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Tips to Turn the School Year Around

Tips to Turn the School Year Around

How to Remedy a Rocky Start to the School Year

The school year has just begun and your son is already off to a rocky start. Attendance issues have his teachers concerned, missing assignments have already dropped his grades below average, and you’re unsure how to help him get on track with his unmotivated disposition.

You know he can’t afford to go down the same path as last year. But how can you reverse this downward spiral?

Use these tips to help your troubled student turn a rough beginning into year-long success:

  1. Get to the root of the problem. Before you sit down to discuss your son’s performance in school, remember that timing is everything. Your son will be more responsive when relaxed, so allow him time to decompress from the day before you ask questions and voice concerns.
    • Ask the right questions. Understanding your son’s withdrawn perspective won’t come from loaded questions. Start slow by taking an interest in his day-to-day. Ask about his friends, hobbies, teachers, favorite topics to learn, and least favorite things about school. Gradually ease in the direction of addressing your son’s disconnect with school. Even if you don’t get the responses you’re looking for, keep a causal, non-judgmental flow to the conversation to avoid defensive behavior.
    • Be a good listener. Asking the right questions is only half the equation. Listening to your son speak his mind and address your concerns with his discontent will help you truly understand why he feels disengaged.
  2. Work with your son to develop a solution he’s excited about. Teens don’t appreciate being told what to do. Encourage your son to establish goals for the school year – both academically and personally – but let him take the lead on devising a solution to turn his situation around.
  3. Overhaul organizational habits. Academic success walks hand in hand with strong organization and time management. Help your son create an effective plan to stay organized in school and at home.
    • Organize class materials. Help your son keep track of loose papers and handouts by organizing them in binders, folders, and notebooks. Dividers help separate class notes, and color-coded notebooks and folders keep subjects separate.
    • Designate a study time and place. Studying in the same place, at the same time, every day will establish an efficient routine for your son. Make sure the area you both agree on is quiet and free of distractions, allowing for complete focus.
    • Use checklists and a master calendar. Checklists are perfect for assignments, reminders, and household chores. Keep a master calendar in your son’s homework area to remind him of major events at school, exams, project due dates, and extracurricular activities.
  4. Have daily check-ins with your son. Whether it’s 30-minutes in the evening or on the quick 10-minute drive home, make time to catch up with your son every day. Accountability and attentive communication will help you stay on top of your son’s progressing school year.
  5. Seek a mentor or tutor. According to, “Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class.”1 Along with improving homework completion and study skills, a mentor or tutor can help your son communicate his feelings, build healthy relationships with his peers, and develop a positive outlook on his education.
  6. Get feedback from your son’s teachers. Don’t wait for the report card to see how your son is performing. Open lines of communication between home and school will help you and your son’s teachers deliver the support he needs.
  7. Determine if further action is needed. Based on how your son is progressing through the previous steps, you may reach the conclusion that he needs more than the tools and expertise found in his traditional school setting. Young men just like your son have found the resources they need to succeed in school by attending an all-boys boarding school. While this might seem drastic, your son’s health and future may depend on it. A boarding school can give him an education tailored to his unique needs and personality, and a community that will support him in personal endeavors like building self-confidence, participating on a team sport, and pursuing activities that allow him to explore and expand on his interests.

You still have time turn a rocky start into a strong finish. Discover how Grand River Academy is empowering students to take control of their education.


1National Mentoring Partnership. “The Value of Mentoring.” Accessed September 3, 2015.

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