He is an excellent hockey player, and we're wondering if we should make him quit the sport for the year. Do we give him a chance at improving his grades before we do this, or send a message about the importance of school by not allowing him to play hockey?
Fortunately, your son is handling half of his classes successfully. Praise him for this effort. Then, discuss with him calmly why he thinks that he is succeeding in some classes and in danger of failing others. He may simply not know how to study for these classes or understand exactly what the teachers expect from him. It is also possible that he doesn't know how to organize his study time effectively. Plus, there is the possibility that his class load is too difficult. If so, find out if he could drop a class and have an additional study period at school.
Don't make your son quit hockey. It is one area in which he probably feels very good about himself. Focus on getting him the help he needs to handle school. He will find it hard to improve without this help.
You and your son need to have conferences with the teachers of the classes that he may fail to find out exactly how he can do better in them. Be sure to find out if these teachers would be willing to give him some extra help to get him back on track. Consider also the possibility of obtaining a tutor for additional help if the teachers make this suggestion.