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AlmiraGulch

WWYD? Underperforming gifted child

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I don't have time to read the whole thread but I don't think taking away phone etc is unreasonable at all for bad grades but when you add lying on top of it, it is really time to come down hard. But I do have one other thought. What if you designated a time for homework where nothing else can be done. 2 hour block with no electronics no phone no tv nothing. If she has nothing better to do maybe she will admit to the homework. If she says she has none then pull out the math book and have her work the even problems if she did the odd or rework some or have her teach you the concepts. Basically she does math every day whether it's assigned or not. If she gets an hour or so of math done then she may read from quality books for the other hour or something. Seems like she could use the structure of this is homework time. Full stop. Otherwise sure it's much easier and more fun to say she doesn't have any so she can watch tv or text or whatever.

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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?

This is hugely helpful. Thank you!

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I only read half of the responses, so this may have been mentioned already. ADHD looks different in girls, and executive function problems go hand in hand with it. You can request that your school evaluate her. Do this in writing to make it an official request. If she has ADHD, she can get a 504 plan that will have accommodations for the school to provide extra support. The accommodations can include things about how to get assignments done, having the teachers initial an assignment planner that she brings home each day, having an extra set of books at home in case she forgets hers at school, etc. You can research accommodation ideas online to see if there are things that can help her. The teachers will have to follow the 504 plan.

 

If she is in public school, the school will evaluate her themselves. If she is in private school, the local public school will evaluate her. Under the Child Find law, they must do it.

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I haven't read all of the replies yet.

 

I had very much the same experience at school.  I think its pretty common with gifted children, and has a few causes. 

 

One is that often it is at that age where they suddenly find they actually have to extend themselves to keep up.  Often, they haven't really learned the skills that it requires because it wasn't necessary - time management, focus, and so on.  Parents can help with this, I think, and it may even require actually setting aside a period of time consistently for homework.  If there is no work, the hour is spent, say, studying.  I've seen this used at residential type private schools and it seems to work pretty well at teaching a good habit.  And I think it really is a habit, just like turning out lights or whatever.

 

I also think that many gifted kids are sub-consciously thrown a little to discover they need to work - it seems to them that it threatens their identity as smart.  So - they tend to disengage to protect that.  It's based on a false premise of course, but it's easy to make that mistake when you've never really been challenged regularly in your school work or in some other activity where diligence brings visible rewards over time.  It's a hard idea to really overcome because most people realize intellectually that it isn't true already.

 

I do think though, that if she really won't engage, you should let her fail - 13 is old enough that she has to make a choice and will it.  Now is better than later to work it out.  Even then, some people never choose to do so, or they are much, much older but that isn't always the end of the world either.

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In terms of what helped me solve some of my problems along these lines - I didn't have much sucess until I was older.  One f the things that made a difference was probably joining the army - they had a method and procedure for everything - even for researching and writing an essay!  It was all very results driven, and based on SOPs for the most part. 

 

So, for example, when you need to research and write an essay, you take all the days you have avaialble to work on it before the deadline, and allocate half to research and half to writing....   and so on.  If you are getting ready to go to the field, these are the procedures you follow on which days.  If you are running a unit, these are the things that need to happen at what times....  This is the way you organize your equipment.....

 

 

 

 

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Well, here's how it's playing out in our family.

 

Ds went from ps to hs, back to ps.  Despite ASD dx and documented EF issues, his 504 was a joke.  Punishment and incentives all fell flat.  Every attempt at direct instruction in organization/time management was heavily resisted.  My patience got maxed out while his frustration grew.

 

I will never in a million years suggest that anyone throw their hands up with a 13yo, but I do believe there needs to be SOME degree of acceptance.  Enough that the child isn't made to feel hopeless and the parents aren't made to believe they're failing their kid.

 

Ds decided to get a GED-equivalent at 16 and skip to county college.  I freaked at first, because college is harder than high school, right?  But he's been managing it better than high school for a year and a half now.

 

He does have hopes of transferring to a high ranking school.  I honestly don't know if he'll be accepted.  But, if they feel he's not cut out for their school, I will believe he's not cut out for their school.  Not everyone is.  And that's the way it is.  His EF have always been improving b/c we've always worked on them, but he simply does not have the potential *in that area* that many other people do.  Just like he has musical potential and inner academic potential that others do not.  I wouldn't twist him into knots to become a musical talent if I knew he had serious deficits in musical ability.  And I no longer try to "beat him" into an organized time management master to fit him into a different shaped hole.

 

At 13, I would (and do, with my current 13yo) encourage, advise, and even discipline, because there's plenty of time for some things to click. But I would (and have) adjust my expectations to fit reality.

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In my book, not doing the homework isn't a choice. It sounds like if she did it her grades would come up. What does she do instead of homework? Maybe after a snack and some down time you should have a mandatory homework time in her day. I'd decide approximately how much time her homework should take and set aside the time in a pleasant, work-conducive space. So, for 90 min - 2 hours Mon-Thurs she KNOWS she'll have this time and may as well bring her homework home. If she 'says' she doesn't have homework, tell her to bring her books home anyway and work ahead on something. I'd be tempted to get a copy of the book in the class where she's having the most trouble and keep that on hand. If she doesn't being work home, she can go back NAND do missed assignments in that subject.

 

See if you can puzzle out the syllabus by looking at her work. The teacher MAY be doing the chapters and exercises in the order they appear in the book. Require her to bring her notebooks home and explain what she did that day. You should be able to see a pattern or any unfinished work. I wouldn't hesitate to set up a meeting with the teacher. They may help you help her organize. It IS middle school and not college. They're still kids and sometimes bright kids need extra help forming a real work ethic because they're used to things being easy for them.

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Removing her electronics until there is a clearly established pattern of responsibility with her school work is precisely what I would do. In addition, I would consider that the school isn't a good fit for your family, and so I would try to find another school, if that's possible. The fact that they will not cooperate with you in getting her to take responsibility for her assignments, and the fact that the math work appears way too easy for her, speaks to a poor fit.

 

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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Haven't read other replies.

 

I would wonder if she really wants to be in these advanced classes.  Is the STEM high school still her goal?  Are all 13 year olds capable of knowing and planning and working every day for something like that?  More importantly, is your 13 yo?

 

Her intellectual gift is hers to do with as she wishes.  All you can do is provide her with the tools and encouragement to use it.

 

I would not treat this with punishment.  There is something going on inside your dd that causes her stated goals to be a mismatch with her actions.  I would state it that simply.

 

I do not like the lying any more than you do, but I would treat this as a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.  If she just started these behaviors, there is a root cause.  Look for that, and don't treat or consequence the symptoms is my best advice.

 

I have a 13 yo intellectually gifted child who is currently not performing up to his abilities, either.  He is homeschooled so I can accommodate this.  I have wrestled with this and decided if he chooses to perform as an average person from here until eternity, that is his choice.

 

I was an intellectually gifted child who stopped trying so hard when I was pushed, not by my parents.  It was my way of taking back control of my own life and destiny.  It all turned out just fine for me.

 

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Oh, the electronics.

 

For me, I wouldn't use it as punishment.  But I would look at establishing good habits and keep in mind that time is easily lost.

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Yes, the phone and all electronics need to go.  My ds, 12, is in 7th grade, too.  He started an Algebra 1 course in the fall.  The first test grade he brought home was a D!  I took away all electronics until he could prove that he was managing his schoolwork.  I expected an A or B on the next test.  He was able to earn back electronics and knows that the next poor grade will result in the electronics being pulled again.  He has gotten As on every test since that first D.    

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I do think the electronics need to go for a bit, as soon as school starts again.  I'll speak with her about how she can get them back.

 

I don't know how much good it will do, though.  She loves the devices, but is perfectly content to hang out in a room daydreaming.  Sigh.  

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I only read half of the responses, so this may have been mentioned already. ADHD looks different in girls, and executive function problems go hand in hand with it. You can request that your school evaluate her. Do this in writing to make it an official request. If she has ADHD, she can get a 504 plan that will have accommodations for the school to provide extra support. The accommodations can include things about how to get assignments done, having the teachers initial an assignment planner that she brings home each day, having an extra set of books at home in case she forgets hers at school, etc. You can research accommodation ideas online to see if there are things that can help her. The teachers will have to follow the 504 plan.

 

If she is in public school, the school will evaluate her themselves. If she is in private school, the local public school will evaluate her. Under the Child Find law, they must do it.

 

It has never occurred to me, until this very thread, that this may be an issue.  So of course I've gone and scoured the interweb about it and I think all of you may very well be on to something.  It may not be, but it's ringing enough bells that it's worth an evalutation.

 

So then I went on to figure out how to request the evalutation and....there's nothing.  Honestly, the stupid school district hides it from you, I swear.  It tells you your list of rights and responsibilities with regard to a 504, and it tells you to contact the district 504 coordinator, but then zero information about who that person is.  Nothing on the school's website, either.  It's all coming back to me now why I pulled DD19 out of school and brought her home at the end of her 7th grade year.  She is on the autism spectrum, and even with a diagnosis made outside of school I had one hell of a time getting any assistance for her, and just gave up.  

 

I'll be in that school, face to face, as soon as the staff is back from break.  Here we go again...

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FWIW, I can't say I'd rely on the school district for an ADHD determination anyway.  Especially considering the gifted angle, if I was going to eval for ADHD, I'd want full blown testing that included IQ/achievement to tease out any other issues that might overlap or look like ADHD.  2e is a can of worms.

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What are her school's preconception of the kids in the gifted/accelerated class?

 

A friend's son and daughter is in a lottery/magnet program since K. The son is in 6th and the expectations are kind of set that these kids are going to boost the local high school profile. So imagine being pigeonholed from K as the high performing kids by teachers.

There is a 7th-12th stem program for my district that we were interested in. Looking at the criteria, it would be about how the kids would put the low performing schools in a good light. The program is hosted at a underperforming middle and a underperforming high school.

 

I was in a gifted program as a teen but topping the cohort since 1st grade. K was optional. Getting As stop having meaning long before I was in middle school. I did collect As for the national exams that matters for college entry.

 

I was basically underperforming in everything academic except for the Cambridge exams which decide college entry, since dual enrollment and early entry was not an option in my country then.

 

What I did put in effort was in competitions. I only entered for those innovation style competitions. I excel at being project/team lead. Comically those things were what landed me good internships and many great job interviews.

 

There are so many reasons for underperforming. Sometimes it is as simple as motivation is no longer there. Sometimes it is just a teenage rebellion stage. Sometimes it is the fear of having to live up to other people's expectations.

 

7-10th grade was also when my ex-schoolmates were grappling with self identity. It is kind of being in limbo for some people. Some friends had identity crisis at that time. The gifted program I was in have a psychologist dedicated to the program because at least a psychologist was needed.

 

ETA:

As for evaluations, we email or submit the letter/form direct to district office. My district office is not on winter break.

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I haven't read all of the replies yet.

 

I had very much the same experience at school.  I think its pretty common with gifted children, and has a few causes. 

 

One is that often it is at that age where they suddenly find they actually have to extend themselves to keep up.  Often, they haven't really learned the skills that it requires because it wasn't necessary - time management, focus, and so on.  Parents can help with this, I think, and it may even require actually setting aside a period of time consistently for homework.  If there is no work, the hour is spent, say, studying.  I've seen this used at residential type private schools and it seems to work pretty well at teaching a good habit.  And I think it really is a habit, just like turning out lights or whatever.

 

I also think that many gifted kids are sub-consciously thrown a little to discover they need to work - it seems to them that it threatens their identity as smart.  So - they tend to disengage to protect that.  It's based on a false premise of course, but it's easy to make that mistake when you've never really been challenged regularly in your school work or in some other activity where diligence brings visible rewards over time.  It's a hard idea to really overcome because most people realize intellectually that it isn't true already.

 

I do think though, that if she really won't engage, you should let her fail - 13 is old enough that she has to make a choice and will it.  Now is better than later to work it out.  Even then, some people never choose to do so, or they are much, much older but that isn't always the end of the world either.

 

 

In terms of what helped me solve some of my problems along these lines - I didn't have much sucess until I was older.  One f the things that made a difference was probably joining the army - they had a method and procedure for everything - even for researching and writing an essay!  It was all very results driven, and based on SOPs for the most part. 

 

So, for example, when you need to research and write an essay, you take all the days you have avaialble to work on it before the deadline, and allocate half to research and half to writing....   and so on.  If you are getting ready to go to the field, these are the procedures you follow on which days.  If you are running a unit, these are the things that need to happen at what times....  This is the way you organize your equipment.....

 

 

This is pretty much my experience exactly...down to joining the military even.  My parents were very upset, because had I "applied myself" I probably could have gone to a good college and that is what I was "supposed" to do.  In their time, joining "the service" was for people who had no other options.  Not that I'm encouraging the OP to push her kid towards the military, I just thought your posts were uncanny.

 

Anyway, the OP could have written about me.

 

One of my problems in school was that I realized pretty early (4th or 5th grade when I switched from private to public school) that even if I did a really good job on my work, I'd likely get the same grade as someone who put in a minimal amount of effort.  Some homework assignments would make me really interested in a certain topic, and I'd have a lot of questions, or even one question, and we'd just turn our homework in and it would get passed back unceremoniously a few days later, and as long as you had written something related to the end of chapter questions, you'd have the same grade for completion.  I have really vivid memories of trying to ask questions and either getting brushed off by the teacher or snickered at by my peers.  I have a hard time blaming the teachers -- they had 30+ kids and it's not like they could just go off on interest-led learning for all of us.  But, about that time was when workload for school was increasing, and by jr. high I just didn't care anymore.  Plus, I could pass a test and even fake it in class discussions, so what was the point, really of doing all the work?

 

But, it's been 20 years since all of this, and I just finished my college degree, mainly online, entirely self-motivated, and I had to organize my time weekly to complete all sorts of projects, papers, and homework.  With 4 kids in the mix.  So I don't know if that is hopeful or discouraging that it took me this long (and really, I was doing this kind of thing long before now), but I really did mature into being able to work on my own.  :D

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I haven't read all of the responses, so this may be a repeat. 

 

Praise her effort, not her results! If she is used to not putting forth much effort on something and getting excellent grades, then when she comes across something that is difficult for her (and she eventually will), she may think she is not smart in that area, or no longer smart, and not put in the effort.  What she needs to do is learn to put effort into her work, no matter how hard/easy it is. There may be subjects where she is a "C" student. It's not a tragedy. She needs to be ready for that and be able to recognize the effort that goes into that "C" so that she's not shocked when she gets to college. Don't tie your approval to her grades. If you do that, what will you do when she has done the best she can and still pulls a "B" or a "C" in college? The "B" or "C" could very well be the best that she can do. Don't tie her sense of well-being to her grades! 

 

Praise her when she puts in study time, writing time and time doing her  homework. The results matter, but the hard work matters for the long term. We don't get "graded" out in the real world, but we can certainly get fired if we don't put forth the effort to do our jobs well and if we don't continue to put forth the effort to learn what we need to on the job in order to carry out our assigned tasks. That is true no matter what job you have - from custodian to nuclear engineer.  

 

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I haven't read all of the responses, so this may be a repeat. 

 

Praise her effort, not her results! If she is used to not putting forth much effort on something and getting excellent grades, then when she comes across something that is difficult for her (and she eventually will), she may think she is not smart in that area, or no longer smart, and not put in the effort.  What she needs to do is learn to put effort into her work, no matter how hard/easy it is. There may be subjects where she is a "C" student. It's not a tragedy. She needs to be ready for that and be able to recognize the effort that goes into that "C" so that she's not shocked when she gets to college. Don't tie your approval to her grades. If you do that, what will you do when she has done the best she can and still pulls a "B" or a "C" in college? The "B" or "C" could very well be the best that she can do. Don't tie her sense of well-being to her grades! 

 

Praise her when she puts in study time, writing time and time doing her  homework. The results matter, but the hard work matters for the long term. We don't get "graded" out in the real world, but we can certainly get fired if we don't put forth the effort to do our jobs well and if we don't continue to put forth the effort to learn what we need to on the job in order to carry out our assigned tasks. That is true no matter what job you have - from custodian to nuclear engineer.  

Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

 

The thing is, she is not a C student.  My issue is with her not doing the work, or doing it and not turning it in.  Everything she has turned in (with the exception of math, which should be a B had she turned in all of her work) has been an A, usually 100%.  Every. Single. Thing.  

 

Meaning, she isn't purtting forth the effort at all.  

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I haven't read the responses but my son found his schoolwork so easy that he never developed a good work ethic.  I tried very hard to find ways of working on this, but never could find the path.  He's 20 now and holding down an internship, but his work ethic leaves a lot to be desired.  I have a feeling he will have to lose a job over it before he finally "gets it"--which makes me sad.  But I've done all I could think of to do, and his current manager is really working with him, too.  The sooner you can find a way to help your dd do something that she has to *work* at, the better.  If you can.  I'm not saying I was successful; just wishing that I had been.  

 

 

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Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

 

The thing is, she is not a C student.  My issue is with her not doing the work, or doing it and not turning it in.  Everything she has turned in (with the exception of math, which should be a B had she turned in all of her work) has been an A, usually 100%.  Every. Single. Thing.  

 

Meaning, she isn't purtting forth the effort at all.  

 

I wouldn't jump right to that conclusion.  I was labelled lazy and "not meeting potential" all through school.  I didn't get my assignments in.  I often didn't even do the assignments.  My parents and teachers led me to believe I had serious character flaws.  But I WAS putting forth effort.  For a long time, I put forth all the effort I had, and it just wasn't working to other people's standards.  Eventually, I did stop bothering, because what was the point? Everyone already knew that I sucked.

 

I was dx'ed ADD 8.5 years ago.

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Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

 

The thing is, she is not a C student.  My issue is with her not doing the work, or doing it and not turning it in.  Everything she has turned in (with the exception of math, which should be a B had she turned in all of her work) has been an A, usually 100%.  Every. Single. Thing.  

 

Meaning, she isn't purtting forth the effort at all.  

 

Maybe it's time to sit down with her and do some math. If she'd just hurry through the assignments she's choosing not to do and gets a 70 on those, then that wouldn't pull her grades as far down as just not doing them at all. Really, it's okay to do a mediocre job at times, and it's better than just not doing the job at all.

 

Which doesn't help with the issue of forgetting to hand in the work she *has* completed, though I don't know if she's doing that on purpose or not. I've 'forgotten' to hand in homework I felt wasn't good enough in the past because I'd rather ask for an extension or get a zero than a bad grade. However, I'm from NL, and I didn't need to maintain high scores to get into a good high school or to get a scholarship in college. As long as I passed my classes, it was all good, so I could do the 100, 99, 0, 92, 100, 100, 0, etc thing without any real problems (other than establishing really bad habits for when I moved to the US and went to college in the US with a Dutch mindset... oops).

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And, another random thought (I haven't read the entire thread), but when I skipped 9th grade, my grades went up for about half a year while I was playing catch-up, and then they returned to the same level as in 8th grade because stuff was boring again and because of the "meh, I can take some zeroes" attitude.

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I wouldn't say she was lazy and not putting forth effort. For years I thought I was putting forth effort. I didn't know how to organize, I didn't know how to focus, I didn't know how to study. Basically, even though I tested gifted, I decided I was stupid. That didn't help my performance at all.

 

As a parent I'd look at teaching routines for getting organized, steps for how to study, and methods for getting and regaining focus.

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Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

 

The thing is, she is not a C student.  My issue is with her not doing the work, or doing it and not turning it in.  Everything she has turned in (with the exception of math, which should be a B had she turned in all of her work) has been an A, usually 100%.  Every. Single. Thing.  

 

Meaning, she isn't purtting forth the effort at all.  

 

Have you rewarded effort or rewarded the grades? If you aren't rewarding the effort, then why should she make an effort? 

 

Gently, as one parent of an underperforming gifted child to another  - if your child is currently making B's, she is a B student and if she is currently making C's, then she is a C student. She may have formerly been an A student, but right now she is not one.  She may be intellectually capable of making higher grades, but according to you, she isn't putting forth the effort, so she isn't making them. It isn't the intellectual ability that makes an A student, it's the combination of effort and being able to apply knowledge in a given context.  

 

When students hit college, it is not uncommon for their average GPA to be a point lower than it was in high school - so a student who was an A student in high school may be a B student in college. She needs to get ready for that, which is why I think complimenting her effort is a better route than complementing her grades.  If she makes a B in college, it is possible that with a little more effort, or redirecting her effort, she may be able to learn different study skills, be motivated to learn new subject matter and may be able to raise her grade. Or, she can realize that she can work hard, learn a lot and still not achieve perfection, and it's okay!  If she thinks the grade is the only goal, she may never tie her effort to her grades and may never understand the connection between work ethic and achievement. 

 

I will also say that it took me throughout the high school years to fully accept that I can't make my child like school, do his schoolwork or perform well in school, or in anything else for that manner. He is his own person and has to live his own life. It's been a really hard thing for me to learn and sometimes it feels like I am still learning it.  

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Some articles for your consideration: 

 

The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids  (New York Magazine)-  â€œEmphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,†she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.†

 

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids  (Scientific American)- "more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn."

 

The Trouble with Bright Kids (Harvard Business Review) - "No matter the ability — whether it’s intelligence, creativity, self-control, charm, or athleticism — studies show them to be profoundly malleable. When it comes to mastering any skill, your experience, effort, and persistence matter a lot. So if you were a bright kid, it’s time to toss out your (mistaken) belief about how ability works, embrace the fact that you can always improve, and reclaim the confidence to tackle any challenge that you lost so long ago."

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Can you find someone to tutor both math and study skills?

 

If you say the EF problems are known, does that give a basis for asking for more help from teachers? If not, maybe you need to ask for an appointment with them and or principal to find out what can be done...accommodations and so on for her. 

 

Other than the magnet school, grades for 7th probably won't matter in the long run.  Trouble with math though if she is considering STEM sounds like it needs work.

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Also, what is the general social response to getting good grades there?  Some places cause kids who get good grades to be shunned as "nerds" or "brainiacs" or similar and can be a reason to deliberately underperform in order to be happy and socially accepted by peers.

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I wouldn't jump right to that conclusion.  I was labelled lazy and "not meeting potential" all through school.  I didn't get my assignments in.  I often didn't even do the assignments.  My parents and teachers led me to believe I had serious character flaws.  But I WAS putting forth effort.  For a long time, I put forth all the effort I had, and it just wasn't working to other people's standards.  Eventually, I did stop bothering, because what was the point? Everyone already knew that I sucked.

 

I was dx'ed ADD 8.5 years ago.

 

I hear you, 100%.  She really is not putting forth any effort, by her own admission. 

 

Still, it would be easier for her to do it if her EF skills were better developed, so I'm going to help her there, and see about an eval for ADD or something else that may be going on.  

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Can you find someone to tutor both math and study skills?

That's my plan in the immediate.  

 

If you say the EF problems are known, does that give a basis for asking for more help from teachers? If not, maybe you need to ask for an appointment with them and or principal to find out what can be done...accommodations and so on for her. 

They are typically not very accommodating for kids in the AC classes.  My parent/teacher conferences this year played out exactly that way.

 

Other than the magnet school, grades for 7th probably won't matter in the long run.  Trouble with math though if she is considering STEM sounds like it needs work.

It's not the exact grades that will matter in the long run.  It's the effort that goes into getting the grade that counts.  And right now, there's next to none.  That's my real concern at this point. 

 

See my bolded responses, above. 

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Have you rewarded effort or rewarded the grades? If you aren't rewarding the effort, then why should she make an effort? 

 

Gently, as one parent of an underperforming gifted child to another  - if your child is currently making B's, she is a B student and if she is currently making C's, then she is a C student. She may have formerly been an A student, but right now she is not one.  She may be intellectually capable of making higher grades, but according to you, she isn't putting forth the effort, so she isn't making them. It isn't the intellectual ability that makes an A student, it's the combination of effort and being able to apply knowledge in a given context.  

 

When students hit college, it is not uncommon for their average GPA to be a point lower than it was in high school - so a student who was an A student in high school may be a B student in college. She needs to get ready for that, which is why I think complimenting her effort is a better route than complementing her grades.  If she makes a B in college, it is possible that with a little more effort, or redirecting her effort, she may be able to learn different study skills, be motivated to learn new subject matter and may be able to raise her grade. Or, she can realize that she can work hard, learn a lot and still not achieve perfection, and it's okay!  If she thinks the grade is the only goal, she may never tie her effort to her grades and may never understand the connection between work ethic and achievement. 

 

I will also say that it took me throughout the high school years to fully accept that I can't make my child like school, do his schoolwork or perform well in school, or in anything else for that manner. He is his own person and has to live his own life. It's been a really hard thing for me to learn and sometimes it feels like I am still learning it.  

 

You're right about her being whatever and A student or C student or whatever it is she's doing, but I think you understand the spirit of what I'm getting at.  If she were giving it the ol' college try, or, frankly, giving it any try at all, she would be an A student. Her individual grades (other than the zeros, obviously) prove that.  That's what is frustrating me so much!

 

I need to figure out what she needs, and I've been unsuccessful to date, so I'm just going to have to keep trying until I figure it out.  I won't just give up and say "oh, well...it's her life and she has to figure it out."  Not yet.  She's still a kid. It's my job as her mother to help her and support her and go down every possible avenue I can to see if we can find what works for her, all the way until she's on her own.  We may never find it (to your point), but I won't stop trying.  

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You're right about her being whatever and A student or C student or whatever it is she's doing, but I think you understand the spirit of what I'm getting at.  If she were giving it the ol' college try, or, frankly, giving it any try at all, she would be an A student. Her individual grades (other than the zeros, obviously) prove that.  That's what is frustrating me so much!

 

I need to figure out what she needs, and I've been unsuccessful to date, so I'm just going to have to keep trying until I figure it out.  I won't just give up and say "oh, well...it's her life and she has to figure it out."  Not yet.  She's still a kid. It's my job as her mother to help her and support her and go down every possible avenue I can to see if we can find what works for her, all the way until she's on her own.  We may never find it (to your point), but I won't stop trying.  

 

Yes, I do understand what you are getting at. I have walked in your shoes for quite a little while here. I have an intellectually gifted son with a nonverbal LD (he can't hold math facts in his head or do multiple step math problems without extensive effort), ADHD and a couple of other diagnoses. He has a lot of EF issues. You want her to get the best grades she can get. She is gifted and is intellectually capable of making A's. Does she understand the work (effort) it takes to make an A? Is she just focused on the grade, or is she focused on putting forth the best effort? You say that she isn't trying, so it would seem, no, she isn't putting forth her best effort. It is the effort that needs the most work. She's intellectually capable, but unless she sees putting effort into something as having value separate from getting a grade, then she may never put the necessary effort into her studies. 

 

I would like you to consider that the grades aren't really the end game - her effort is the end game. It is generally true that the greater the effort, the better the result. But the effort is the life skill that will transition to college, the work world and her personal life. Grades will not follow her everywhere and they can be somewhat subjective in many subjects. Additionally, at some point, she will reach classes that are truly challenging for her. If you concentrate on the grades, then she may think she has reached the end of what she knows and decide she can't do any better and not put forth any effort at all. Right now you have minimum effort. Imagine what no effort would look like - then translate that into independent living, relationships, employment and parenting. I don't think you want her to stop working at something just because it's hard and she's reached the end of what she can do or what she knows about something. I think that is what you are risking if you make the grades the end focus instead of the effort she is expending on any task she has at hand.

 

Complement her for studying for 15 min at a time, 30 minutes at a time - whatever is appropriate, even if you don't think she has studied sufficiently. "I saw you were working really hard when you were studying - good job! What are your plans for more study time today?" is a much different response than "You only studied 20 minutes and that is not enough for you to get an A on your test." Quizzing flash cards and saying "You need to study these cards more to get a good grade" is different than saying "Which cards do you think you need to work on? Should we make a separate pile?" 

 

Working on the EF skills is a great idea - again, those are skills she will need across all areas of her life. The difference is a  focus is on "Make this list so you can remember to turn in your homework (subtext "get an A this semester") or is it on "You seem to have a hard time remembering things you need to get done. Let's make list so you remember it all" and putting everything on it - not just homework, but chores, texts she wants to send, social events she has scheduled, and so on.  Then she may be able to see the value of the task over time instead of just connecting it to school work. Most of us make grocery lists because it's impossible to hold 25-30 items in our brain at one time. She may very well have difficulty holding one or two items or tasks in her head, so list making will be a valuable skill to learn overall. Another EF is time management. Very important for studying, but equally if not more so important in relationships and in employment. If you don't show up for planned social events on time (or at all), people stop inviting you. It is disrespectful to keep clients waiting in an employment situation - their time is just as valuable as her time is. If she keeps clients waiting too long, they will take their business elsewhere. Too many clients take their business elsewhere and her boss will fire her. If she can't earn a living, how will she pay her bills, take care of her children, etc.? Planning out long term projects over two or three weeks is another needed EF skill for so many reasons, not just so she can write a good paper or turn in a great science project, but so she can get that project done at work, or paint her bedroom, or purchase and wrap gifts. 

 

I agree wholeheartedly that it is your job to support her and to try to get her what help she needs in order to be successful - I just extend that success to include more than academics. Also, keep in mind that she is 13 years old - over the next several years she will assert her independence from  you in a variety of ways. One of those ways may be to decide that making good grades isn't so important after all. Remember, she is the one that has to own that decision, though. If she decides that, it is not a reflection on your parenting skills. Also, realize that she may need EF support long term. My son needs support in college, so making sure that support is available was one thing he looked at when he visited. A school without such supports available would not be a good fit for him. But, college is different than high school. The support is there, but no one is making him use it. He has to put forth the effort to make the appointment first with ODS, then with his EF tutor, then he has to make the effort to carry out the plan that they devise together. None of that has anything to do with his intellectual ability. His ability doesn't matter if he doesn't put forth the effort to get the help he needs and follow through with the plan. He has to take ownership of the process. With good help, he not only makes better grades than he would otherwise, but he also gets his laundry done, keeps track of his finances, shops for food and remembers where he parked his car (another EF thing) - all things that have nothing to do with academics and yet they are things that would really complicate his life if he couldn't manage them. But, he has to make the effort to get out of his room and go do those things. It isn't enough for him to say his life would be easier if he had snacks in his room or knew how much money was in his account. He has to make the effort to take care of those things. 

 

FWIW, I have not given up on my son. I hope I really haven't left you with that impression. What I have done is realize that there are things that are his responsibility - one of them is his grades. If he doesn't make the grades, he can't go back to college. His grades are all over the place. They could be all A's, but his grades aren't my responsibility. I have given him the tools he needs, but he needs to put forth the effort to do the work. I cannot berate myself over it and take responsibility that isn't mine. 

 

This plays out in the following way: 

 

Phone conversation (he's in college, if I haven't said that before): 

Sunday 1: Son says "I have six errands I need to get done this week." 

Sunday 2: Son says "I got all of my schoolwork done and three of my errands."

Sunday 2: I say "Glad you got the three errands done. I know you must have made a good list to remember all of those. What is your goal for this week?" instead of saying "What happened to the other three errands you were supposed to do?"

 

The first focuses on the effort, the second focuses on his achievement, or in this case, the lack of achievement by sending the message that three errands isn't good enough. In fact, it could have taken every bit of energy and motivation he had to manage those three errands as it would have taken me to do all six, but we aren't the same person. He put forth the effort to do those that were most important to do at the time. It may be that the goal of six errands was unrealistic with the rest of his schedule and the next list he makes won't have as many tasks on it, or maybe he had that many tasks because he put off doing errands earlier and he's slowly learning not to procrastinate. 

 

There are some people who would look at our conversation and say I am being a helicopter mom, or that I am being condescending, but I can assure you I am not - I am simply still having to reinforce those skills that come naturally to so many people, but don't come naturally to him. I realize he may need support the rest of his life (really), but he needs to put forth the effort to get that support as an adult and should have done more of it as a teen. 

 

Just remember, you are only responsible to be the parent, you aren't responsible for being the child and there comes a time when the child no longer thinks it's worth it to please the parents in some things - that independence is more important, or free time is more important, or friends are more important, whatever it may be. Kids will make those own choices. I'd like mine to make the choice to put the effort in to do what the best thing is in a situation (academic or otherwise), not the easiest thing or nothing. 

 

It's a different way of thinking, really. Grades used to be very important to us. Now, we realize that the grades  (any achievement, really) are a reflection of a lot of things, not just intellectual ability. 

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I hear you, 100%. She really is not putting forth any effort, by her own admission.

 

Still, it would be easier for her to do it if her EF skills were better developed, so I'm going to help her there, and see about an eval for ADD or something else that may be going on.

I would have said the same. I even wrote an essay an slothfulness once.

 

Partly I was a bit "lazy". From smart but scattered "difficulty with sustained attention" is an executive skill weakness. In other words I thought I was being lazy and maybe I was but I didn't know how to do anything different.

 

Secondly I wasn't acknowledging the effort I did put in. Even now I struggle to estimate how much effort something will take. Learning to acknowledge how much effort something took is the first step in accurately estimating how much it will take next time and getting good at breaking stuff down into manageable chunks.

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Is she putting in less effort than she used to put in last year and before that? Or is her effort the same, roughly, but no longer enough to get an A?

 

If it is the same as it used to be, she may need to be given help to gradually ramp up in what she does/can do heading toward high school -- itself a learning process to acquire that skill which she may never have had.

 

If she used to put in a lot of time and effort, but has stopped doing so recently, then figuring out why that is so, would seem to be the next step.

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This was me at 13.  I had decent grades overall, but "missing assignments" in several classes.  My mom cracked down.  I was grounded until all my assignments were made up.  She told me she didn't much care about my GPA, the single most important thing was that I had to do all my work.  Middle school was the perfect time for this, because once I did all my work, my high school grades were fantastic.  I held it together just long enough to get into a great college...  Eventually I had to do sink or swim on my own, (and for awhile I sank!) but I'm so glad I had the parental scaffolding when I did.

 

 

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Has she just figured out that public school is ridiculous? I say this as a previos public school teacher, a highly gifted underachiever due to anxiety/perfectionism, and the mother of a kid whom I homeschool because I know he would be in the same boat.

 

If the only thing separating your child from her C's and B's to A's are missing assignments then you a talking about busywork. It is not necessarily busywork for every kid (my brother needs dozens of repetitions, my husband needs tens of dozens). I need maybe three, Ds gets frustrated at 3.

 

If you want to reach your daughter, owe up! Acknowlegde the busywork. Admit it is rather boring and draining. Then explain that a rather big chunk of life sometimes comes down to giving people what they want so that they think kindly of you (give you an A). If she does not want to do that, then cool. If she does, then help her do it. But do not lie to her about the assignments or grades being important. They flat out aren't. No permanent record. What is important is her bring rather brutally honest with herself about whether she is willing to actually perform or whether she is too scared to do so. It is a game. Just teach her to play it and be honest about what is happening.

 

No one really likes the gifted kid. If you haven't been the gifted kid, that is hard to understand. The bright kid, yeah; not the gifted one. At 13, being liked is far more important. It is called dumbing down and it happens pervasively with smart girls and gifted kids. They see the game and openly stop playing it.

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