My son is a very intelligent child. Aces all national tests like ACT, SAT, PSAT etc. but is failing classes because he does not do his day to day work in school. He is very well behaved in school and home. Participates in all class discussions and teachers comment that his point of view often takes the class into a higher level of discussions. He wants to go to college. I am afraid he will not be able to go if he keeps this up. How can I help him?
It is understandable that you would be concerned about your son. It sounds like he has excellent potential, but does not execute well when it comes to schoolwork. What does he say about school and his work? Is he challenged? Is he bored? What are his hopes for the future? Where would he like to go to college?
As you probably know, college admissions are very competitive, particularly for the top tier colleges and universities. With strong College Admissions Tests and Essays scores, he is likely competitive for some second and third tier colleges, but it is difficult to imagine how he could gain acceptance to the top tier colleges if he does not have high test scores, excellent grades, AND extracurricular activities. Given that your son is bright, it would be a shame if he did not have many choices or opportunities for college because his work ethic held him back. For more on this, see the following section of the website: http://www.education.com/reference/topic/ThinkingAboutCollege_CollegeAdmissions/
Given that your son has said he wants to go to college, I would sit down with him and have a calm and frank conversation about his options. Explain to him that he will have many more doors open to him if he should happen to keep his grades up. Ask him for feedback. What does he think is the problem? Work together to set up an arrangement in which he commits to working on his school assignments, and you will support his efforts. Perhaps, he could benefit from a set schedule of time in which he works on homework. You could help him set this up. Consider rewards for achieving certain milestones (e.g., If he puts in X number of hours of homework, he gets to borrow the car on the weekend). You will have to think creatively to help your son get into better studying habits. The key is to have him invest in the plan with your support.
Many gifted children have simply never been challenged and doing day to day work can be either too boring or a challenge that he doesn't know how to handle.
I was in an advanced High School math class before I ever had to take homework home. I always got it done in other classes or on the bus on the way to and from. I was overwhelmed when I suddenly had a challenge because I didn't have the slightest idea how to study or do real work at my level. It was worse in college.
On the other hand, I usually opted to not do the work in my regular classes-the honors and AP work was excruciating enough but regular class work was like pulling toe nails off.
Like the other comment, talk to your son, let him know that to get into college he has to do work-that was my only inspiration to do anything in HS. He simply has to do it. Also, talk to his counselor and see if there is a way that something can be worked out so that he doesn't have to do the monotonous work in his regular classes. If he knows the stuff on the test and maybe does the big projects then that should show the school he has learned. Chances are they won't go for that but let them know that your son's future is on the line and that THEY are failing to teach him so they should fix it not just him.