Your elementary school-aged child has been getting good grades and seems to enjoy school. Homework is getting done. Text and quiz scores are all "A" and "B." Then your child begins middle school or junior high school and suddenly you realize that your elementary school scholar is a complete mess. Homework, which you know was done, isn't getting handed in. You find yourself saying, "When were you going to tell me that this project which is worth 1/2 of your grade is due on Monday and you need all these supplies?" Is it just the approach of the teen years or is something else going on?
The answer is - it's a little bit of both. Elementary school-aged students often depend on their memory to store and recall information. They seem to be very bright and they don't seem to need to study very much. However, when the workload of middle school or junior high falls upon them, if the only study skill they have learned is to rely on their memory, they are suddenly stuck. As a pre-teen or teen, their executive functions haven't matured yet. They don't know how to get organized. They don't have other study skills because they've always relied on their memory, which is now overloaded. They don't understand how they went from being a bright elementary school student to a struggling middle school or junior high school student and neither do their parents.
This is more common than you might think. Sometimes it happens at the transition into middle school/junior high. For some kids, it happens when they enter high school and for others, it might wait until they enter college. I got through high school and crashed when I got to college and it was ugly. I suddenly realized that I never really learned how to study and I was on my own.
Learning how to get organized, budget time, and learn effectively is key. The earlier a student learns to do this, even before a problem presents itself, the better. Avoiding those moments of panic, disappointment, and screaming makes a huge, positive difference to your relationship with your student.
A good study skills tutor can help your student learn how to take control and responsibility with just a little support from teachers and parents (and a visit to Staples).