UNITED STATES—I tell this to people all the time and I stress this all the time: academics are vital for kids. If you have a child that is struggling, you cannot wait until the last minute to start to make things happen. You might be asking why I’m bringing this up. Well, I got news over the weekend that my nephew is virtually failing all of his classes. It alarms me even more because he’s only in the seventh grade, and if something is not done now, it only gets worse from here. I’ll be honest after seeing the report card I was not the happiest person; I got the inclination that he was just showing up to class and not doing anything.

However, I had to force myself to pause for a second; he might be having some serious issues with reading comprehension, math and just staying focused while in the classroom or while at home. I’ve said this before and I will say this again, no person can do homework and watch TV at the same time. Yes, I’ve heard people say it a thousand times they can do it; you cannot! You’re not focused if you’re watching TV and trying to do homework. Your brain is attempting to process two things at once, and as a result your focus is being pulled between to stimuli and you can only focus on one. Guess which one is likely to win, yeah, it’s the TV.

When you’re dealing with a child who is having trouble in the classroom academically, you have to go to the source. Not the child, you have to go to the teacher. Why? The child may not tell you the whole truth, and at the same time might be embarrassed about the issue. They don’t want to feel as if they’re stupid or dumb; kids can be cruel, but adults can be just as cruel. You have to take a moment, collect your emotions and go from there.

Once you have an idea where the child is struggling you have to take action; do what you can as a parent to get your child the help he or she needs to improve their grades and academics. Could a tutor be a solution? Yes, but you have to feel out the tutor. I tell this to people all the time; no single person learns the say way. Some people are verbal learners, some our visual learners, some learn through reading and writing, others learn by actively engaging in the material. You have to cater the pedagogical tools to suit the child’s needs.

That is something I learned as a tutor and something I preach to this day whenever I’m working with a student rather it’s a youngster, a teenager or a college student. Yes, I’ve had plenty of experience with all ages when it comes to teaching and academics. The biggest battle you might face is having to let the child know the games are over.

I was so inclined to not get my nephew anything for Christmas, but my heart would not allow me to do that, but I did revise things to not place gadgets or specific items he wanted on the list. I’m a firm believer that you cannot reward bad behavior. If you reward bad behavior it teaches the kid they can always do bad things and still get what they want. Your kid will be angry with you, but you’re doing this for THEM! It is to improve their chances of getting into college, to landing that dream job or at least a job that pays a feasible salary. At the same time you’re teaching valuable tools, how to count money, how to read, how to interact with people in public and to have basic social skills.

Never allow a child to think it’s ok to ignore academics and do what they want. If the grades are bad, no video games, no cellphone, no gadgets, no outdoors play, no fun until you get those grades where they need to be. You don’t like the rules, get those grades up. Remember you are the parent, your goal is NOT to be your child’s best friend.

Written By Kelsey Thomas