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    #249148 - 09/03/21 09:54 AM How hard should I push?
    twallace Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/31/17
    Posts: 42
    DS13 thrives in school, he is outspoken, works hard (mostly), and advocates for his own needs. DD10 however, works hard at home but not at school. She asks for private latin tutors, reads and writes stories all day long, researches greek mythology constantly, and will do advanced math when I ask her to at home. However at school, she complains constantly about being bored and asks me repeatedly to ask her teachers for harder work or subject accelerating, but then will only perform mediocre. If she weren't in TAG, they would never know she had above average intelligence. She makes stupid mistakes on tests, and overall just doesn't even try. She has one TAG pullout a week, which only has one other girl in it, and they don't really do anything. She has been grade skipped before, and thrived, so I do truly think it's because she's bored, but she won't prove to her teachers that she can do her grade level work at an advanced level, so I can't blame them for thinking she still needs to work on it. How much should I push her to try her hardest, or push her teachers to give her a chance at more challenging work, or do I just let her live in the consequences of her behavior and not worry about it?

    #249149 - 09/03/21 12:20 PM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: twallace]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 5189
    Unfortunately, it may be more common for girls to "dumb themselves down" in order to fit in. In my observation and experience, one helpful remedy is placement with intellectual peers, with whom they may confer, collaborate, and compete.

    Until other parents respond, here are some links to resources and older posts on the forum, which may be of interest. They discuss various aspects of underachievement.
    1) general description -
    2) Hoagies's list -
    3) Jim DeLisle article -
    4) Jim DeLisle book - (via acsd, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, in support of the stated goals of public education)

    In the event that a student may not be doing poorly on purpose, consider looking into Executive Function issues.

    Parents may also want to consider the following: The Sept 2011 report summarizing research by NWEA - Fordham, titled "Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude?", indicates that some students may become "descenders" within a given one-third of their class. This information may have inspired some schools to intentionally create "descenders" as the school strives to close gaps and achieve equal outcomes.

    #249150 - 09/03/21 05:37 PM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: twallace]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 4023
    I took the liberty of scanning back over some of your prior posts regarding this child, and I tend to agree with your interpretation that she is making careless errors because of instructional mismatch--aka, she is significantly underchallenged, and consequently struggling to find engagement or motivation in the tasks offered to her. I notice also that this has been a pattern stretching all the way back to her official kindergarten year.

    It may be worth considering that pushing her to try harder on unstimulating work--while possibly having some value ultimately for lessons in delayed gratification--may not be addressing the core issue in this case, which appears to be that she doesn't perceive any mid-term or long-term benefit from gritting her teeth through what likely is highly unmotivating busy work. And this perception is arguably justified, since no past efforts to work more conscientiously on easy work have resulted in more interesting, challenging work. In fact, the one year in which she appears to have zoomed ahead with pleasure netted her a repeat year in lower-level work. (I am not blaming you, tw, for this at all; the schooling situation did not turn out as you were expecting, and you did the best you could with what you had to work with.) So one can see why logically she might see no reason for her to do any more than the median expectation on whatever is placed before her.

    What you are describing sounds much more like instructional-underplacement-induced apathy than social masking to me.
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

    #249151 - 09/05/21 07:00 AM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: twallace]
    Platypus101 Offline

    Registered: 10/01/14
    Posts: 675
    Loc: Canada
    As aeh brilliantly describes, the situation as known provides a good explanation for your DD's response to it. However, it may also be worth considering the possibility that she *can't*, rather than she won't.

    My 17 YO has serious inattentive ADHD (as well as some language LDs). He cannot easily control his attention, and it is nearly impossible for him to keep it focused on repetitive make-work. So it takes him forever and he makes lots of mistakes because he can't concentrate. (If the work also triggers his writing LDs, the ADHD is stratospheric).

    In middle grades, I watched this child crying with frustration because he was trying for hours upon hours to do work that his brain absolutely refused to comply with. For us, this definitely wasn't a "won't". Whether he was avoiding the work because doing it hurt, or he was trying like heck for days on end, the result was exactly the same: nada.

    But I really, really understand the natural reaction of "You can do it perfectly well when it's something *you* care about, so obviously you are *choosing* to not do it well here." It seems obvious, except the inability to make that choice of where the attention goes is pretty much the definition of ADHD.

    All that to say, maybe google "inattentive ADHD" a bit and see if there's anything there that feels familiar, and might perhaps be exacerbating the education mis-match problem. I like ADDitude as a starter ( If any of this rings a bell, Russell Barkley has some fascinating ways of discussing ADHD as essentially a disorder of motivation (

    #249154 - 09/06/21 09:26 AM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: twallace]
    aquinas Offline

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    I would lead with success, both to get your child and school on board. Pilot a deep dive independent research project in a favourite subject to demonstrate the efficacy of a more advanced curriculum. See if you can expand that into one course, then more.

    If you can get your toe in the door, good manoeuvring will let you get your body through, so to speak.
    What is to give light must endure burning.

    #249156 - 09/07/21 01:21 PM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: indigo]
    twallace Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/31/17
    Posts: 42
    Thank you for your recommendations. We have struggled finding intellectual peers for her, though luckily her older brother has several female friends who have allowed her in their social circle. Your response inspired me to reach out to those parents and see if I can get her more time with them. I also appreciate the resources, definitely looking into those!

    #249157 - 09/07/21 01:26 PM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: aeh]
    twallace Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/31/17
    Posts: 42
    Thank you so much for taking the time to go back and look at previous questions I have had about her. After fighting with teachers for the past five years, who would just respond with "she needs to show me what she can do then" (though she does excel in school with reading, and they do nothing different), I eventually gave up and started putting it back on her (which has also not shown improvement). Your response has made me realize that I need to continue to advocate for her with the school. Thank you!

    #249158 - 09/07/21 01:30 PM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: aquinas]
    twallace Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/31/17
    Posts: 42
    Thank you for the idea of an independent research project, definitely on my agenda to ask her teacher about. I think she would do better with that anyway.

    #249159 - 09/07/21 10:38 PM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: twallace]
    Eagle Mum Offline

    Registered: 02/24/20
    Posts: 189
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: twallace
    Thank you for the idea of an independent research project, definitely on my agenda to ask her teacher about. I think she would do better with that anyway.

    This is a very good idea. Developing her skills to work independently (which your original post in this thread already describes her as doing) should stand her in very good stead when she graduates to high school.

    I don’t know much about your situation in the US, but here, in our part of Australia, due to the COVID pandemic, our kids have had to ‘learn from home’ for eleven weeks last year and for nine weeks so far this year. Students who rely on teachers to learn are falling behind, whereas my kids and a handful of friends who are independent learners are turning in work that the teachers have found to be of higher quality than from students in previous years (DD13 showed her teacher a progress draft of an assignment which is not yet due and was shocked that the teacher gave her full marks, before she even formally turned it in).

    #249160 - 09/08/21 05:01 AM Re: How hard should I push? [Re: twallace]
    Wren Offline

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1688
    DD can do stupid mistakes on tests. Some of it being careless since the question could be simple and she makes assumptions too quickly. She has had to work at slowing her brain down and making sure she is clear on the question. Just training herself. Story: DH and I arrived at inlaws for a visit. I had picked up a bag of food at Zabars. I asked DH to get it out of the guest room. He comes down and says he couldn't find it. I go up and it is sitting on the floor in the middle of the room. DH went to Harvard, undergrad. But this was a typical thing with him. And I see with DD. Sometimes you have to train your brain to work differently. Simple details. A well known CEO said that if you put me in a room with 99 other people and tell a story, I would be the one focused on the flaw in the story. Some people are drawn to details. Others have to train.

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