Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

Our 10-year-old daughter is bright enough to be a straight-A student, but she continues to bring home report cards with low grades. We had her tested for hearing trouble, vision problems, ADHD and dyslexia. She doesn’t have any of those problems. We don’t understand what’s happening because we were both stellar students at her age.

We’re afraid that her poor academic performance will limit her chances for college.

What can we do?

…Perplexed Parents

Dear Perplexed,

I can tell you believe in homework, so I’ll give you some. Please do your assignments in this order.

1) Dig up your own report cards. Could it be the rose-colored glasses of hindsight have tinted your childhood memories? Now that you have objectivity, take a longer stroll down memory lane. What influenced your grades? Your home environment? Your peers? Your teachers? Once you identify trends, good or bad, you can adjust the “academic thermostat” in your own home to your daughter’s best advantage

2) Talk to your daughter about her future. What are her goals? How does she feel about school? Could it be that she’s dreaming of a vocation you hadn’t envisioned for her? Only some respectable lines of work require traditional academics. Maybe she’s a budding chef? Stylist? Aircraft mechanic? Landscape artist? Photographer? There are a multitude of fulfilling, exciting and lucrative careers that require talent and training but not a university degree. That may be where her calling lies.

3) Be a detective when it comes to your daughter’s emotional well-being. Who are her friends? Is she involved in excessive extracurricular activities? Is she generally happy and healthy? When was the last time you spoke with her teachers?

4) Shore up the structure and consistency at home. Routines may seem dull, but most children function better with them. Your home need not run like an institution or a well-oiled machine, but study time, meal time, chores and bedtime should generally be the same if you want your daughter to do her homework consistently and correctly.

Last but not least, remember, every child is a bit of a “wild card.” No matter how we raise them, they’re going to surprise us. We can and should only control so much.

If you can give your daughter every opportunity to be valedictorian while also giving her the grace to be loved and encouraged even if she falls short of the mark, you’ll have a better relationship with her in the many, many years ahead.

Wishing you a less-perplexing spring semester . . . however the chips may fall.


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