Q:

My son is now a freshman in high school. His attitude is that he knows everything. Obviously, he doesn't, as he is failing in school. He is unwilling to accept any help from tutors and won't talk about school with me whenever I ask him about it. He just promises to do better in the next grading period.

A few weeks ago we had a conference at school with his teachers. He was very uncooperative. I just don't know what to do. -- Want Advice

A:

Your son's problems could be caused by his attitude toward school. It is not unusual for this to happen, especially if he has friends with a similar attitude. If he isn't doing any schoolwork at home, you must insist that he spend one hour on homework or reviewing schoolwork each school night in a spot where you can see that he is actually doing some work. Failure to do this should result in some real penalties (no weekend activities, no cell phone).

It's quite possible that your son has some serious learning problems. You definitely don't want to waste the next three years waiting on his promise to do better. You need to get some help from the school corporation now. Ask to have your son tested to see if he has any specific learning disabilities. Don't get discouraged because of all the red tape you will need to go through in order to get him tested. You should have the results before the end of this school year. Then a plan can be developed to get him on track for next year. He might need to go to summer school this year if he has failed any core classes.

Often, learning problems don't surface until students reach a higher grade and the material gets harder so any coping skills that they were using earlier no longer work. Your son could be using his uncooperative attitude as a cover for an inability to handle the current workload in the classroom. He might be willing to work with a young college student as a tutor. Anything is worth a try, because at this point, you have nothing to lose.

Your son probably needs some counseling. He could be depressed or have a drug problem. The best person to help your son sort out all these problems is his high-school counselor. If he can't work with this person, a trusted teacher could be helpful.