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About Practical Parenting Strategies with Dr. Heller

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist and founding partner with The Heller Psychology Group LLC, which is a small private practice located in Bethesda, Maryland near Montgomery Mall. He specializes in working with children, adolescents, and their families. Dr. Heller conducts play, individual, and family psychotherapy for a variety... Read more

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First Quarter Assessment for Middle and High School Students

Dr. Carey Heller: Clinical Psychologist and founding partner of The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Carey Heller: Clinical Psychologist and founding partner of The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

With the first quarter of school about done, it is important to look at how your adolescent is doing, especially if they transitioned into middle school or high school this year.

Evaluating the following items can be useful in determining if services/extra assistance are needed at this point in the year:

–        Grades

  • How did your adolescent do?
  • Are there certain courses that he or she did much worse in than others?
  • Are your adolescent’s grades worse than last year?
  • How were he or she at completing homework/turning in homework on time?

–        Organization

  • Did your adolescent do a good job of staying organized (i.e., keeping their binder neat, organizing class notes).
  • Were assignments regularly written down in the agenda book or another method used?
  • Does it appear that your adolescent is keeping their locker/backpack clean and organized?

–        Social

  • Has your adolescent made a lot of new friends/seems happy socially?
  • Does he or she spend time with peers outside of school (i.e., hang out at the mall, go to movies together)?
  • Does your adolescent spend significant time at home by him/herself after school and on the weekends?

If it appears that your adolescent is struggling academically, look at what areas they are having difficulties in (i.e., Math, Science). Examine whether the poor grades are due to not completing/handing in homework on time, trouble completing tests well, or for other reasons. Sit down with your adolescent and have an open dialogue about working together to identify ways to improve their grades. Simple solutions such as setting a reminder in a smartphone/ipod to complete homework/put it in the backpack each night may be useful. In some cases, tutoring in a specific area is needed. If the academic difficulties appear more global and/or significant, consider having your adolescent evaluated by a psychologist to determine if a learning disability or ADHD is present and hindering your adolescent’s academic success. Often times these issues become more pronounced during periods of transition, such as when adolescents transition to middle school and high school.

If your adolescent is struggling with organization, see if they are willing to have you help them get their items organized and monitor it initially for them. Resource teachers may also be able to assist with this, especially if your adolescent has a 504 Plan or IEP. Hiring an organizational skills coach can be very beneficial as well.

If your adolescent appears to be struggling socially, encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities at school or in the community. Also, if he or she seems to have trouble initiating social interactions, talk with them about it and provide suggestions on activities your adolescent could do with friends if he or she is receptive to talking about it. In some cases, social difficulties or the ramifications of such difficulties (i.e., low self-esteem, depression) warrant treatment with a mental health professional. If you are unsure if your adolescent would benefit from treatment, it is always best to consult a professional to determine whether treatment is warranted.
Early intervention for all of the items discussed above is important. If you can address these items now, your adolescent will have three quarters to improve his or her grades, organization, and social skills/overall happiness.


In addition to regular blog updates, you can follow me through The Heller Psychology Group’s Social Media pages for daily postings of useful articles:

*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship,  and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*

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Carey Heller, Psy.D.

About Carey Heller, Psy.D.

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. He works with children, adolescents, and young adults, providing psychological/psychoeducational evaluations and individual psychotherapy. Dr. Heller specializes in ADHD, executive functioning issues, and Autism Spectrum Disorder and is happy to answer questions and provide consultations for individuals who are considering pursuing treatment or an evaluation for their child, adolescent, or themselves. Dr. Heller can be reached directly at 301.385.2610 or For appointments, please call the office at (301) 385-2610 or email The Heller Psychology Group at with your contact information and availability for appointment times.


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