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We want to stop unnecessary failing!
We want to stop unnecessary failing!
When learning something new it can be incredibly useful to find out what works from people who are already successful in that field.

The flip side of that is, you can also learn a lot from people who haven’t done so well…

Success (or not) at school is a great example of this.

Not surprisingly, kids who do well at school normally have very similar attitudes towards studying and doing their schoolwork, while kids who don’t do so well also have a number of things in common.

Over the years we’ve noticed two common traits of students who achieve poor results at school.

If your teen has one or both of these traits we hope that by sharing these insights with you, you can nip them in the bud as soon as possible.

1. They have no confidence in their ability to do well at school

If a student has an underlying belief that they aren’t all that good at school, it’s going to be very difficult for them to get an A.

Their subconscious mind will stop them from trying hard, they’ll stop themselves from putting their hands up in case they’re wrong, and they’ll second guess themselves when trying to answer anything.

As tutors, we constantly see students who know the answers but are afraid to write them down. They always ask, “Do I do this next? And then this? I’m not sure…” They need constant reassurance that they’re not about to make a mistake before they attempt to answer.

Is that the answer?! What if I’m wrong? Panic! Give up…

Sound familiar? If so how can you help your teen overcome their lack of confidence?

And this leads us nicely onto trait number two…

2. They think all that studying involves is staring at textbooks

But in fact there are an endless number of study techniques that high school students (and in fact any student) can use to help them process, understand, retain and recall information. Your teen’s goal while they’re studying should ultimately be to figure out what study techniques work for them. We call this their unique Study Formula.

Your teen might struggle to remember more than two words if all they do when they ‘study’ is sit down and read a bland textbook. But what happens when the exact same information is presented in a more palatable format, say in a video or a visually appealing diagram? Their recall is likely to be massively improved.

Understanding what Learning Styles help your teen study most effectively will help them figure out what study techniques they should be utilizing.

If they haven’t already, get your teen to find out their predominant Learning Style via our Learning Styles Quiz.

Understanding how they best study could transform your teen’s attitude towards school and studying from unmotivated and disheartened to encouraged and hard-working. Studying may no longer be perceived as a pointless task, but an important part of your teen’s overall success at school.

As you can see, these two common traits of high school students who aren’t reaching their academic potential have absolutely nothing to do with ‘intellectual capacity’ (whatever that means…). So while it is of course frustrating that so many students lack confidence in their ability at school, we can at least look at positive side of this — that something can be done about it!

There’s absolutely no need for your teen to achieve anything but their best at school. A confidence boost and some smart study techniques could be all that’s needed to help your teen get the grades they’re capable of.

Image Credit: Hanz Gerwitz



    • Hey there , all teachers.. in primary schools all schools… ok. I want to say all is at any age get scared Re starting school new job weddings lots more! Well let’s say this .. get ready all. All teachers in the world pls do this in private public schools/ primary classes all. Ok we all get scared new people work eating habits etc all change in a second!! True .. yes. So I thought of a Great thing. Let’s do this. Once every Morning yes every morning let’s do play ! Half hour yeP! Let’s do anything we want to do! Then say ok all that’s teachers as well . Then say ok if you can listen after that I can be so excited to report to all your parents you been a great listener and help me to make us Happy! Then you see .. well it’s 2020 and a little fun starts us all smiling all day! Thumbs up!

  1. I think the main reason why kids fail at school is because they sometimes feel pressured at something they need to memorize or study. Or sometimes they think they are ” too cool for school”. From my experiences, I over hear kids saying they rather be cool than care about their grades, I told asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up, one girl said ” I want to be a hair stylist!” I told her ” A lot of hair stylists are really good at science and math. They have to now what chemicals to mix and when they cut hair, they have to know what angles to cut, etc.” She is now a strait A student in 9th grade.

  2. Its also not really up to the teachers to decide if the child id struggling or not, the parents should be responsible, and say to their child ” Hey, I see that your struggling, is something wrong? why aren’t you asking for help?” . My teacher told me if you give 100% to me I’ll give 100% back. If you only give me 10% i’ll give only 10% back.” Meaning she doesn’t give the child more than they give her. Yes she taught us all the same thing but when it came to turning in your homework and you didn’t turn it in and two months went by she won’t remind you to turn it in, because it’s your responsibility, she doesn’t need to watch your every move.

    • She was wrong. I’m glad that worked for you. But that doesn’t work for everyone and it is the reason the US is behind academically. Students are children and by nature irresponsible. They need help, discipline and guidance. School should not be based on the survival of the fittest.

  3. Hi there well where do I start? I am right now very worried about my teenage son who seems highly demotivated at school, doesn’t enjoy going to school well actually hates school and I am not sure what to do to help him enjoy school. He says school is boring and I am having discussions with his teachers in ways to help him but I am really worried.
    I feel I should consult a professional to gain some advice.
    What do you think? Thanks

    • Hi Hema. It’s hard to say what you should do, particularly when I don’t know you personally. I see no harm in getting expert advice. What I would say though, is if your son has non-academic interests – sport/art/music/whatever – perhaps you can try and encourage and support these as well. Not everyone is destined to do well academically at high school, but this doesn’t mean that they should give up or that they won’t end up doing OK after high school. Best of luck.

      • If he is bored, he is probably very intelligent and needs stimulation. Does he like to work with his hands? Maybe he should do independent studies, get his diploma or take the GED. Have him go to tech school and get a skill he can use in the future. He needs that diploma to move forward.

        I wish they still had those schools where they taught woodworking, welding, plumbing, etc.

        I don’t know how old he is, but it might help if he gets a little part time job. My boy was very reluctant to do this, but he eventually found the right job and loved making his own money for gas and clothes. I couldn’t afford trendy clothes, but I would contribute according to budget. Believe me, he took very good care of those clothes.

        Good luck.

  4. Maybe some kids are just lousy at school. I was. In that case–they need to build different talents like music, sports or acting. They’ll probably end up just as well specializing in a specific talent.

    • There are basic skills everyone needs to survive in this world. That being said, I agree that people are not cookie cutter versions of each other. We need to bring back hands on experience such as the arts, mechanics, wood working, in addition to all the other learning. Also, kids are so over-scheduled and parents make those things more important than school. It is okay for a child to learn how to entertain themselves.

  5. im very worried about my 16yr old son,hes failing high school and hes very unmotivated..hes a good kid and everyone likes him very much,but school work and grades are horrible.I see him try and try but he gets stressed and fustrated then gives up..He has eveyone trying to help him but all he dose is give thinking about a theripist as i think he has some under lying issiues and hes becoming angry which frightens afraid he may hurt himself or others even though he has NEVER been violent to lost on what to do for him

    • Hi Rachel, thanks for your message. I’m sorry to hear you’re having a bit of trouble with your son. I’m not a parent so can’t offer any advice on that front, but I’m sure you’re doing everything you can and that your son will come around. It sounds like your son has what it takes to do well but is just going through a bit of a rough patch. But if you’re in need of any study help along the way please let us know. We wish you and your son all the best.

  6. Sometimes school is just too difficult for some students because they are not very intelligent. Not everyone is academically inclined. People with low IQs are simply incapable of understanding advanced concepts. I will assume that Claire and Chris could not learn membrane physics or string theory no matter how hard they try because the vast majority of people do not have the depth of intellect to comprehend those sciences. The same holds true for students from mild cognitively impairment or limited academic ability. They simply cannot learn abstract concepts like the rest of us. Subjects such as like algebra, basic math or even reading and writing skills can be as overwhelming to them as quantum physics is for you.

    These are the people who suffer most in life, they are the marginal ones. They seem normal at first glance even though they fall into the bottom five percentile. That means they will be the ones most likely to fail, drop out or get fired because they have to compete with the other 95% that are more skilled at doing everything. They’re the least likely to be hired or given a chance in life, yet they are not so impaired that the system will ever support them. They will be denied a support system because they don’t qualify. They are the most likely to be sentenced to a life of poverty, homelessness, depression and maybe even crime. Then they will be denounced, blamed and told it’s all their fault and that they fail because they’re willingly doing something wrong, as if inability is subject to free will. People wonder why the society’s marginals seethe with range. It’s because they suffer the most and people care about them the least.

    • One Word:
      Lets be careful about boxing a child into this belief that unless you get good grades, your IQ is low or you are not intelligent.

    • Wow, Joe, you are one smug, condescending, pessimistic dude! So “people of low IQs are simply incapable of understanding advanced concepts ” — you sure about that? .”They simply cannot learn abstract concepts like the rest of us” — where did you get that superiority-jones? Would you talk to a parent like that about her child? I fear you would. Those like you who assume that folks who can’t do well on conventional measures of intelligence “are simply incapable of understanding abstract concepts” are describing their own inability to understand different ways of thinking, and are part of the problem — even while they pretend to be part of the solution. I can assure you that many folks I know who have autism, while they may struggle to learn, are highly imaginative and quite capable of understanding abstract concepts, though they may not be able to express them readily in language, and do poorly in school as a result. I hope you’re not a teacher. “Some kids can’t learn” is not a place to start.

  7. If a student has an underlying belief that they aren’t all that good at school, it’s going to be quite difficult for them to get an A.

    Their subconscious minds will stop them from trying hard, they’ll stop themselves from putting their hands up in case they’re wrong, and they’ll often second guess themselves when trying to answer something.

    As a tutor, I constantly see students who know the answers but are afraid to write them down. They always ask, “Do I do this next? And then this? I’m not sure…” They need assurance that they’re not about to make a mistake before they attempt to answer.

  8. My son (16) wasthe only kid in kinder. Identified as GT. Now as a Soph in High school he is failing half his classes. He WILL not study! Keep telling me he’s got it. I’ve already taken him out of 2 PreAP classes cause he was failing those. He plays soccer, is in the band and very involved with Boy Scouts which he loves. He goes all out and is a born leader. School work to him is a waste of time.

  9. I honestly believe as a student, that it all depends on your school environment. Sometimes I feel, that going to a public school has made me both better and worse. I was lucky enough to be born in an upper-middle class family and that they were fully involved in my education. I’ve been in the public education system for all my life and now(in year 9, thinking of my future college years) I feel as if I have been held back simply due to my classroom environment.

    I sometimes feel that having a generally demotivated class and students who don’t have the drive to study have made me worse off as well. I have seen the possibilities for the future after seeing my mom and dad and the jobs that they have had, but(this is going to be controversial) my classmates have not had parents who work at higher paying intellectual jobs and in-turn they also want to do similar low pay, low intellectually based jobs; and this, in turn, means they are less motivated in class and will not work as hard in class.

    I feel really annoyed that not all my classmates are as excited as I am at doing maths or english. When I am exerting my enthusiasm for a subject that I want to do, I go to class and rarely does anyone else feel the same way. If I want to have a social life, I need to relate to my friends and classmates; and I subconsciously have been behaving in similar ways as them and slacking off on my studies and such. I haven’t been to a private school but is the lack of motivation just in public schools or will it be the same everywhere?

  10. And sometimes the material being taught just is too advanced for some students. People are not all equally intelligent. Just as the vast majority of people cannot comprehend string theory no matter how hard they try some students cannot comprehend even high school math because their brains are not capable of the depth of thinking required. I( have a brother who just cannot comprehend mathematical concepts. teaching him math is like teaching my cat math. They both don’t get it because it’s too advanced for them. The only solution is to put aside the curriculum students focus on a student’s strengths while teaching them things that correlate to their aptitude and abilities. instead we have an education system that does just the opposite. It wastes precious time on a student’s weaknesses while devoting little time to their strengths. You could not invent a more ineffective and wasteful approach to learning.
    “The task of a good teacher is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make a student’s weaknesses irrelevant.”

  11. Mam/Sir,
    I am a student of 12th grade who failed 2 times in class 10.As my boards exams are coming,I will try my best to overcome it.But if I fail,am I considered useless in life?

  12. My granddaughter who I have custody of is a Junior and has been skipping school and not doing her homework at all. Her grades right now are all F’s in each class. I am lost of what to do.

  13. Hi, it’s interesting reading this article as well as the various comments.

    I am a tutor as well. Some of these cases I feel start with the inability to identify the learning disabilities and the difficulties the child encounters at an early stage. As time goes on, the problem deepens and the child sinks deeper when the problem is not rectified.

    Thus, learning disabilities should be identified at an early stage or else the problem will only be magnified as the child grows older. He will then find that he/she has fallen so much behind that it would take a tremendous effort to keep up, resulting in him/her failing in the subjects.

    Therefore, parents, schools and tutors must highlight to the authorities of potential students who are struggling as quickly as possible, and find means and ways to help them.

    Just my opinion. Thanks

  14. I think kids also need help into paying attention in class not only for those two reasons but because of their phones.

  15. as a kid in 7th grade I feel like i am failing to do what I need to do in order to reach my goal of honor role. i am supposedly a straight A student but am dragged down by video games. I have been addicted since I was 6 years old and feel helpless. What do you have to say about this? please respond to my comment or think about it .

    • Hey Jah – thanks for your comment – I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with motivation lately. I’ve reached out to people who specialize in helping teens with video game addiction and have been pointed to this resource: It’s US based, but regardless of where you are in the world it looks like it might provide a helpful start for you getting some help. I can’t vouch for the website further than that, but I thought I’d pass it on in case it could help you.

      From a studying point of view, I wonder if some simple things like making a study timetable and trying to stick to it might help you keep on track. Also unplugging your console and putting it away, and at the least not having it in the same room that you study in – remove the temptation as much as possible. You could also try a reward system – for instance, set yourself the goal of not gaming at all Monday-Friday, and as a reward let yourself play for a bit over the weekend. Or similarly you could set yourself the incentive of not gaming for a whole week and if you stick to that plan then you get reward, which could be anything (going to the movies with friends for example). I would also stop buying any more games so that you’re stuck with the ones you currently have, and I would try to organize doing things with friends other than gaming.

      Let us know how you get on. We wish you all the best with your study. We believe in you. You can do it!!!

  16. As a student that is failing classes, I feel like its more of my parents and my family. My two older cousins are perfect. Strait A students great at any sport they do. And being the next in line all of my younger cousins look up to me and all the pressure is on me. I have to keep up the good reputation for the family and its just too much pressure. I’m always compared to my cousins. But I’m not them. When I only have one missing assignment I get yelled at and grounded. So I personally think its the parent’s fault.


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