Step Mom Concerned About Her Step Daughters's Education

Updated on November 05, 2008
S.C. asks from Chicago, IL
6 answers

Well I have a 2 step daughters one is 11 and the other 9 I've been in their lives since they were 4 and 2. Well the 11 year old has never had a problem in school. she has always been in honors until recently she got an F in math something she has never ever had. Now I think it might be because of the change in schools I'm not sure I can really say a number of things about it but we sat and talked to her about it and she is improving, but the 9 yr old has always had a problem in math in everything else she does fine in. Now I don't know what to do cause my husband doesn't really discipline them basically cause they are girls so he tries to talked to them never gives punishments or sticks to it if he did give one out. Now I have helped the 9yr old with her homework in math before and what noticed is that she didn't want to do it she give excuses for not wanting to finish her homework or she would pretend to space out. Now I don't want to say she doesn't have a problem cause she might but it is hard when the teacher says shes not turning in her homework and not adding correctley when at home when we give her work sheets she does in them. Now I've encouraged my husband to speak more to his ex so they can a descent relationship for the girls and work together if something like this were to happen, but she makes it difficult because she refuses to commuicate with him. she either texts a few words or she communicates thru the oldest for stupid things. I really would like some advice just because I love her and would like to see her do better in math.

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hello, While I was reading your request, your life sounds almost identical to mine! I have 2 step daughters as well, just 10 and 7, we just got full custody of, but the situation sounds so similar. I am 28, and I have a 7, 2 and almost 1 year old. My 2 youngest are 13 months apart, so as you know, dealing with the older kids adn their uncooporation about homework, adn then dealing with the babies is almost a nightmare. I am extatic that I'm not the only one. I almost feel like finally! Someone else who sees what I'm going through! My oldest stepdaughter, who is 10 and in 4th grade, she can't even add without counting on her fingers, just basic 1-10 addition, which seems wrong to me. Anyway, she also gives excuses, tries to lie and say, oh, we don't have to do 11-15, so, she's gotten away with it for awhile, but now we are onto her, and it is really upsetting. I mean, you can only do so much. She is awesome in reading and art, but when it comes to using the other side of her brain, for math and science, not interested. I'm in this with you, It is so hard for us, b/c we want them to do well, and it's so hard to help them while we still have to do the traditional things, cook, blahlblahblah.

Well, I'm thinking maybe a tutor, but who can afford this? I wonder if the school could provide one? You are not the only one. Maybe if we tell the teacher our struggles she can suggest something?

Just curious, are you in the McHenry area? It's so nice to know that there are more people in the world dealing with these issues. Actually I started counseling for stress management, b/c, I sometimes feel like I just cannot handle this anymore. And being pregnant, is it stressful?

Good luck, please keep me posted, it would be great if we could email eachother I have so much more I'd love to share with you, ie husband,mom issues, their mother is just like that, won't communicate

Bye for now,
C.
[email protected]____.com

1 mom found this helpful
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E.F.

answers from Chicago on

I believe that if you are genuinely concerned for her education then you may need to call up the ex and talk to her. You have to build up the ex first saying that she is a great mom and that you see all that you do for the girls etc. Then ask how doew the 9 year old do at home in regards to homework and stuff. Tell her what you see and then ask if she has any suggestions on how the two of you can work together and help the 9 year old get through this hard patch in math. The 9 year old is most likely having a hard time and not understanding something and that's why she doesn't want to do homework. She may need a tutor. The important thing is that when you talk to the ex you don't give advice but word things so that you are showing concern and what she suggestes you do for her. Perhaps she'll say she's at a loss and she may ask if you have any ideas. Crazier things have happened.

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter has a wonderful 7th grade math teacher this year. She told the parents at the start of the school year that if we find that our kids are not understanding the homework, then she hasn't done her job. We are to jot a note at the top of the page and send it back to school.

It is the teachers job to teach her students. Your first step should be to set up time with the teacher before or after school for private "lessons". You shouldn't have to pay for a tutor when you already have a math teacher. Our teacher says that its a failure on her part if her students don't get it. She is supposed to TEACH them the lesson.

If your daughter ends us with special requirements that your regular teacher can't fulfill, then it's on to someone else. Who has the cash for a tutor anyway?

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E.H.

answers from Chicago on

It is easy to see that you care so much for these girls. Take this on yourself. If she isn't getting it, then you are her stepmom and can help. It can bring you closer (if not right now, in the future things will be clear) for her to see how much you care. And even if it takes years, she will someday look back and see that you wanted her to be successful and happy and were willing to step in to help her.
It is VERY common for children who have a hard time in ANY subject to act as your have discribed, find excuses, not do homework, or space out. (for me it was reading...I was pushed passed it) If it is over their heads, they seem to give up or just shut down. I don't know what she is doing at that age, but finding ways to use math materials so that it is not a concept, but something that can be seen and felt is the key for success! I don't know if you have heard of Montessori, but it uses materials so see how math works at all levels. Addition with big numbers, division, multiplication, fractions, you name it! Making it a game can really help. Now, how do you do this? There are manuals you can buy online, or you might check with a library or find out if there is a teacher training center in your area. I know when I was in teacher training I would have loved to work with a student to practice my lessons before taking them to a classroom. When you look at numbers and don't understand how they work, it is really hard and overwhelming, but if math makes sense she may even learn to LOVE it! If you are cooking, work on doubling or cutting what you are making in half and they can see how it works, or if you are going someplace it can be a math problem to figure out how long it will take to get there with speed/distance (word problems are often a big challenge, but if you put them into a form they can relate to it may help.) Use beads or whatever objects you have around the house to help with how to figure out math problems. If remembering your facts is hard, it helps to know how to figure out how to get to the number. If she can remember her 5s then she can count backward or forward to figure out any problem. A way to make 9s on your hand is a fun one. If you count a number on your fingers from left to right and bend down the finger of the number you are multiplying by 9 you will see the answer. Example 9 * 4, looking at your hands from the back you count from your pinky four over to your first finger and bend it down. You will have 3 fingers on your left side of the "dividing finger" and 6 fingers left on the right. 9*4=36 Little tricks that you can count on help because math is always the same. Good luck!

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L.S.

answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,
First I commend you on wanting to help and it sounds like you have a full house!

It sounds to me as if the girls are having a hard time with math. I too had a hard time and exhibited the same exact behaviors as a child. If I didn't understand something I'd make excuses because I didn't want anyone to know I didn't get it. And, god forbid my father find out...he'd spend hours trying to teach me the math when all I wanted to do was go outside and play or talk to my friends on the phone. It took him twice as long to teach me things because he wasn't a teacher. My recommendation would be to look for a tutor for both girls in Math. This will increase their confidence. A tutor knows how to help kids in certain situations and can perform a needs analysis to make sure they are focusing on the right areas.

It doesn't seem to me like discipline is the answer (based on the scenario you've described and a limited knowledge of the situation), it will just make things worse because they'll get mad. It's not their fault they aren't getting it! It could be they struggle with the topic, it could be the teacher isn't explaining it in a way they understand, or they just don't like math!

Best of luck and keep loving them and encouraging them to be the best they can be! It sounds like you're doing a great job!

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S.E.

answers from Chicago on

I am going to be a little blunt, so sorry in advance. i have a step-son and I tried helping him with things and what it really came down to is I am the step mother. He really wanted his Dad's help. Also many children in a divorced parents situation go through a sort of rebellion and act out in one way or another. Unfortunately in my step son situation it happened when we had a child. He never worked it out and the problems went from good to worse.
So to be blunt again... You husband really needs to communicate with his ex and his girl... Not You. You need to be there just as the support...

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