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    Joined: Jul 2011
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    sblora Offline OP
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    Hi all,

    I have a 3rd grader who does not like school. He has always done very, very well -- straight As and not had behavioral issues at school for the most part (mostly dinged for talking). We have pulled him out of the private school b/c they do Direct Instruction and we were seeing the bad ramifications of it show up in his answers despite the fact that he was accelerated a year in his core subjects. So, back in public now, year round school, he's been doing ok but is BORED. I know they are working on an individualized plan for him but it's not out yet--we are 3 weeks into school. He's getting in trouble for talking instead of focussing on his work, he's not turning in classwork at times and today said flat out, "I'm not doing that work, they can't make me." UGH.

    I do think he's highly distractible, they are giving him fourth grade work but it's not gifted work (he has to complete 4 sheets of 25-30 computation problems like 34,586 + 556,789 before he's allowed to move on to the challenge work, out of box thinking problems, etc.). I can see my friends' points that he needs to follow along, but we were supposed to have a meeting to get his DEP by now--nothing. I know the work is easy, but it is time consuming, I can see how he'd think more challenging work after that is hardly a reward.

    So, outside of the fact that we are working on the curriculum changes, is his lack of responsibility mainly a behavioral issue or stemming from the fact that he might be overwhelmed by the volume and underwhelmed by the content of the work?

    Everyone I speak to thinks I'm trying to get him out of the work, I'm not. He does talk too much and doesn't stay on task except when it's something he chooses to do. He needs to learn that not everything is fun all the time. How do I get through to him without causing him to blow up (gets angry/frustrated easily)? I'm really concerned he's going to just stop doing stuff b/c he knows they can't make him, just to be stubborn about it.

    Thanks, and oh, he's moderately to highly gifted but very, very gifted in math (99.8 percentile WISC-IV, 99 percentile WJIII).

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    Do the other children have to do hours of kindergarten-level worksheets before they are allowed to do work at their own level that helps them learn? That is the position your son is in, and I completely understand why he feels it is unfair: it IS unfair. Why on Earth shouldn't your son be excused from doing busy work that he already knows how to do? Why should he be required to waste his time and do double work when the other children are not? Work at his level is not a "reward" to be earned, it is the whole reason he is in school. What he is learning from this situation is not "that not everything is fun all the time", but "being smart gets you punished."

    ETA: I get that the school thinks that adding large numbers is "harder" than adding smaller ones, but it isn't: it's just more tedious. Once a child really understands place value and how to add two two-digit numbers, he or she understands how to add numbers with any number of digits, so those worksheets really are far, far below his level.

    Last edited by aculady; 08/02/11 11:04 AM.
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    sblora Offline OP
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    I know and I agree, I have asked that the teacher have him show her he knows the work and then either permits him to proceed to the challenge activities or moves to new content. Our gifted program is supposed to take care of this, argh, but it hasn't been addressed yet. I have been copying the gifted resource teacher on these notes so she can see the difficulties we are having. Our county and state (NC) mandates gifted education so I do think it will come. However, the two week timeframe to evaluate he and his brother passed a week ago.

    If you have any suggestions on how to approach my son, I'd love to hear them. Until they can get his DEP out, he has to comply.

    thanks,

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    I wish I had better advice on how to get your son through this.

    I don't think I'd advise the method I used of dealing with a teacher who refused to give my son work at his level: after months of discussion, I finally just sent appropriate work in with him, and told him to do that instead during the time the class was working in that subject area, and to tell the teacher that he was working on it on my orders, and that she should discuss the situation with me if she had a problem with it. This was at a private K, and I sent in "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" for him to read during reading time instead of "The Bob Books". It did finally wake the teacher up to the fact that he could actually read already, which we had been telling her since the first day of school, but it didn't earn us any brownie points. It did get him differentiated work in reading.

    We've homeschooled since first grade, though, for a number of reasons, one of which was that the public school wanted to make my son do all of the age-grade-level work before they would let him have work at his own level.

    As a young adult, I sat through classes and completed assignments over material that I had mastered years before, but I was working for a personal goal that was extremely important to me, and these classes were required prerequisites. I'd have stood on my head and sung "Rigoletto" if that was what was required for me to get what I wanted. Having that strong incentive certainly made it a lot easier to deal with classes that would have been torture. So the only real suggestion I have to help your son get through this is bribery. If you are confident that the situation really will change, offer some really great reward that he wants and wouldn't otherwise be able to have if he complies faithfully for the next few weeks until you are able to get it sorted out. I'd offer smaller daily rewards, as well. I wouldn't ordinarily recommend this, but this is an extraordinary situation. You can look at this as him having a job he hates that he is only doing for a paycheck. People do things they love for the intrinsic reward, but you have to offer them some additional incentive to do things they hate.

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    sblora Offline OP
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    Aculady,

    I was thinking about that, there is definitely no intrinsic movtivation here. I was thinking about a weekly reward for compliance--he loves to skateboard and the park is 30 min away and $9 entry and it's 98 degrees outside--NOT my idea of fun. I just don't want him to expect a reward for doing the work--what if I can't get it worked out quickly? Sigh. I appreciate the thoughts though, it helps me see that I not just being Mama Bear.

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    On one hand, I liken easy busy work to crawling after you know how to walk. It's pointless and demeaning.

    On the other hand, I liken easy busy work to washing the dishes. Smart people have to do chores, too. Perhaps you can focus on the idea that accomplishing menial tasks efficiently is an important skill to develop.

    Alternatively, your son could try and make the best out of the situation. He could test himself to see how many ways he can come up with to accomplish the tasks at hand. For some problems, he could start with the least significant digits, while starting with the most significant digits on other problems. Play around with it. My dad used to tell me story of a young child who was asked to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. Instead of adding them, the student came up with the formula for calculating the sum of any arithmetic series, and applied it.

    Also, don't forget to be thankful for what you have. Being bored for a few weeks is much preferable to being bored for several years.

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    sblora Offline OP
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    I am thankful, but concerned about my son's attitude towards school. He is highly social and home schooling would not be an option. I did receive communication back from the GT resource teacher today saying they are still evaluating both of my boys and that it will take another few weeks. Basically, they are passing most of the tests thrown at them and they keep having to administer more to find their levels--that's good, so we'll keep trucking and maybe now bribing for compliancy in the meantime.

    My son had a better day, said he has to do the work he didn't finish last week in the morning rather than go play outside (not recess time). He seemed "on" about it and ready to do it, so I am happy with the turnaround over the day.

    thanks for the advice,

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    Originally Posted by sblora
    I am thankful, but concerned about my son's attitude towards school. He is highly social and home schooling would not be an option. <snip>
    My son had a better day, said he has to do the work he didn't finish last week in the morning rather than go play outside (not recess time). He seemed "on" about it and ready to do it, so I am happy with the turnaround over the day.

    thanks for the advice,

    Hi -

    Glad to hear your son had a better day. You may get a few replies about being highly social and homeschooling. I will throw in my 2 cents.

    If you haven't already, maybe you can do some reading on homeschooling while you wait for the school to respond. It may reassure you to know that in many cases homeschooled children can have just as much, if not more opportunities for social interaction than kids in school. Do some searches on this board, hoagies and elsewhere. The homeshool kid = isolated kid is said by many homeschoolers to be a myth.

    Are there other reasons you would not want to or be able to homeschool?

    Good luck in any case!

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    Originally Posted by sblora
    I did receive communication back from the GT resource teacher today saying they are still evaluating both of my boys and that it will take another few weeks. Basically, they are passing most of the tests thrown at them and they keep having to administer more to find their levels--that's good, so we'll keep trucking and maybe now bribing for compliancy in the meantime.
    What a relief!
    Homeschooling is great and can work very well with all styles of kids, but it's a tremendous sacrific for a family to make - let's hope it doesn't become the 'least-worst' option for your family. I'm assuming you pay your taxes like everyone else, so let's hope your child can be in a learning environment at school, like everyone else.

    Love and More Love,
    Grinity


    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com
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    You may already be familiar with this, but one strategy that is sometimes used with students who are faced with more repetitition than needed is called "most difficult first". The idea is that the student can choose to do the four most difficult problems first. If they do them correctly, they are excused from the other practice problems and allowed to move to a learning activity that is of more interest to them. It is intended to be a short term strategy, not a replacement for appropriate instruction, and could be a good short term solution. Perhaps you could approach it with the school staff by suggesting it as an interim strategy while they are finishing their assessment ("I really appreciate the thorough job you are doing assessing my child, I recently came across a strategy that I thought might tide him over until we have the information we need to adjust his instruction....") It's mentioned in Susan Weinbrenner's book "Teaching Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom".

    You could perhaps pitch it to school as a way to hold your son accountable for completing work with effort and accuracy, since he would have some motivation to tune in completely to do those four problems accurately. You might also point out that if he can do the work and move onto learning activities that are personally motivating, he will be less likely to talk and distract others.

    If you can get school to agree, this will also open up a way to address the concerns you have re: your son's attitude. He is more likely to accept having to "do the dishes" (nice analogy DAD22 smile ) if he is faced with a sinkful than if he is faced with an entire kitchen full, if you know what I mean. It sounds to me like you are feeling some ambivalence because you don't like his attitude, but you actually agree with his assessment of the work. I always find it hard to enforce expectations if I am more in agreement with the person rebelling against them than with the person providing them wink ......

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