Most parents sending their kids off to summer school do so wondering how their once A/B students managed to wind up with such bad grades in high school. Worse yet, many students attending summer school this year attended last year as well, making parents even more frustrated that their child isn’t trying hard enough.

While parents lament the lack of effort, failing students feel that no amount of studying will earn them a passing grade as they have tried and fallen short in the past. These students fail test after test because they have yet to find a study system that works. Thus, the arguing and resentment begins until both parties come to the inevitable conclusion that their child simply can’t. By junior year, guidance counselors shuttle these students off to an alternative school and parents cling to the hope that, at the very least, their kid will graduate from high school.

So, why does a student go from good to bad when making the transition from grade school to high school?

Simply put, struggling students have not learned the organization and study skills necessary to succeed at high school, college and future careers. Parents, therefore, must take the lead in teaching their children these worthwhile skills. Setting these five ground rules are a very good start:

Monday through Thursday, and on one weekend day, students will…

1.          Clean and organize their backpacks (5 minutes).

2.         List their homework using their notes and teachers’ websites (5 minutes).

3.         Study whether or not they have homework (at least 60 minutes).

4.         Make flashcards covering what they learned that day (20 minutes).

5.         Review flashcards with parents (10 minutes).

Every student will raise their grades following those five guidelines. To make things even easier, teachers at Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista high schools have websites with all material and homework accessible online. This great tool, when used properly, makes it virtually impossible for any student to fail.

No student enjoys spending the majority of their summer in school. Unfortunately, if things do not change, these students, once again, will find themselves exactly where they are now. Do not leave it up to your teenager to figure this out on their own. Get involved despite their protests and show them exactly how they can.


Shauna Cahill is a high school tutor, college planner and academic life coach living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Register for her July 31 seminar, “What It Takes to Succeed at High School,” at the Grace Inn by contacting her at or (480) 794-0177. Mention this article for $5 off.



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