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naranza65

Struggling in middle school with grades

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Hello,

I would like feedback on things to think about at my little time of crisis.  My son is struggling with some of his subjects in middle school.  He is a boy scout(tenderfoot) working on his second class.  I am thinking about pulling him out of the boy scouts so that he can concentrate on his school stuff.  I don't like the idea, but school takes preference over Boy Scouts activities.  Hoping to have some insights for parents that have been there, and the strategies they used to help there boy.  He has been a scout since tiger cubs,  I feel very discourage about the whole situation.  Feedback is appreciated.

 

Thanks,

naranza65

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Thank you for replying, RememberSchiff,

I will look into that, maybe one of the older boys is a thing for math,  definitely I will be asking around.  Thank you.

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Hi @naranza65!  

As a Scoutmaster, I had several young Scouts who were involved with various activities outside of Scouting--mainly sports--and I always told them the door was open whenever they could come to Troop/Patrol meetings or campouts/activities.  @RememberSchiff has a great idea about having an older Scout tutor your son.  I would hate to hear that you had to remove your son from his Troop, where I'm sure he's having a blast, right?  It wouldn't hurt to speak with his Scoutmaster about this and just share your feelings.  

After all, a Scout is Helpful!  His Patrol mates or a Troop Guide ought to be able to lend a helping hand. :D

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@naranza65, is there a reason why your son is struggling in school? I struggled in middle school. To say the least, it sucked. Is the problem your child is having because he is signed up for five activities and just doesn't have the time or is it because he's dyslexic, or ADD, or has Asperger's, or has other kids teasing him, or any of a bunch of reasons why a kid might hate school. i.e., does he need more time or does he need something else. If all he needs is time then sure, some time off from scouts might be good. If time alone isn't going to help then consider figuring out what the other issue(s) is/are.

Just my two cents.

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I always have conflicting emotions when it comes to this.  My own son struggled in middle school...I think most do.  It is a time of transition with the onset of puberty and raging hormones, testing the limits with independence, and moving from a more structured classroom  to one in where kids are expected to take more responsibility and initiative for their own stuff.  The first reaction is always, "no more scouts".  To me, Scouting was an integral part of the overall developmental agenda of a boy...taking him out of scouts was the same as saying, "ok, no more church" or "you need to work harder in math, so I'm taking you out of English class"...or PE, or you name it.  The boy will view it as punishment, and he will resent it, when grasping the concepts of math is not necessarily his fault.  The middle school counselor told us not to worry...most boys struggle with 8th grade and you just need to write it off.  Seeking a tutor is a great idea...someone near his own age who has been taught the new methods...I could not tutor my own kids because the terminology was all different ... one example was there was no more "borrowing and carrying", it was called "regrouping".  With the new Common Core math, I'm sure I would be speaking a foreign language to them.  Some schools have tutoring programs with student volunteers...check with his Guidance Counselor.

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Need more info. Are other factors involved, i.e. divorce, remarriage, illness, death etc?

I knew of a Scout who started having issues in school. His life was in turmoil because of his parents divorce, and mom's remarriage.Scouting was is "Safe Space" the place where he could forget about his troubles for a while and have things as they were. But the home life affected him, and his grades started going down. His mom warned him about pulling him out of Scouts, then did it. He was so devastated that the one safe place was taken away from him that he attempted suicide. Thankfully he was found, and saved. He got help for his depression, and was OK. One thing the family was told not to do is take Scouts away as it was a form a therapy for him.

 

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Stay in communication with your son's school and teachers.  What can the school do to help and what can you do at home to help?  

I'll say that the transition from elementary to middle school was rough for my oldest, it's a rough time for a lot of kids.

Best wishes.

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Posted (edited)

I go along with the rest of the comments.  All kids at this age struggle, it's a part of life.  One of the easy parental "fixes" is to take something away from the child as a punishment.  It never works.  All that happens is that the parent doubles down on a struggling situation.  Yes, scouting is important in the development of the boys and thus should be one of the last resorts for punishment.  After all there are plenty of other "punishments" that could be used more effectively, i.e. Xbox, computers, cell phone, TV, and hanging out at the mall with his friends.  As mentioned, one would not withhold church activities, even though I have had parents pull that one at times as well.

One must consider the big picture here.  If one wishes their child to get the most out of these changing times in their lives, those that are the busiest are often times the most productive.  It is common in adulthood that if someone needs something done, it is better to ask a busy person than someone who has a lot of free time.  They organize better, plan better and tend to stay out of trouble if they have a little extra on their plate.  At that age, I had band, church, school, family, friends, and a whole lot of things going on in my life.  Yes, I was not an accomplished person in any one of the subjects, but I learned to balance them accordingly.  That wasn't an easy task for an ADD person, but it did develop skills later in life that allowed me to take on more than the average person when it came to life activities.  The list of extra curricular activities I was involved with in high school was quite a long list in my senior year book. Band, pep band, jazz band, marching band, concert band, scouts, CAP, French Club, Latin Club, Rifle Club, Photography Club, AFS Club, etc. all competed for my time.  While I never was an officer in any of these activities, they were important part of my growing up.  I graduated in the lower half of my class, advised to "get a job" when I graduated from high school instead of going on to college, and ended up with 3 post-high school degrees, all of which I graduated with a 3.5 GPA or higher.  One with a 4.0 GPA.  I took marching band, jazz band and concert band all the way through college as overload activity just for "fun".  Whether it be sports, band, theater, or any one of multiple activities, my parents NEVER forbid me from doing any of it or used any of these activities as punishment for poor school accomplishments. 

So now later in life, I have Scouting, Red Cross, Church, and my plate is still full, yet the wife never complains that I don't have enough time for her.  She just left for a 3 day cross-country ski trip with her gal friends and I'm heading off to the Red Cross office to work. 

So, it's is my contention that the parents who "take away" from any of the scout's opportunities is doing it all wrong.  It's a time of new opportunities, exploration, testing out new things, and finding out what's really important in life.  The scouts that learn how to do that from an early age will struggle a lot, but will end up a better person for it.  Just ask my quilting, knitting, cross-country skiing, kayaking, wife who worked for the US Forestry Service in Alaska while raising 4 kids. 

Middle school is the first step in learning how to be an adult and Scouting, school, church, hanging out with buddies, and family all need to be part of it.  No one finds their way in life with parents making all the determinations for the path they need to take along the way.

Sorry, parents, you do not have an advocate for taking away things from their child with me.  I promote, the more they take on, the better prepared in life they will be.   They all have to learn to balance all of these things to be successful in life.  Note to parents: Yes, your child has to break the bonds of family with you in order to make a family of his own.  It's called growing up.

Edited by Stosh

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14 hours ago, naranza65 said:

Hello,

I would like feedback on things to think about at my little time of crisis.  My son is struggling with some of his subjects in middle school.  He is a boy scout(tenderfoot) working on his second class.  I am thinking about pulling him out of the boy scouts so that he can concentrate on his school stuff.  I don't like the idea, but school takes preference over Boy Scouts activities.  Hoping to have some insights for parents that have been there, and the strategies they used to help there boy.  He has been a scout since tiger cubs,  I feel very discourage about the whole situation.  Feedback is appreciated.

 

Thanks,

naranza65

My son just recently passed his BOR for Second Class. His grades have also dropped a bit (though still As and Bs) but I would not chalk up his drop in grades to his participation in scouts.

My son's problem is more everything not-scout related, like tablets, tv, PS4, etc. You could also toss in soccer practice and games and music practice (what little there is of that).

 

Are you sure what little time your son spends on scout-related activities each month is the real issue? Absent one weekend a month camping, my son spends no more than two to three hours a week on scouts.

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What was that Cub Scout motto again?  Oh, yeah...  "Do Your Best".   

Remind     naranza65 son about this.   Like Scouting, Midschool is a time for the kid to start living his own life, and allow his parents to start "letting go".   Some things I had to learn when our kids got there (one Scout, three non-Scouts) .    Coach, remind, allow failure on occasion.  Congratulate and reward success, no matter how seemingly small, but don't "punish"  non-success.  And note: There is a difference between failure and non-success....    The first is sad, the second is what learning is about.  You will never succeed if you never try, and you will never learn (and succeed)  if you never ask/listen/practice/memorize/make that skill your own.

It is said that if one is to become a wise old man, one must be a dumb teenager first.    Scoutson didn't learn to read or do algebra by my reminding and hounding and beating him round the jowls.  He learned by my sitting down with him and pointing my  finger and listening to him and asking him and spending time with him AND by getting him a friend to do the same when I ran out of "smarts". 

Once when Scoutson and I were sitting doing History homework, he said ,  "dad, back in your day, you had it  easier than I do in school now.. You had a lot less history to remember !"   Consider the wisdom in THAT !

Another thing, which midschoolers have a hard time accepting, is not everyone is good at everything.  I think it was Harry Truman who counseled that one should find out what your child likes and is good at and then encourage them to do that.  

See you on the trail...

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On 1/8/2018 at 7:53 PM, naranza65 said:

Hello,

I would like feedback on things to think about at my little time of crisis.  My son is struggling with some of his subjects in middle school.  He is a boy scout(tenderfoot) working on his second class.  I am thinking about pulling him out of the boy scouts so that he can concentrate on his school stuff.  I don't like the idea, but school takes preference over Boy Scouts activities.  Hoping to have some insights for parents that have been there, and the strategies they used to help there boy.  He has been a scout since tiger cubs,  I feel very discourage about the whole situation.  Feedback is appreciated.

 

Thanks,

naranza65

Take away his video games and his phone before taking away Scouting.  

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1 hour ago, perdidochas said:

Take away his video games and his phone before taking away Scouting.  

^^^^^^
This a 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times!!!

Why would you take away something that gets him outdoors, teaches him things and builds character.

Take away all screen time. No phone, computer, laptop, game console or anything else until grades are up. Take away sleep overs, sports or even something special (no Halloween or special trip) if he isn't performing.

My kid missed trick or treat one year because he had zeros in English class. Another time we had a stay-cation because my daughter decided to openly fail a class. No Disney, we stayed home. Recently I took my teenage daughter's phone away...that was August. Goal: All classes above an 85. She JUST got her phone back.

I don't take away positive things, only those things that mean nothing in the long run. As @perdidochas said, phone and video games are the first thing that should go.

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 "phone and video games are the first thing that should go."

This is hard and it is painful. But I talked to a counselor the other day and they have LOTs of kids middle to high who are tanking grades because of screen time. The FIRST thing they say is at the very least to sharply curtail it time-wise and make it physically inaccessible the other times. My son now only has internet access in the living room so we know when he is doing it and not. We are fighting the same fight.

One son of mine was no great scholar and often was very active in scouts instead of studying. We tolerated that because we knew if he was not scouting he would be looking at his phone or computer. Better than nothing. 

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Depends on the reason he's struggling. For my son it was often just not paying attention in some subjects, talking too much and not getting instructions, not writing down homework etc. Others were he just didn't get the info that was being taught, that was math. He struggled pretty much almost every year in math from the 1st grade to now which is 9th grade. 

In grammar school after forgetting to hand in homework or forgetting he had homework beacuse he didn't write the assignment down. I did drop the hammer, I told him no more scouts, no more playing basketball, no more friends ever coming over the house, no more dirtbike riding until he figured out how to stop talking and pay attention to the most important thing he has going which was school work. That fixed most things. But on an odd note. One day he forgets his math sheet for homework, I'm ready to explode but stay calm, Of course it's a troop meeting night. I say we will go to the meeting at school early, get your sheet and do it before the meeting. So we do that and he's in the meeting room trying to do the sheet and he can't figure out what to do. With that our SPL walks in to start getting the meeting set up and I ask the SPL...Do you know how to do this stuff? Can you help him. He says 'sure I'm in honors math (Junior)' that became the start of us hiring him for a weekly 1 hour tutoring session. We are on our third older scout tutor. He needed tutoring in 5th, 6th and part of 7th and needs one again now in 9th. Ours tutors have always been older scouts that were in honors math. Seems to click pretty well as they are comfortable with each other. Ask some of the older scouts in your troop, odds are you may have someone available and they like to make extra cash.

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