My 8 Year Old Used to Love School, Now It's a Fight!

Updated on February 12, 2011
P.M. asks from Dallas, TX
9 answers

My daughter Abbie adores all things learning. Or at least she did, for a long while. I homeschooled her last year (she went to public school for kindergarten and part of first grade) since we are in Hawaii and the schools are just terrible here. She just begged and begged to go to school with her friends this year and we allowed it (she was getting soooo lonely staying home and it's not really feasible that I keep homeschooling her this year) It's been six months back at public school and she is fighting me tooth-and-nail over homework and her grades are slipping. She despises handwriting, she loathes spelling, she is just NOT getting the memorization for simple math down. She can easily solve more complex math problems but is just not getting the memorization of simple addition and subtraction. I've tried just drilling her with flashcards, counting out beans to give her a visual, etc. Any suggestions? They have a timed math test where they have 2 min to solve 30 questions, so it's all about memorization and she is only getting 7 or 8 answers on her test! (She isn't getting the others wrong, just not answering them at all) I hate to see her starting to lag behind. Any ideas are welcome!

Oh, we can't send her to private schools here as the tuition in Hawaii is INSANE!

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much all of you wonderful Moms! Let me give a little more information. As I said she went to school from Kindergarten to almost the middle of first grade, where she was doing just fine with her grades. She was getting lost in the mix and her teacher was really terrible so we pulled her out and I started homeschooling her with a combination of online classes and self-directed home learning (If she was interested in bugs that month we centered math, history i.e the Egyptians use of beetles, science and so on around that theme) I didn't force her to sit with me and study things she hated. She loved math when it was a puzzle to figure out. Last year she was multiplying single digits and adding sets of three numbers (347+286) She can tell you loads about science (her favorite subject)

I dedicate the entire time after school to working with her now. I let her play for 30min when she comes home (also a snack!) and then we do whatever homework she has that day for 30 min. Then 30 min of playtime followed by 30 min of reading, 30 min of playtime again and then math review while I cook dinner. She loves the schedule (she has always done best learning in no more than 30min increments)

When left to her own devices her handwriting looks like a 5 year olds, but if I sit next to her and make her do it her handwriting is wonderful. Reading she is on par, but slow when reading allowed. She has never had any trouble with comprehension. She is going to the eye doctor next week because recently she has been saying that the words on the paper are always 'missing a letter' So I am hoping that's what's going on with her reading speed. I try to turn every memorization drill into a game (I ask the math problem and when she gets it right I toss a bouncy ball to her, she bounces it back and I ask another question, etc)

I never considered gifted classes because (shame on me) I was afraid that her lagging in math and reading speeds and her terrible spelling meant that she was average and I was okay with that. I don't want to push her to be something she is not, but I know she can really excel when interested in her learning topic. I will look into it at the school next week! Any further advice is always appreciated, thanks so much ladies!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

I totally agree with what MU Tiger Mom said. My son is an 8 yr old gifted 3rd grader and suffers from the same stuff - especially the spelling! Try to find some local programs......

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answers from Dallas on

Have you considered the possibility of having her tested for gifted & talented. I ask because I noticed that all the things she dislikes revolve around mundane rote memory skills. I taught pull-out Gt for 4 years and many of my kids HATED spelling, memorizing multiplication facts, etc. The frustrating thing, of course, was that if they had spent even a tiny portion of the effort they spent fighting it into learning it, they would have learned it in half a heartbeat.
How are her overall academics (reading level w/ comprehension, problem-solving ability, ability to think creatively, etc). If they seem high in comparision to peers, maybe check into the GT program at your school.
Maybe google hoagies gifted. I haven't been there for awhile but they used to have terrific parent information about giftedness.
It's worth a shot to look into! :-) Good luck to you!

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answers from Jacksonville on

How did she do when you were homeschooling her? My son had some of the issues you mention. Seems like they cropped up around 3rd grade-ish. It sounds to me like she is just smarter than doing all the rote memorization and finds that work boring and monotonous. Which doesn't work for her. So I would ditch the flashcards, personally. Unless you can make it into a game with her where she earns some sort of desirable reward for getting so many right within a certain time frame. Otherwise, it is just more of the same that she hates at school. Not the best way to motivate a kid who is advanced beyond it mentally, but slow to get going... Maybe she doesn't finish because it bores her into daydreaming...
The fact that she can do complex math and not the timed memorization is a big clue here. Have you addressed this with her teacher at all?

Also, have you considered the possibility that she might be gifted? You didn't give a whole lot of specifics about her learning experiences prior to the issues she is having now, but if she was home schooled and loved all things learning prior to this, especially if she learned new things really quickly, and was ready to move on to the next new and exciting thing/stage, then it might be something you should look into. Her school should be able to test her, but if her grades are plummeting they are not likely to recommend her for testing without prompting from you...
Here's some info:

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answers from Terre Haute on

I would be concerned that things were going on at school that were either bothering her, or were being bad influences on her. It sounds like homeschooling was really working for her minus the social aspect. I realize you said homeschooling wasn't that feasible for you this year, but if it is what is best for her maybe you should figure out a way to make it work. At the rate she is going you may wish you had. There are homeschooling networks here in the Midwest that offer a chance for kids to get socialization. Is there anything like that in Hawaii??



answers from Chicago on

A couple of things that you said made me wonder if she might be dyslexic. Here is a great website that you might want to check out.

My 8yr old son was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia last summer, if anything on the website rings a bell with you, it might be worth looking into. If I can help, message me.

Good Luck!



answers from Muncie on

Since you've home school before then I would suggest using home schooling like a supplement. Talk to her and tell her that you're going to start helping her, but that if her grades in school don't pick up then it's back to full time home schooling again. This puts the power in her hands, you're offering her tools and she has the choice to use them. She may not learn the way the school is trying to teach her, doing some extra work at home with you might be better for her.



answers from Chicago on

It sounds like homeschooling suited your daughter. Since you are spending so much time working with her after school, is there a way you can make homeschooling work again? There are many online curriculums, or you can do an online school.

It's very hard when you're smart to have to go the pace that the other kids are going at. I know my daughter went through a period of time where she wanted to go back to public school SO BAD! She just thought it would be fun to be with her friends all day. Once she realized it meant she had to sit in a classroom all day long and get up early she changed her mind! It's possible your daughter had another idea of what school would be like and is now disappointed.

Try offering her incentives for memorizing. My daughter does NOT want to memorize her math tables so I use gumballs as incentives. They're too young to really know why they need to memorize their math so any reason to do it is good! The end result is she knows her math!

You can try That's what we use!



answers from Honolulu on

How did you home school her?
Did you utilize online home schooling organizations?

Honolulu also has a Home schooling organization or resources:

The thing is, your daughter is having a transitioning difficulty.
But she wants to go to school as you said, probably because she wants socialization and interaction with kids her age.
But she is not used to, the structure of a "classroom".
Also, since she was home schooled, until now, she is not at the same... level as what the school is teaching per requirements and work.

Is she in 3rd Grade? Or 2nd?
If in 3rd Grade, from this grade on up, there is a great jump in complexity and expectations, compared to 2nd Grade. So, there is probably a disparity.... in what your daughter was used to learning wise, and now, in school.

Perhaps also, you can get a Geographic Exception, so that she can go to another better public school in your area.



answers from Chicago on

It sounds like she is having an adjustment issue between homeschooling and the public schools. If she is in public school can she talk to the counselor to try to pinpoint some of the issues?

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