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AlmiraGulch

WWYD? Underperforming gifted child

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In a nutshell:

 

DD13 is gifted, and in all accelerated classes in her public school. She has always been primarily a straight A student.

 

She is not doing well this year, and it's not for lack of ability. The decline actually started last year, but has gotten to the point of being unacceptable.  Her grades at the end of this semester are one A (band), 2 C's, and the rest B's.  With one exception, these grades should all be A's.  Math is a C currently and should be at least a B.  I say "should", because as I look at the online grade book, she has A's on every single quiz or test she has taken, and every single assignment she has bothered to turn in.  That's the issue...there are an awful lot of ZEROs in there.  Meaning, she just doesn't turn in the work at all.  

 

I don't know how to manage this.

 

The school will not send home her assignments to me every day, nor should they have to.  She's in 7th grade, not 1st, and she is in gifted classes.  I can't follow up to be sure she's doing her work if she doesn't write it down, so when she tells me she has no homework that day, I have no way of knowing if she actually did have homework and just didn't document it.  Same if she doesn't do the work in class.  I don't know about it until it shows up as a zero in the grade book.

 

I'm not a particulary punitive parent, but the natural consequence for this behavior is a failure that I don't want her to have to endure.  Meaning, there is a STEM magnet high school that she very much wants to attend, and there is no way she'll get in if she keeps this up.  

 

I can take away her phone and video games (the family is getting a new system for Christmas) until I see that her grades are where they need to be, but is that the right course of action here?  I honestly don't know what else to do, so I'd love some suggestions. This is not something I've had to deal with before.  Well, I sort of did, but my eldest is not neurotypical and there were other issues at play.  That is not the case with this one.

 

Oh, and the lying.  I confronted her about this, and she admits that she sometimes knows she has homework and just tells me she doesn't.  I do not deal with liars.  At all.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

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Thoughts for you to consider, not necessarily answer here: how is she doing apart from academics? Is she happy and is she comfortable at the current school? Even though she is gifted, is there any possibility of executive function issues?

 

Does she really, herself, want to go to the magnet school? Is there any chance she thinks you want her to go there, but deep down she doesn't?

 

Have you asked her what the problem is, in a calm way, not critically? Is she satisfied with what she's doing? What are her own goals?

 

Thirteen is a rough age, and what you're describing may be much less than what she's capable of, but it isn't abysmal. The lying sounds most troubling, but I can remember doing all these things at a time when I was miserable in school. It wasn't about lying to my parents, it was about sheer misery.

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1. She is 13. A tough age.

2. It is difficult for kids this age to see the consequences for their actions, i.e. won't be able to get into a school if I don't keep up grades

3. Do you know her circle of friends? Do you - at least sort of - know what is going on with her social media, cell phone, etc?

4. You may need to enlist teachers' help with emailing you assignments so you can double check since you cannot trust her.

5. I would make lying the bigger issue at the moment. You cannot trust her because she has been lying, therefore she will have to be checked more diligently.

6. I would try to spend more time with her. Fun time. Time working on academics or at least asking her more questions about what she is doing, researching, writing, etc. Rebuilding and maintaining relationship.

 

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Does she have executive function deficits? Could she be 2E, having a learning disability or ADD and giftedness and been able to compensate for learning issues because of the giftedness until now? 

 

My oldest is 2E and among his many issues is extreme executive function deficits. He's also got an extremely stubborn personality and no way could I ever help him. I tried. I tried myself. I offered to get him a coach specific to this problem so he didn't have to work with me. His grades dropped in high school. He was in an IB program and missed all kinds of deadlines all the time. He also didn't/couldn't prioritize (do the English paper before the Model UN thing, etc). He's in college now. I think he's unhappy that he's ended up where he is, but still will not work on this. 

 

I do know people who were successful in helping children EF issues improve. Doing so requires intense effort on the part of the parent, helping the child set of daily routines and checkpoints, walking through those routines with the child daily. Helping the child back up plans when he/she misses part of the routine (like having phone and email contact for 3-4 people in each class to use when homework is forgotten). 

 

If your child is not as stubborn as mine. I would advise getting heavily involved now and plan on heavy involvement through high school as she learns routines and begins to internalize the steps of staying organized. 

 

Another issue, I found is due to being gifted, ds never learned to study like other students. So, when he got to the upper level IB courses both the lack of organization and study skills really hit him. So, you might want to implement a study skills into the organizational routines, because the need will eventually come up. 

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Thoughts for you to consider, not necessarily answer here: how is she doing apart from academics? Is she happy and is she comfortable at the current school? Even though she is gifted, is there any possibility of executive function issues?

 

Does she really, herself, want to go to the magnet school? Is there any chance she thinks you want her to go there, but deep down she doesn't?

 

Have you asked her what the problem is, in a calm way, not critically? Is she satisfied with what she's doing? What are her own goals?

 

Thirteen is a rough age, and what you're describing may be much less than what she's capable of, but it isn't abysmal. The lying sounds most troubling, but I can remember doing all these things at a time when I was miserable in school. It wasn't about lying to my parents, it was about sheer misery.

 

All very good questions.  We have discussed extensively.  

 

1. She is happy and fine, and loves her school.  She does have some executive function issues, which are common among gifted kids.  She has assistance in school with that.  She often chooses not to use the skills (per her own assessment)

 

2. I do not care if she goes to the magnet school or not.  I didn't even know about it, actually.  She introduced it to me.  She'll go to that same school whether or not she's part of the magnet program, because it's housed in the local high school.  She is convinced of what she wants to do for a living, and thinks that being part of that program will help her.

 

3. We have talked about it. She really doesn't think it's ok, particularly knowing that there's a certain university she wants to go to that will require a scholarship.  Again, this is not me, this is her.  In fact, I'm the one who encourages her to keep her options open, but if that's what she wants to do, she has to do what needs to be done to get there. 

 

She's not miserable in school.  She quite enjoys it.  In my estimation, the lying, and the underperformance, are both about laziness.  It's easier for her to just not do it than to do it.  

 

If she were doing her best and getting these grades, then that would be that.  I'd be looking for tutoring help for her.  That's just not the case here.  Ugh.

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Well, maybe this isn't what you want to hear, but I would consider totally changing her educational environment and look at all options.  Either she's not engaged enough at school to jump through hoops or possibly her executive function is lagging.  The 2nd was how my oldest kid's middle school years looked totally but it's going much better this year as a freshman - not perfect but definite improvement.  My kid is homeschooled (he started with 2 years of PS).  I suspect she is not engaged or benefiting at all in her current environment.  I would frame it as working to find an educational environment that works for her.  If the particular high school program is motivating and might be a good fit, fine.  But sometimes you really need to think outside the box with kids like this.   I think it can be damaging for some kids to "fail" over a long time and to get pigeon holed as struggling. 

 

I would also say if it persists, it may be ADD/ADHD/undiagnosed 2E issue.  I do think a lot of bright kids struggle in particular when they can't just float through any more and actually have to produce some substantial output and that's probanly why many GT kids lag in executive function.  It's easier for them to float in school longer.  Has she always gone to school? 

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1. She is 13. A tough age.

2. It is difficult for kids this age to see the consequences for their actions, i.e. won't be able to get into a school if I don't keep up grades

3. Do you know her circle of friends? Do you - at least sort of - know what is going on with her social media, cell phone, etc?

4. You may need to enlist teachers' help with emailing you assignments so you can double check since you cannot trust her.

5. I would make lying the bigger issue at the moment. You cannot trust her because she has been lying, therefore she will have to be checked more diligently.

6. I would try to spend more time with her. Fun time. Time working on academics or at least asking her more questions about what she is doing, researching, writing, etc. Rebuilding and maintaining relationship.

 

Thank you for this!  My thoughts, below.  

 

1.  This is probably the biggest thing.  I need to remember that.

2.  You're right, of course.

3. I do know her friends.  It's a small group.  Things are fine there. She spends basically no time on social media, and I do pay attention to texts and things on her phone.

4. I've asked. They wont' do it. 

5. That really is the biggest issue for me right now, and she knows it.  I just don't know how to check up on her if I don't know something exists at all, kwim?

6.  We spend a lot of time together!  I mean, really together.  We talk a lot, even when I'm not home, and do a lot of activites together.  Our relationship is strong.  That's why the lying thing is making me mad.  She admitted it fully, and said basically it's because she doesn't feel like doing the work and doesn't want to hear about it because she knows I won't just let her not do it if I know about it.  

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Does she have executive function deficits? Could she be 2E, having a learning disability or ADD and giftedness and been able to compensate for learning issues because of the giftedness until now? 

 

I do know people who were successful in helping children EF issues improve. Doing so requires intense effort on the part of the parent, helping the child set of daily routines and checkpoints, walking through those routines with the child daily. Helping the child back up plans when he/she misses part of the routine (like having phone and email contact for 3-4 people in each class to use when homework is forgotten). 

 

If your child is not as stubborn as mine. I would advise getting heavily involved now and plan on heavy involvement through high school as she learns routines and begins to internalize the steps of staying organized. 

 

Another issue, I found is due to being gifted, ds never learned to study like other students. So, when he got to the upper level IB courses both the lack of organization and study skills really hit him. So, you might want to implement a study skills into the organizational routines, because the need will eventually come up. 

 

She does have EF deficits, and we're addressing those (or, trying to address those) at school.  That is the one thing they are helping with, or at least attempting to help with.  I share those issues with her, so I understand how frustrating it can be!  I just have learned to figure it out in my 40+ years on earth.  She doesn't yet have the luxury of longevity.

 

Fortunately, she is quite teachable, and open to learning skills to help her deal with this issue.  With anything, really. My eldest was the stubborn one for me.  I've felt your pain there!

 

The last issue you brought up is a big one.  I think you're 100% right about that.   I'm going to look into some additional things.  Thanks of the thoughts. 

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Another issue, I found is due to being gifted, ds never learned to study like other students. So, when he got to the upper level IB courses both the lack of organization and study skills really hit him. So, you might want to implement a study skills into the organizational routines, because the need will eventually come up. 

 

This was my dd.

 

Bring it up very nonconfrontationally. That is your only hope.

 

" Wow. I noticed that your grades have fallen. You must be really down about that. Why do you think that is? How can I help you figure this out?"

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First off, I suggest cross-posting on the Accelerated Learning board.

 

I feel your pain.  I have two 7th graders.  One of them is 2e-ish and I spent a whole lot of time managing him this fall, making sure he got assignments turned in - really, he can spend the effort to get the work done but then fail to manage the logistics of turning it in!  The worst day was when they had their tour of the private high school that my dd14 attends.  Admission has become difficult, but should be within their range if they get all their work turned in (they'd need mostly As with a few Bs and good test scores).  I finally got brave enough to look online and see the missing assignments and I went ballistic (how does one get a D in art? by failing to turn things in).

 

With a lot of effort, his grades turned around and should be good enough for the private high school if we need him to apply.   I micromanaged this - we spent time together going over his planner every night, recording the list of things that needed to be turned in the next day - his issues are real (we're also working on a long-term medical angle).

 

In the meantime, I realized what a poor fit their current school had become - overemphasis on executive function skills and writing, his weak spots, and not nearly enough math.  It was just the wrong fit for him at this point in time.  Ultimately I switched them to a new school starting January, a STEM charter that includes a high school that might even work out better than the private high school, or so Dh is hoping LOL because it's free.  Their middle school grades wouldn't have any long-term impact aside from advancing to the next high-school-level math course.

 

With regard to your dd's great performance on math quizzes and failure to do homework, is it possible that the math is too easy, that she already knows it?  I realize this is impossible at most schools, especially once she's into the high school sequence of courses, but is there any way she could bump up a level mid-year?  This is definitely something that she should be able to provide information about (e.g. yes, I know it; no, I didn't know it before but it's so easy that I didn't need to do the homework, etc.)

 

I would talk with her to try to figure out what the root problem is.  It may be an attention/organizational issue or more purposeful (this is boring, I'm annoyed with some adult, etc.).

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Well, maybe this isn't what you want to hear, but I would consider totally changing her educational environment and look at all options.  Either she's not engaged enough at school to jump through hoops or possibly her executive function is lagging.  The 2nd was how my oldest kid's middle school years looked totally but it's going much better this year as a freshman - not perfect but definite improvement.  My kid is homeschooled (he started with 2 years of PS).  I suspect she is not engaged or benefiting at all in her current environment.  I would frame it as working to find an educational environment that works for her.  If the particular high school program is motivating and might be a good fit, fine.  But sometimes you really need to think outside the box with kids like this.   I think it can be damaging for some kids to "fail" over a long time and to get pigeon holed as struggling. 

 

I would also say if it persists, it may be ADD/ADHD/undiagnosed 2E issue.  I do think a lot of bright kids struggle in particular when they can't just float through any more and actually have to produce some substantial output and that's probanly why many GT kids lag in executive function.  It's easier for them to float in school longer.  Has she always gone to school? 

 

Highlighted the part that I think you're spot on about.

 

She has always been in school, yes.  My eldest was in school, then at home, then back at school.  

 

I hadn't considered that she has ADD/ADHD.  Ever.  Something else to think about for sure.  

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I'm hearing a lot of good suggestions about what could be causing the issue. 

 

But sometimes it's just downright laziness. She's admitted that she just doesn't want to do the work. Sure, some kids say that when they really mean they don't know how or other things are getting in the way. But sometimes it really is just laziness.  I've seen it a lot with kids who are bright- when they actually do have to put forth effort they balk.  

 

Not that what I mentioned gives you any solutions, but just something to think about. You hear hoofbeats. Is it a horse or a zebra? 

 

It might be that you just need some old fashioned grounding and hand holding until she gets her grades up and develops a routine of doing homework and turning it in. 

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First off, I suggest cross-posting on the Accelerated Learning board.

 

I feel your pain.  I have two 7th graders.  One of them is 2e-ish and I spent a whole lot of time managing him this fall, making sure he got assignments turned in - really, he can spend the effort to get the work done but then fail to manage the logistics of turning it in!  The worst day was when they had their tour of the private high school that my dd14 attends.  Admission has become difficult, but should be within their range if they get all their work turned in (they'd need mostly As with a few Bs and good test scores).  I finally got brave enough to look online and see the missing assignments and I went ballistic (how does one get a D in art? by failing to turn things in).

 

With a lot of effort, his grades turned around and should be good enough for the private high school if we need him to apply.   I micromanaged this - we spent time together going over his planner every night, recording the list of things that needed to be turned in the next day - his issues are real (we're also working on a long-term medical angle).

 

In the meantime, I realized what a poor fit their current school had become - lots of emphasis on executive function skills and writing, his weak spots, and not nearly enough math.  It was just the wrong fit for him at this point in time.  Ultimately I switched them to a new school starting January, a STEM charter that includes a high school that might even work out better than the private high school, or so Dh is hoping LOL because it's free.  Their middle school grades wouldn't have any long-term impact aside from advancing to the next high-school-level math course.

 

With regard to your dd's great performance on math quizzes and failure to do homework, is it possible that the math is too easy, that she already knows it?  I realize this is impossible at most schools, especially once she's into the high school sequence of courses, but is there any way she could bump up a level mid-year?  This is definitely something that she should be able to provide information about (e.g. yes, I know it; no, I didn't know it before but it's so easy that I didn't need to do the homework, etc.)

 

I would talk with her to try to figure out what the root problem is.  It may be an attention/organizational issue or more purposeful (this is boring, I'm annoyed with some adult, etc.).

 

She also has the issue with doing the work and not turning it in.  I cannot understand that!

 

The math is actually not too easy for her.  That one is an actual struggle.  We're looking into tutoring beginning the minute school starts back for her in January.  

 

We have spoken extensively, and she doesn't know what the issue is beyond what I've already said, which is that she doesn't feel like doing the work, and she forgets to turn things in when she does do it.  That last part, in my opinion, is the EF deficit at work.  

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is she bored?

is she feeling pressured to "perform" - not for who she is, not just "doing her best",  but approval is only for how many 'a's" she pulls? 

does she hear alot of "you're so smart"?  (some kids will shut down, because they don't feel smart.  they can also become so afraid of making mistakes - they stop trying.)

does she get enough down time?

 

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I'm hearing a lot of good suggestions about what could be causing the issue. 

 

But sometimes it's just downright laziness. She's admitted that she just doesn't want to do the work. Sure, some kids say that when they really mean they don't know how or other things are getting in the way. But sometimes it really is just laziness.  I've seen it a lot with kids who are bright- when they actually do have to put forth effort they balk.  

 

Not that what I mentioned gives you any solutions, but just something to think about. You hear hoofbeats. Is it a horse or a zebra? 

 

It might be that you just need some old fashioned grounding and hand holding until she gets her grades up and develops a routine of doing homework and turning it in. 

 

This is what I fear it is, although I'm definitely not discounting the other suggestions.  

 

Sigh.  

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is she bored?

is she feeling pressured to "perform" - not for who she is, not just "doing her best",  but approval is only for how many 'a's" she pulls? 

does she hear alot of "you're so smart"?  (some kids will shut down, because they don't feel smart.  they can also become so afraid of making mistakes - they stop trying.)

does she get enough down time?

 

She's not bored in that the work is not too easy for her.

 

She does have pressure to perform to her own skill level.  Like I said, she gets no slack from me when a particular grade is not great if she did the work.  We talk about it and try to figure out specifically where/why that grade wasn't the best, and figure out how to make it better.  On the other hand, she definitely does get grief from me for the zeros.  Just not turning something in at all is not ok.  

 

I'm afraid of the "you're so smart" thing.  I used to get that, too, and it can be a lot to handle when suddenly you realize you're stuggling with something.  I used to feel like a complete fraud, as in "everyone thinks I'm so smart but I'm really not, or else I wouldn't be having a hard time with X."  I suspect this is a problem for her, too, and that is why she doesn't ask for help.  However, we identified this when she was quite young and have made every effort to assure her she is no fraud if she asks for help.  We encourage it.  

 

As for down time?  Plenty.  More than enough.  Her outside activities are quite limited.  

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We had similar problems here at that age.  With my kids, it was total boredom.  The amount of repetition in the homework was mind-numbing.   

 

As they got older, they realized the value of "suck it up, buttercup" and just doing the work to get the grade.  But at age 13/14/15, it was all about escaping the tedium and avoiding the homework.  They had enough competitiveness to do well on tests and quizzes, but homework was avoided at all codes.

 

How did we survive those years?  Mandatory homework time with lots of encouragement and sympathy from me.  "Yes, it's dumb.  Yes, it's boring.  Do it anyway for the grade".  Repeated over and over and over.    Homework time happened even if you didn't write down the homework or bring your books home.  We would google their textbook and I would make them take a stab at what they thought the assignment might be.  Funny how they often remembered what they were supposed to do rather than do the random assignment I made up.

 

 

I helped my "forgot to turn it in" kid with a dedicated homework folder.  When they finished, the homework went into the folder and I put it into their backpack.  Every Single Day.  For one kid, this lasted thru his junior year in high school because he just needed the support.  

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This is what I fear it is, although I'm definitely not discounting the other suggestions.  

 

Sigh.  

 

I don't think it's anything to fear- it's just a matter of working on diligence.  I've had two with special needs and one with a diligence issue. By far the diligence problem was the easiest to overcome. 

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She's not bored in that the work is not too easy for her.

 

 

Really? She's getting A's on every Math quiz and test while doing nearly none of the homework... that strongly suggests the material is too easy regardless of whether she admits to being bored.

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Have you asked the teachers if they post their homework online anywhere?  At the school where I work, teachers post it on our online grade book (I think we have a tab called assignments), on their teacher page of the school website, on a google hangout and there is even one teacher who tweets it, as well.   These kids do not have an excuse that they forgot to write it down because they have other places to look (not everyone posts to the same place, but the kids should know where they can look for any given teacher).  It might be worth inquiring about, but it seems like at a minimum, the math teachers always have homework posted somewhere.

 

Also, if the teachers keep the grade book up-to-date, you could catch the late assignments quickly if you check it every day.  Most teachers will give partial credit for late assignments.

 

If you believe the problem is laziness, I would probably take the phone or video games away any time you see late assignments and tell her you will give them back once those assignments are turned in and recorded.  In my family, that would work like a charm and I guarantee every assignment would be on time and turned in.  

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I often find laziness is a symptom of something else. A lazy day is different from consistent and daily being lazy about something you know you have to do.

My ds has executive function deficits that started being noticeable on 9th grade and we have been trying since to address them. He is leaving for college on the fall and we want him to have the tools and the habits ingrained so he will be successful.

He is chaffing under the process. He doesn't want to do the work of putting the to do list together and then looking at the list through out the day. He doesn't like every single thing being on the list. Starting with make your bed and every detail between but if it is not on the list it doesn't get done.

Time management and prioritizing are challenges for him and the list helps as long as he remembers to check it. Remembering to check it is ab executive function deficit. He would rather stick his head in the sand and ve perceived as lazy instead of doing the work to fix it because he feels like no one else has to do these things.

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Yeah I don't know.  I have a thirteen year old.  He is not in school as you know, but he does annoying stuff like this when I assign stuff to him.  Even with me on top of him he definitely has his moments.

 

 

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I helped my "forgot to turn it in" kid with a dedicated homework folder.  When they finished, the homework went into the folder and I put it into their backpack.  Every Single Day.  For one kid, this lasted thru his junior year in high school because he just needed the support.  

 

This is a great idea - I did this with my ds this fall and it really helped a lot.  He had difficulty remembering what to bring to each class and it was easy for him to make sure he included this particular folder.

 

Have you asked the teachers if they post their homework online anywhere?  At the school where I work, teachers post it on our online grade book (I think we have a tab called assignments), on their teacher page of the school website, on a google hangout and there is even one teacher who tweets it, as well. 

 

This is a good point too.  Some teachers were a bit weaker on this than others, but for the ones who followed through on their promise to post online, it was a huge help when I went to help ds manage himself.

 

Supposedly, my boys' new school also has assignments submitted online, which might be another help for my ds in getting things turned in.  I hope....

 

Eta, in comparison, his twin brother is master organizer.  Yet, I still wonder how much of ds's issues are developmental vs pathological.  My dd's old private middle school principal once told me, speaking about boys in particular, that 7th grade was the worst, that it was if they had alzheimers or something, which appears to apply to my ds with issues.  Even my dd had her moments in 7th with procrastination and finally pulled out of the organizational fog at the very end of 8th.

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She has an A for every quiz and test she has taken...sounds like she is learning the material, and simply choosing to not do "busywork" homework that in her case is not needed to retain the material. Too bad so much of the teacher's grades are based on homework being turned in and not on mastery of the material as reflected in the quizzes and tests. If she was at home, would you still be making her do the same amount of work as long as she was understanding and retaining the material? I think you need to remind her that to be in school, she has to play by their rules and do all the homework whether she "needs" it or not.

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She does have some executive function issues, which are common among gifted kids.  She has assistance in school with that.  She often chooses not to use the skills (per her own assessment)

<snip>

 

She's not miserable in school.  She quite enjoys it.  In my estimation, the lying, and the underperformance, are both about laziness.  It's easier for her to just not do it than to do it. 

 

I was a gifted student who underperformed, and at the time I'd have explained it as laziness and "just not wanting to".  I didn't like it, but I wasn't willing to take steps to change it, either.  And I crashed and burned but good in college :(. 

 

But now, in retrospect, a lot of the things I didn't want to do because they were "painfully boring" - they were actually *hard* for me to do.  It's not that I *couldn't* do them, but that I couldn't do them with ease and in a reasonable timeframe.  And as they were usually sold as necessary in order to learn - and I could learn very well without them - I thought they were just stupid and boring.  But, really, I had no trouble flying through stupid and boring *easy* things - the fact that I hated these so much because I couldn't fly through them was, in retrospect, a sign that they *weren't* all that easy for me.  I was a voracious reader with a good memory, and I could integrate my knowledge on the fly during tests, and that covered up the fact that I was actually missing a lot of foundational skills. 

 

As a kid, I *loathed* the end-of-section/end-of-chapter review questions, and my brief period of just not doing work and lying to my parents about it was centered around skipping those.  (I was in 4th grade, and my mom dealt with it by having me have my teacher sign off on whether I had hw or not each day.  I was *really* embarrassed by that - I was a "good kid" and that was something only "bad kids" had to do.  You could probably make up a sheet for your dd to write down her hw assignments on, with a space for each class, and have her go to each teacher to initial it each day (after you probably talk to them about what is going on).)  If I couldn't get the answer directly from the text, word-for-word, I was mad and complained about it.  I didn't realize it at the time, but summarizing a text - both finding the main point and putting that point into my own words - was a very difficult skill for me.  It still is.  Dd9 is doing WWE 2, and *I'm* learning from it, too.

 

But at the time I thought those questions were just about making sure you learned and remembered those points - and I had zero trouble learning and remembering the entire text, so I thought it was pointless.  Later on, I thought it was a "gifted thing" - just not having enough to think about to make the work worthwhile.  But there are lots of mindless things I don't have a problem doing - because they are *easy*, or easy enough.  This was the deadly combo of simple content and hard task - I loathed it so much not because it was "boring", but because it was *hard*.  The task was hard enough to require serious thought, only I didn't think I "should" have to think hard, because "I already knew it".  So I just loathed them and spent the bare minimum of time and effort on them.  (It didn't help that no one ever *taught* me how to summarize and condense - they just gave lots of tasks that *required* that skill :-/.)

 

As well, I didn't realize how bad my executive function skills were until recently (when I took the parent test in Smart but Scattered) - because my memory was good enough that I didn't *need* to be organized.  And I work fast and well under pressure, so I let external deadlines provide the kick to get started and didn't realize how many weaknesses that covered up.  Not only did it cover up my inability to make and follow my own schedules, it also covered up how *hard* some of those tasks were for me.  Because when I did them in a flurry of adrenaline (often cutting several corners that didn't affect my grade but did affect my learning), I worked faster (and in some ways better) than I could do without that push.  I used to think it was because "work expands to fill the time allotted", and there's some truth to that.  But it's also because my skills in many areas were shaky, shakier than I knew, and they took me so long when I wasn't under pressure because I just wasn't very practiced at them.  I could overcome that for a short time through the adrenaline rush of working fast and furious under a looming deadline, but they were just not fluent skills for me.  I just didn't realize it because I could learn things without them, because I was able to compensate well for them.

 

And eventually, I couldn't work at all without that adrenaline push, and it took more and more external pressure in order to feel that internal push, and that happened at the same time I hit college, with its higher demands on executive function and study skills.  And thus the crash and burn.

 

 

But, anyway, long story short (too late ;)), the point is that what I thought was my own *unwillingness* was actually caused in large part by my *inability*.  It was just hidden, from me and everyone else, because I was able to compensate so well for my lack of foundational skills that no one had any idea I lacked them. 

 

In general, I do believe that if a person sincerely wants to do something, yet is not doing it "because laziness", they probably *can't* do it - not without an overwhelming, unsustainable amount of effort.  And so they naturally avoid those tasks unless they *really* need to do them - because an extraordinary effort is reserved for extraordinary need.  Somehow the effort involved in those tasks needs to be lessened - because *no one* can operate at extraordinary levels all the time.  And, at least for me, that means uncovering the missing foundational skills and remediating them.

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Homework time happened even if you didn't write down the homework or bring your books home.  We would google their textbook and I would make them take a stab at what they thought the assignment might be.  Funny how they often remembered what they were supposed to do rather than do the random assignment I made up.

 

I really like this idea. I don't have kids in school, but I will keep it in mind if they ever go to school or an outside class.

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Really? She's getting A's on every Math quiz and test while doing nearly none of the homework... that strongly suggests the material is too easy regardless of whether she admits to being bored.

 

Good point!

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Thank you for this! My thoughts, below.

 

1. This is probably the biggest thing. I need to remember that.

2. You're right, of course.

3. I do know her friends. It's a small group. Things are fine there. She spends basically no time on social media, and I do pay attention to texts and things on her phone.

4. I've asked. They wont' do it.

5. That really is the biggest issue for me right now, and she knows it. I just don't know how to check up on her if I don't know something exists at all, kwim?

6. We spend a lot of time together! I mean, really together. We talk a lot, even when I'm not home, and do a lot of activites together. Our relationship is strong. That's why the lying thing is making me mad. She admitted it fully, and said basically it's because she doesn't feel like doing the work and doesn't want to hear about it because she knows I won't just let her not do it if I know about it.

Since she makes all "A's" on quizzes and tests, yet only has assignment issues, I would guess she is just bored with busy work. Brilliant minds tend to be that way. Personally, I would leave it alone if you cannot find a more challenging school environment for her. Kids like that end up succeeding in life irrespective of their academic performance. Can you find another outlet for her brilliance even if it is not tied to school, i.e. Robotics club, chess masters, or some such? She may benefit from being around other brilliant people who are not family.

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Really? She's getting A's on every Math quiz and test while doing nearly none of the homework... that strongly suggests the material is too easy regardless of whether she admits to being bored.

 

My own experience is that easy material combined with easy tasks aren't the things that kids who *want* to do well tend to skip "because boring", though (unless the volume is ridiculous, so that even a competent adult would be spending hours at it). 

 

IME, those "I *hate* them - they are so *boring*" assignments are where it's easy material combined with *hard* tasks - they *feel* hard but pointless because the material can be learned without the skill that makes the assignment hard.  Sometimes what makes the task difficult isn't a skill worth cultivating (for example, where the difficulty in is hours of fiddly cutting and pasting, or coloring), but sometimes the skill is genuinely useful (the ability to summarize and condense, or the ability to delay gratification, or the ability to work without having to "feel like it" - all things I lack). 

 

Personally, I would evaluate what exactly about the assignments she skips are difficult before writing it all off as "pointless because the material can be learned without it" - a lot of study skills are pointless until they aren't - when the person hits the limit of their ability to learn without studying.  I'm busy trying to learn to summarize and condense in my 30s because I never bothered to learn it "because it was pointless - I could learn the material without it".  Yeah, that was only for certain values of "learn the material", and up to to a certain point of difficulty.

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I have a lot of school reports from around that stage saying "does not reach her full potential". But full potential is the sum of academic and executive function and I really wish someone had figured out that I needed more scaffolding in one area. I did fine with a nightly homework exercise but if I was given project work or material to read over a week I would never get it done. I needed someone to teach me how to break it down.

 

Also there is some stuff that is boring and pointless and unfortunately you just have to do it if you want the grades and let it go if you don't.

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I don't think it's anything to fear- it's just a matter of working on diligence.  I've had two with special needs and one with a diligence issue. By far the diligence problem was the easiest to overcome. 

 

It took me till my 40's to really start to understand diligence!

 

OP, gifted and underachieving here way back in the day. 

 

Lazy ? Yes, I still think of myself as lazy because that's what people around me said I was. Actually, I was paralyzed with perfectionism.

 

If you don't do/hand in the work - guess what ? Any time you fail, you can blame it on the fact that you didn't do/hand in the work.

 

It's behaviour that minimizes emotional risk.

 

Anyway - that's just my anecdote - and your dd could be experiencing something utterly different - but anxiety and perfectionism are two issues I'd definitely want to rule out, at the very least.

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Maybe not a popular idea, but what about offering her an incentive for doing the boring stuff?  I mean sure we'd love it if our 13 year olds just knew the value of doing whatever we are told, but they don't and won't for years probably.  Although as I get older I question the value more and more.  Sometimes I feel more like a performer monkey when I take a class.

 

 

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Really? She's getting A's on every Math quiz and test while doing nearly none of the homework... that strongly suggests the material is too easy regardless of whether she admits to being bored.

 

Sorry, I wasn't clear.  Math is the only subject that she isn't getting all A's on when she does the work.  That's the one where she does need some help.

 

But now that you put it that way, it does make sense for the other classes for sure.  I hadn't thought of it that way.

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Also I know you say she has heaps of downtime but even without activities school kids life is typically

School plus travel 8 hrs

Sleep needs for this age 9.5 hrs

Homework 1.5- 2 hrs

Personal care and chores 1-2 hrs

 

It only leaves four hours free, which seems like plenty but they really are only just growing out of childhood and into a full workload.

 

School got easier for me when I could pick my own subjects - I.e those that were conceptually challenging not large scale busywork type projects.

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It took me till my 40's to really start to understand diligence!

 

OP, gifted and underachieving here way back in the day. 

 

Lazy ? Yes, I still think of myself as lazy because that's what people around me said I was. Actually, I was paralyzed with perfectionism.

 

If you don't do/hand in the work - guess what ? Any time you fail, you can blame it on the fact that you didn't do/hand in the work.

 

It's behaviour that minimizes emotional risk.

 

Anyway - that's just my anecdote - and your dd could be experiencing something utterly different - but anxiety and perfectionism are two issues I'd definitely want to rule out, at the very least.

 

Perfectionism and anxiety here, too, and they *definitely* contributed to my underperforming, both because of procrastination and because of just not doing things at all.  I procrastinated because I was putting off the perceived unpleasantness of the work, and my anxiety made some work seem *far* more unpleasant than it was in reality.  And I *knew* that, and after every frantic all-nighter I'd tell myself that just doing the work ahead of time would be *so* much better than the stress of doing it at the last minute, yet when it came time to do the work, it seemed like so big a deal that I'd put it off again and again.  Because I needed the adrenaline rush that came with doing it at the last minute to overcome the anxiety of starting. 

 

I never would have put it like that at the time - I thought I just preferred to play over doing work (and that did become a habit) - but in retrospect (and after a decade of being *aware* of my anxiety and working on it), I had help in developing that habit - there was a *reason* that work loomed large, and that was because I was anxious about it, about getting it done "right".  I remember explaining, very rationally-sounding, that the reason I didn't do my homework was because I could learn without it and it was only worth 15% of my grade and I was willing to take the hit in order to not do it.  Yeah, well, the reason that seemed like a good plan was because of how *bad* the homework seemed - not how bad it was in *reality*, but how bad it *seemed* - because my anxiety made it feel like a huge thing to be avoided, and my brain went right ahead and crafted a nice, rational-sounding reason to give in to the anxiety :(.

 

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It took me till my 40's to really start to understand diligence!

 

OP, gifted and underachieving here way back in the day. 

 

Lazy ? Yes, I still think of myself as lazy because that's what people around me said I was. Actually, I was paralyzed with perfectionism.

 

If you don't do/hand in the work - guess what ? Any time you fail, you can blame it on the fact that you didn't do/hand in the work.

 

It's behaviour that minimizes emotional risk.

 

Anyway - that's just my anecdote - and your dd could be experiencing something utterly different - but anxiety and perfectionism are two issues I'd definitely want to rule out, at the very least.

 

It's actually very simillar, I think, although I don't think it's intentional.  We just had a long discussion, and this is certainly part of the equation. 

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Can you try more of a carrot approach?  Would the teachers at least tell you once a week if she's turned everything in for that week?  If so, could you take her out for a treat?  (My dd14 loves our local frozen yogurt place). 

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Perfectionism and anxiety here, too, and they *definitely* contributed to my underperforming, both because of procrastination and because of just not doing things at all.  I procrastinated because I was putting off the perceived unpleasantness of the work, and my anxiety made some work seem *far* more unpleasant than it was in reality.  And I *knew* that, and after every frantic all-nighter I'd tell myself that just doing the work ahead of time would be *so* much better than the stress of doing it at the last minute, yet when it came time to do the work, it seemed like so big a deal that I'd put it off again and again.  Because I needed the adrenaline rush that came with doing it at the last minute to overcome the anxiety of starting. 

 

I never would have put it like that at the time - I thought I just preferred to play over doing work (and that did become a habit) - but in retrospect (and after a decade of being *aware* of my anxiety and working on it), I had help in developing that habit - there was a *reason* that work loomed large, and that was because I was anxious about it, about getting it done "right".  I remember explaining, very rationally-sounding, that the reason I didn't do my homework was because I could learn without it and it was only worth 15% of my grade and I was willing to take the hit in order to not do it.  Yeah, well, the reason that seemed like a good plan was because of how *bad* the homework seemed - not how bad it was in *reality*, but how bad it *seemed* - because my anxiety made it feel like a huge thing to be avoided, and my brain went right ahead and crafted a nice, rational-sounding reason to give in to the anxiety :(.

 

 

This is STILL me.

 

I even had a great big argument with my mom last month over buying me a tool chest (which I actually did want) because in my mind tool chest=must **perfectly** organize garage and consolidate randomly placed tools right now=SO MUCH ANXIETY!

 

At 13, what I really needed was for someone to tell me it was ok not to be perfect and that trying, spending some time working each day toward the end goal, was a good objective in itself. If I couldn't get an A, I didn't want to try, and busy work didn't seem worth it because it required too much emotional energy to get it perfect. I saved my emotional energy for the big stuff.

 

Unlike some others, that strategy served me very well in college where only a midterm, paper, and final made up my grade for the course. It was an abysmal strategy for high school though.

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It sounds like you are putting the responsibility for wanting options in her future on her. That works great for some driven 13 year olds and maybe some typical 13 year olds. There are a lot of kids, particularly kids who fall in the 2E category for whom a short span of time is just too far off to keep focus on. So the idea that the homework not turned in tomorrow will have a major effect on competing for admission to a magnet high school doesn't register. Yes, logically kids like this can look back and say A, B, and C didn't happen so options X. Y and Z are out, but that really only happens after the fact. 

 

Additionally, keep in mind most kids in middle school gifted programs are going to say they are applying to the most prestigious magnet program that their district offers. 75% of the parents are telling their dc they must and most of that group is figuring out ways to invest in test prep if the program requires an admission test. So, if your dd is saying she wants to go to that school it may be just because every other kid she knows says the same thing. You might want to consider if the magnet school is actually a good fit and look at all the programs your district has (other magnets, certificate programs, vocational, IB, AP etc) break it down and tell her all of it is available and ask what looks interesting to her. My school district is huge so there was a lot for my dd to choose from and think about. 

 

Getting back to my first paragraph, the inability to think ahead regarding consequences is why I think you, not just the school, need to wade through organization stuff with her. Make it a routine to daily organize material in her backpack, make sure notes for each class are in the correct place, put completed homework in the backpack and do a quick review of class notes for each class. If the teachers do not post assignments, make it a point for the student to call someone to verify there was no assignment. There are lots of little organizational steps you can do with her each afternoon to help her stay focused and on track. Don't tell her you are doing it so she will have the option to apply to magnet high school. Remember you are doing it because organization is a lifelong problem and she needs the lifeskill. She is not going to develop the lifeskill with help only during school hours. 

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Can you try more of a carrot approach?  Would the teachers at least tell you once a week if she's turned everything in for that week?  If so, could you take her out for a treat?  (My dd14 loves our local frozen yogurt place). 

 

That's a thought.  I'll see if they'll go for that.

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I was a gifted student who underperformed, and at the time I'd have explained it as laziness and "just not wanting to". I didn't like it, but I wasn't willing to take steps to change it, either. And I crashed and burned but good in college :(.

 

But now, in retrospect, a lot of the things I didn't want to do because they were "painfully boring" - they were actually *hard* for me to do. It's not that I *couldn't* do them, but that I couldn't do them with ease and in a reasonable timeframe. And as they were usually sold as necessary in order to learn - and I could learn very well without them - I thought they were just stupid and boring. But, really, I had no trouble flying through stupid and boring *easy* things - the fact that I hated these so much because I couldn't fly through them was, in retrospect, a sign that they *weren't* all that easy for me. I was a voracious reader with a good memory, and I could integrate my knowledge on the fly during tests, and that covered up the fact that I was actually missing a lot of foundational skills.

 

As a kid, I *loathed* the end-of-section/end-of-chapter review questions, and my brief period of just not doing work and lying to my parents about it was centered around skipping those. (I was in 4th grade, and my mom dealt with it by having me have my teacher sign off on whether I had hw or not each day. I was *really* embarrassed by that - I was a "good kid" and that was something only "bad kids" had to do. You could probably make up a sheet for your dd to write down her hw assignments on, with a space for each class, and have her go to each teacher to initial it each day (after you probably talk to them about what is going on).) If I couldn't get the answer directly from the text, word-for-word, I was mad and complained about it. I didn't realize it at the time, but summarizing a text - both finding the main point and putting that point into my own words - was a very difficult skill for me. It still is. Dd9 is doing WWE 2, and *I'm* learning from it, too.

 

But at the time I thought those questions were just about making sure you learned and remembered those points - and I had zero trouble learning and remembering the entire text, so I thought it was pointless. Later on, I thought it was a "gifted thing" - just not having enough to think about to make the work worthwhile. But there are lots of mindless things I don't have a problem doing - because they are *easy*, or easy enough. This was the deadly combo of simple content and hard task - I loathed it so much not because it was "boring", but because it was *hard*. The task was hard enough to require serious thought, only I didn't think I "should" have to think hard, because "I already knew it". So I just loathed them and spent the bare minimum of time and effort on them. (It didn't help that no one ever *taught* me how to summarize and condense - they just gave lots of tasks that *required* that skill :-/.)

 

As well, I didn't realize how bad my executive function skills were until recently (when I took the parent test in Smart but Scattered) - because my memory was good enough that I didn't *need* to be organized. And I work fast and well under pressure, so I let external deadlines provide the kick to get started and didn't realize how many weaknesses that covered up. Not only did it cover up my inability to make and follow my own schedules, it also covered up how *hard* some of those tasks were for me. Because when I did them in a flurry of adrenaline (often cutting several corners that didn't affect my grade but did affect my learning), I worked faster (and in some ways better) than I could do without that push. I used to think it was because "work expands to fill the time allotted", and there's some truth to that. But it's also because my skills in many areas were shaky, shakier than I knew, and they took me so long when I wasn't under pressure because I just wasn't very practiced at them. I could overcome that for a short time through the adrenaline rush of working fast and furious under a looming deadline, but they were just not fluent skills for me. I just didn't realize it because I could learn things without them, because I was able to compensate well for them.

 

And eventually, I couldn't work at all without that adrenaline push, and it took more and more external pressure in order to feel that internal push, and that happened at the same time I hit college, with its higher demands on executive function and study skills. And thus the crash and burn.

 

 

But, anyway, long story short (too late ;)), the point is that what I thought was my own *unwillingness* was actually caused in large part by my *inability*. It was just hidden, from me and everyone else, because I was able to compensate so well for my lack of foundational skills that no one had any idea I lacked them.

 

In general, I do believe that if a person sincerely wants to do something, yet is not doing it "because laziness", they probably *can't* do it - not without an overwhelming, unsustainable amount of effort. And so they naturally avoid those tasks unless they *really* need to do them - because an extraordinary effort is reserved for extraordinary need. Somehow the effort involved in those tasks needs to be lessened - because *no one* can operate at extraordinary levels all the time. And, at least for me, that means uncovering the missing foundational skills and remediating them.

This is hugely eye opening to me. I think you've just hit the nail on the head in regards to my own gifted son who is struggling in all the ways you've just described. I have one more year with him at home before he goes off to the public high school, and now I have some insight how to help him. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Perfectionism and anxiety here, too, and they *definitely* contributed to my underperforming, both because of procrastination and because of just not doing things at all. I procrastinated because I was putting off the perceived unpleasantness of the work, and my anxiety made some work seem *far* more unpleasant than it was in reality. And I *knew* that, and after every frantic all-nighter I'd tell myself that just doing the work ahead of time would be *so* much better than the stress of doing it at the last minute, yet when it came time to do the work, it seemed like so big a deal that I'd put it off again and again. Because I needed the adrenaline rush that came with doing it at the last minute to overcome the anxiety of starting.

 

I never would have put it like that at the time - I thought I just preferred to play over doing work (and that did become a habit) - but in retrospect (and after a decade of being *aware* of my anxiety and working on it), I had help in developing that habit - there was a *reason* that work loomed large, and that was because I was anxious about it, about getting it done "right". I remember explaining, very rationally-sounding, that the reason I didn't do my homework was because I could learn without it and it was only worth 15% of my grade and I was willing to take the hit in order to not do it. Yeah, well, the reason that seemed like a good plan was because of how *bad* the homework seemed - not how bad it was in *reality*, but how bad it *seemed* - because my anxiety made it feel like a huge thing to be avoided, and my brain went right ahead and crafted a nice, rational-sounding reason to give in to the anxiety :(.

 

Looking back on your teen years, how do you think your parents/adults in your life could have helped you? The crippling anxiety is starting to show this year in my DS, along with the perfectionism he has always displayed. I go back and forth between being stern and fed up, and being too soft and allowing some work to not get done because it's so anxiety provoking for him. Neither are the right response, but I don't have a clear feel for what is at this age.

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Looking back on your teen years, how do you think your parents/adults in your life could have helped you? The crippling anxiety is starting to show this year in my DS, along with the perfectionism he has always displayed. I go back and forth between being stern and fed up, and being too soft and allowing some work to not get done because it's so anxiety provoking for him. Neither are the right response, but I don't have a clear feel for what is at this age.

 

Not forty-two, but I can speak to this, if I may.

 

I feel I needed someone to hold my hand and help me go step by step, even if I outwardly showed resentment/anger/pushed away/said I didn't need that.

 

Later, just someone to get me started and then check on me and keep me accountable.

 

A big task was too big to get started on.

 

A little task and approval for that and then help on the next would have been so nice.

 

I am currently feeling that very same way--too anxious with too big a task in front of me to get started.

It concerns house cleaning and gift wrapping. :scared:

 

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Yep. One thing my dad could have done instead of saying "have you done your homework" is just rephrase it "do you have any homework due this week". Because to me homework meant whatever was due the next day. Help to break it down would have been good. People always said "do a bit each day". But I could never figure out how. I might start the first day but then I'd forget till someone would say "I have to finish off xyz tonight". And I'd think oh no!!!

 

The other thing that helped was moving into the more academic friend group that I ended up in because they would talk about what homework they were doing at the would remind me.

 

It is only as an adult mostly thanks to flylady that I've figured out you can do anything for a little while and that done is better than not done even if it's not perfect. I still struggle.

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Honestly, just getting started is a big help. I often set the microwave timer for 5 minutes when doing kitchen work, telling myself I can work for 5 minutes and then stop if I want. When it goes off, most of the time I keep working, because the hard part was actually starting.

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I had a friend in college that drove his professors batty.  He would come into class, barely pay attention, ace the exams, but skate by with a low B, high C grade because he wouldn't do the homework.  He was brilliant in math and science (double majored in math and physics), but he refused to do busy work that is required in all the low level classes that must be checked off to get to the challenging work.  One of his professors gave up on trying to get him to do the busy work and finally found a way to get him to be engaged with what he was learning.  Instead of making him do the traditional homework, the professor made him write a computer program that would either demonstrate whatever they were learning or one that could solve the equation.  My friend loved that professor because he was willing to acknowledge that he really didn't need to waste the time or effort to do 20 problems solving with the same equation when he obviously got it before the teacher even had a chance to explain it.  My friend was still learning valuable lessons from the class because he knew nothing about computer programming.

 

All that to say, in the classes that she is acing the exams and refusing the homework, she's bored and she probably won't outgrow it.  If the teachers in the gifted program are not willing to work to figure out something to engage her with, it might be time to try something different for school. 

 

What level is she working in math?  There is a big jump from elementary level math classes and algebra level classes and she might really need to have some sit down time with her teachers to get some help.  It will not be easy for her to step up and ask for the help because she is supposed to be gifted and understand all of this (yeah, that was me).  In 7th grade you should still be able to call her teachers in with for a parent/teacher/student conference so she can ask for help while not in front of her friends.

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My guess:

 

She is smart enough to get good test grades without doing the homework.  The homework is busy work to her. Who wants to do busy work? I am guessing it is more of self discipline issue than anything. Unfortunately, she has to choose to do work at home.  She knows that doing the homework is not necessary for her to learn the material... so why bother.

 

 

Ds21 is gifted and ADD

Ds17 is gifted, ADHD and dyslesic.

 

 

For us: We had to get past the ADD/ADHD part for both of them, to give them the self discipline to do the busy work in school. Ds21 can do pretty good with coffee, but needs meds for a heavy day of concentration.  DD17 has to have meds, without them, she has very little self discipline. 

 

My kids have always had the same issue as your daughter.  Straight As on work that is turned in, and the random zeros or half completed assignments, drops their grade a full letter.  

 

For both kids it took until they were over the age of 17 to mature to the point of caring about grades. Before that, they were just a mark on the top of a page that didn't mean a thing to them.  

 

I had to finally let go of the battle.  I knew they would find their way in life and they were going to have to feel the loss of missing out a few times on things they wanted, to learn a lesson on why grades are important. And why, we do stupid homework, that doesn't matter to anyone but the teacher checking a box in the grade book (unfortunately mastering mindless tasks, is a job skill we almost all use in the real world). For DS the motivation was getting an academic scholarship, but if his GPA was 1pt higher, it would have been worth a couple thousand more.  For DD17, it was being one of the few cheerleaders who didn't get an academic achievement award from her coach at a banquet.  All the girls with GPAs over 3.5 got called up into a group.(She was a 3.4) The few left sitting weren't singled out, but I know it hurt dd to know she could have/should have been up there. 

 

It did finally come together though;

DS finished his hardest (senior year) in college with his highest GPA ever, at 20yo.

DD17 now has a 4.0 with her lowest grade in a class being a 97.4% as a junior in public highschool

 

In 7th-9th grades....they were both B average students.  I tried everything from daily reminders, to rewards to grades back then.  It didn't matter until they found value in the work and saw the consequences for those random zeros in the grade book. It took a few years, but it did finally pay off.

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Looking back on your teen years, how do you think your parents/adults in your life could have helped you? The crippling anxiety is starting to show this year in my DS, along with the perfectionism he has always displayed. I go back and forth between being stern and fed up, and being too soft and allowing some work to not get done because it's so anxiety provoking for him. Neither are the right response, but I don't have a clear feel for what is at this age.

 

Anxiety (and depression) both provoke the "flight" response (as in fight-or-flight) - anxiety makes you want to get away from the problem any way you can.  The problem is, the more you give into the anxiety - the more you avoid what's making you anxious (when avoidance doesn't make it go away for realsies) - the more anxious you are about it.  IOW, the more you give into the anxiety and avoid something, the harder it becomes to eventually face it.  It's far, *far* better to face it at the beginning, when it's relatively little, than it is to avoid it when it's small, because that just makes it bigger and bigger.  I know for me, I think it's "no big deal" to avoid at the beginning - that there's plenty of time to get around to it and it will be just as easy or easier to do it then.  Only that's the anxiety talking - it's completely, utterly *wrong* - *because* I avoided it when it was "no big deal", I *make* it a Big Deal.

 

My dds have anxiety issues, too, and when I'm on my game, I try to deal with it by being a calm, persistent rock.  I sympathize a bit - yes, it *is* hard - and I explain how avoiding it makes it worse, and I try to come alongside and help (drag) them over the initial hump.  But I generally try to make sure that together we face it head-on, together - give them all the sympathy and empathy in the world, give them lots of help and scaffolding (that I try to phase out over time) - but not budge on actually *doing* it, even if just a little bit.  Because as much as they beg to "do it later", letting them avoid it now is not in their best interest - because it's going to be *worse* later.  (I do try hard to set them up for success - enough sleep, enough good food, regularly scheduled breaks, water and healthy snacks next to where they work - and sometimes if now is objectively not the greatest time (hungry, tired, sick, etc.), I settle for doing a small amount - just enough to get over the initial hump.)

 

WRT to my parents and how they could have helped:  My parents always emphasized, with both words and actions, that what counted was doing my best, whatever the outcome.  If a C was my best, then they'd be happy with that.  And that helped (over time - it took lots of repetitions to sink in ;)).  But my mom has the very same perfectionist anxiety I have, and her own method of handling it is to "start something when her anxiety about not finishing overcomes her anxiety about starting".  It works, for certain values of "work", but it's not the greatest, kwim?  So no one ever really showed me how to handle anxiety so much as to keep going in spite of it. 

 

I ended up with a conscious "growth mindset" - if at first you don't succeed, try, try again - that failure just means you can't do it *now*, not that you can't do it *ever*.  But I also had an unconscious "fixed mindset" - that I can either do it or not, and that doesn't change - that if I fail now, I'm a failure forever.  (For more info re: growth/fixed mindsets: http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/.)  My parents definitely explicitly taught me a growth mindset.  But I wonder if maybe I partly learned a fixed mindset implicitly from my mom - if she has the same tangled beliefs that I do.  (I also definitely imbibed a fixed mindset from school and media depictions of "being smart" - smart was a thing you were or weren't, and there was no changing it.  And I definitely thought of myself as "smart" - in fact, I defined myself by it.  It was the only thing I had going for me in the outside world (or so I thought) - I wasn't pretty, wasn't athletic, wasn't popular - I was an socially and physically awkward smart kid, and smart was how everyone outside the family saw me, and how I saw myself, too.  My parents and their "do your best, whatever it is" attitude was a *major* corrective to that.)

 

WRT helping, like Chris in VA, I wished my parents would have "made" me do things, although if/when they had, I resisted every. step. of. the. way.  I wanted to be able to do things, but I didn't want to do the things required to do things.  But really, I needed to be *taught* how to do things - have everything broken down into *doable* steps, and then be held responsible for doing each step.  If a step proved to be too much, then be walked through how to break it down into even littler steps.  Basically a combination of being taught *how* to do things - to work through anxiety, to make a plan and follow through, to modify a plan instead of giving up - and then kind of being pushed to actually *do* it even when it was hard.  But a sympathetic pushing, one that was flexible, that made sure tasks were doable at my current level (and modified them when they didn't work out as planned) - basically being in every way on my side, positive and loving and kind - yet not letting me give up - *because* they were on my side.

 

 

ETA:  Which means that the parent in question has to *have* the ability to work though the issues in question themselves, or else learn to.  My mom is awesome, and taught me a lot of good things, but her handling of her anxiety is only so-so, and so she couldn't pass on any better, kwim?  I've found, in trying to help my kids, I have to learn and apply the same things to myself.  Because how can I walk them through dealing with anxiety if I can't deal with my own? 

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