How to Turn Poor Grades into Academic Victory

We’ve been conditioned to think that poor grades are negative. Students are discouraged when they don’t receive the grade they hoped for. It’s time to change our attitude toward poor grades and instead use them as learning opportunities. Here are five ways you can help your child turn poor performance into academic success.

Unconditionally Encourage

It’s natural to be disappointed when your child achieves a poor grade, but they should never see your disappointment. When your child is crestfallen over his or her grades, this is a time for encouragement. Keep their self-esteem high, reward positive behavior, and celebrate your child’s success outside the classroom. Take an interest in their work, and talk with them about what they’re learning. You know your child’s learning style best; help them learn things according to their learning style. If they’re struggling in math, teach them math when you’re shopping or cooking.

Find Ways to Make Learning Fun

Poor grades can result from retention issues. Help your child remember information through mnemonic devices, or create silly games or poems to help students remember what they hear. These enhance your child’s creativity while demonstrating your commitment to his or her academic success.

Avoid Removing Privileges

Many parents deny privileges, such as iPad or TV time, after a poor grade. While it’s important to monitor how much time children devote to homework, it’s also important to allow time for relaxation and play. Removing fun time or forcing children to constantly focus on grades places a negative connotation on achievement. Children need diversions to reduce burnout and give them a fresh mind. Consider scheduling playtime immediately after they arrive home from school to clear their head before jumping into homework.

Determine a Pattern in the Grades

Aside from traumatic situations, poor grades aren’t random. They are generally preceded by a pattern of behavior. Gather all of your child’s work in the area in which they are struggling, and check for weaknesses and errors. If their language-arts projects are fraught with spelling errors, then it’s time to help improve their spelling skills. Not only does this help improve specific problems, it teaches children the importance of problem solving.

Plan for Academic Success

A poor grade is in the past; now it’s time to move forward. Develop a plan with your child to ensure they have what they need to succeed. Purchase study guides or locate online teaching resources, such as the ones found on Include in your plan a schedule for rest, snack, and homework, and create a designated location for homework. Consistency, organization, and meeting basic food and rest needs improves focus, and a quiet, distraction-free environment helps children discern appropriate work and play times.

In Short

When a child achieves a poor grade, they will be disappointed, but it’s important to demonstrate that a poor grade is an opportunity to develop discipline and solve problems. Becoming more active in their learning shows that we support our children regardless of whether they receive an F or an A.


The summer is a great time to work on building skills and catching up for the next school year. Look into summer school courses to get your student back on track. And read our Summer Learning posts for tips on how to prevent learning loss over the summer.

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Image via Flickr by hans.gerwitz

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