Ann Dolin: Under achievement and motivation are complicated issues and there are many reasons why students struggle to do their best in school. Regardless of the reason there are definitely simple things parents can do to help turn the tide.
First, it's important to take the focus off grades and instead put it on studying. Carve out time each day, ten minutes per grade level for designated homework time. Stick with this routine even if your children say they don't have any homework.
Honing the art of communication is also important. At times kids have a negative attitude about homework and their teachers.
When this occurs, consider using a wowing language like you sound really angry with Mr. Jones, tell me what's happening. In response to, I am so dumb I will never get this. Try saying, you worked really hard on your math and I can understand why you are frustrated.
Be sure to invite conversation with comments like, do you need help on this project, I have some time between five and six today, instead of, do you have any homework?
And finally consider a tutor or mentor to help out, someone that doesn't have an emotional history with your child. Often kids will listen to and accept help from a neutral individual, far more than they will from mom or dad.