Assuming that good grades are considered important in your family and that you child has up until this point been receiving acceptable grades, a dramatic drop in performance could be a red flag. Childhood and adolescence can be a difficult time for many people and the stresses and dangers facing our children today only seem to be increasing. There are literally thousands of problems that could be plaguing your child.
The only smart option here is open communication. Talk to you child. Hopefully, you have an open enough relationship that they feel that they can confide in you. Don’t be offended if they hesitate because it probably has more to do with their age and what they’re going through than how they feel about you.
Do, however, be very careful in the way that you address the situation. If you yell at your child and ground them for a month and then attempt to have a meaningful conversation with them, you’re not going to get very far. If you are angry about their disappointing marks, wait until you have relaxed a bit so that you can approach them in a calm manner. Let them know how concerned you are about them and don’t make them feel as if they are bad or stupid for getting a less-than-desirable grade.
While you don’t want to start to nose around in your child’s life too much, this might be a good time to contact some of their teachers. I’m not suggesting that you call up their teachers and berate them for giving your child a poor grade. Instead, approach them just as you did your child. Express your concern about the situation and ask them to explain the reasoning behind the low score and if they have any insight into what might be causing the problem.
Teachers see a whole different side of children’s lives that are unknown to parents. They observe their interaction with peers within a classroom setting and they often know about things going on in your child’s social circle. If your child’s grades dropped due to a traumatic event or a falling out with friends, you child’s teacher might know a great deal more than you do about the situation. If the poor grade is nothing more than the result of your child struggling with the subject matter, their teacher is obviously the perfect resource as well.
Hopefully you can get to the bottom of things by sitting down and listening to your child. Then, by working together with your child and possibly their teacher, you can help them to do what they need to do to get their grades back up. Finally, remember that grades are often not a very accurate method of accessing learning. Often they are more accurately reflections of a child’s ability to memorize information or their difficulties when it comes to taking tests. These are also issues that can be discussed with an education professional.