What letter grades do you punish for?

Avatar for cmlisab
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Registered: 09-30-2011
What letter grades do you punish for?
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Wed, 03-27-2013 - 1:39pm

My oldest came home with mostly C's on his most recent report card. In the past, we've only punished for D's and F's but I'm really starting to think I shouldn't be letting him settle for C's. It's not as if he is studying for hours each night and still getting C's, the C's are mostly from him only putting the least amount of effort required for each assignment and test. He just doesn't seem to care/value school and good grades that much and I'm starting to lose hope that he'll ever care. He's in 7th grade right now and things are only going to get tougher, you know?

What report card grades do you guys punish for?

Lisa 

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Registered: 07-26-1999
Wed, 03-27-2013 - 4:10pm

I may bite my tongue for saying this later one, but as of right now, I do not punish for specific grades. I look at the factors surrounding the grades, are they studying hard, are they turning in all of their assignments, are they half-a$$ing it, etc.  Each child is different also, my oldest puts tons of pressure on herself and hated that she got a C+ the first semester of English 3, but she was working her tail off in it, putting in the work and doing the assigments.  Knowing how much work she put into it, I wasn't upset with the C.  Also, not every kid is going to be good at every subject, and as much as I hate to say it, the teacher, their teaching style and testing can also be a factor at times.  I don't think there is any cut and dry rule on you are going to punished if you get a D type attitude.  ODD took 2 years of latin and absolutely loved it.  The last semester of her 2nd year her teacher was let go for some discipline issues at the school and they substituted in another teacher.  Her solid A went down to a solid C because the teacher taught completely differently, tested in a way they weren't used to being tested  and on things they hadn't necessarily covered with the other teacher but this teacher thought they should have learned.  Kids obviously need to adapt at a certain point to changes like that, but its not always that easy.

But, as you said, your's doesn't seem to be engaged, isn't putting in a lot of work, etc.  You may need to look at other avenues of motivation or find something that truly sparks his interest.

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Registered: 12-06-1999
Wed, 03-27-2013 - 7:06pm

We don't punish per se for grades, that approach never really worked for DS. First semester of freshman year he was not doing very well, really due to a lack of effort on his part. He is on a team that is a big expense for us, so we told him that unless he achieved a B average, the activity would go away. He is now a junior and he knows that if he does not maintain his grades there is no driving. Nagging does no good. Explain how things are going to be and then follow through. Middle school is the place where this lesson is best learned.

Avatar for turtleemom
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Registered: 07-25-2007
Thu, 03-28-2013 - 9:13am

I don't punish for poor grades.  Does the school offer the option to check grades online throughout the semseter?  Are you seeing tests and papers brought home?  I would think that the time to change behaviors is during the semster and not after.  I would clearly state my expectations and encourage him to reach and achieve.  I would then work on setting up postive studying/homework routines and being on hand to make sure work is being done and not in a half hearted fashion.  Some kids have to be taught how to study.  

 

Avatar for mahopac
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Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 03-29-2013 - 4:54pm

Punishing for grades.  Hmmm.  Never thought of it.  If your response is punishment, then how does he ever learn to motivate himself?  He needs to learn to see good grades as their own reward and bad grades as their own punishment.  Natural consequences are always more effective than punishment.

Our 12yo DS is also in 7th grade and right now is failing or barely passing almost everything.  Don't think this doesn't bother me just about every hour of every day.  He has gone through extensive psychoeducational testing, and he's as smart as his 18yo sister.  He is depressed, yes, and he has either a significant memory problem or a speech processing disorder, we're not sure which - but neither is the reason he has bad grades.  The reason is that he is lazy about doing homework and handing it in, and he LIES about it.

Right now the natural consequence is that he won't continue in accelerated math and he won't go into AP science next year.  He may in fact need to change schools.  In the meantime we are cracking down hard.  Even his psychologist told him he needs to just do the damn homework and stop wasting his own and everyone else's time.  The message is finally and slowly seeping in.

In the meantime, I don't know how I would actually *punish* him.  I'm not going to take away activities that develop his natural talents.  He barely has any social life and he has little self-esteem because he knows he can do better  We limit his video time already and are especially careful with it now.  He already doesn't have any electronics in his bedroom or a Facebook account or most of the other things kids his age do because he hasn't shown that he can live responsibly with those things.  In time I hope he will.

When my now-20yo DS was in high school, he too wouldn't turn in homework, showed up late to class, etc.  A couple of times I asked his teacher to give him extra time, but mostly I let him suffer the natural consequences - includng letting him, who got an 800 on the Reading part of the SAT, get dropped from his honors English class down to non-honors English because he was not putting in the effort.  A year in a class with unmotivated students, and he got his act together.  Now he's highly successful in college, and I don't regret letting him suffer because I knew he would absolutely hate the natural consequences.  Indeed, he warns his little brother about it every time he's home from college.

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998
Sat, 03-30-2013 - 12:51am

It's always good to remember that a "C" is average. In an appropriately challenging class, most of the class should have "C's." Of course, are we thrilled when our kids come home with them? No. Especially when you aren't seeing any effort at home.

We only went through one stint with our eldest bringing home "C's." I'm hesistant to say we "punished" her but we did make some changes that she didn't love. It was 10th grade. She was having self-control issues with the computer and texting late at night so we asked that she start putting them on my desk by 9 every evening. She was not handling the lifted bedtime well and so we reinstated it. Those things helped in a lot of other ways but not with the grades. I could see with online grading that things were still not being turned in. When she was unable to turn the grades around and either unable or unwilling to change her night time behavior, we put a curfew on all electronics, re-instated the firm bedtime she'd had through 9th grade and I took to calling her on missing assignments as I saw them as opposed to letting her handle them on her own. I finally sat down and went through all the work she'd passed on. It was ridiculously low level and unecessary busy work. We pulled her from the school, put her in a better school and she's back to being a great student. As a junior, she's much more mature and we've lifted the electronics curfews and bedtime and she's been great and self-regulating again. 

I guess I wouldn't put this in terms of "punishment" as much as giving him an environment where he can be at his best. That may mean less screen time. That may mean cutting down on activities. That may mean patrolling his work more until he turns things around. He may need more challenge if he's able to scoot by with no effort.

Avatar for melissamc
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Registered: 03-22-2007
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 1:26pm
I agree that you can't really punish for specific grades, it all depends on the circumstances. If they are truly trying hard, I'm not going to penalize them for a lower grade. On the other hand, if it stems from assignments not being completed, than we'll be taking away privileges until they are caught up. Devin has lots of work to do over Spring Break, sucks for him but he needs to get it done. Matthew is struggling in science, he has a hard time with the subject. If his C is stemming from him just not putting in the effort, though, that's a different matter and will be addressed.

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Avatar for cmlisab
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Registered: 09-30-2011
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 2:26pm

Wow, you guys hit the nail on the head in so many ways that I'm not even sure where to start with my replies! Here goes:

Arryl-  I have definitely noticed that the particular teacher seems to affect how he does in a given subject. Last year, he did really well in Math and Science because he LOVED the teacher and only did so-so in English because he didn't like his English teacher as much as the Math/Science one. This year, he's doing really well in English because he LOVES the teacher but is struggling in Math because he doesn't like the teacher. It's been eye-opening to see how much a teacher and their particular style of teaching can influence how a student does, depending on how well each of them "click" with the teacher. Hmm...maybe I'll start a whole new discussion about that!

Lam42- punishing for an overall average instead of specific grades is a good idea! I admit that I probably nag too much :(

Turtleemom- Yep, the school has a way for us to check grades online. Both DH and I are slowly getting better about this instead of going the easy route of denial (not checking often enough). What kind of homework/studying routine do your kids have? I also REALLY liked what you said about remembering that a "C" is average. He somehow managed to pull off getting mostly C's (plus one A and one B) on this report card but I think that's mostly due to kind teachers letting him turn in missed assignments late. 

Mahopac- We also have issues with DS lying about what he really has for homework. I try to check the teacher's webpage to verify the assignments but they are not always in sync. We also hear a lot of "I finished that in class" excuse, ugh. I am struggling with how to get him  self-motivated since it doesn't seem like he cares that much about school. What he DOES care about is playing on the computer with his friends so that's the first thing that gets taken away when his schoolwork/homework starts going downhill. I guess he just thinks that college acceptance is a "long ways off" so he doesn't need to care about it yet. I just worry that he'll never start caring.

Melissamc- Yep, totally agree that it depends on whether they are putting forth an effort or not. I *almost* wish that my son's grades were due to him struggling- at least I'd know he was still putting in an effort. Undecided

Lisa 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 2:45pm

My kids never really got bad grades but I'm thinking that you might be thinking the same thing but I would not "punish" someone for a bad grade--I think it's too late waiting for a report card.  If you know your son is unmotivatead and lazy then you really have to keep on him every night until he gets in the habit of being responsible for doing homework.  First I'd make sure that his bad grades are really from laziness.  I'd think that if he was getting D's & F's (not sure if you were referring to him or other kids) before 7th grade, I would really wonder if he had a learning disability.  I'd say for most kids, grades up through 6th grade shouldn't be so hard that they are failing--are you sure there's not an underlying problem there?  Do you ask him questions to make sure that he understands the concepts and can explain them to you?  Is he having a problem only in one subject or many?  Have you talked to the teacher & counselor?  If it is in fact just not doing the work, then I would just make consistent rules--limit TV & computer time, make sure he is doing all his HW and you are checking it, keep in contact w/ the teacher, etc.

Avatar for mahopac
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Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 3:42pm

I guess he just thinks that college acceptance is a "long ways off" so he doesn't need to care about it yet. I just worry that he'll never start caring.

We had a conference with DS's teachers last week.  His math teacher was particularly concerned that he won't be able to take 9th-grade algebra next year (he's in an accelerated math program now that does 7th & 8th grade math in one year).  His science teacher was particularly concerned about him feeling left out by not being selected for advanced science class next year.  I told them I care about NOW, not then.  We need to find a way to get him to do better because he CAN, not because he might fall off the fast track - he's so far off the rails right now, who cares about the fast track when he's not even on the slow one?!  They all understood that the goal is to salvage this year, not worry about future events.

As a mom of a college junior and a HS senior, I can tell you that thinking about college in any tangible sense is usually a looooong way off in middle school.  20yo DS was counting the days to graduation starting around 4th grade, but that didn't translate into any concrete action - he was still failing to turn in homework assignments in 10th grade.  18yo DD was considerably better but she too lost focus in 10th grade, which is quite a dangerous year IMO - 9th grade is exciting because you're in a new school, but by 10th grade the novelty has worn yet college still seems far away.  She still got all As, but we could see that she was unfocused, and she was at the time pooh-poohing the idea of pursuing music (which she didn't get really seriously competitive about until 11th grade - she was coasting along on talent before that). 

Since you have such a long way to go to college, I'd suggest you focus now on helping your son see that teachers work hard to teach him, and it's his job to learn.  This isn't always something that parents can convey - in our case, a well-timed remark from DS's psychologist gave him a big ol' kick in the pants - but if you can't do it, find someone else - a counselor, guidance counselor, tutor, or some authority figure - who can.  Grades aren't nearly as important as effort.  If a C was the best DS could do, I'd be happy with it.  Since I know he's capable of A work, and his recent testing proved that he's got high school & college level math & reading skills, he's got no more excuses.  He needs to put in effort because LIFE involves effort.  No one is exempt.  A good work ethic will take you much further than talent.

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Wed, 04-03-2013 - 4:11pm

In response to question on homework routine... For DD (16, junior) we never had to do anything about schooling until it all fell apart 10th grade. Her grades were always high. She did her work anytime and anywhere she felt like it. We didn't micro-manage at all. In fact, we rarely even saw her work. When the grades dropped, I started requiring she do her work directly after school in a public area until it was done. She couldn't be trusted alone in her room or around any phone or lap top and even SHE recognized this. When we switched schools and she was healthier emotionally (and tech stopped being a pull) and the grades came back up, we went back to letting her do her work sprawled out on the bedroom floor whenever she felt like doing it. 

My DS (12, 7th grade) chooses to do his work directly after school in the same chair with a lapdesk. When his grades are high and steady, I try to give him his space but I do keep an eye on the online grades (they come in my email box every Friday.) DS has some organizational struggles and while his intentions are always good, if his routine is broken by a vacation, an afterschool activity, it can take him weeks to get back on track and there will always be several missing assignments during that time. So, I'm more hands on with him though I really do try not to breath over him.

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