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13 Yr. Old Boy - School Struggles

My 13 year old boy is really struggling in school. The classroom environment is very hard for him and he is often unable to focus or pay attention for long periods of time. However, typically he will get the concepts of what he is being taught. He sees his teachers each Tuesday after school and the feedback I get is that he does fabulous in a one to one environment. He's had trouble focusing for years. I'd have to say that as far back as pre-school. I really don't think he has ADD as when he's not in the classroom setting, he does quite well. He's able to concentrate better and prove that he knows the work.

I encourage him constantly. I've tried everything. Encouragement, punishment, love, tough love, etc. I am consistenly talking to him about how intelligent he is and how he needs to learn to apply himself. All of his teachers KNOW that he's capable of so much more and so do I.

Lately, he's been escaping to the nurse's office during class saying that he is "sick". While there have been times that he's been really sick, lately, this is becoming a pattern. Once home, he seems just fine. After assuring me that there isn't any inter-personal problems that is making him retreat to the nurse's office, he admitted that "it's hard to pay attention". He claims the other kids in the class misbehave and it distracts him. The teachers tell them to stop, but they don't. According to him, he just can't pay attention in that environment.

I just don't know what to do anymore! I plan to have another talk to his teachers, but other than doing what I am already doing, I am at my wits end! What else should I be doing? I want my son to know how much I love him and how proud I am of him. He's a really great kid!! Any advice? Any resources? Even just being assured that I am doing what any good mom would do would help too! Thanks! :o)

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Hi A. M

Have you thought about maybe either getting him a mentor or asking him to be a mentor? He may be needing a "big brother" to talk to and be with and to tutor him. Or maybe, he could be a "big brother" to a younger boy. Maybe he needs that type of responsibility? You would know the answers better than I. This is just an idea that might be helpful. Hope this does help you. Good luck!

N. :o)

You ARE doing what any good mom would do. The main thought that comes to my mind is that even though he is saying there are no social problems causing this I'm wondering if this is true? Could there be bullying or something? They often don't want to talk about it.

I totally understand how you feel. I am going through the exact same thing with my 14 year old, he is a great kid with bad grades.

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Has your son ever been tested for ADD? From what your telling me, he has some typical characteristics of ADD, such as trouble focusing, works better one on one, but still is able to retain some of the information. It may just be his age or the classroom environment, but if this is been going on since pre-school then it is something to look in to. I am not a huge advocate for medicating children for no reason. I teach high school and I have seen kids that need some type of medication and parents refuse and the kids grades/self-esteem suffer from it. If he does have ADD he can possibly qualify for testing in a less distracting environment also. You can always try moving him to a different classroom also it this classroom seems to be particularly distracting.
Good Luck

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Hi A.,
You have received a lot of good advice, but I would like to add a few thoughts.
Remember that at 13, his body is going through a lot of changes, and some of these changes will cause boys to be very distracted. I have volunteered in 7th grade classrooms and have seen how hard it is for the boys to settle down. (Yes, it was most often the boys, the girls seemed to be more able to come in and sit down and focus at that age.) The good news is that they can grow out of it. My son had similar issues in 7th and 8th grade, but is pulling out of it now as a Freshman. His classes in High School are more challenging, and that helps him focus better too. The honors classes that he is taking are quieter, and the discussions in them are relevant. He is consequently more interested and engaged.

I do not encourage home-school, especially in High School. Socialization must be learned, and school is the best place to learn it. Laboratory science is important, and High Schools have better lab science than most homes are able to provide. Finding adults other than their parents who are good teachers and mentors is important for teens, and so is having good friendships. You also need to consider the recent court ruling on home schooling. If you are not credentialed in all the subjects you are teaching, then you are technically in violation of the law, although that law is rarely enforced. When he is in 8th grade, you should investigate High Schools, including 'shadowing' visits to see how he fits in.

By all means have him tested, not just for ADD but for hearing. Some hearing impairments are related to the inability to sort out background noise from the thing that the person is trying to focus on. Hopefully by being tested you will be reasured that he is normal, but on the outside chance that he does have a problem, you will have a plan of action.

Finally, and I know I am probably overstating the obvious, but make sure that he is getting adequate sleep, and is eating a healthy diet, with no caffeine, and with sufficient protein in the morning and at lunch to carry him through to the next feeding. (If my son's blood sugar drops, he cannot focus and can become rather difficult, so I send him to school with a protein snack for mid-morning break.) Exercise also helps young people focus in school. My son sometimes needs to shoot hoops before settling down to homework. He now also has PE first thing in High School which helps. It's just the way his body works.

Good luck.

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Do you feel that this school is the right environment for your son? All schools do not match all students.
There is a workshop on May 9 from 9am to 11 am at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It is called is your school a good fit for your child. It is through Parents Education Network. For more information on this program go to www.parentseducationnetwork.org.
Also, I do know of a tutor who specializes in assessing if the school is a good fit. You can email me at ____@____.com if you are interested.

Dear A.:

Your son sounds so much like I was as a child ... he's probably highly intelligent and gets bored because the rest of the class doesn't move at his pace. A child who grasps ideas quickly and almost intuitively knows how to achieve the end result is quickly frustrated when the rest of the class requires sometimes days of explanation, demonstration and testing to gain understanding. Perhaps you could speak with his teacher about providing extra worksheets for him during the class where he can apply and practice the lesson (particularly good for math and English/grammar/spelling). This kept me focused on the topic but let me work independent of the rest of the class. My grades and my attitude improved dramatically! Good luck! V. Taylor

There are many issues that might be contributing to your son's distrations in school. Children's fish oil vitamins are one easy way to help with attention as well as making sure he has a good solid breakfast with protein before school and minimizing sugars. It is also helpful to have your son run around and get some exercise before he heads off to school (pogosticks and little rebounder trampolines are quick and easy). You could also request an assessment from the school Resource Specialist to help understand your son's learning styles (this might take time due to very full caseloads). Communicating with your son about what distracts him the most is a great idea but it is important to follow up with strategies to help him refocus. There are some exercises for students to use in school called "Brain Gym" which you can research on-line. They are very helpful in helping kids get focused and re-energizing their brain. Good luck to you! SJHC

Hi A.,

My youngest son also struggled in school (he is grown now) because of too much noise in the classroom and too many distractions. On the advice of a teacher, I was able to have his pediatrician refer him to a speech and hearing center/therapist for an evaluation. He was diagnosed with something that was then called Auditory Discrimination Disfunction (the other ADD). He was unable to 'tune out' the background noise and stay focused. We worked with his teachers and got him moved to the front of the classroom, away from any noise producing machines (overhead projector, air conditioner, etc), and also to the right side of the classroom (this was once we figured out that he was move of a visual processor than an auditory or kinesthetic processor). These things worked for him. If they hadn't, the next step was to put a microphone on the teacher and an ear piece in his ear to have a direct line of sound/communication. There was at least one other kid at the school that had similar issues and they were using the microphone/ear piece for that student. So, two suggestions - have a speech and hearing evaluation, and also determine how your son learns (auditory, visual or kinesthetic) and help him with the tools/skills for both. Good Luck. - J.

As a teacher of 25 + years I hate to say it but this sounds like a pretty classic ADD issue. Usually ADD kids are smarter than average! He's telling you it's hard to pay attention. Don't be embarrassed about it. Dealing with it is the best thing you can do for your child. He is already retreating to the nurse's office. He cannot handle it. Help him, don't deny the possible disorder. Good luck to you!

Hi A. M

Have you thought about maybe either getting him a mentor or asking him to be a mentor? He may be needing a "big brother" to talk to and be with and to tutor him. Or maybe, he could be a "big brother" to a younger boy. Maybe he needs that type of responsibility? You would know the answers better than I. This is just an idea that might be helpful. Hope this does help you. Good luck!

N. :o)

Hi A.,

Have you tried having him earn things for good behavior? When my daughter was about 8yo she would get great grads and then loose focus and not pay attention. After trying different types of punishing I ended up going to counseling. What it came down to is that she just wasn't concerned about grades, it just was not important to her. He suggested makeing a binder with pictures of things that she could earn from a good report card. Obviously it was stuff that was affordable and with in our family budget. It worked great and now at the age of 16 she is doing great and we haven't used that.
As for my 6yo son, he is the youngest in his class and somethime wants to be class clown instead of listening. After struggling the first part of the year we found that it helps to reward him for the good days. The teacher sends home a little piece of paper with her initials & date on it. On the days that he gets those he gets to pick something special to do with myself, his sister or dad. Its anything from playing a game with the family, a bike ride or getting a smoothie. After getting 10 cards he gets to get a new hot wheel or rent a movie something simple but he loves it. When he doesn't get a card we talk about making better choices next time and we move on. It has made a huge impact.

Good Luck,
Mom of 16yo girl and 6yo boy, a loving husband and 2 dogs & cats.

ADD doesn't insinuate low-intelligence. On the contrary - it means that they pay attention to EVERYTHING so that's why they can't focus in a group. Folks with ADD are highly intelligent and as adults can accomplish a lot at one time. So, I don't know if you've looked into this as deeply as you can but you should. Don't use drugs to solve the problem. Just lots of patience and love and maybe even try eliminating sugar and white flour from his diet. It works wonders for the problem.

Hi A.,

Sorry I didn't read the other responses, so I hope I'm not repeating anyone else here. My son is the same way. Very bright and some have labeled him ADD, but his doctor and counselor agree that he is not. In a class room setting he doesn't do well, but at home he does great.

Have you ever considered homeschooling? If you don't think you would like it that is fine, but if you ever considered it, even if you don't think you have the time, you might be able to do it. There are tons of curriculum out there. My kids use a computer based curriculum where they have the lessons and problems on the computer. They love it, and it takes very little from the parent. The computer even grades their work. Also, homeschooling doesn't have to be done on a regular school schedule. You can work with him when you are home and, at 13, he can work on his own when you can't be with him. There are also plenty of social activities for homeschoolers, so don't listen to those who say homeschoolers don't get the social skills they need. If you are interested in talking more about it, let me know. Most people I know homeschool all the way up through graduation.

Make sure he gets priority seating in every class - I struggled getting this for my daughter, but she needs to sit in the front row in front of her teachers so that she isn't distracted by all the other goings on in the classroom... she is graduating this year with a 3.7 GPA = = = I am so proud of her, but like your son you have to advocate for him - tell them which seat needs to be his!

They will argue with you because he is well behaved and doing "okay" in school, but it's up to you to put your foot down... My daughter has a much easier time paying attention and learning when she isn't seeing all the misbehaviors and believe me there are a LOT... I am a teachers assistant in a small Special Ed class and I see things all the time - even with 5 kids in the room that the teacher doesn't even have a clue are going on!

Good Luck to you and your son - He can do it!!!! My daughter was just accepted to UCLA and UC Berkeley - - - I had to fit time after time to get her a seat in the front, but it is what she needed to succeed!

I see previous responses have mentioned ADD, the non-hyper variety, testing, and medication. While your son might not be "diagnosable" as having ADD, I believe, based on your description, that he has AD/HD-primarily inattentive type.

Takes one to know one. I too had trouble paying attention in school. I was never diagnosed because I managed to get straight A's in school, so no one ever thought I had a problem. But I did. I slaved over my homework to try to learn what I'd missed in class AND complete the homework. I spent many more hours doing homework than most of my classmates.

In class, I would daydream, think about social issues with which I was struggling, notice all the fidgets and naughties of other pupils, and generally not pay attention to the lessons. My attention would snap back when the teacher asked someone a question, because that stressed me. I was always grateful it wasn't me who had been asked the question. I would not have known the answer, and would have been embarassed, humiliated, and felt stupid, *again*. After a question snapped my attention back to the teacher, for a few minutes I was under what I call "optimum stress" and could focus on the lessons before drifting off again as the stress faded. I did best with teachers who asked classmates questions frequently.

In college, I often nodded off to sleep in class, because the lecturers did just that - lecture - and rarely ever asked questions of students. I self-medicated with No-Doze (high-dose caffeine pills) in order to survive in college. Many years later, I learned about AD/HD and self-diagnosed.

The use of stimulant medications helps arouse the AD/HD brain into the "optimum stress" zone where the prefrontal cortex can function. So do various risk-taking behaviors, and so does procrastination until one is facing a deadline. The AD/HD brain needs more stress than healthy brains in order to get started, to regulate impulses and to pay attention. Yet it also becomes overwhelmed at lower levels of stress than a healthy brain. So, a person with AD/HD has a narrower window of environmental stress in which s/he can function well.

Hormonal fluctuations affect the AD/HD brain more than they do a healthy brain, and AD/HD children are more often involved in riskier behaviors as teens than their peers. Your 13-year-old son is at a good age to begin treatment. If you start now, you will likely help him steer clear of the self-undoing, self-medicating and esteem-damaging teen mistakes so common among young people with AD/HD.

Besides medication and self-inflicted stressors, biofeedback can help your son permanently improve his functioning in public and social situations. The costs seem prohibitive, but when you view the costs of lifelong medication (including side effects) and ongoing psychiatric supervision, biofeedback looks like a bargain.

If your son is never diagnosed, that's actually a gift to him. He'll never label himself, and the all-powerful insurance companies won't label him either. One need not be "diagnosable" to get biofeedback. So, check into biofeedback sessions for your son. It's essentially like playing video games, but of course there's a ton of science behind the scenes. Your son will probably enjoy the sessions; they're painless, and over the long haul he will be much, much better off than if you either medicate him or tough it out without treatment.

greetings A.,
my name is D., and i am a social worker focused on children with special needs. I go to many school's to advocate for my clients and make sure educational needs are being met. Through my experience in my professional career i would highly recommend that you get a referral from your sons pediatrician for an assessment for ADHD. A professional in your area can direct you to resources in your community for assistance. Also, not only will the school offer the after school tutoring but they may also be more likely to include resource classes which are smaller classes that will meet individual's needs. Your son's struggles will be overcome with the right educational planning that will meet his individual needs. The school system unfortunately does not provide that with mainstream children. Also: other options that assisted with many of my clients who are classified and/or diagnosed with ADHD are activities that require focusing such as: karate, 1:1 art, something that your child may find fun & intresting will help develop & increase his attention. Hope this helps, D. from Sacramento , CA

You ARE doing what any good mom would do. The main thought that comes to my mind is that even though he is saying there are no social problems causing this I'm wondering if this is true? Could there be bullying or something? They often don't want to talk about it.

Hi my name is L. and I too have a daughter who was struggling for years. I didn't think my daughter had any medical issues such as ADD or ADHD and was completely against medication. At 14 my daughter who was failing high school sunk into complete depression and cutting (not school). After visiting a theropist and school Psychologist they did an assessment and diagnosed with ADD not severe. We did not medicate, but I was able to get a 504 Plan through the Special Ed Dept. of the High School. She was in mainstream classes with slight modifications. Extended testing time, breaks when needed, preferencial seating and weekly sometimes daily progress reports. This was an incredible boost in my daughter's academic success. She is graduating next week (2 months early) and is completing cosmotology school 4 months early. I don't know how this veries by state, but it is available in CA. You do have to fight for it. I work in special ed. and knew about this plan, it was never offered, I had to fight for the education my daughter deserved and your son does too. Good Luck and I hope this helps.


I believe your son. I was a also that child who couldn't concentrate when classes were loud, when other kids were inattentive, and after teachers reacted with predictable punishments (these caused far more upset to me than to their victims). The school environment was just overwhelming for me and certainly no learning was going on. So I can relate to what your son may be going through.

By the way, I was "diagnosed" as gifted, not ADD.

What really jumped out at me reading your post are the many situations which allow your son to thrive--"home," "not in a classroom setting" and perhaps in the nurse's office with its quiet and focused attention. I'd suggest following your son's lead and trying to provide such familiar, quiet and comfortable settings throughout his day. If you don't want to homeschool (which is possible as a working mom, and there are many homeschooling groups on Yahoo that can provide lots of information) perhaps the school system has an alternative jr. high, a tutoring program, or other suggestions for you. Or perhaps a private school would meet his needs better. There are many many children who just don't thrive in the traditional public school setting, through no fault of their own.

Your son sounds like a great kid with many strengths and I wish you luck in your efforts to allow him to always shine!


Hi A.,
I am having the exact same issues with my 5 yo, and have had the same feedback from teachers. First of all, let me tell you, you are a great mom! No one knows your kid better than you, and what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do! I stared to doubt my parenting (especially sine my boy is so young) but I came to realize that it was not doing either of us any justice. "They" may tell you that he has ADD, which I have also been told, but if you don't feel that's the case, it's probably not. Unfortunately, it seems that is the easy way out these days. I have felt like my child is falling through the cracks: he is doing well academically and he's a good boy (no hitting or fowl languange or rebellious behaviour) but he just wanders and is often "off task" in class. I say it's because he's bored, it's just hard to get that sort of informatin out of a 5yo. I don't have too many "solution" suggestions for you except talk with your boy. You're his momma, you know him best. Maybe seek help from a school counselor (which is what I"ll be doing nest week), and maybe have Dad give it a try (maybe since he's older he might prefer talking with Dad? Don't know, not quite there yet...). And of course, if you feel you need more support, feel free to message me, my boy may be a different age, but I began to doubt myself as a mom as well. You put so much into your children, trying to ensure they are going to be fine, productive members of society (my main goal in life) and some teacher or school official rips that away from you. It's s hot through the heart. Hang in there, and keep reminding yourself what a great mommy you are!

I would highly recommend a Montessori or Waldorph school. They are so much better equipped to give individual attention to their students. They also allow them to progress at their own rate, but I assure you they do progress well. You will be amazed. It is more challenging to find Montessori past Jr. high, but I beleive there are a couple Waldorfs around. It depends on where you live. If neither of these is not an option at all, then look for a charter school that emphasizes ideas and concepts that he is interested in. Not every child is going to succeed inside the standard box of public school. That is ok because there are many great alternatives out there these days. Good luck!

I am very empathetic with what you are dealing with, and I am so glade that there are more families out there that are having the same problems. My son is seven years old and is in second grade, and sounds exactly like what your son is going through. Like your son, my son does very well with one on one teaching, and gets easily distracted. It is almost heartbreaking because I will teach him over the summer break so he is ready for the next school year. I do not fill him with tasks during the whole summer break, but we will do one or two topics during the week, and follow up with interesting field trips, or family events such as camping, or going somewhere that has a learning experience. Anyways, by the end of the summer he is ready to go, but then by the time he goes through a year at school, it seems like a lot of information that he had learned during the summer disappears, and I pretty much have to review a bit during the beginning of the next summer. For example, he knew his addition equations up until 20 before first grade. In first grade they told him that there was no way he could comprehend math in his head, and now he counts on his fingers. Very frustrating!
And like your son, he gets very distracted in class, and usually gets in trouble for day dreaming, or not paying attention, when in reality he is just overwhelmed and can not focus. I have had him tested, but he is fine, and I am told he is a "normal child" (whatever that means). But the teachers tell me that he just can't stay focused and is a "troublemaker", but my argument to that is that he is fine every where else, including that he is not a troublesome child outside of school. That, and outside of school, teaching him one on one (like your son) he does fine academically! With that being said, they tell me "of course, your his mother", which to me is like a slap in the face type of thing because it is almost like they are telling me "well duh!" That and for awhile they did not believe that my son did better one on one until I showed them the work he completes at home, which made their jaws drop. But then they thought that I sat there and walked him through his work (which I don't, he does it all on his own, and when he does ask questions, I help him, but I don't give him the answer). Very frustrating! When did schools begin to work against the parents, and turn around and say that they encourage the parents help? To me, what they have done to my family, is not encouraging for any of us. My husband and I are actually in the process of transferring him to another school, in hopes that the other school will be better for our son, and pose to be more helpful than the school that our son is currently enrolled, especially that now it is reflecting in his attitude towards school.
I do wish there was a different school system, or instructors who are trained to help these kids! It is so heartbreaking to see my child (as I am sure is the same for you) to do so well outside of school, but basically falls apart at school.

The best advice that I can give, and which has also helps my son, is yoga. He does not have to learn all of the difficult stances and what not, but just the simple ones, or even just the deep breathing. My son does "deep yoga breathing" when he starts feeling overwhelmed, and it helps him to calm down and focus on the task at hand. Another one that helps is the "deep yoga breathing" along with closing his eyes and thinking of a "happy place", this is what is called meditation. This is not generally helpful during class when they need to be paying attention, but it does help when he is put in time out, or is in detention. Otherwise he is crying and then gets into trouble for "disrupting class".
It seems that any more the children are pretty much treated like adults, but like "dog eat dog" type world. They are expected to act like adults, but take orders without question, and are not supposed to show emotion when they are sad, mad, or upset.
I am just glade that my son is not the only child that acts this way, because I have almost felt like our family was the odd one out or something. Teachers and the Principal has told me that they have never seen a child act this way, and it really bothered me. But now, I know they are full of ****. I have always known this in the back of my mind, but your situation, and the responses that I read really uplifted this feeling, Thank You. ^.^
Sorry that I ranted on and on, but I hope that the yoga breathing technique may help. Also, you might want to go to an herb store and talk to the herbologist. There are herbs out there that might help with your son focusing. I have not quiet gone there yet, but I might try over the summer so I can actually observe what it does with my son's behavior, rather than expecting his teacher to do it who is all ready overwhelmed with 20+ other students.

Good Luck!!!

M. *~

I totally understand how you feel. I am going through the exact same thing with my 14 year old, he is a great kid with bad grades.

Hello A.,

There are different kinds of ADD. My husband has auditory ADD. He has hard time concentrating when there is noise around him. My mother in law discovered that he had ADD when he was in high school. My husband struggled in high school a lot and had bad grades. The description of you son's behavior is very similar to what my husband went thru when he was in high school. When my mother in law found out that he had ADD, teacher gave my husband one-to-one test/attention. In college he had to tape all his classes and listen the tapes over and over when he was at home. Once, he told me that he had problems processing correctly/quickly what the teacher said in class.

I am not suggesting that your son has ADD. But maybe just have your son be tested to rule out the possibility that ADD is not the cause of your son's bad grades.

BTW my niece has also ADD but it's very different from my husband's. She was also struggling in school. She was diagnosed her first year in high school. She is doing a lot better. She is happy that she will be able to graduate with her classmates!

I hope this helps


I love how much you love your kids. I feel the same way. I wouldn't write off the ADD idea so quickly. My son has it and he could be your son's twin as far as behavior goes. My son is also very bright.

ADD often gets overlooked in kids that aren't hyper and in kids that are bright. There is a book called 'A Mind At a Time' or 'One Mind at a Time.' Its written by Mel Levine. If you don't like to read, he has a website and you can type in your son's specific issues there and get some answers.

How about having him evaluated by an educational psychologist to see if he has ADD? It can be a little pricey but insurance can pay also. If you are in the humboldt area, contact me directly and I can direct you to a very good one. ____@____.com you considered a charter school or a private school with fewer students or even home schooling?


Hi A.!
First of all, congratulations on being an encouraging, involved and supportive mom! Reinforcing your son's capabilities and intelligence will help him. AS a former elementary/middle school teacher, my advice would be to talk to the teachers about maybe moving him to a spot closer to the front of the room, so the misbehaving students are behind him and not as much of a distraction. Maybe ask the teachers if they could allow him to go to a more productive area out of the classroom, like the library, when the regular classroom becomes too noisy? Boys that age tend to have more trouble focusing in a traditional classroom setting, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. The fact that he demonstrates a grasp of the knowledge in a one-on-one setting means that he is comprehending and processing the informtaion, and that's the most important thing. If he has any special interests, try to integrate those into his learning to keep it fun and successful for him. Keep encouraging, but be careful not to push, or he may start to see your reinforcement as overbearing and disapproval, especially when he is trying hard. I hope that helps. Best of luck!

Hi A.,

I have zero advice for you. But, I do want you to know you are not alone. Your son sounds -exactly- like my 12 year old son. I've had him tested for ADD, learning disabilities, even tried counseling for a while. It's frustrating! But, he's a great kid. Everyone says how polite and cheerful he is...Although, of course he does get sent to the office on occasion for disrupting the class. He too is very capable just somehow unwilling or, geez -- who knows!? All I can truly tell you is -- you're not alone! And, I seriously doubt ANYONE is going to tell us to try something we haven't already thought of, including the obvious (duh) diet, rest, rewards, punishment, homework time and place, follow-up (like crazy!) with the school and teachers. Blah, blah, blah. It hasn't worked for me. I truly believe ONLY they can make the difference. When THEY want to. :( But, I'm open. If someone comes up with a magic wand or something, please, please, please let me know!
:) K.

OMGoodness.. this completely sounds like my stepson a few years back. He hates school so he does everything to not succeed. He does very well 1-1 but in class its a struggle. For instance, the teacher tells everyone to hand in their homework, while everyone is making the noise from backpaks-rustling papers... he doesnt turn in his work. I know he does it- cause we sit there with him. I ask him howcome he doesn't turn it in- its the I don't know answer. I ask what is he doing while they are turning in work, I don't know.. is the answer. Its not ADD... they learn slower and differently. My hubby and his ex met with the teachers and asked for a little extra help. Me I thought it was completely babying him because he was not held accountable for his actions or work. Talk with the teachers and ask them what they feel needs additional work and come up with a game plan together. This way he sees that everyone is on the same page and he can't play one against the other.
I am sure you have asked but what does he say is the reason why he can't pay attention. He just maybe bored which is what I think with my stepson..

Hi A.,

It sounds to me like he's overstimulated. Have you read "The Highly Sensitive Child" by Elaine Aron (You can see her website here: http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm or google "highly sensitive child" if you're reluctant to follow a link from a stranger.) Another resource would be "Raising Your Spirited Child." I realize it is for children younger than yours, but you might recognize some things from his past. I like their positive attitude about children whose behavior is outside the norm. They also have some pretty good suggestions for specific issues.

Good luck. It sounds like you've got a bright child and he's lucky to have you as an advocate.

N. V

Hi A.,

It could very well be that your son fits into one of two categories. He could be gifted and doesn't do well in class because he doesn't want to appear smarter than the rest of the class and be singled out for that. Unfortunately, it's much more acceptable to be perceived at dumb than smart. The other category -I apologize for forgetting the name - but it has to do with being distracted by the everyday noise level that occurs in class. It's not a major thing and can be accommodated. I suggest consulting the school psychologist (without your sons knowledge at this point) to get a name for what it's called.

It's really great that you are aware of the your son's difficulty and are seeking out solutions. I know many parents that leave everything up the their child.

The first thing I would do is turn to a professional, yes you are the professional(AWESOME) when it comes to being his MOM, but MOM's are not medical experts and the ONLY way to rule ADD or any other learning distractions along this same line is partner with a professional, what is the worst thing that could happen, you could find that you end up with a solution. It is really hard when you are a GREAT Mother(Like YOU) and your children is having difficulties, we are so close and connected that sometimes it is easier if someone who is not so close and connected is involved.

Hi there!

Wow! I have to commend you for still sounding so patient!! :) I have an almost 13 YO step-daughter who has now been diagnosed with ADD. At first, I told my husband about my observations, but we agreed to keep her off meds and change diet and other habits first. We also worked with her on improving her thought process and behaviors. It didn't work. So after that, my husband and I finally gave it a chance. She is now on MINIMUM AMOUNT of meds and is getting straight A's in school! Her behavior at home is SOOOOOOOOOOOO much better as well! It might take a little while to get the dosage right at first, but once you've got it down...:)!

I would encourage you to take that step in finding out more from his pediatrician about ADD and signs and symptoms. They should have a questionnaire for you to help with figuring out his normal behaviors. God bless you A....take care! You're doing an awesome job with your family!! :)

Behaviour problems are often greatly helped by proper nutritional balance. I can help, if you want to talk about this please call A. ###-###-####.

Your son sounds like he's telling you the problem: he has difficulty concentrating in a noisy and probably visually distracting environment. This isn't necessarily ADD. This could also be sensory integration problems. Have you ever gone to a party and someone you were talking with says they're going to go outside because they can't hear. That's probably someone who cannot separate background noise from your voice. Some people can't work in an environment that has too much visual stimulation, because they can't tune it out. Rather than lecturing him, he may need help with coping and compensatory strategies. For example, if the room is distracting him, some kids can calm their nervous system just by taking a break and putting their head down, shutting off the visual surroundings for a minute. Find out who you're occupational therapist for your school district is and ask for a consult. They have made a world of difference with one of my children. Think of a typical classroom - take a look specifically at your son's classroom. Most classrooms today are sooooo busy that even a normal person can go into sensory overload. There are usually a thousand things on the walls, on the tables, etc. and a room full of kids is never quiet. There are always kids rustling papers, clicking pencils, etc. which gives a huge amount of auditory stimulation. I tend to have a high tolerance for visual and auditory stimulation, but when I observe in my son's classroom, I start to get overloaded after about an hour. I can only imagine what that environment is like for a child who is easily overloaded. You would think our schools would be more up on sensory overload than they are, but almost none of our educators have had any training at all in this area and it's a common problem for many kids, particularly young children. Their classrooms tend to be the worse. Every classroom needs a quiet corner where a child doesn't have to look at all the stuff!

Another thought -- you also can't completely rule out ADD, just because he does well in a quiet environment. He may not be ADD, but even ADD kids can concentrate under the right circumstances. I'm personally against the stimulants we give too many kids for ADD, but I'm a big proponent for helping them learn coping strategies as well.

Hi A.!

I'm so sorry that you are going through this with your son. This was such a tough age for my stepson, who's now a successful 24 year old "man".

It truly sounds like you're doing everything you can for him. The problem is his emotions/hormones interfering. He can't concentrate, he's making that very clear to everyone.

He see's each teachers every Tuesday after school? Is he there until 6? How can that be enough quality time for him with each teacher? If him meeting with his teachers 1-on-1 is the most successful way, then you and the teachers have to create that for him....somehow.

This is the age where he can easily "fall" into the wrong group of friends based on low self-esteem. I always thought of this age where they go "good" or go "bad. You ARE making sure he KNOWS how YOU feel about his efforts, but that's not all that he needs. He may be feeling "stupid" or like "an outcast" which leads to him feeling like an embarrassment at school, and why he's probably in the nurses office.

You need to "listen" what he's saying. Look "through" those words and actions to "hear" what he's afraid of, and try to go from there. If it's one thing I learned about boys, they hide there feelings, but they speak their feelings in "other actions and words", it's so hard to "listen" to that, but that may be the only way to help him right now.

Good Luck, A..

:o) N.

I to have the same problems with my son in school and a few times at home when he is asked to do something he suddenly doesn't feel good. I refer to the illness as "SIS Syndrome: Sudden illness syndrome" and a SIS is not going to get him off the hook and out of whatever he is suppose to be doing at the onset of the "SIS"!! If I were you I would not rule out the ADD factor only because I too did not think my son had it either. But, after reading your post I felt that I needed to tell you that it is ok if he does have ADD! And, I really feel that you should have him tested because denying, letting it go, or putting off his testing is only hurting him more. I denied it for A LONG TIME and regret it everyday because he struggles so hard in school. Good luck and having ADD is not the end of the world.

I am right there with you. My son is so smart yet his grades are failing. He is getting into trouble for being disruptive in class. He has decided to play the role of class clown. I know he is not a bad kid and I also know he does not have ADD. We have run through everything we can think of to help him. Just as you have.
We got him a tutor and that has helped somewhat. I have to say that I believe it is the public school system that is failing our kids. There has been no reform in Public Ed for decades. Our kids are forced to learn a ton of useless information in a setting that is not conducive to kids. Then they come home to continue with hours of homework.

I may look for alternative education for my son. Something that supports him and helps children to learn in creative ways. Let me know if you have any other ideas.

Best, Jen

I don't have much to add to previous advise, except to give you encouragement to have him evaluated. I have been a teacher for 12 years and have seen many kids like your son. I always thought that the "hyper"part had to be present for ADD until I had a capable kid who couldn't do any work if he didn't have his meds. He wasn't a trouble maker, he was just a nice kid who would sit at his desk and not be able to do anything. But, when he had his meds, he finished all his work and was able to function with the rest of the class.
My son (6) (1st grade) was diagnosed this year and after we started medication, he went from reading just at kindergarten level to about 3rd grade level in just a matter of a couple of months. I have never been a strong advocate for medication for all, but I know in a few cases you can't fix chemical imbalances with behavior modification. My son's teacher has never seen medication work so well. Thankfully he doesn't have many of the other issues that sometimes go with ADD, but we are just at the beginning of our journey.
You, ultimately, know your children better than anyone else, so go with your gut.

Oh my gosh! Other than going to the nurses office, it's sounds as if I were writing this request. I have considered home schooling for my 13 yr. old son, however, he is not interested. I know it's because he has established his friends at school. We are constantly on him about his work as soon as he walks in the door, (we have to be). We stress on how much harder and more serious high school is going to be. I am in contact with his teachers as well. At his school all teachers have a web site called mygradebook.com and it has ALL assignments listed and shows what is due, what has been completed with the score and what is missing. That has helped us, but I do need more and I can't wait to read other suggestions that the moms wrote. Good Luck!

Dear A.,
It sounds like you are doing a fine job working with the teachers. You menitoned being the bread winner and your husband is a chef. Does he have extra time in his day? Is his schedule flexible? I would recommend home school and watch him blossom. You may find the transition easiest if you join a charter school. I recommend Horizons.
I have been home schooling for 9 years now and love it. I have a child who's health is an issue. She'd be failing in school because of the confines of the classroom.
Home school would be a great bond between father and son. Maybe you have a future chef in your kitchen. Best of luck.

I suggest you read the book Raising Cain. I believe the author is Michael Thompson. Your son is a normal 13 year old. Our schools are making normal boys into abnormal. The girls are about 1 1/2 years to 2 years ahead developmentally, so it's easier for them to sit and pay attention. The boys need more gross body movements during the day. What have schools done? Eliminate or shorten recess and limit what they can do. Some schools the old stand bys like dodge ball are forbiden. And then we are surprised that the boys fidget and can't pay attention in the classroom. They haven't burned off their energy. I am truely worried about our boys in this society. The girls have made great stides, but we are loosing the boys. And I have three sons!

Hi A., You seem to have it all together with what you say about yourself. I wonder why you only mentioned you have a father and husband in the home also until your last sentence in your "A Little About Me" section. But mentioned him nowhere in your question? Have you asked your husband to help or for help at all with this situation? Perhaps your Husband should be dealing with his son's problem's right now. As male to male, maybe you should let /ask him to step up to the plate to help your son. Sometimes Mom's can't get through as well as Dad's. Hope this helps.

My son had similar problems and it really hit the roof in Jr. High. I don't know where you are located but there is a website: www.toolsforlearning.com that you should look at. It is based in Alameda, CA. Even if you don't live here it is VERY imformative.(people from all over the states come here I understand) My son was on the brink of flunking out of Jr. High and so I had him tested here after a year of nagging from a coworker and it totally, completely changed his/our lives. I learned that you can spend hundreds of dollars tudoring a child in what ever subject until you are blue in the face but until you find out WHY they need it in the first place you will not change the cycle. Think of it this way, you have a really bad cold/cough, you go to the store and by medicine. It doesn't get better. Until you go to the doctor and find out what is causing the symptoms you are just masking it. One thing I found out was that my 13 yr old son had the memory of a second grader. That in itself was a blow but it also explained why he could not remember from class to class what he was supposed to do. Picture a 2nd grader in a 6th or 7th grade regime. No way. Also, he had vision and hearing problems that DID NOT SHOW UP IN MEDICAL TESTING. We worked hard in remedial work based on his test results, my son and I, which we did at home because I wanted to be involved and SEE the results. My husband who was supportive but was the very skeptic can now say that it was the best thing we ever did. When he hit high school he was getting honor roll. It was the weirdest feeling NOT to have to help him with homework anymore, I literally didn't know what to do with my time. My son is 19 now and has chosen not to go to college because he wants a break from school and that's ok. I could go on and on but one thing I can say is I wish I had done this testing when first told but I was stuborn and thought, "What makes this place any different then the hundred or so places I can find in the phone book" Well, it actually gets to the source of the problem and you can't fix it until you know what that problem is.

Good luck.

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