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My Former Academic Whiz is in Danger of Failing Sixth Grade


I have a 12-year-old daughter who was on the honor roll for the first semester of her sixth-grade school year, but is now in danger of failing sixth grade. There have been no major changes in our home, no deaths, no loss of jobs and no sudden moves. She is seeing a therapist every other week for diagnosed depression/anxiety. I have offered to help her with her schoolwork and to get her a tutor. She even stays after school to get extra help from her teachers. But none of this seems to help her improve her grades or study habits. She lies to me about having her homework done, flunks most of her tests and is on the edge of failing. How can I reverse this negative academic trend?



The first step is to start contacting the school and your daughter’s teacher daily about her assignments. This should make it more difficult for her to lie about completing her homework.

  • Have the teacher ​text or email what she has assigned for homework each day.

  • Make sure your daughter does not leave school without the necessary items she needs to complete her homework.

  • At home, getting homework done should be a top priority.

  • Designate a study time and a place in a common area where your daughter can do her work. Pick a spot where you can monitor her and provide help if needed, and try to remove all distractions from the study area. (We recommend that your daughter not be allowed to do homework in her room.)

  • Put away all electronics during homework time. If your daughter says she needs to use the calculator on her phone, give her a basic calculator and put the phone away.

You can also limit your daughter’s access to her phone and other electronics (other than what she might need to complete her homework) until her efforts and grades improve.

Your daughter may think it isn't "cool" to be one of the “smart girls.” Sadly, kids who excel sometimes become the target of abuse and name-calling by other students. In your daughter’s situation, her peer group may be a negative influence on her and her academic performance.

In addition, her body chemistry is changing and fluctuating at her age. If she is taking medication, she could be having a reaction that is affecting her concentration and focus. Check out all possibilities with your pediatrician. If her sleep or eating patterns have changed, this also could be a sign that something bigger is going on.

Finally, make sure your daughter’s therapist is aware of what is going on with her schoolwork. This issue may need to become part of her therapy sessions.