79 answers

Gifted Child Failing

I am at my wit's end. My 13 year old girl is in 8th grade. She was identified as gifted and talented in 5th grade. She was diagnosed as ADD (not ADHD) in 7th grade. She started medication and her focus and her grades improved. Now, this school year, her grades are badly suffering. She turns in little classwork, zero homework, yet she tests at the top of her class. What are some resources or suggestions that can help our family? I have tried everything I know. I go to school part time during the day. I work part time so I have time to spend with my girls. I keep her on a VERY short leash. (even her teachers have noticed). We have a pretty structured lifestyle. Things are more organized than they are chaotic without being militant. I just don't know what else to try or do. Please help!

Addendum- In response to those who say she needs a "shorter leash": I understand that, initially, that seems like a reasonable suggestion. I just wanted to let ya'll know that she has been lying to me about almost everything. I didn't explain that earlier because I wanted to keep my request short. Everyon's input is truly appreciated.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone for all of your advice. I now have access to some valuable resources that will me get the education for my daughter that she needs. I am going to insist that the school educate her appropriately since she is protected by the No Child Left Behind act. Thank goodness most of her teachers are cooperative. Also, thank you for letting me know that I am not alone. God bless you all.

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Have you and her teachers considered the possibility that she's just bored? It could be that she's finding her schoolwork to be too easy (since she's testing so high) and it's not enough of a challenge to keep her interested. I'd recommend sitting down with her teachers and seeing if they think that might be the problem, and if so how they can challenge her--without making her feel like they're just piling on extra schoolwork. For example, if the class is studying American history, perhaps she can be challenged to put together a special report on one of the subjects to present to her classmates in place of the standard classroom work her classmates are doing.

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I just wanted to share my favorite G/T link. There is a lot of support and information to be found there.

www.hoagiesgifted.org

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I went through this with my oldest son back before the schools recognized gifted and talented students. His teachers were really co-operative about providing more challenging assignments or assigning something a bit more advanced to keep his interest. (Most schools now have programs that allow the students to start on high school credits in middle school.) One day, while taking laundry to his room, I overheard one of his friends teasing him about a girl in his class. I mentioned it to his teacher who subsequently moved him to a different desk and the problem corrected itself.

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I have a couple of book suggestions for you and a website that is invaluable.

When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers by Jim Delisle. Great book.

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children by Jim Webb. Great book...very nice guy...of course Jim Delisle is fabulous, too.

Websites: www.seng.org www.hoagiesgifted.com

SENG is an organization dedicated to meeting the socio-emotional needs of gifted kiddos. Hoagies is the most comprehensive gifted site out there. TONS of resources.

Middle school is tough for a lot of gifted kids. For many it's the first time they've had a full schedule of "tough" classes. If, in elementary, the gt program was a pull out program, she was probably only really challenged that one hour a day. If she's in several pre-AP/GT classes in middle school, she may be "hitting the wall". The first time she's actually finding something difficult. Some kids simply climb the wall, but many more have a hard time adjusting to figuring out exactly HOW to study because they've just been coasting. My position is that I'd rather they hit the wall now, when there are more resources available and there's still a chance she'll listen...sort of...to Mom.

Without knowing her, I can't give a lot more advice, but I'd be interested in knowing the why behind her behavior.

Please let me know if any of this helps!

2 moms found this helpful

To understand what causes a 12-13 year girl to become unhappy (as it seems might be the issue with your daughter) I recommend "Reviving Ophelia", if you can find the time with your busy schedule. I suspect the tight leash and how busy you are might be involved, but without counseling you won't know for sure what you can do to help her. I HIGHLY recommend some counseling sessions with a qualified professional; a minister if you can't afford a psychologist. A minister will generally allow you to pay what you CAN, without judgement or documentation. A sudden change in behavior can be an indicator of SO many things, ALL of them very important and many needing intervention, but the type of intervention, supportive or firm, depends on what precisely is indicated by the behavior.

I hope everything works out for you and your daughter. Be well, and congratulations on your dedicated effort to do the best for yourself and your family.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through that. I didn't have ADD, though I was GT and at the top of my class. In 8th and 9th grade I took a serious turn for the C average. I don't know why. Maybe it was hormones, cutting the apron strings, the need for independence. I had to take summer school after 9th grade to move into 10th and then made great grades until my last semester of senior year (senioritis). I went on to get a BS in Biology and graduated with honors. Maybe it isn't the ADD that you're so used to dealing with. Maybe she's going through some personal growth and needs to do things her own way for a while. I lied to my mom all the time even though she always understood and was supportive of the truth. I just wanted my life on my own terms. You've put in good time to raise her well. Keep it up and know that what you've done has laid the foundation for a good person who is capable. She and God will do the rest.
Best of luck and much support,
K.

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I know that it really doesn't help the problems, but it may help YOU mentally a bit...the third Nine Weeks is the roughest of all of them in school. Your daught is not alone in the fact that her grades and interest are falling right after Christmas. As a teacher, I see this EVERY year. Just keep encouraging her and talk to her. Maybe she needs a little bit of a shake up or a little bit "flexibility" in her schedule at this changing time of her life. If her teachers have noticed that you have her on a "VERY short leash" then no doubt the kids have, too. They are EXTREMELY cruel at this age and appearances (not just what the kids wear and how their hair is cut) are the number one peice of evidence the kids use against each other to judge with. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I am already experiencing some of the same issues with my kindergarten son. At this point he does not get in trouble and completes all work (mounds of color, cut, and glue worksheets). He has gone to loving school to hating school. Our ISD focuses on ESL and children that need extra support. Our elementary school PreK to 2nd grade has 1 GT student. I myself am a teacher but am staying at home with my four year old daughter. I volunteer at the school and tutor 2nd grade reading twice a week. My sons educational challenges at school look bleak. The high school offers few AP classes and most have been cut because of budget reasons. I so want him to be in public education and thrive not just endure an eight hour day. I have turned in paper work for him to get tested for GT but know that is not really an answer. We are trying to enhance his learning by special projects driven by his interests at home. He loves literature so I volunteered to be a Battle of the Books coach. Any time he asks a question we google it and find out more and then try to figure out something to do with the information.

It sounds like your daughter has checked out mentally of school because it does not interest her. As a parent I would ask to see if the teacher can modify the amount of her homework so it does not seem like busy work. Gifted students are protected under the same law as students with special needs. As a teacher I can say that many teachers want to meet the needs of all their students but it is very difficult if not impossible. But an involved parent with the teacher may help them to understand and modify your daughters work.

Other things to look out for is if her friends have changed and her overall attitude. Kids this age look to peers for approval more then parents or adults. Make sure she is hanging out and being influenced with a group of kids that have the same values as your family. If she is not already try to get her involved in a active youth group where she will be get a positive influence. Maybe find out what she wants to be when she grows up and find a mentor or start looking at colleges. She needs to see the importance of her education and it is not just a grade or a paper to make mom or her teacher happy.

Prayers are with you as a single mom and two teenage girls. You are setting a great example by going back to school. Studying together and letting them see the hard work and joy of working towards and reaching a dream is a blessing to them both.

1 mom found this helpful

This is called "Twice-Exceptional" and there is help and info out there. I have a gifted-ADHD son and it is such a challenge for these kids. Here is a website that can give you a start

http://www.uniquelygifted.org/

Also, I would ask the GT director in your school district if they are familiar with "2E" kids and their unique needs. I know the South Jeffco school district (in the Littleton, CO area) has a GREAT GT program and some info (including a binder in all of the schools specifically about teaching 2E kids) on 2E. Perhaps your school district could contact them if yours does not have info specifically suited to her needs.

Another thing, it could be that she has grown and therefore so has her medication needs- that is perhaps she needs an increase in her dose to match her growth spurts. Good luck and if you just need to chat with someone who is dealing with the same thing, feel free to contact me. ____@____.com

P.

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Hi M.,
I was a teacher many moons ago... I have seen this type of behavior or "acting out" from very gifted children. Its almost their way of saying, "I need a break, I am still smart but just want to do other things like social, sports, etc..."
I would ask your daughter how you both can come up with a plan or schedule to meet both needs. Also, some of the behavior you may be seeing (although very frustrating and annoying for a parent) is very typical for her age. Just try to keep the lines of communication open. Ask her what she thinks her consequence should be if she makes a poor grade etc. She may then feel some control. I am not a counslor but I did teach very bright children and I have seen kids do this in order to exercise some freedom... sometimes in their world being smart isn't always a good or "cool" thing. We know its wonderful but maybe she feels peer pressure or has a friend who spends little time on schoolwork. You never really know, but I would continue to tell her you love her and you will always have high expectations of her. She'll come around. Teen/preteen stuff can be drag. Your a good mother to care and having that on her side will get her through it.

1 mom found this helpful

Have you and her teachers considered the possibility that she's just bored? It could be that she's finding her schoolwork to be too easy (since she's testing so high) and it's not enough of a challenge to keep her interested. I'd recommend sitting down with her teachers and seeing if they think that might be the problem, and if so how they can challenge her--without making her feel like they're just piling on extra schoolwork. For example, if the class is studying American history, perhaps she can be challenged to put together a special report on one of the subjects to present to her classmates in place of the standard classroom work her classmates are doing.

1 mom found this helpful

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