Mrs. James answers readers' questions about education. Send yours today:

Dear Mrs. James,

Should I send my son to summer school even though he "passed" the class, but barely? He made 2 F's and 2 D's. They said it would be up to me. He's in 7 th grade, I feel like I should give him another chance. I don't want to ruin his summer because he did in fact pass the class. I was thinking I could him that if he does this next year then he's definitely going to summer school and that I'm not going to be playing around. What is your opinion?




Time out.

Did I just hallucinate? Did you just tell me that your son made Two F's and 2 D's and that you don't want to ruin his summer? Did you then remind me that "he did in fact pass the class" after you told me he got two F's and 2 D's? Are you trying to make my head pop off? Sasha, let me just help you. This is what I would tell one of my students' parents as well as any of my other relatives about their children if they were in this same predicament.

You're right. You shouldn't be trying to ruin his summer. You should be trying to ruin his LIFE! Two D's and Two F's mean that he has done absolutely nothing all year with no concern of the consequences.

It is my opinion that you should definitely send him to summer school. Definitely. Without a doubt. I'd ground him too. It's not about the fact that he technically "passed" the class. It's about the principle. It's about the teachable moment. It's about the lesson that you're about to teach your son that he will remember for the rest of his life. What do you want him to remember? What attitudes and values do you want him to develop? What type of work ethic are you trying to cultivate in your son's personal belief system?

Send him to summer school Sasha. If you do, he may hate you for a while, but then thank you when he's older. You are also more likely to see a change in his academics next year, since he knows what the consequence will be if he doesn't. If you don't, next year will probably be worse. He will also learn that there are no real consequences for his academic misbehaving and almost feel rewarded for not taking care of business in school. Either way, you will be teaching your son an invaluable lesson. Let me know what happens. I know you'll make the right decision. Until then...

Keep Up the Good Work!

Love, Mrs. James

Dear Mrs. James, I feel like my son is not doing well in school because he wants to make ME angry. Do you know what I mean? I just feel like grounding is a joke and he's way too old for a spanking although the thought has crossed my mind. Do you have any suggestions for disciplining a high school student who is hell bent on screwing up his life just to make me angry?




Hi Sylvia! I actually do have a few opinions on this! Teenagers do have interesting ways of showing their rebellion, and I am sure this is very frustrating for you. Sometimes their rebellion can be pretty self-destructive and it's your job as a parent to essentially protect them from themselves. What types of things does your son like? Is he in any sports? Does he have a cell phone that you pay for? Does he own any name brand clothes? Think about it. Whatever answers you're coming up with, you're going to have to take away from him. You'll have to make him earn them back with keeping his grades up.

Set your expectations and do not relent. If you take his cell phone, only give it back to him once he's met or exceeded your expectations. Don't change the rules for anything and don't give it back for any reason but that he met your expectations. If he's going out of town and he insists that he needs his cell phone for emergency purposes, tell him he should have thought about that before he failed his classes. Don't relent. Don't give in!

Now, don't hold it over his head either. If he doesn't clean his room or if you guys get into an argument that has nothing to do with grades, don't bring up the cell phone and try to use it almost as blackmail or leverage for every little thing. You'll weaken the impact of the restriction if you do. Only use it for grades. If you think it's not fazing him, take away another important item. If you think it's too much on him, GOOD! He may hate you for a moment, but he'll appreciate you for a lifetime. Stick with it, don't overdo it, and don't relent!

Keep Up the Good Work!

Love, Mrs. James