Son Is Not Staying on Task at School and Not Bringing Homework Home

Updated on December 30, 2009
M.O. asks from Minneapolis, MN
22 answers

Hello,

My son is eight and in second grade. His teacher says he is "off the charts" on his map tests. She said he is a very polite boy and has good things to contribute but cannot stay on task in class. He draws or daydreams. He is not bringing his work home or lies about having homework. The teacher was sending reports home letting us know what was assigned for homework and what he wasn't finishing in class. It was helping but either she has stopped doing them or my son is not bringing them home. I am frustrated. I am at my wits end. We have taken away TV and wii games as punishments. We talk to him and try to guide him. We have also assigned our own homework for him if he doesn't bring his work home. His teacher is not into volunteers or I would do that. I was thinking that maybe I should pick him up from school and help him learn how to be organized and make sure his work was getting in his folder. I am looking for some helpful tips from anyone who has gone through this with their children.

Thank you.

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So What Happened?

I don't have a "What Happened" yet but I wanted to thank you all for your suggestions. They are ALL very helpful and I definitely will follow through with them. I wish I'd done (posted) this earlier. I feel like a bad mom but it sounds like I have done some things right already. I am looking into a class for parents of "gifted" children (I don't like to say gifted because I haven't heard him labeled that by anyone official). The darn kid is already smarter than me and my husband. Thanks again!

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R.N.

answers from St. Cloud on

It sounds to me like he is bored and not engaged in school. I think a good challenge would awaken his interest to pay attention. Find some summer camps that might challenge him in his fields of interest. Have him research on the internet some of his favorite things and build a plan to create something with his knowledge.

Good luck- bright boys are challenge.

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C.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hey! I guess I don't really have a suggestion on what you can do, I just wanted to say that it sounds like you're already doing a great job! I teach and its always nice to get support from a parent when things are tough for a student. Often times, in my experience, parents can be argumentative and unwilling to admit that their child is at all at fault. I've noticed that when things like this are happening with a student, sometimes the student is feeling overwhelmed or is having trouble with the work but doesn't want or know how to say that. You're a GREAT mom! Stick with him and things will get better!

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S.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

To me, your son sounds bored. Perhaps the work is below his level? With MAP test that are "off the charts" AND his behavior is the fingerprint of a bored, gifted learner. In his mind, why should he complete assignments when he has already demonstrated that he knows the material? Believe it or not, this is really common amongst unchallenged gifted learners.

There is a parents group for gifted kids in the Twin Cities. Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented. www.mgct.net CHAT nights are very helpful and a good place to start (and are free).

I would strongly recommend testing by a licensed psychologist. There are several in the Twin Cities that specialize in testing and behavior issues for gifted students. If you are interested, send me a personal email and I will share their contact information with you.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

Nobody has yet brought up the fact that if he is "off the charts" (I assume you mean super high) on his MAP tests that the kid is bored out of his mind. Who could blame him for not being very focused in class. Does your school offer gifted testing (MAP tests are just skill based tests but do not actually test for giftedness)? If they don't offer it, then you should definitely seek it. What kind of differentiation does the teacher make in the classroom for kids who have already mastered the curriculum for the grade?

Also it is extremely common for gifted kids to find the typical homework "busywork" that schools send home to be pointless. But they do still need to practice organization skills. So talk with the teacher about other possibilities if he has already mastered the work being sent home. Could he be working on harder types of problems in math or have project based homework where he designs and completes an independent project in an area of interest? Gifted kids generally prefer using/practicing/mastering skills in context rather than in the typical isolated way of worksheet based schooling.

And I just have to say that I find it really weird that the teacher doesn't allow volunteers in the classroom. Sends up warning bells in my mind that she feels uncomfortable having parents see how she structures her classroom. Is this a school wide policy or just certain teachers. It was invaluable for me to see what skills were being taught in my son's classroom. I knew in math he was already doing much more complicated things on his own at home so I was able to mention this to the teacher and she started challenging him more.

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L.M.

answers from Green Bay on

Perhaps the problem is that your son is bored to tears in school. If he is testing high on standardized testing, chances are that mainstream classes are boring and not challenging enough to keep him engaged.

I read books through the 1st and 2nd grade because I was bored to tears with "learning to read" and "simple math". My oldest son acted out similarly until his teacher's recognized he was bored and did something about it. But it is as difficult for teachers to give extra attention to any child for any reason, and there is some kind of refusal in society to recognize that some children are indeed exceedingly bright and need to be more challenged.

As your son why he doesn't pay attention; why he draws/ignores the teacher. Ask him if his homework is too hard - or too easy. Instead of focusing on the fact that he isn't doing it, have a real discussion with him regarding *why* he isn't doing it.

It's really difficult to solve the problem unless you know what the problem really is. The drawing/refusal to do homework is a *symptom* of something else, not the problem itself.

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K.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with Lori. Imagine you were stuck in a classroom all day forced to read very easy stories when you're ready for chapter books. Or adding numbers when you're ready for long division. If he's scoring off the charts on the MAP test that is likely the case. I think the problem here is likely the teacher and I don't think you should be anxious to tag a child scoring off the charts with ADD. Does your school do any kind of assessment for being gifted at any point? I find it very unusual that no volunteers are allowed in the classroom.

I had a similar situation with my son in kindergarten and 1st grade. He literally learned nothing in 1st. We pulled him to homeschool this year in 2nd. The difference in what he has learned in 2nd is amazing. Not to mention the difference in his attitude and independance. I volunteered in the classroom my son's entire 1st grade year and that really gave me a clear picture of what is going on and why it wasn't a good fit for him.

My son's case is extreme and homeschooling is obviously not something everyone can do. But I would talk to the teacher about giving him more challenging work. You may even want to consider having him fully assessed (IQ and achievement). Good luck!

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C.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

First call the school and ask his teacher if she would mind communicating with you through email instead of report being sent home. Tell her they were very helpful when you were getting them but email would be more effective. Tell your son, if he doesn't stay focused in class and bring homework home, he will lose certain privledges, ie..a favorite tv show he is allowed to watch or a video game he has any. You could also go the other way and reward the positive behavior, with a special outing like a movie he would like to see, when he does do good.
For next year, try to ask around for 3rd grade teacher reccomendations. Talk to those teachers, ask about volunteering in the classroom and what is her take on that. It seems really odd that his teacher isn't into volunteers, most would welcome them anytime.

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J.L.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi M.,

I would certainly show up daily at his school at the end of the day until he understands organization skills. I would also talk to the teacher about an assignment notebook. Your son should write down what the class did for every subject, whether or not he finished it in school and the teacher should initial it every day. Once home, you should go through the assignment notebook with him, ensuring that all homewrok is completed. You too should initial it. That way there is constant communication between you and the teacher, and the expectation to ALWAYS have the notebook filled out. The teacher could also put a smiley, straight, or sad face for each class to let you know how his behavior was for the entire day. If you need to get him on some sort of reward system, using the faces is a good start!
Good luck!
J.

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J.P.

answers from St. Cloud on

If he is truly "off the charts" on standardized testing (ask the teacher to show you and to explain to you the results. Then share the info with a friend who understands what standardized testing is designed to measure and get their read.), it sounds to me like he is not being challenged and is bored to death. If that is the case, he probably sees absolutely no value in doing the busy work he is likely being given as 'homework'. While I am a strong advocate of holding children acountable for obeying the teacher and you, If it turns out that he really needs to be academically challenged, disciplining him for not seeing value in busy work will likley be counterproductive and risks stifling future motivation.

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P.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with previous posts that it appears your son is bored in school.

Mpls. Public Schools Gifted and Talented Education: http://giftedandtalented.mpls.k12.mn.us/GT_Services_more....

As far as classroom observation, schools that receive Title I funds must meet with parents to develop a parental involvement policy and must distribute the policy to parents and the community. Parents of children who attend Title I schools shall have access to school staff, opportunities to participate in the child's class, and to observe classroom activities. (20 U.S.C. § 6318)

The school must hold a meeting every year to tell parents about the parent involvement policy and their right to be involved in their child's education.

Parents have a right to access to teachers, opportunities to volunteer and participate in your child's class, and to observe classroom activities.

If the child attends a Title I school, parents have a right to inspect instructional materials used in the curriculum. (Title X, Section 1061)

Good luck!

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C.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

M., My son did this same thing. Will the teacher let you sit in on one day? Can you? It may be well worth it. Your son should have a "Homework forder". Sit in on the class, even in the back, when the homework assignment is given, it should go in that folder. You are there to verify that he follows through. To show him how he can be organized. Another option would be to ask him if he wants your help like this. Some kids will decide to do it not to get Mom's help. We woudl like to rely on the teachers to do that part, but.... I never got the info till it was close to report card time, that assignments were missing after we agreed the teacher would contact me weekly. I did learn later that he really was not challenged enough and had decided he did not need to do the homework as he already knew it.. Funny now!! My son is now 22 and turned out great regardless!! Good luck!

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V.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

M.,
Just wanted to add one thing to what others have said. Since the school year is almost over, do some research on the third grade teachers available for next year. It sounds like he will need a teacher who is willing to adjust from a strict curiculum, to challenge kids that need it, with some harder work. For instance: If they get all spelling words right on the pre-test they can get a challenge list of words to work on for the week. Or for math the same idea. Some teachers are really great at this others are not willing to do that for kids. Also I think you need to stress to your son that he has to get the current homework done in order to get the more challenging work. It should be easy for him to get it done quickly. (This is what I had to do for my son at that age.) Also I found out that my son and some of the others that age, just simply forget to bring homework home. When I talked with other parents they were having the same problems with their boys. I too threatened that I would be coming to school every afternoon to make sure he was bringing home his homework, he didn't like that idea very much and thought it would be embarrassing! Just the threat of that helped! My son is now in 5th grade and this is the first year he has really taken responsibility for bringing home his homework. It takes a few years for boys to get it right! Finally all my efforts have paid off.

One thing that worked well is this: If my son doesn't have his homework done, for whatever reason (didn't bring it home, didn't finish, etc.) then he gets detention from his teacher. (Can't go out to recess.) But the teacher is to let me know each time he has detention, she emails me. But my son knows that if he calls to tell me himself, his consequences will be less at home. My son has almost completely stopped "forgeting" his homework at school! The teacher and I joined forces this year and it has worked.

I know your son is younger but some of these tactics may help or work for you. My son started this in second grade too.
Good luck, V.

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K.L.

answers from Milwaukee on

see if you can do a meeting with the teacher once a week to see what your son has/had to do for the week. also instead of taking away from your son try giving to him. we have a deal with our first grader that if he brings home a green light all week than we reward him with a $5 bill. but it has to be all week and no excuses!!! it has him working extra hard to get that money!!!

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M.O.

answers from Appleton on

Hi!

Just my two cents but next the Teacher will be sugesting that he is ADD or ADHD and he needs to be on drugs! Please do not do it. Can you home school? I think its a great idea that you help him out. As for her not having volunteers? Red Flag! Most teachers want the extra help. My daugnter goes to school and parents are asked to help out. Get out your volunteer hat go to the higher ups and tell them that you want to help out? They cannot refuse you. See what is going on in the Class Room. Your son sounds like a normal eight year old to me! As a Mother of 3 grown sons, we spent a lot of time just as you did. So what if he doesn't get straight A's, neither did mine! Guess what if you guide them, give them challenges make them have consequences etc. He will be just fine! My sons are now very hard working, successful in Computers, Med school and a Casting Assistant! Yes I was told they wouldn't amount to anything and they were goofing around too much. I would like to go back to their Teachers and say Guess What? You sound like a wonderful Mom, we Moms were given great insight, Please do what you can to help him, get him on fish oil to help concentrate good vitamins, and no red or yellow dyes. Read labels, and sports help too. My sons were very active in sports, great outlet for boys! If you want another wonderful product for children, adults and anyone, Please go to the following website, MOMS know best!

www.mymangosteen.com/fruitsolution

email is [email protected]____.com

Good luck!

Tracey

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S.S.

answers from Omaha on

I am a single mom of an 8 year old 2nd grade boy who won't stay on task as well. I have taken everything away from him and yet he does nothing. I have tried reward and honor system, the teacher has taken away recess, field trips and anything else fun there is to do in school and yet he wont' do his handwriting assignments. Required assignments that, we as students, didnt' do until 4th grade. My son is in OPS and I have been fighting the system for 3 years. And I am not sure if I am winning or not. I finally told my son that it was up to him, there was nothing I could do for him in this regard. the teacher emails me daily as to whether he has homework or not, but if it doesn't get from the classroom to the house- we can't do it. I punish and take away anything electronic, as well as friends- there isn't much more I can do aside from not feeding him or paddling him. Corporal punishment was not the parenting model I wanted to follow, but now initiating this for the first time in 8 years- I seem to have got his attention.

K.W.

answers from Milwaukee on

tell his peditrician to test him for attention deficite disorder

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E.I.

answers from Duluth on

hmm. you can give him the tools. a lot of times, this kind of thing leads to an add or adhd diagnosis...

one thing that i try to remind people these days about this kind of behavior is that schools are getting their hands more and more tied because of the requirements that are more strict (no doubt due to no child left behind) so things like recess, gym class, and other outdoor playtimes or activity times have been cut, thuogh you would know about your school if those things have been cut.

kids who arent able to be active enough during the day, or just throughout their whole lives, they will act sort of off task, or scatterbrained... kids need activity.

so, in my opinion, you have done the right thing by taking away tv and wii privileges, but add to that at least an hour after school outdoor activity. encourage him to run around, chase bugs or whatever you have to do to get him wore out! kids who run outside every day sleep better, get better rest, and function better the next day. it might not be the perfect cure but its an idea.

my little brother who is now 15 had the same problem when he was younger. he wouldnt hand things in even when he did do them, sometimes because he had finished them too late and wouldnt get full credit, and hes still struggling. we arent sure what the issue is, but theres a variety of different struggles kids may have. activity is one of them, another is not being challenged by the work, or being challenged so much that they give up. try to find out what the deal is. see if he is receptive to homework time WITH you or dad. if a kid hasnt been guided about how to do the homework and stay on task, sometimes they cant figure it out on their own. helping him with every problem, making sure hes gotten activity during the day, and give him a great after school snack, like apples and peanut butter, for lots of good energy! more fruits and veggies the better! :D

good luck. ive seen what my mom has to deal with when it comes to this kind of homework issue. for a while in elementary they DID go into his desk every day after school, cleaned it all out, made sure he had all his homework out and all the corrected assignments.
anyway. just dont be too upset at him about it, it might not be something hes doing on purpose. be responsive to him, dont pressure him to talk about it, but do try to stay connected to him in general and let him know that he can always come to you. its hard to get a kid to tell you he did poorly or didnt do homework if he knows hes going to get in big trouble. not to say there shouldnt be repercussions, but they should make sense and not mean you will yell at him.
i dunno.
good luck

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K.L.

answers from Madison on

As a classroom teacher and mom, you might want to pick him up from school for the rest of the year. That way you can make sure he has what he needs and check in with his teacher. Alternately, when I've had kids who didn't bring things home, I'd email the work, newsletter, note, etc. to make certain it got there. The parent and I would work out the system.

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M.A.

answers from Des Moines on

My daughter has special needs so it's a little different because ultimately she will always need help in making sure her life is organized and she is following through. So you will at least eventually need to figure a way to make your son take on the responsibility himself. That's the hardest part!

Depending on how much you and the teacher use e-mail, that is something that can work really well. It also for better or worse just bypasses the issue of your son bringing home anything. A daily fax may also be an option. What worked the best for us that still left my daughter responible for following through was that she had a planner that she was responsible for writing her assignments in and having the teacher sign daily. Otherwise, she had consequences for not having had the teacher sign her planner. Kids are very creative! So here are some things to look out for on the planner. Everything needed to be written in pen otherwise the pencil just got erased and rewritten. If something was crossed out the teacher needed to initial it. Also, having one teacher specifically assigned to sign the planner is really helpful. (My daughter had the gym teacher sign one day before we specified that one! <sigh>)

Good luck! It's really hard and the teacher can make it doable or impossible. We were really lucky and had a great teacher for two years in a row and it made a huge difference in my daughter and how well she was performing on her testing. The last three years have been hit or miss and she's been slipping some as a result.

I would definately look into other ways to challenge him though. I know that I was a student who learned things very quickly so I had a hard time motivating myself to be actively involved in class and to do my homework. It was just too easy and consequently I was just bored to tears! I had this problem even in several of my college courses. I really wish I had applied myself more or had someone recognize this and offer me a challenge. I certainly could have done a lot more with my life!

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N.R.

answers from Des Moines on

You should have your son tested for ADD/ADHD as soon as possible. Our daughter has an extremely high IQ but has ADD and learning disabilities. She does very well on the homework & assignments that she does but can't remember to bring homework home, etc.

Once your child begins to fall behind in school it is difficult to catch up.

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S.W.

answers from Anchorage on

you should say that you will help him and then he might listen and if he talks listen to him and say how he got the problem wrong

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C.S.

answers from Fargo on

In my experience this is more an under challenged/ bored issue. My daughter did the same in grade 1-2. She was also a high map tester, very obedient, quiet,and very invisible in the classroom. She did Not like spending her whole day reading the chapter books I sent to occupy her spare time! and truly did not want to go to second grade! She spent her day couped up under-challenged and watching her teacher disaplining unruly children! Blessings happened in Third grade with an IEP the Clustering of the High MAP students in both launguage and Math. This teacher did an awesome job- yes- my daughter still has challenges with organization, as a 6th grader I still work on that with her- and have found that the new grading system ( 4.0) combined with the natural consequnces is less forgiving to her forgetfulness. She has slowly started to let go of her perfectionistic way- she use to always have time for this in elementary school as she was the first done with her work and had plenty of time to perfect it, at times even bringing it home to make it even better than better...

so simple is good ...do the basic...get something done and hand it in in time.

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