If you have just found out that your eighth grade student is not doing his homework do not ignore it. I have been in conversation with three sets of parents in the past two weeks with this exact situation. These boys are from middle and upper middle class households with two parents. They have performed very well in school until now. What is happening the parents ask?
Here is my advice; first mental health issues need to be ruled out as depression and other problems do affect school performance. Second keep in mind that these boys are going through puberty, which affects the brain. The excellent book, The Teenage Brain, will elucidate you on what is going on. This said, the boy will not return to the pre-pubescent child you once knew. Parents need to take action and not ignore the beginning of a potentially unstoppable academic slide. Remember, if your child is in Math 1 or Algebra 1 in eighth grade then the grade he receives will be on his college transcript even though it does not calculate into his GPA.
What to do if his mental health is not at issue? Look at making a major impact through something that will have a strong effect on him. Sports teams, video games, whatever he values is what may need to go. Switching schools should be considered. The main thing is – do not ignore it. The second half of parenting isn’t easy but you can get through it. We are here to help if you need us.