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My son is going into sixth grade this year. He doesn't do well in school and never understands his homework. I know that if he doesn't understand the class work, he's not going to understand his homework. His fifth-grade teacher tried to help, but he still didn't understand. What do you think the problem could be? Also, last year the other boys in his class were constantly bothering him. I know it's all going to be worse when he starts middle school. What should I do?
I encourage you to go to your son's new middle school now before classes begin! Make an appointment with the school counselor. Tell her what you have told me, have some questions ready, and expect answers.

First, find out if the school has tested your son for achievement and learning abilities. Do they know if he has a learning disability and does he need help in learning good study skills? If he needs to be tested, insist on it. Based on his abilities, work with the counselor in planning the best teachers and classes for his level. Follow up by attending open house, then meet with his teacher(s) on a regular basis to get him on track.

Also, discuss with the counselor whether the school has any programs or groups that help children make friends and or settle disputes -- programs like ambassador, big brother/sister, mentoring, peer mediation, etc.

Read and learn about how to help your son with his study skills. The counselor may have information in the office that you can use or there may be parenting-skills groups that could help. If neither of these resources are available, check the library or the Internet (this website is a good source) for ways to help your son improve his study habits.

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