PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2008, 12:00am

I am very worried about my son who is in secondary school. The school put him on a contract because his marks were dropping and he was missing some classes. He is not abiding by the contract. What can I do?

Education consultant Florence Robertson replies:

You need to request a meeting with your son's teacher and guidance counsellor. Ask your son to attend with you. Find out what action the school plans to take since your son is not keeping to the contract.

The school may insist that your son leaves because he is not keeping to the school rules. On the other hand, he may be allowed to stay at school but will be told that he will not pass his year.

Either response will mean that he will have to repeat the grade that he is in next year. You will see the effect that this information has on your son.

It may be that he has become very discouraged because he knows that he cannot pass his school year, and as a result he doesn't know what to do.

After your meeting with your son's teacher and the guidance counsellor, have a serious discussion with your son to find out why he is not abiding by the contract that the school has given him.

Keep your conversation on a friendly tone. Avoid scolding him for not keeping to the contract. Try to find out what he wants to do, whether the school allows him to stay on or whether he will have to leave the school until next year. It may not be an easy decision for him. You may have to help him by suggesting options.

You could explain that if he is allowed to stay on at the school, he could try to get into a routine for studying. He could set his own goals about his study hours and what he plans to achieve.

Show him that even if he will not pass his year, the effort that he puts forth at the present time will be a benefit to him in his studies next year.

Try to encourage him to suggest other options. He may not have any ideas. If that is the case, you could ask him if he would like to work for the balance of the year. You could point out to him that he could make some money and save it for something like a holiday or for going to university.

One thing you want to be sure is that he won't leave school and stay at home. He needs to be working or doing something that will develop his skills and support his potential. If he shows an interest in working, invite him to tell you what he needs to do about searching for a job and keeping to a schedule. He may have ideas about the type of work he would like to do. If so, help him to know where to apply. You don't want to tell him everything he needs to do. It would be far better for him if you could elicit the ideas and suggestions from him.

Regardless of what he chooses to do, support him and help him to establish a plan to be successful in his decision. Have regular discussions with him to determine how he is feeling and whether he is following his plan and working toward his goals. Regular discussions with your son will help to establish a good relationship with him. It will help him to know that you are interested in his welfare.


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