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    #208346 - 01/05/15 12:22 PM Underachievement- what helps?
    Hils Offline

    Registered: 10/14/12
    Posts: 74
    Loc: CA
    I'm trying to decide what to do- if anything. DS8 is in 4th grade (skipped 1st- worked great!) but is coasting by this year with minimal effort. He had an amazing teacher last year that really challenged him and brought out the best in him.

    At home he rushes through homework and completes it sloppily. His classroom work is always finished, but written work is not even close to what he is capable of doing. 100% on spelling tests, 100% on math tests (unless there are careless mistakes).

    In the past, he has been difficult on the homefront when he is bored and we address it with the teacher, come up with solutions, and try to adapt. This year, he doesn't complain much (except math being boring) so for the first half of the year, I've seen it as a welcome change. He is usually so adamant about his need for challenge that I thought it was healthy to relax about school.

    My older sons 4th grade year was also more relaxed (though he put more effort into learning and classwork). Dad is also deployed (left for 6 months at the beginning of school) so that has some impact on emotions and daily life.

    His class size is large (34 students). There is no GATE program. Socially, he is doing well. We will be moving this summer to a new duty station- so I'm starting to focus on finding a good school.

    Any ideas on how to help motivate him to do a better job? We talked about % of effort last night and he said he was at 50% effort. He has had a high achieving personality up until this year. I don't want to push him but I also don't want to let him slip into a pattern of underachievement.

    #208357 - 01/05/15 02:48 PM Re: Underachievement- what helps? [Re: Hils]
    Dude Offline

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    We've been there. Our DD would rush through assignments to get them over with, because they were boring. Her previously beautiful penmanship became unreadable. She'd start on her work before reading the directions. She's race through and make simple errors of grammar, spelling, or arithmetic, and never look back. And then she'd have meltdowns each time she received a justly-deserved F.

    All while we were pushing them to accelerate her, too. It just gave them further cause to deny her an appropriate challenge, which is exactly what she wanted and needed.

    So... bribery. For every paper that came home from school, we offered her a dollar for every B, and two for every A. C's and D's earned her nothing, and an F would mean she owed us a dollar.

    It had the desired effect, as DD began to feel a reason to do well on mundane, boring assignments. She learned to slow down, read instructions, and check her work. Her penmanship has improved to legibility, which is all I care about. She has since proven all of her detractors at the staff wrong about skipping her, she's on the honor roll, and she takes enough pride in her work now that the incentive program is no longer necessary.

    We still do it, though, because it gives her a way to "earn" her own money and practice money management, which is a necessary life skill. And as an unexpected side bonus, it also cuts out a lot of "Buy me that!" nonsense, because we can end those arguments by insisting that she buy it herself. We've dropped the negative F impact, because on the extremely rare situation where she brings one home these days, it's usually because she was in a pull-out when the teacher lectured on that particular subject.

    #208443 - 01/06/15 04:23 PM Re: Underachievement- what helps? [Re: Hils]
    Hils Offline

    Registered: 10/14/12
    Posts: 74
    Loc: CA
    Thanks- it's hard to decide when to step in. I don't want to be too pushy... but I also know when he is getting off too easy and loosing interest in "caring" about school.

    Hopefully when expectations rise a bit more (middle school??? I hope) he will rise to the challenge. Right now, without trying he still gets As in Math, Spelling, Reading.

    He has been slacking too with his music- in the past he practiced on his own but lately it's only when I nag him. Maybe it's time to bring back our monetary system for chores, music, school. Financial freedom is always motivating.

    #208452 - 01/06/15 08:17 PM Re: Underachievement- what helps? [Re: Hils]
    LAF Offline

    Registered: 06/15/14
    Posts: 469
    I went from failing my first year of high school (for basically consistent truancy) to being on the honor roll once my mom started paying me for grades- these were not grades on individual tests, but yearly grades... I got $20 for an A, $10 for a B and nothing for Cs and Ds..

    Edited by LAF (01/06/15 08:18 PM)

    #208480 - 01/07/15 09:42 AM Re: Underachievement- what helps? [Re: Hils]
    Cola Offline

    Registered: 08/25/12
    Posts: 219
    So last night we decided to do the bribery with money. I even told both kids if they get straight a's I'll GIve them an extra 25$ . They got excited about it so we will see if it works. Thanks for the idea!


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