Help! My son is having trouble with school!

  1. My son is 9 and in the 4th grade. School has always been difficult for him. Not the part about understanding or being ABLE to do the work, but the part about sitting still, paying attention, doing what the teacher tells you...actually getting the work done and handing it in. He's like a mule. The more you push him, the more he balks. He will spend 10 times the energy avoiding the task that he would have needed to get it done.

    When he does do the work, half the time he does a really crappy job. Bad handwriting, sloppy work, no capitals or periods. He'll come home with a folder of papers from school and half will be A's and the other half will be D's and F's. There is no inbetween. Obviously he finds no intrinisic reward from school. I don't see that punishment with detentions is going to do anything but make him resent school more.

    He LOVES his video games and computer games. I'm thinking all his electronic priviledges have to be revoked and EARNED back from now on with good performance in school. And I'm thinking we need daily feedback and communication from the teacher and a really structured system for him to begin with since he obviously doesn't have the maturity to do this himself.

    What do you think? Has anyone else had this problem with their kid? What did you do?

  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   VickyRN
    Is home schooling a possibility or option? He sounds like a good candidate. The strident, "cookie-cutter" atmosphere of public education is especially hard on young boys, who tend to have kinesthetic "hands-on" learning styles that just don't lend well to the visual/auditory learning mold that's being forced on them. Perhaps he needs more exercise and "leg room." Being forced to sit still for hours on end in a boring classroom is enough to break even the most inquisitive child's love of learning. Also, check out his diet and nutrition. Cut out sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, fast food. Replace with whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, and make sure he's getting a multivitamin. Hope this helps
  4. by   cmggriff
    My oldest son had similar problems. Turned out to have a vision problem. Have your son's eyes checked. rule out any organic and mechanical/physiological problems. If there is nothing wrong medically then relax. Good grades are very over rated. Taking away the things he loves may only make him more resentful. There are counselors who specialize in these kinds of problems. A little family counciling helped me and my son a lot. Gary
  5. by   hoolahan
    My son had similar problems at that age. I found out from a friend that her friend had called the Board of ed and gotten a private tutor for her dtr, and now the dtr was doing great. I got the number and called her. She WAS great. She was a special ed teacher at the public schools, my kids were in Catholic schools at the time. She said he was more of an auditory learner than a visual learner, and she taught him all kinds of little tricks to memorization, math, you name it. ON tutoring nights we were not to do any homework, she did it with David. We all learned soooo much! Even little things like using graph paper to do math HW since David's handwriting was soooo sloppy, when he was adding columns, they were not properly lined up, using the graph paper worked like a charm.

    David went from special ed to gifted and talented math after 6 months of her help!!!! She only charged me $25 per hour! It was a bargain in the long run.

    The sloppy handwriting, no caps, or periods, I see this in a lot of boys that age. Schools seem to have gotten lax about enforcing the basics anymore.

    I wouldn't say all schools are cookie cutter, but some are definitely better than others. I pulled my kids out of Catholic schools when the Diocese said it was OK to have up to 36 kids per class. I noticed my children blossomed into great students when we left the Catholic school system. Not to put down all Catholic schools in general at all, just that in this case, it was a major source of the problem.

    I also think that acting out is a way kids may demonstrate low self-esteem related to learning disabilities. They are embarrassed to ask for help in front of the class, and so they fidget or talk in class, to avoid having to face what they are having difficulty with. This could be a vision problem like the previous person said, or maybe a hearing problem.

    Start finding a good tutor, it can be a Godsend to have the right one. Ask the pediatrician, teachers, board of ed, and friends about tutors, you want a good word of mouth recommendation. If there is a college near you, they may have an idea as well. I know a few people who have gone to Sylvan learning centers, some had good results, some not. Get a physical to r/o any physical problems. We got extremely lucky. I hope you can find the help you need too. Many teachers will also do tutroing from their homes in the summer for extra cash too.
  6. by   semstr

    Sorry to hear this, I know how you're worrying right now!
    My daughter had similar problems.
    we had her checked by the ped, to make sure there's nothing wrong with her eyes, hearing etc. All was fine.
    Then we had her tested, not yust IQ, but EQ and all that jazz.
    well she did fine there too, although one of the psychologists said that our daughter isn't an Einstein, well neither am I!!

    No but we sat down and discussed what to do, where her troubles were etc.
    We came up with a few ideas:
    1. I reduced workinghours, so I can be at home when school ends, then we drink tea or whatever (no cokes or other sweet things though) and talk about her day.
    2. she then shows me her homework and what she prefers to do first, and why.
    3. she makes her homework wherever she wants, in her room, in the kitchen where I am most of the time (we've got a big kitchen, it is more used as the livingroom) or in the bathroom. No music, no tv and no telephon is allowed.
    4. I checked her homework and helped when necessary
    5. We did something nice, go to the cinema, shopping or just go down to a cafe and look at other people (we both like that)
    6. She started playing the piano (something she wanted) and
    7. learned Jiu-jitsu (an Asian sport, like Kung-Fu)

    Yes, we started all this as she was 8 years old.
    well it sounds nice and fine, but there were days ..... well you know what I mean.

    But now she is 13 years old, in her last junior year at school here and she is doing absolutely fine!
    Most of the time she does her things alone, I very slowly got out of checking her homework and the other things (no phone etc.) is normal for her now.

    As for the diet, too many sweets are really no good, not for the concentration, nor for the teeth, nor for the teeny figure and skin.

    Yes, you have to ry out what is best for your son, but please ask when you need advice.
    O and we also did edukinestetics, you know about that I guess?
    That really helped here concentrating.
    Take care and good nerves, Renee
  7. by   aimeee
    Thank you all for your great input. I really appreciate your responses. So many things here to consider and weigh and try. Its nice to know that others have managed similar challenges.

  8. by   prmenrs
    There is a website you need to know about:

    Special Ed is my other Great Interest in life, thanks to my son; this site can offer you MUCH valuable info about any learning disability you'd care to think of--and from what you're describing, he needs to be tested for one.

    The first thing that comes to mind is ADHD, but there may be something else going on.

    Go to that site, to bulletin boards, the one about "parenting an LD kid", post what you posted here, plus any more specific info--like which subjects is he getting A's in and which ones are a battle royale to get him to do. You'll get lots of responses, and lots of support.

    I'd sure schedule a parent-teacher conference ASAP, too. See what the teacher's take on this is.

    Let me know!!! Please.

  9. by   welcare
    i had the same problem with my son when he was 10. i was separated with my husband and we migrated to a new place. it became very stressful for both of us. I did all they have done. You can make it and just remember 'never give up'. and never blame yourself for his behavior. Parenting is not inborn, it's learned by try and error and from others' experience. My son is 17 now and I find that I am facing another challenge that is he becomes very rebellious. So, mothers, keep trying.
  10. by   craff1
    Doing prereqs for nursing school, (that's why I'm here), but maybe I can help. I also taught high school physical science last summer.

    Sounds like classic ADHD (happens to be the big buzz word in education now). Attention deficit. these kids are very smart, often bored, which gets them into trouble. Most schools offer "contracts" or they may call them something else, where the kid takes the form to every teacher, they rate their daily behavior and give you info on whether they have homework that night or not. If he was struggling with the work, i'd say push for learning disability testing, but sounds like it's more behavioral. Better correct this now, because he will not be successful in higher grades if he can't get a handle on it now. Part of succeeding is following directions (as you know since you're a nurse!) Teachers will be glad you are being supportive, sometimes parents attack the teacher instead of facing the problem. Request a teacher conference with all of his teachers together. (This way teachers can be consistent with him in their classes.) He might need more or harder work to keep him interested, like special research on something he's interested in. You're on the right track with taking away the electronics, what ever happened to kids reading for entertainment? Now they have everything spoon fed to them, they don't have to use their immaginations. (My soapbox.) email me if I can be of any other help.
  11. by   Jenny P
    Aimee, I didn't want to be the one to broach the subject of ADHD- it seems as though everyone uses that one- but it does sound a lot like it. Both of my kids are ADHD and have not outgrown it (they are 22 and 19) and it's been a long road to travel. My son who is 22 is also diagnosed with oppositional defiant(?) personality (sorry, my head is plugged with a cold, so I'm not thinking as good as usual; I think that's the right term). I took each kid outside of the school systems and had them tested and evaluated through specialists that were not covered by our health insurance, so I know that they were correctly diagnosed.
    Some of the suggestions are good, but they can be even more challenging than you'd expect. Home schooling? I would have probably battered my kids on a few of the days when they were acting out! Notes for the teacher s to sign? My son could lose notes walking from the front of the classroom to the back without trying! Behavior modification worked with my daughter but not my son. Special Ed was helpful; there is a Pace Center here that had classes for adults and coping methods that helped.
    First have him evaluated for LD/ADHD outside of the school system. Then, if you can find a support group for him and one for yourself, it will help. And if he IS ADHD, meds DO help! Don't let the media and other people "guilt" you into not trying them and using them! Both of my kids are now on Dexedrine, and my son manages a Taco Johns and my daughter is a freshman in college. There is help- and hope- if he is diagnosed with ADHD.
  12. by   NRSKarenRN
    I have a 13 YO son with ADD--focus disorder. He has minimal figgiting til evening, but can act like space cadet in school...lost in his own world unless something he's interested in. In kindergarten during story time, he would have his back to the class. When called on he could answer. Completing assignments one on one was ok, if left alone he might get 1/4 done. Teacher recommeded he get screened for ADD. We completed questionare, teacher filled out her part then he was observed on two different occasions for 1 hour by school psychologist....recomendation to PEDS Dr was ADD, focus disorder: inability to concentrate due to crossed synapes, signals with too much short firing. Behavor mod was minimally successful with structured environment. Ritalin was started and we could tell the difference in 4 days.

    At age 9, I explained to him his problem. "Mom, if I don't take my medicine, I have all these thoughts jumbled up in my mind...don't know which one to do so I try to do all off them", his response. First and second grade, papers often forgotten, 3/4 completed. GRades in low 80's. Several dosages tried over the years with extra dose given at end of school. Now, sustained release med has made a difference: takes at 7:30 AM and lasts til 6PM. He has learned to take resonsibility for work assigments, completes almost all on own.

    Now, He is such a voracious reader, that he reads at "innapropriate times" like middle of social studies class. The past year, his 7th grade teacher felt he was too subdued in AM...minimal group participation (long term problem). New Metadate 10mg SR med releases more slowly over 16 hrs and more animated in the morning. Grades now in high 80's and low 90's in 8th grade. Since going thru puberty, the symptoms are greatly reduced.

    My mother always sending articles re Ritalin abuse, side effects. This past summer, he worked with his gradfather almost everyday on Gramp's home. Dad called me in a panic one day, that son not following directions, multiple repetative drections to perform one task. Two mornings in a row, he had left in a hurry and forgot med. Next day, I checked pill contaner before leaving home. Dad called and said he could really see how my son needed the medicine to function effectively.

    Please consider this diagnosis and ask your school for him to be screened. Here are some sites that offer great info:


    ADHD Owner's Manual
  13. by   Jenny P
    NRS KarenRN, I had and still have a family that thinks it's all in MY mind. When the kids were on Ritalin, I'd get all of these newspaper articles about people "drugging" their kids and misdiagnosis. And if my kids didn't have their meds around my family; it was just that I needed to "discipline"(read spank/beat/slap) my kids better.
  14. by   NurseAngie
    My 9 y/o son (4th grader) has also been dx. with ADHD-Passive. He's on med's for a 6 month trial. He's soooo smart and opposite of hyper. Instead, he's a day-dreamer type. Very mellow and has a hard time focusing on anything that isn't digital related. (video games, computer, daddy's palm pilot) He's awesome and I am beginning to think that some people just aren't cut out to be scholastic. He does like to learn and picks up very quickly once he's intersted in the subject matter. I have been intersted in home schooling and that's a deffinite possibilty in the future. It's nice to know there are others out there. Take care~ Angie