High school is a huge step up for students in terms of rigor and academic expectations. No matter how well prepared a student is, they will likely experience low grades in high school sometime during their academic career.
Getting low grades in high school can be disheartening and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to define your teenager’s future. Getting a few low grades can serve as an excellent learning experience for high school students and allow them to develop organizational and study skills and the proper mindset needed to succeed in high school and the future.
To help your teenager make the most of this learning opportunity and bounce back as quickly as possible, I’ve outlined several key strategies that you can help your teenager implement. I’ve chosen methods based on my experience as an academic coach and a classroom teacher. These strategies can immediately improve your teen’s grades, but consistency is the key to long-term success.
1. Get Organized To Overcome Low Grades in High School
The first step to bouncing back from low grades is getting organized. Help your teenager create a system for tracking upcoming assignments, due dates, test dates, and topics to be covered. Organization can help them stay on top of their work, prevent last-minute cramming, and ensure they’re always prepared for assessments.
A great place to start is their backpack. Make sure it’s free of clutter and that they have a designated space for important documents, which can also help prevent assignments from being lost or forgotten.
Their digital workspace should also be organized. Students rely increasingly on Google Drive for classroom resources; an unorganized Google Drive is an easy way to lose assignments or valuable study resources.
2. Develop A Routine To Improve Low Grades
Creating a consistent routine for studying and completing homework is crucial to improving grades. Encourage your teenager to develop a schedule that works for them, including studying for a few hours each day or setting aside one weekly session to catch up on missed assignments or practice tests.
In addition to setting time to study homework time, it is also a wise idea to schedule weekly reflection. Reflecting once a week on what went well and what could go better in the future is a great way to encourage your teen to focus on the positives while still acknowledging and focusing on growth areas. Setting aside time for just reflecting on the material can also be beneficial.
3. Encourage Them To Ask Questions At School
Students should not be afraid to ask questions when they are uncertain about the material. Many times low grades can be attributed to a lack of understanding. However, many teenagers see asking questions as a sign of weakness or don’t want to look stupid in front of their friends.
If your teenager is uncomfortable asking questions in front of the class, encourage them to take advantage of their teacher’s office hours or send emails. During office hours, your teenager can talk to their teachers one-on-one and get a better understanding of the material.
It is also helpful to model this behavior for your teenager to demonstrate that it is OK to ask questions in class. You can do this by asking them questions, asking for help at the store, or talking to your teenager’s teacher.
4. Be Strategic about Studying
Encourage teenagers to be strategic about their studies rather than just “cramming” for assessments. Cramming is an effective way of studying and does not produce meaningful results.
Instead of cramming, encourage your teenager to break study for short periods, multiple days a week. Studying for shorter periods is less daunting and more effective than cramming.
Finding study groups is also a great way to study strategically. Studying with other students is a great way to outsource the accountability to their peers and allow your teen to learn from their age mates in a less threatening environment.
The final piece of the puzzle is getting your teen to focus on what they don’t know rather than what they do know. Many teenagers tend to focus their studying on the topics they are confident with. Unfortunately, this can cause them to miss other topics. Encourage your teen to focus on the areas that need work and revisit familiar material as required. While this concept may sound apparent, many teenagers that I have worked with did not learn to study this way.
5. Create a Plan for Catching up on Missing Assignments
Missing assignments are among the biggest causes of low grades in high school. Zeros will dramatically decrease your grade, even if your teen’s performance on more recent assignments improves.
The first step in catching up on missing assignments is to talk with the teacher. Teachers can be incredibly accommodating if they know that your child is trying to get caught up, and they may extend due dates and mark some assignments as excused.
The next step is to develop a schedule for catching up on missing assignments. This schedule should outline what missing assignments your teen is working on each week and when they will spend time catching up.
6. Set Achievable, Behavior Based Goals
Throughout this entire process, setting goals is essential. Not only so your teen can know where they are going but also so you can celebrate them when they achieve their goals.
Many people make mistakes when they set goals and focus on outcomes. Outcomes like a certain GPA or a grade on a specific test are hard to control. It is far better to set behavior-based goals. Some examples of reasonable behavior-based goals include studying for 30 minutes each day, going to office hours once per week, and turning in homework assignments the day they are assigned.
These goals should be achievable, measurable, and timely so your teenager can track their progress. The goals should focus on an action or behavior rather than an outcome.
Finally, letting your teen set these goals is best, rather than assigning them. Allowing your teen to select their goals will empower them and increase their ownership over their academics. Don’t forget to celebrate your teen’s accomplishments when they reach their stated goals.
7. Get Academic Support To Overcome Low Grades in High School
If your teenager is still struggling, it may be beneficial to look into academic support. Consider talking to their school counselor about outside tutors or mentors that could help your teenager better understand their material and improve their grades.
One of the best types of academic support is an academic coach. Coaches are different than tutors because they provide more comprehensive support, helping students prioritize tasks and establish study habits that will help them stay on top of their work.
A coach can help your teen develop the system and the habits they need to become successful. The holistic approach of an academic coach is a great way to help your teen build a solid foundation to sustain their academic growth well into the future.
Let’s chat if this type of academic support sounds like a good fit for your teen. I’m an experienced academic coach that has helped hundreds of students achieve straight As and no missing assignments in less than 90 days without strict parental oversight and hours of after-school turning with my Self-motivated Academic system.
Your teen can put low grades in high school in their rearview mirror and become my next success story.
About the Author: John Hyde
I am an educational coach specializing in teaching students academic fundamentals and a growth mindset.
After graduating from Duke University in 2015, I taught at a public middle school from 2016 to 2019. Although I loved working with students in the classroom, the public education system was not teaching students the skills essential to academic success.
I left the classroom in 2019 to start Academic Empowerment Academy. Since then, my coaching program has helped hundreds of students realize their academic potential by assisting them in building confidence and empowering them with the skills and mindset to meet their goals in school and life.
If you’d like to discuss how I can help your teen be more motivated, foster good habits, and improve academic organization/performance, Book a Complimentary Discovery Call Here.
Hi I’m John, author of this blog, academic coach, and founder of AE Academy.
I help teens reach their academic potential by empowering them with academic fundamentals, a growth mindset, and critical thinking.
If your teen is struggling to reach their academic potential, or isn’t learning the skills they need to succeed in school, we should connect.
It’s on me – Book Your Free Call Here