My son is in seventh grade and has always had a C average. I have talked to him about doing better, and he says that he's trying his best. It seems like every time he gets one grade up, another comes down. What can we do?
Seventh grade is a very tough transition year, and often students and their parents have to change the way they approach studying. In order to do that though, you want to learn as much as possible about both your son's areas of strength and those in which he is more challenged. Set up a meeting with the school counselor, his teachers, you, and your son. Listen to what the teachers suggest about helping your son. Work out a plan to emphasize his strengths. Contrary to general thinking, it is best to concentrate on strong areas as this reinforces positive study skills and positive thinking transfers to subjects that are more difficult. Ask the counselor to interpret any achievement tests your son has taken. Another resource might be tutoring if the school provides it or you can afford to hire one.
Make sure that his study area at home is free from music, TV, and excess noise. He should have the supplies he needs and good lighting. His study time should be consistent -- for instance, after dinner. Don't have him do homework right after school; let him play and relax first. One and a half to two hours each weeknight is a reasonable amount of study time. Encourage him to work on the most difficult subject first and save his favorite until the end. It is perfectly fine for you to be there from time to time to ask how things are going, review spelling words, or help practice for a test. If your son doesn't have homework, require him to spend the study time reading and/or reviewing material from his classes.
Most students do try to get good grades. Sometimes they just don't know how to do it. With your help and the cooperation of the school, I am sure your son will learn how to be successful.