Q:

This year our daughter entered middle school as a sixth-grader. Her grades have been on a constant roller-coaster ride, up and down. We have discussed this numerous times with her and her teachers. We have tried various approaches with limited and short-lived success. Any suggestions would be appreciated. -- Poor Grades

A:

Moving from elementary school to middle school is frequently a bumpy road for preteens. They are now faced with several teachers, more homework, different grading standards, greater responsibility for their work, longer assignments and keeping track of mountains of materials. No wonder their grades often take a nosedive. On top of all these educational challenges, they are facing the social, emotional and physical changes of pre-adolescence.

Because there's so much more work in sixth grade, your daughter needs to be well-organized. Besides using a notebook to list assignments, she needs a calendar to organize her time. Test and report due dates need to be written down, as well as appointments and activity times. Go over the calendar with her every day until she learns how to plan her time. Finally, academic troubles often emerge in sixth grade because of weakness in basic skills. If necessary, have your daughter work with a tutor or go to a learning center or summer school to improve her skills.