41 answers

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)

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

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.

More Answers

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

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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)

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