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View Full Version : WWYD? PS High schooler struggling



summer94
03-12-2014, 08:11 PM
I posted this in another group I'm in, but would like as many opinions/thoughts as possible.

K, so I need to think out loud and get some insights here (this may be long, sorry). I homeschool my 2 youngest (for about a year now), but my 15 year old goes to a STEM magnet school. Now this isn't a magnet school that you get in with grades, it's on a lottery system and in our case, we are out of district, so it's not easy to get in, there are about 60 spots per grade and about 800 applying. He went to a decent private school (small) all of his schooling life. He has mild adhd, but we've never medicated. Being in a small private school helped with that.

So his school, instead of getting 6 credits a year like other high schools, he gets 8. But they way they do it is 4 classes one day, and the other 4 the next. Classes are about 80 minutes long. It is all about group projects and showing that you've learned. Meaning, that you have unlimited tries to get a better grade on tests/assignments because they want to see that you've learned since the last...called demonstration of learning.

Now he is definitely less mature than most 15 year olds, but he is also very socially aware and is trying his hardest not to be awkward. He's a sports kid (jock), and the other kids like him fine, he has friends etc. He saves up all of his energy and annoyingness (my new word) for home because he is so aware of what others may think. So in other words, he drives me batshit crazy. Love him, he's a great kid, but sometimes I just wanna punch him.

Now, having said that, his grades are slipping. He has 2 f's, and that is unacceptable. It's mainly because he's got missing assignments and he sucks at tests. He can retake, but he just won't. I've told him, dude, just retake like 2 tests a week, even if you get just a few more points, that could be the difference from passing and failing. I do know he is struggling in math, which is crazy because he was always the "math kid" at his other school. It's because it's Algebra and I think this school goes faster than other schools. So partly he's not "totally" getting it, partly he's not getting things in and partly cause he's a horrible test taker (seems to run in my family)

I don't know what to do. I'm tired of riding him to do his shit. He KNOWS he has all this stuff he can do, I'll send him up to do it, then next thing I know he's cleaning his stupid fish tank, or flying his helicopter, in other words, anything BUT his work.

He doesn't even have a lot of work! It's not like other schools where he has hours at night, PLUS he has at least 2 effin days to do it! It's an AMAZING school and an AMAZING opportunity (he'll leave with college credits). But I almost wonder if the opportunity to keep trying to better your grade is giving him a reason not to do it...I honestly think he is saying in his head "oh, I have time, I'll do it later" then next thing you know, it's too late and it's report card time.

He blames teachers for not grading (we see everything on an online system, so we see what he has to do, what he has done, what's overdue and all grades) what he turned in, claims he turned stuff in, teachers are stupid, biology is stupid, algebra is stupid, world themes (social studies) is stupid, spanish is stupid etc etc etc. He has major issues with taking responsibility for himself, always has. It's ALWAYS someone else's fault, then I call him on it, and he's like "yea yea, I know". So he KNOWS he is the problem here, but can't seem to help it.

I hate even thinking it, but I feel like giving him one of my add meds to see if it will help him. We know he snores (just realized it), and he just had a sleep study and I'll get the results of that on Thursday. So he may end up getting his tonsils/adenoids out if he's not getting enough sleep.

I worry how he'd do in the bigger public school. He doesn't like large classes (he's also partially deaf, but at the same time VERY hypersensitive to noise..sensory issues) and he really isn't keen on the idea of going there. I know it sounds weird, but he needs to be around other kids his age and older so he can figure out how to interact/act with others.

I don't know what to do. Do I ride him? Do I say hey kid, you fuck up, it's on you and back off? I've already told him that he's doing an online summer school for algebra, otherwise he'll NEVER be able to handle the next 3 years of math. I'm worried he's not ready for such a rigorous school. But again, I'm also a trial by fire kind of person. Also, I don't know that he'll do well in a regular ps..also I don't know if I can handle him home all day. We just but heads, but again, with hs I can threaten ps or get your work done (we'd soooo do an online school that has teachers, but maybe that goes at his pace). But he also NEEEEDS other kids more than I can offer at home, even with other hs'ers.

WTF! My head is spinning. I don't want him to burn out like I did when I got behind in high school. I have no idea how I managed to get a 2.5-3.0 gpa, I swear I just talked the teachers to death or something, or cheated, I don't remember lol.

murphs_mom
03-12-2014, 09:15 PM
Where does he see himself in 3yr? 5yr? 10yr? What's his goal for life? Is he planning to live with you until he's married? Once you know where he'd like to be in the future, it makes it easier to decide what to do now. KWIM? If he just wants to work construction, a plumber, a car mechanic, or some other well-paying gig that doesn't require a 4yr (or more) degree, then I'd let the grades go and focus on helping him learn life skills, time management, and responsibility. Grades do not always determine how successful one will be in life.

I went to school w/the most affable guy who ranked 140 out of 142. To say that his grades sucked is a major understatement. He spent a few years waffling from job to job, but then met the girl who'd be his future wife. She had brains (A student), focus, and discipline...the things he lacked. He had social skills out the wahoo. Together, they started a rental business in a resort area and they are phenomenally well-off. In a way, he lucked into it. But in another way, he probably wouldn't have gotten there without those social skills. I'd start with what he's wanting for his life and work from there.

FWIW, DD's only 8yo and I want to smack the annoying out of her every once in a while and I tell her that. It's how she knows when to back off. Her in one room, reading/drawing/playing, and me in another room doing something else. Time apart isn't a bad thing. Maybe your son can start looking for a part time job? Something in the evening or weekends. When he sees how tough it can be to bring home a real paycheck, he might find the school work a whole lot less exhausting. Just a thought. I worked (under the table) about 30hr a week when I was in high school and loved it. I hated high school because I just didn't relate to the other kids. Adults were more interesting. I managed honor roll, NHS, and straight A's my senior year, so working didn't harm those grades any. Working gave me a taste of the freedom that was waiting for me once high school was done.

reefgazer1963
03-12-2014, 09:16 PM
I have no real idea and no child that age, so I'm just speculating here...You mentioned that he might not be ready for such a rigorous school and that he doesn't entirely understand math, so it could be he's resigned to not understanding it and feels he will not pass being so far behind and figures what's the point of even making the effort. If he really isn't getting it, that's not such an illogical point of view.

Could you give him a pre-algebra placement test and see if in fact he has his arithmetic down solid or if he needs pre-algebra work? If so, maybe you could start remediation now and continue over the summer. Also, have you asked him what he needs to be successful? Asked him about his thoughts on this school and how he thinks he could be more capable with academics? If so, what was his answer?

farrarwilliams
03-12-2014, 10:15 PM
Algebra I or II?

It sounds like a really great school. But... having taught at schools and in classes where the responsibility is on kids like that to get assignments made up, make up tests, etc. until they get it right, it really works for some kids and for others it's this open-ended excuse to never do work and they just fall farther and farther behind and become less and less motivated. I think it works best in a small environment where the teachers can really chase the kids down and force them to redo things. So you say he might do worse in a larger school, but he might actually do better with clearer, more traditional deadlines. He might miss them at first and then see the consequences faster and shape up.

What are your consequences at home for these failing grades?

So tough... You don't want to ride him because after awhile he's just going to tune it out. It seems like right now he doesn't want to do anything about it and at this age until you find a way to change that, I don't know that you can make him do it.

BarbaraH
03-12-2014, 10:32 PM
I suggest the book Smart but Scattered Teens (http://www.amazon.com/Smart-but-Scattered-Teens-Executive/dp/1609182294/ref=pd_sim_b_1/192-0309598-2280906?ie=UTF8&refRID=022H0FS04F20T1YXQH84) if you haven't already read it. Many parents of kids with ADD, or just general executive function immaturity, find it to be a really helpful book.

Avalon
03-12-2014, 11:04 PM
If the school is good, and he's interested in the STEM program, and it's a good fit for his future goals, then I would be inclined to personally provide the structure, deadlines, support, and consequences that he needs. He might be a little immature, but he should outgrow that, and if a diploma from this high school is more valuable or useful than a diploma from some other high school, then I think it would be worth it to put in the extra effort to make sure he's successful.

Mind you, I tend to be goal-oriented and single-minded. If I set a goal, then I will do everything necessary to achieve it. If that means setting bed-times, supervising homework, and hiring a tutor, then I would do it. First, though, you have to decide if it's worth it.

It's probably worth it to make sure he finishes this year successfully, and you can re-evaluate for September. Maybe once he sees how much work it takes to be successful in this program, he might decide that it's not for him.

ikslo
03-12-2014, 11:47 PM
I hate even thinking it, but I feel like giving him one of my add meds to see if it will help him. We know he snores (just realized it), and he just had a sleep study and I'll get the results of that on Thursday. So he may end up getting his tonsils/adenoids out if he's not getting enough sleep.



My nephew had his out, after he finally told my sister that he hadn't slept through the night since "forever." When the doctors went in, they said they were mush - that they had never seen any that bad. Long story short, his grades and his attitude improved overnight because he wasn't tired all the time. It seems to have been put in your OP as an aside, but lack of sleep may actually be a big factor?

summer94
03-14-2014, 04:22 AM
Ok, update. We had his followup appt with the ENT for his sleep study. They said he has 11 episodes an HOUR. Avg 10 partial obstruction and 1 full obstruction each hour. His oxygen didn't go below 90 which is good. So apparently he has moderate sleep apnea! I can't believe it was this bad, I had NO idea. He doesn't act tired or say he's tired, but apparently, he's not getting a good sleep.

They are going to take his tonsils and they say he still has some adenoid tissue, so they'll take that too. Then after 2 months probably another sleep study to see if that helped it.

Now I have the dilemma of timing. He can either have it done on April 25, making him probably miss a week of school, potentially getting further behind (although, being at home I'll be working with him on stuff), or wait until Summertime when he's out, but not get the potential academic benefit of sleeping and continue to struggle to breath for a few more months. I'm leaning more towards getting it done asap. I hope this is the main issue, I really do. I read a study that said that kids with moderate sleep apnea had no avg's of A's and 30% avg of C's, it was opposite on the non sleep apnea teens.

So if this helps him concentrate and focus I will be so stoked for him!

Norm Deplume
03-14-2014, 11:03 AM
I think I'd lean toward getting it done ASAP, too. Sleep is so very important.

Keiran'sMom
03-14-2014, 12:26 PM
i would go ahead and get it done ASAP are well. As you pointed out you will be home helping him and maybe you can get some of those undone assignments done as well. I would get a list from the teachers if you can. Show him how good it is to be at school instead of home with mom. Lol! I do hope the sleep thing fixes some of his problems. My husband has sleep apnea and his motivation level is nill. I have to remind him daily to get his paperwork down for his job and still I find out he is way behind in it. So glad he works for a small company who understands.

crunchynerd
03-14-2014, 12:31 PM
I do hope you get some good info on the sleep study, because I've had family members (not household, immediate family, but my sister and another relative) whose lives were profoundly messed up by sleep apnea. The effects on the brain of not getting enough good quality sleep cannot be overstated. You can't think; you wander in a mental fog, you lose drive, energy, you get listless and don't know what's the matter, but can't seem to fix it or get any steam going about much.

If he has sleep apnea, that needs addressing before anything else in his life can function. If it's something not to do with that, then you can investigate whether he's just in the wrong place, or if it's really something in him that would be a problem regardless of environment.

Addendum: should have read all the way through, first... just saw the update! SO HAPPY for you all! My sister had severe sleep apnea 60 episodes per hour on average!!! that went undetected, apparently, for years, because she lives alone, and was already on medications for other diagnoses, so her increasing lethargy, mental fog, and physical decline complaints to her doctors did not trigger any investigations...they just assumed it was her other conditions and/or her medications! The way we found out was, she stayed here for the holidays, and her loud snoring kept my mother awake, who then listened in horror to her snoring, how it seemed she'd struggle to breathe, almost wake up, then slowly start snoring again, then start the same cycle over. At my mother's urging, she got a sleep study and wow, she has serious cognitive problems from years of sleep dep, but they hope that in months, or possibly a year or so, she'll recover fully.

It's such a serious issue, and I'm soooo glad your son now has a great deal to hope for, and look forward to. Too often, people assume that those who have no motivation, can't seem to get anything done, or are in a perpetually bad mood, are like that because somehow they just aren't trying hard enough, to be happy and productive. It makes little sense that anyone who COULD be happy, would just not be because they are lazy. There's usually a reason, but we all tend to just get angry or frustrated and go "what the F is wrong with you?!" when we ought to listen to ourselves, and rephrase it, as "gee...what if there really IS something wrong with him/her?"

Big joyous hugs! I sometimes have that same WTF feeling about my DS6, because some days he's just seemingly determined to be glum all day and drag his feet, as if he wakes up grumpy...but I heard him coughing last night and I know he has allergies (as do I)... maybe I need to take my own advice and remember that if he's having poor sleep, we need to address that before going off on him for having a poor attitude.

Avalon
03-14-2014, 02:34 PM
Now I have the dilemma of timing. He can either have it done on April 25, making him probably miss a week of school, potentially getting further behind (although, being at home I'll be working with him on stuff), or wait until Summertime when he's out, but not get the potential academic benefit of sleeping and continue to struggle to breath for a few more months. I'm leaning more towards getting it done asap. I hope this is the main issue, I really do. I read a study that said that kids with moderate sleep apnea had no avg's of A's and 30% avg of C's, it was opposite on the non sleep apnea teens.


I would vote to get it done ASAP. My dad had sleep apnea, and when he finally got one of those CPAP machines at around age 50, he practically had a personality makeover overnight. It was incredible. My dad was known for being a "grump." That's just how he was. He suddenly transformed into this chipper, light-hearted, easy-going guy. It was bizarre and wonderful, and lots of people commented on it.

I hope the change is as dramatic for your son was it was for my dad.

reefgazer1963
03-14-2014, 04:06 PM
Ok, update. We had his followup appt with the ENT for his sleep study. They said he has 11 episodes an HOUR. Avg 10 partial obstruction and 1 full obstruction each hour. His oxygen didn't go below 90 which is good. So apparently he has moderate sleep apnea! I can't believe it was this bad, I had NO idea. He doesn't act tired or say he's tired, but apparently, he's not getting a good sleep.

They are going to take his tonsils and they say he still has some adenoid tissue, so they'll take that too. Then after 2 months probably another sleep study to see if that helped it.

Now I have the dilemma of timing. He can either have it done on April 25, making him probably miss a week of school, potentially getting further behind (although, being at home I'll be working with him on stuff), or wait until Summertime when he's out, but not get the potential academic benefit of sleeping and continue to struggle to breath for a few more months. I'm leaning more towards getting it done asap. I hope this is the main issue, I really do. I read a study that said that kids with moderate sleep apnea had no avg's of A's and 30% avg of C's, it was opposite on the non sleep apnea teens.

So if this helps him concentrate and focus I will be so stoked for him!

I have no idea if this would work or not, but could you get him on a CPAP machine to assist his nighttime breathing and then hold off on surgery until summer?

halfpint
03-14-2014, 08:20 PM
DO IT. NOW. Seriously, don't mess around, my husband had surgery (at age 40!) and it saved our marriage. The week of school he misses will be worth it for the extra months of good sleep.

farrarwilliams
03-14-2014, 08:30 PM
Wow. Another vote to do it now. I'm always telling my kids that it's better to take a break if it helps you come back and do better with the time you have and this seems like it's exactly the case for this.

summer94
03-17-2014, 03:21 AM
We have it set for April 25th. (it was the soonest I could get).

I have contacted all of his teachers to let them know what's happening so they can prepare for him being gone.

He has also buckled down this weekend and completed a lot of never turned in assignments and currently due. I think my husband said something to him lol..maybe some sort of threat. He's been removed from all video games and is forced to turn in his phone at night until all assignments are turned in.

The reason I am concerned about the grades, is that it won't take much to flunk out of this school. He likes the school, he complains, but what teen doesn't. If he flunks out he has to make it up and it's HARD to do in this school. If he doesn't, he has to go to regular ps or I have to hs him. Honestly, you really have to try to get an F in this school, like really not do anything. So it's not ok. The way they grade is so different. A 'd' is pretty much the same as an F in a regular school, a C, is really more like a D. So to have 2 F's on his last progress report, nope not ok.

So that's the story for now. He'll only have about a month and a half of school left when he gets back, so I'm curious to see what will happen.