is bright and not putting in sufficient effort, as you do? What does your son say? Is he interested in doing better? Has there ever been a subject that interests him? If so, does he do better work in it? Does he dislike academic work?

Laziness is an easy explanation for academic problems. It definitely can be the right one; however, it usually isn't. The answer might be weak skills. Your son may be a very slow or poor reader, or may have poor study or organizational skills. When seemingly bright children are struggling in school, a learning disability should always be considered, too.

How is this year going? It would be reasonable to insist that your son study in an area where you can see him at least 60 to 90 minutes a night whether or not he has assignments. He can always review and do extra work for his classes. If his first report card is not what it should be, work immediately with your son and his counselor to find out how school can be less of a struggle for him.