November 12, 2007,
N.B. asks from Lowell, MA on November 06, 2007
Suggestions to Motivate My 10 Year Old Son in School
My 10 year old son hates school! I cannot find anything to motivate him. He is in 5th grade, and is quite smart, but hates to read and write. He is a tactile learner and neither I nor the teachers have found a niche to motivate him. He just sits there in school and doesn't write on the papers. He will participate verbally, or physically but hates the actual task of putting pencil to paper! This has been going on since Nursery School! We have tried punishments, rewards, charts, everything! Can any one help me out on this??
So What Happened?™
Thanks to everyone for their great responses. I do type some of the work for him and I actually write most of his homework. He tells me what to write and I do it! At least it gets done. I have a meeting set up with his teachers next week to go over some ideas. I'll be bringing up some of your suggestions. I am also going to have him evaluated. Although he is bad at test taking, I'm sure there are ways around writing! I'll let you all know how we make out and in the mean time with your suggestions and help, I'll be able to keep a little bit of my hair!!!!
B.K. answers from Springfield on November 12, 2007
Oh N.! 5th Grade is so much fun too! I would have for your son to miss out on the great curriculum because he doesn't like to write. I was a 5th grade teacher until I had kids and now I am "retired" to be home with them, so from my point of view, here are some suggestions:
There are kids who just DON'T like to write. I have come across plenty of them- you ask for a paragraph and they give you a "yes or no" answer.. literally.
A few things I would look at: you say he is able to verbally express himself well, but won't write... (is this paragraphs, full sentences, will he circle a multiple choice question, do math problems?) Is he able to organize paragraphs?
One thing I found with a lot of my students is that they could express to me what they wanted to say but when it came time to put it on paper, they couldn't organize themselves. I would start with letting him answer questions with a graphic organizer- begin with one word answers, then build up to fragments, full sentences, then full paragraphs. (If you don't have any graphic organizers, let me know and I will email you some samples if you are interested).
Also, how does he feel about typing? Would his teachers allow him to type his homework that requires written responses? Obviously it is not ideal for standardized testing (in fact I am not sure if it is allowed with the MCAS unless they are special ed, which I don't even know what those regulations are anymore they have changed it so much...)
When he does write, how is his actual writing? Is he required to use cursive or is he allowed to print still?
I wish you all the best- you sound like very supportive parents and I am sure it will all work out..
T.L. answers from Portland on November 06, 2007
We had this trouble with one of our boys and the school put him in the Alternative Education Program which is more of a hands on learning program and he did wonderful. Some children just don't do well writing things down, taking notes etc, but are very bright. Your son needs to be in a better program so he will not get discouraged and think he isn't smart. The fact is he is probably smarter than the rest of his class and tends to get bored easily.
K.I. answers from Lewiston on November 07, 2007
My son is also 10 and has always disliked school too.. He did not like to write OR EVEN COLOR either early on. They thought it was because his hands would get tired holding the pencils. They had me get the grippers for the pencils for him. They also put him in the in school physical thereapy.. It wound up working. He still does not like school, but he does like writing and drawing even coloring much better.. Maybe mentioning that to the school might help. My son was also put into the special education classes which are easier for him to get through that helps too.. My son has never refused to do anything but would fight me every step of the way.. It is a constant struggle to keep him motivated to go to school.. I feel your pain.. Good luck and I hope this helps..
B.G. answers from Boston on November 07, 2007
Have him tested for Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
I have two sons one is 17 the other is almost 13. When our 12 year old (almost 13) went into 1st grade the same thing started to happen with him. Did not want to read, or write, did all the same things you tried......By the time he was 10 he was sooooo depressed and angry at himself for dissappointing us he wanted to die. We got help. It took a little bit of time but he got the right meds and he is a happy (most of the time) young man.......
I'm not suggesting your son has the same problem, I'm just saying don't eliminate the fact that it may help.
My husband and I were beside ourselves and ready to have him committed because we couldn't help him.
finally someone suggested to us that we take him to have a psycological evaluation. The psycatrist worked with him for several weeks and determined made several determinations.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Most insurances have a co-pay now for mental health. It's a lot less expensive than a funeral!
My husband lost his 1st son at age 18. He was from a first marriage and came to live with us at age 13. We thought he was a happy guy too! Moved out when he was 18 like most do if they can afford to, went to work, went swimming, drowned!
No attempt to try to survive.........Don't end up regretting because of social stigma's! I'll keep you in my prayers..........Specifically that you can talk about the suggestioin to have your son tested at least and if the tests reveal he's absolutely normal just stubborn, then empty his room and don't give him anything but books until he does what is expected of him.........God Bless ........B.
W.W. answers from Portland on November 10, 2007
If he has a PET for his tactile needs, recommend that when he has completed a outline of what to write, let him use a computer with word processing. The "team" should have suggestions that are proven.
If he does not have a PET, ask for one as it is the schools responsibility to teach your child and they have the resources through the no child left behind law and the "least restrictive" rule in Maine.
Finally ask your son what he would recommend and be prepared to act on any of those that are reasonable.
Best of the future for you and your children.
Mother of Special needs 15 year ols son and 9 year old twin girls
J.G. answers from Springfield on November 08, 2007
I know this is suggesting a HUGE change, but my 5th grader went through the same thing and I decided that drastic times called for drastic measures. I tranferred her into a local private Waldorf school. Waldorf emphasizes that children need balance with physical activity and mental space for learning. Otherwise, I'd try to really tire him out during after school times, and possibly have a situation set up where he "earns" tv or video game time with positive teacher feedback. Good luck!
K.F. answers from Portland on November 06, 2007
If you have a computer at home see if his teacher will allow him to type his homework out. I do that with some of my 6th grade students. Is it possible for him to have a laptop in school? Our district purchased laptops from the Maine Laptop Initiative and all 6-8th graders have their own laptop. Would his teacher take some answers verbally? See if he/she will accept 1/2 of the answers verbally and the other 1/2 your son HAS to write out. Does he have issues with his fine motor skills? Maybe you should check for a Occupational Therapy consult through his school. Good luck!
K.G. answers from Hartford on November 07, 2007
My son has had issues...also in 5th grade...and smart..but, found he couldn't do certain things....can he actually write? He could have a visual perception problem...and his eye sight be perfect...with this they can't follow along with reading and cannot copy from the blackboard. It could be something he can't help and having it for so long he doesn't know anything else...he can't tell you what's wrong if he doesn't know what's right. Could he be dyslexic? I would take him to a Neurologist. I found out what is wrong with my son and now he gets occupational therapy and will over come his issues....he's a great basketball player, baseball player and has a sensory issue within his inner ear...Good luck...but, I wouldn't leave any rock unturned and then you could say that you had everything checked.
A.W. answers from Hartford on November 07, 2007
Does your son's school have any after school enrichment programs? I recently enrolled my son in his school's after school program, Arts and Crafts, for his grade level (which is 2nd grade). I find that when you can get a child to build on their creative side, such as drawing, making crafts or doing projects (basically anything hands on), it can help to refocus them on required tasks and motivate them to be more active in school and also at home, such as chores and homework. Building on creativity, in my opinion, is a healthy and great way to stimulate their brain.
If your son's school doesn't have the after school programs I spoke of, maybe you can look into your local Boys and Girls Club or YMCA for a list of programs similar to what I described. As an added bonus, it also gets them away from the TV and video games for a while, and is a more educational, but fun, alternative.
Hope this helped....
N.L. answers from Boston on November 07, 2007
I know this may sound a little crazy, but since you mentioned he is a tactile learner, more hands on, what are your thoughts on the utensil he is using to write with? Here's the thing, for years as a Dental Hygienist, the only way I could motivate certain children (and adults) was coming up with a unique device to make it more fun or easier to brush. Some people have gripping problems, so I would suggest a tennis ball on the end of the toothbrush. I know it sounds like a long shot, but maybe it's something that no one has looked into before. Good Luck!!