Are you reaching desperation point because you know your teen is capable of so much more than they’re currently achieving at high school?
Do you feel like you have tried EVERYTHING (literally everything!) to get your teen to care about school and their future?
Do you feel like hitting your head against the wall right now?
Welcome to a very large club of frustrated parents.
There are so many teens out there who are capable of greatness — in all its forms — but who don’t manage to find their top gear at high school.
As a parent, you have obviously nurtured and encouraged your teen in every way since they were a tot, and you know better than anyone what they’re capable of.
And that’s why it’s SO FRUSTRATING when they don’t see in themselves what they’re capable of.
We’re not here to pretend we have a silver bullet that will make your teen suddenly realize the importance of school and getting a good education. Let’s be real — there’s no such thing!
BUT — there is a good chance that, if your teen isn’t reaching their academic potential currently, it’s because one or more of the following three study downfalls are holding them back.
1. They don’t have any goals post high school
We’re not saying your teen needs to intend on running for President one day, or on joining a particular profession or on having a particular career. But teens who have absolutely NO IDEA what their future post high school has in store for them can often struggle at high school (more on this in this related article).
To a high school teen, not thinking about or not knowing what you might do after high school can result in feeling like you’ve gone for a walk in the woods with no end in sight. High school can seem overwhelming and pointless.
Feeling this way can suck motivation out of you like a ravenous leach. Say goodbye to ambition and focus, and hello to procrastination.
The GOOD NEWS is — even when teens have even a vague goal of studying something when they finish high school, this can be enough to provide them with the motivation they need to give high school their best shot.
Sure, Chris and I are settled into our careers now, but when we were at high school we didn’t know what we wanted to do. We just knew we wanted to do something interesting and probably science-related, and that was enough to give us the motivation we needed to study hard.
If your teen is a bit of lost soul in this way, we wouldn’t suggest putting the screw in them to be a doctor or a lawyer or President. We would simply start off by trying to encourage them to think about what they might like to do.
If they are motivated buy a goal that’s THEIR goal, this is going to be A LOT more powerful than any external pressure that you might have been guilty of (unintentionally) putting on them in the past.
2. They haven’t figured out how to study in the way that works for them
A lot of teens flail their way through high school without much success, because they try to study with study techniques that aren’t conducive with their learning style.
This is the study equivalent of a toddler trying to shove the square-shaped block into the circle-shaped hole.
If you haven’t noticed already you soon will — one of our KEY MANTRAS here at The Study Gurus is that the key to success at high school is figuring out how to study in the way that works best for YOU.
We all study most effectively in our own unique way, and it’s figuring out this that enables teens to prepare for exams, and to walk into their exams with founded confidence.
If you think your teen might be trying to navigate the maze of high school without any sense of how THEY study effectively, I suggest they start out by figuring out what their predominant Learning Style is. This will open them up to the different types of study techniques that are most likely to work for them.
From there, your teen can start to develop what we call your Study Formula — the process that you utilize every time you sit down to study and every time you embark on exam preparation and that consists of all of the study techniques and methods you’ve figured out work for you best.
3. They’ve fallen behind and have no clue what’s going on in class
It’s a common tragedy that a lot of teens — who are perfectly capable of doing well at high school — don’t reach their academic potential because, at some point during the semester, they fall behind in class, and can’t bring themselves to admit to themselves, or to you, that they’re struggling.
It’s quite common for parents to overlook this one. After all, you might (understandably) be thinking (at least subconsciously), “well my kid is a smart cookie so there’s no way that they could be struggling with the content — they just need to try harder.”
But almost any teen, including the smart cookies, can fall behind in high school. For myriad reasons teens can fall behind and end up lost.
High school is a minefield, and full of trip wires that any teen can stumble upon. It could be peer pressure, or just the general pressure of high school and exams, relationship issues, not getting on with a teacher — any teen can lose their way on occasion.
And some teens don’t have the insight, the communication skills, or perhaps the courage to speak up and tell you — hey Mom or Dad — I think I’m falling behind in school and don’t know what to do.
When your teen doesn’t know what’s going on in class, it can be really tough for them to pull themselves out of that hole.
Of course, this is where you come in!
You’ve already helped your kid learn so many lessons over the years. Just because they’re at high school and potentially taller than you, doesn’t mean that they don’t need your help anymore.
But don’t panic — by help we don’t mean you have to help them with their math homework (which you might struggle with!) — but rather, check in with your teen about how they’re finding the content of what they’re learning in class and whether they feel on top of things or not.
If the answer is ‘not’, it’s never too late to get help. At least now you know, and you can both take steps to address whatever the problem areas of your teen’s understanding are. (Relatedly, have a read of this recent article on the most effective way to motivate your teen with incentives.)
Concluding motivational statement
High school is tough for a lot of teens, and by extension, a lot of parents.
But a lot of the time, teens already have a lot of the tools they need to get the grades they’re capable of, they’re just missing one of the key ingredients they need to realize their academic potential.
If this sounds all too familiar, one of the three points above might be one of the ‘key ingredients’ your teen is missing.
Our final piece of advice for today: Don’t lose hope. With your help, support and encouragement — well — those are the best key ingredients for any teen to reach their academic potential.