What can I do to help my son, who just started middle school, stop his grades from declining further? In elementary school, he received only A's and B's. Now he is getting quite a few C's and only a rare A. -- On a Slippery Slope


Lower grades in several subjects indicate your son is having some type of problem. It could be that the work is harder, or he is getting far less direction and help from his teachers. There are several things that will give you a good idea of where the problem is coming from:

1. Go over his graded homework assignments.

2. Go over all his quizzes and tests.

3. Read all report cards carefully for clues.

4. Get input from your son about why he thinks his grades are declining.

Here are some more steps that you need to take to get him on the path to good grades again:

1. The two of you need to talk to his teachers about the nature of the problem and how it can be resolved. You want him to understand clearly what he needs to be doing differently.

2. Find out what you can do to help the child overcome the problem.

3. Consider a tutor or learning center, if suggested.

4. Keep in close contact with the teachers on how well the problem is being resolved

5. Have a definite plan for improving any weak skills during the summer.

One of the biggest secrets to getting good grades is the amount of studying students do. Your son should be doing about an hour a day of homework whether or not he has assignments. This work can range from doing extra math problems to suggested reading in his textbooks.