M.E. asks from Milpitas, CA on May 16, 2008
Need Help to Keep 4Th Grader Focused and Responsible at School and for Homework
Help! I am at my wits end... My 10 yr old daughter has always been able to be distracted very easily at school and with the help of her teachers we've been dealing with this. She's always done very good in school but this year has been harder, especially the last few couple months. The teacher gave all the students a homework journal that shows a week at a time and subjects. The students write what their homework is for each day, bring home the homework, and upon completion a parent signs at the bottom of each day to show it's been done. One problem, is that my daughter writes what her homework is but then, lately she's been leaving it at school. Over the past couple of months she's had to go back to school to get what she forgot. Luckily I check her backpack as soon as she gets home, on most occasions. But there have been times that I don't check it until she's been home a half hour or more and then it's too late to go get it. It really got bad over the last few weeks while she was working on her Mission report. She kept forgeting key things as school, she has no sense of urgency, and doesn't try to "best", just what she has to to finish faster. She is very smart but she just doesn't try or seem to even care. She's also been having problems with tests.....she started bringing home tests that she barely passed (and sometimes didn't) when I never saw her study for a test. I talked to her teacher about finding out when the tests were so that she can make sure to bring home her books to study, but then she's been forgeting those as well. She's had to re-take tests once or twice because she didn't do well. When I talk to her, she just says "I forgot".
The last straw was today...her teacher emailed me in the morning that she did not do well on the last math test they took and that she was sending the test and her math book home with her to study so she can retake the test. When she got home from school today, I was talking with a neighbor for a few minutes before I came inside. I started talking to her about school today (of course, she didn't mention she didn't do well on a test) and then checked her backpack. Nothing was there. I asked her about it and she said she forgot it on her desk. Ugh!!! I called the teacher but it's a Friday and more than 30 minutes after school got out so she's long gone for the weekend. When we had problems with her fogetting her Mission stuff we grounded her from all electronics for one week. Today was the day she was to get this all back. Now we've grounded her from all electronics and comic books (her savior during the no electronics time). I don't think it's helping though. She gets upset and cries. I get upset and have to leave the room to calm down before I can talk to her again.
I've thought of making a check off list for her to have her teacher sign before she leaves school, but then she'd have to "remember" to do that too. I've mentioned the problem to the teacher and even asked for suggestions but she hasn't been too helpful. My husband says he was this way as a kid and that she'll out grow it. A friend says it's the hormones. I was never this way so I don't know how to deal with it and it's spiking my hormones. Any suggestions???
1 mom found this helpful
So What Happened?™
I want to thank everyone that responded to my question. I've realized that I've created some of the tension and have worked on chilling out. With this being the end of the school year, there's not much I can do now but I plan on keeping an eye on my daughter's progress right from the start of next year, 5th grade. In my heart though I feel like she should be evaluated, like many of you suggested. But I am fighting a brick wall with my husband, who think she'll just "out grow it". I think he doesn't want the stigma of his daughter being evaluated or that there is anything wrong with his little girl. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to talk to him about this, when and if the time comes??? Right now it's on a back burner but will be high priority for me at the end of August when she starts school again. I don't want to wait until mid-year like I did this time. Thanks again to everyone!!!
J.H. answers from Sacramento on May 17, 2008
Is there any way you can pick her up from the classroom daily to communicate with her teacher face to face on a regular basis? I know this would be inconvenient, but after a few weeks, it might do the trick. Also, remember that there are only a few weeks left of school.
L.P. answers from San Francisco on May 17, 2008
I have a 10 1/2 year old son who is going through the exact same things as your daughter. My son is in the 5th grade though. I thought it was just my son having these memory lapses and showing lack of responsibility. He's having difficulty in math and getting low grades including F's and this is from a child who could talk fluently by 2 years old, knew all the states on the US map by 2, knew everyone in the family's date of birth by 2 1/2, and was reading by 4 among many other things.
We put him in tutoring and all the test grades came up to A's when he retook the tests. Now the math grades are down again. He won't check his work, won't read the directions before he starts, does as little as necessary to get by and rushes to beat everyone else in the class to get done. He's had a lot of homework this year and I think he's just ready to get out for the summer.
It must be the age. That's all I can think it must be. Please know that you are not alone in this type of situation.
I'm going to give him a few weeks off during the summer, then I'm going to get him tutoring again in mid July to refresh the 5th grade things they learned and give him a head start on 6th grade math. It's kind of too late in the year at this point to worry too much. They are mostly doing review math right now so if he can stay focused a few more weeks.
That's about all I know to do. I'll stick with the tutoring if he is still getting low marks in 6th grade but I may tell him he will help pay for tutoring (from his allowance) if he doesn't focus and bring those grades up. Talking money always gets is attention. Good luck. L.
J.T. answers from San Francisco on May 17, 2008
Hi M. -
I'm going to copy this same response to the Mom asking how to motivate a 3rd grader, because I have a feeling that the same issues are at work.
First off, kids do not fail on purpose in elementary school, especially when they have parents who are trying to help them, keep them on schedules, get them to do their work, etc.
When kids constantly forget stuff, can't sit still long enough to get homework done, do poorly on tests even though they are bright enough to get high grades, don't appear to be motivated or are 'slacking off' THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG. At this age, kids WANT to succeed and be good at school. If they are not doing as well as they are capable of doing, that means there is an issue.
For both moms, I recommend requesting a full assessment from your schools. To do this, write a letter to your school district's superintendent or to the director of special education and request a full psychological assessment. This sounds scary -- but don't let it intimidate you. Legally, the district MUST comply with an assessment.
Although I obviously can't diagnose anything based on these short summaries, 3rd grader mom sounds like you may have ADD or on your hands. Smart, capable, charming, unmotivated. The lack of motivation isn't laziness, it's because it is simply too hard to stay 'mentally organized' long enough to get the work done. However, you need to ask yourself honestly -- is it really a lack of motivation, or are your standards too high? If your daughter is just laid back like your husband, then maybe you need to let it go.
M., this lack of organization in your daughter sounds like poor executive functioning, and if it isn't addressed soon, she will hit a wall in junior high, when she has 6 or 7 classes to content with. I would definitely recommend requesting assessment -- she may also have a learning disability that has not yet been obvious enough to be called out by the teachers. Either way, it is not a discipline issue and using discipline to get her to be more organized will only do more damage.
If either of you would like more information or referrals to private assessors, just let me know.
Best of luck!
P.W. answers from San Francisco on May 16, 2008
I won't try to give you any ideas on motivating her -- the other moms can do that. But my oldest was like your child, and no matter what I did, he never changed much. Some kids are just that way. I just want to say do what you need to do but RELAX. She is who she is, and she'll probably do fine in life even if she doesn't excel in school. It's harder for you since you only have one kid, and your kid's failings therefore feel more like your fault, or like something you have control over. When you have more than one child and they are all so different -- some excel, some don't -- it's easier to let them be who they are because you realize very little of it actually has to do with you. So keep trying, but don't let yourself get so worked up about it that you don't get to enjoy this journey. In hindsight I wish I'd relaxed about my son's lack of academic excellence. He's still a great guy and he's in college now.
J.B. answers from Sacramento on May 17, 2008
Could you pick her up at school? That way you could get her into the habit of checking that she has everything before she leaves the classroom. It is good that you are taking away the things she obviously puts her interest and attention on instead of her homework - but wouldn't that mean comic books are not her savior, but the enemy?
D.H. answers from Sacramento on June 27, 2008
Your daughter could probably benefit greatly from a nutritional multi vitamin product that I give to my son. It is called Future Star. It is a nice tasting citrus flavored powder that you mix in water or juice. It was actually designed for special needs students as it is specifically formulated to enhance the brain and learning abilities. My special needs son is actually 28 yo now and he is still doing very well with Future Star. It is all about balancing the whole body & brain to maximize potential. Future Star is an excellent product for all students and provides noticable results!
Check out my website at www.symmetrydirect.com/dhendon and give me a call.
Victorious Living for you and yours,
V.G. answers from San Francisco on July 19, 2008
Glad to see you have having so much support with this issue. I wonder if online tutoring could help. It's available 24/7, 4th through 12th grade and a free 25 minute tutoring session is offered. I noticed with one of my three children (all adults now - one SJSU grad, two to go!had a little anxiety about completing homework alone. If a student feels nervous about completing homework, some will procrastinate and make it worse. With on demand tutoring, homework help is available at the time when homework is being done and the student does not feel isolated. I hope this referral will help - www.referralco-op.com Good luck and God bless!
L.C. answers from San Francisco on May 18, 2008
Is it possible for you to pick her up from school? That way you can check her backpack before she comes home? Also, she may have a vision problem and homework/school work can just be too much for her. Good Luck.
L.R. answers from San Francisco on May 18, 2008
I go threw this with my 9 year old son. I remind him in the morning to bring certain books home and also write him notes in his school binder and lunch. I also pick him up from school and when I remember, I ask him before we leave the parking lot. My son is not really into him homework at this point because it's getting close to the end of the school year. I also hear that 4th grade is alot harder and they have more work than 3rd grade(my son is in 3rd). I think kids go threw this stage, they are very forgetful and my hope is that they grow up and start being more responsible.
Good luck, I am sure it will get better with time.