19 answers

4Th Grader Not Motivated to Do School Work

My son is a 4th grader and has started having difficulty completing his work during school hours. Typically it is because he is talking or just doodling. I really need to find a way to motivate and make him understand that this is unacceptable. It has gotten so bad that last week he got detention for not doing his work in school. He is extremely bright, but I don't think that the work is too challenging, I just think he is lazy. I have no desire to put him on any ADD medication. I would like any suggestions to fix this problem without it.
Thank you all!

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So What Happened?™

He hasn't been diagnosed with any type of Attention Deficiet Disorder, it is just the first response from other people I have talked to about this situation. I truly want to help him. We have made a ton of changes in the house recently, no tv during school week, no computer at all unless needed for school, we have taken his DSI and Playstation away, etc. I truly appreciate all of your support and suggestions. I will keep you informed on our progress. I am hoping that Spring Fever is all that it is!

Featured Answers

Have you tried talking to him to see what the issue is? My neighbor had this issue with her son and I suggested to her to talk to the teacher and have the teacher send home extra homework when he didn't do his work in class. When he realized that if he didn't do his work in class he had to do it at home and did not have time to play or watch television it lasted about a week. He soon started doing his work in class so he could have free time at home. It's worth giving it a try.

Hi, What I did was to find something that motivated them to keep working. Try a reward system. I have 4 with severe ADHD. My school used accomodations for the children. However, we needed a signed letter from their doctor stating that they had ADHD and how it impacted them in school. We asked for IEP's and had to get an Educational Advocate to help.

However, all 4 had to go on ADHD medicine. Their grades would suffer too much. With the meds, I have 3 that are Honor Roll. The 4th one is just catching up to 1st grade work. He has Autism as well. He is going to 2nd grade next year.

Good luck.

More Answers

I can totally relate, although my son is in 3rd grade. Our son had issues with being "lazy" before, but it had gotten out of control. He would bring his homework home with doodles all over it, but not bring home the book he needed to do the homework! If he had a test to do in class, he'd breeze through the test and not show his work, but draw doodles on the test. Our solution was to talk with the teacher to see if there were distractions in the classroom, as well as how they decide where to put the children (the school is set up to help each child learn at his/her own pace). It turned out that was all it took. They reevaluated our son and put him in a higher "level" where he would have to work harder to earn his grades. Our teacher also started giving him the "bonus/harder" words for his spelling, and he started getting 100% on his tests. We were able to find out from the teacher when to expect certain homework from school, and when they generally would have the assignments due. His teacher really worked with us on initialing his assignment book so that we knew he had written in all the work that was due the next day. Our son still tries to rush through his schoolwork, and if it is very messy (even if it is already graded) we have him rewrite it once it comes home, and bring it back to the teacher so that she can see it.

I believe that kids will do only what they think they are expected to do. If you expect too much though, kids might give up because the task seems impossible. We found that being even more involved and "pushing" our son was what he really needed to succeed. You never know...your son might surprise you! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I understand your statement about ADD and medication. Instantly when a child is doing poorly in school someone will suggest ADD or ADHD and medication. I also understand the laziness aspect. I have a 5th grade boy who is also unmotivated. Let me ask you this...what happens when his work is not completed? Is it homework? I know you said he got detention but on a day to day bases what happens? How does he react to the outcome of the situation? Is he willing to have extra homework that he didn't complete in class so he can daydream and/or talk? Any punishment for talking while supposed to be working? I assume there would be because that is causing another child to not get their work done also.
What motaiates your child at home? Set short term goals and give many rewards often for small accomplishments at 1st. Say something like every day you get all your inclass work done this week you will get X reward. My son loves video games and is very limited to the amount of time he can play and only on weekends.... so for every 15 minutes of serious studying (not faking it) for spelling (his most difficult subject) he earn extra game time on the weekend. For good grades on said tests he earned money which he could use right away to rent a game or save to buy one he really wants to own. He is much more short term goal oriented so he loved earning a few extra hours of time and one game rental each week. Only once did he save for one he really wanted. Once the habits were formed and the grades improved the standards got higher or the goal to earn the reward changed. So he may not earn as much video game time as he first did for sudying the same amount of time. He had to study longer or recieved the reward occasionally(he never knew when) so he kept working hard. We did this for several years.... now his reward is only for the grade and not every A or B gets one. He is starting to fall out of habit with this so we may have to start up the short term rewards again for awhile. Once he is consistantly getting work done 4-5 days a week. Make the goal harder, and the reward maybe alittle bigger but still equal or lesser than the every day reward. Does this make sense?
Some kids do not respond as well to punishment for poor choices or unacceptable behavior as they do for rewards for good choices and behavior. Although I would continue to talk to him about the importance of getting the word done..... if there have been punishments for his bad behavior that are not working rather then getting tougher.... switch your perspective. Talk to him, find out why he isn't getting his word done. Maybe instead of it being too hard it is too easy for him and he is bored. My 1st grader acts up when her work is too easy unless given another more challenging task somewhere else.
Is he lazy about other things as well or just getting work done in class on time? Boys minds work differently then ours and girls minds do so it is sometimes hard to make sense of what they are doing, thinking, why they are acting a certain way etc.
Good luck- hope this helps :)

1 mom found this helpful

Does he have ADD????

1 mom found this helpful

Do you think he just might be having "Spring Fever" and ready for school to be out ? I know alot of kids at this time of year (my 4th grader is one of them :) are just tired of the routine and school, ready for a long break and tired.

1 mom found this helpful

Good heavens! Medication is only appropriate if your son has been evaluated and diagnosed by a medical professional with ADHD. Are you ignoring an evaluation that has made you angry, or are you just assuming that those parents with kids who do take medication would give it to them at the first sign of trouble? You are not doing your son any favors by takeing a hard line attitude with a poor understanding of one fo the causes of what you are seeing and a black and white dismissal of a (far off) but potential cause.

That said, kids don't generally become "lazy" without some cause. Since I work as an educational advocate, I see many kids who are branded as "lazy" and I have to say, for 99.99% of them who are evaluated, there is a cause, and it is not always ADHD, and many need no medications.

4th grade is a time that many kids become overwhelmed by visual demands. The first thing I suggest to parents whose kids have a sudden problem is that they find a developmental optiomitrist (call the nearest children's hospital's occupational therapy department for a referal.) This kind of optomitrist can check for accuity (how well he sees) and how well he uses his eye muscles and how efficently he processes visual information. This will cost you no more than a regular eye exam, which he needs anyway. You may feel really badly if he is not just lazy.

Read "The Myth of Laziness" by Dr. Mel Lavine. he has many explainations for why kids suddenly seem lazy. If you could help him, wouldn't you want to?


1 mom found this helpful

Have you ever thought of homeschooling? Many kids don't fit the mold demanded of them for institutional learning. In order for one woman to keep the peace and teach anybody anything in a classroom with 20-30 other kids, they have to demand the same thing of everybody in the room. This means you must learn at the same pace, in the same manner and by the same methods as everyone else. If you brought him home you could teach to HIS learning style not the teacher's teaching style. You could tailor his curriculum to challenge him at his strengths and tutor him in his weaknesses.
If this isn't an option. Have his eyes and hearing tested. If he can't see the board or hear the teacher, he'll act up or tune out to cover the deficiency.
Best wishes,

This is shouting learning disability to me. Check for Auditory Processing Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder and core/trunk strength as being reasons why he daydreams. OT can help alot but you need to get him to an audiologist who specializes in APD.

My first question would be has the teacher exhausted all avenues? Move his desk to the front or away from distracting posters and his friends. Some kids just need a gentle nudging. I agree that if this just started, it could be the end of the school excitement. When you mention ADD medication,is that because he WAS diagnosed with this? If he was, most schools deal with this differently. My nephew has ADHD and his school is required to alter his education to help him deal with this. They are required to give him several short brakes which help him refocus.
If you really do think it's from being lazy then I suggest you get firm with discipline at home. He should not be having computer time, video games, phone or extra activites is he can not get his work done.
I would though, make sure it is laziness and not medical related before I hand out punishments. Have you talked to his teacher, and can she offer any ideas as to why the change in behavior?

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