How to Talk to Teenagers About School and Grades

When your child's grades are slipping at school, asking him about the change can seem like an attack and cause him to avoid the situation. If you need to open a dialogue and talk to teenagers about school and grades, do so on their time and in their way. You can't force your teen to talk about grades. Go slowly, keep it casual and offer your parental support as a partner in getting the best grades possible.

Wait for the right time to approach the subject. Blindsiding your teenager by asking for a formal discussion, going over each grade on the report card and scolding her for the results seems too much like a planned attack and may cause her to become upset. Instead, wait for a casual time -- eating dinner, sitting in the car or watching a television show -- to approach the subject of the change in grades. Avoid nagging or pointing fingers, even if you're irate with the latest reports from school. Keeping your cool will go a long way in inviting your teenager to open up to you. ABC News even suggests that children who have dinner with their families and talk about such subjects as school and grades actually do better in school overall 1.

Talk about the most obvious changes first. Mention a drop in grades or a lack of extracurricular activities, and give your teenager plenty of time to explain his side of the story. Remind him that he needs to take responsibility for his own actions; if he places the blame on a teacher or administrator, steer him toward responsibility by asking him what he could have done differently.

Work on developing a solution together that can make school a more positive experience. Talk about setting time aside to do homework, asking teachers about extra-credit assignments and scheduling your teen’s day properly so she can fit all her extracurricular activities in while still succeeding in school.

Become a partner in your child's schoolwork by investing time and interest in his grades. Be available to help with homework, or offer to take him to the library or museum for assignments.

Offer incentives and consequences to keep schoolwork and grades a priority. For instance, Don and Tanyeil General made their son, Trenton, stand on a street corner with a sandwich board display of his bad grades for the world to see, reports the New York Times. While you might not be as drastic in your punishments, removing privileges can help emphasize the importance of school to your teenager.