Middle School Heartbreak Over Grades

The honor roll assembly was last week, and as has been the case every year since kindergarten, my daughter was on it. Every year, she was on the Gold Honor Roll for making straight “A’s.” Her last award for fifth grade, she was one of a few recipients for the Platinum Honor Roll. That’s if you make the Gold Honor Roll for the whole year.

This is her first year in middle school and this time, she received, the Silver Honor Roll. That’s what you get for making all A’s and one B. Most kids would be thrilled. Not our daughter. At first, we thought she was taking it quite well. We told her that making the honor roll at all was something to be proud of and not everyone makes the Silver Honor Roll. We used the gift certificate to Applebees that came with all the Silver Honor Roll awards (a gift certificate to Islands was what the Gold award winners received, and our daughter’s favorite.) Everything seemed fine. I was getting a little worried, because I was having a hard time coming up with a second post related to the topic for the month that hadn’t already been covered by my fellow bloggers, and was dangerously close to having to think about doing actual research.

Yesterday, she decided to go online and look up her grades. I guess seeing it in writing, seeing where she was getting lower points made it hit home and she burst into tears of frustration. “You know,” I tried to remind her, “Silver honor roll is a good thing!” “Not for me, it isn’t!” she said. Secretly, I was relieved. At least she wasn’t going to give up. We looked over her assignments and it appeared that for the most part, she had gotten some lower test scores, and a couple of homework assignments had been scored lower. She claimed to not understand why.

I suggested that maybe if she took a break from doing homework in front of the TV, for a change, her grades might go up again, and that maybe if she spent more time studying instead of playing Minecraft most of the night, she might be able to bump those B’s back up to A’s.  Even harder sobbing ensued, accusations about my lack of ability to understand were tossed around. Declarations of her inability to do homework unless the TV is on because it drowns out other distractions such as “creepy noises” were made. I persisted in my endeavors, suggesting she do her homework in my room next to me on my bed while I just read quietly. That all but proved my insanity as she exclaimed, “I can’t do my homework in here!” Apparently, this was such an obvious fact, no explanation was required as to why she couldn’t do her homework in my room. We basically left things like that for the time being. She was not in a condition to be open to suggestions that might involve making any changes. We’ll try later this weekend. It’ll help that we have two extra days.

6 thoughts on “Middle School Heartbreak Over Grades

  1. Sounds like she has entered the developmental phase where logical steps in reality are rejected even though they know or are told the steps will lead to their goal. My emotionally intense son has been struggling with that all year. Parent friends say all kids do this, they want the goal but they do not always choose right action to make it happen.

    My sons also were or are addicted to Minecraft. They seem to do the instant gratification action, which is the video game. Adults are the same, so we cannot just put down Tweens or teens for doing it.

    Perfectionism is a monster. If I were you I would not encourage the platinum level specifically. Talk in generalities “if x is what YOU want then…” But don’t tell her what to do.

    With a 96% cheating rate in American high schools we have a nation of unethical grade strivers. How about focusing in the learning nit the grades and awards?

    Lastly that son I mentioned earlier must listen to music to drown out real life sounds. This is not uncommon.

    We homeschool so that means music with earbuds many hours a day

    Good luck.

  2. Mona

    FWIW, all through graduate school I studied with the television on or music playing, to drown out all the other noises around me. I still need that kind of noise near me in order to focus.

  3. Shannon G.

    I agree try music. I always had music on too. Maybe some light classical. My son is going through this too (6th grade) Actually started last year. I believe it’s a bit of an inability to focus due to hormonal changes and always being able to get by without much studying. He was still struggling 1/2 way through this year, so we decided to try homeschooling and are finding this has much improved his grades. Socially he was not happy in school, so I think that added to his distractedness. Good luck.

  4. Thanks! Yes, I do believe her that she needs something on in the background. She is the type of person who NEEDS to have music playing so she can sleep. She has been this way almost since birth. Or maybe we conditioned her this way?😉 He older brother is kind of the same way. He was diagnosed with ADD when he was 14, but he didn’t get quite the kind of grades she’s getting. He did manage to stay on Silver Honor roll through elementary school and middle school (I think he may have made Gold a few times too) partially because his twin sister had all the same assignments, so we knew if SHE had a project due, we had to get on top of him to make sure he did his project and turned it in. Within in him was/is the ability to earn straight A’s, but portions of his brain are constantly fighting with him, saying, “Look! Shiny!”

    Update: I just suggested she listen to music instead of having the TV on while doing homework and she was agreeable to this. Timing is everything.

  5. It is so nice to read a post and comments and know that I’m not alone. My son is only 9, so I have plenty of years left to learn how best to parent him. (Irony: I mis-typed “years” and twice typed “tears” …)

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