Is It Okay to Be an Average Student?

Jan Faull, M.Ed, answers a parent's question about her "average" student.
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The Pitfalls of Pressure

Q. My daughter is 15, and your basic C student. She's never gotten a failing grade, but she rarely pulls in a B and hasn't gotten an A since grade school. She likes school and is very involved in extracurricular activities, taking cheerleading, chorus and drama and playing volleyball. I'm wondering if she would be a better student if we cut back on some of her activities. Or would it backfire, making her like school less?

A. Realize that by age 15 your daughter's habits with respect to homework, academic pursuits, and studying are fairly well established. Insisting she drop a couple of her extracurricular activities provides no guarantee that she'll use the time those activities took up to focus on her school work. In fact, demanding she drop a few of her beloved activities might backfire in three ways:

  1. She may resent you getting in her face about her teenaged choices and study less.
  2. She may use the extra time to watch TV, surf the internet, or -- worse case scenario -- use drugs or alcohol.
  3. She might disconnect from school altogether.

However freeing up some of her time might not necessarily send her down a dark path. Consider this: All of her extra-curricular activities keep her connected to school, which probably discourage her from participating in more rebellious, potentially dangerous activites that idle teens typically turn to when they're disconnected from school academically and socially.

A better choice will be to encourage her to prioritize her activities, with her elminating the one's that interest her the least, or to which she is the least committed. Give her a reality check by telling her of the school's academic policies. For example, most cheerleaders must keep a certain grade point average to remain on the squad.

Continued on page 2:  Help Her Set Goals


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