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AlmiraGulch

X-Post: Underperforming gifted child

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Cross-posting here from the chat board, per another board member's suggestion.

 

There have been quite a few responses there about executive function issues (yes, she has them, and we're working on those both formally at school and informally at home).  I don't know if this is a dx issue, or a laziness issue.  

 

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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Take a look at the rules for students at the Davidson Academy or TAMS.  Those problems are common.

 

Not much to do but set clear expectations and consequences up front, and stay consistent.  Same goes for all teens and toddlers.

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My thoughts:

 

It's good to have expectations for your child, but I would focus on the effort, not the grade. So, consequences would be for failure to record her assignments, do them, and hand them in, but not for getting lower grades than expected. If she makes a practice of taking responsibility for that routine, her grades will eventually take care of themselves.

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Listening in and taking to heart the great advice you've been getting on the chat board.

 

We've been in a similar situation this year, although since he's at home the details are a bit different. Anxiety has become a huge stumbling block now that I'm requiring more of the things he struggles with, primarily breaking things down into parts (outlining) and writing (how to start?). And executive functioning issues...oh my yes. We have much work to do before I can send him to the high school in a year and a half.

 

I obviously don't have advise on those issues since we are in the thick of it as well, but I do agree that focusing on the lying seems like a good place to start. She needs to know the consequences of her (in)actions and that you are on her side come what may. I hope you have better success getting her teachers onboard--I'd be raising hell to the principal if they refused to help. What the heck are they there for?!? Grrrr.

 

Good luck!!

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I feel for you; these are the most difficult issues to deal with. It is especially troublesome as she is already in a gifted class, which should be a more motivating environment for a gifted child.

 

Whenever I feel that something is spiralling out of control with one of my kids, I do only one thing: work the bond I have with them. As soon as you mentioned the lying, I realized that that is where I would start...

I would not call my child on their lying in the moment, but talk about it when I was having a good moment with them.

 

My main point is that I never lie to them, and I expect the same from them. (Occasionally I've avoided a topic, or abbreviated an answer, but I try to be completely truthful with them. I must admit that they can read people very well, so I didn't have much choice.) We talk about what it is like when someone lies to us... I give examples from my day, and ask them for theirs. If the music teacher was lying to them, we talk about how it feels and what they, as a child, can do (often not much!!)

 

I have found that the only way to solve such a difficult issue is to untie all the threads that are going on in their heads, and I can't do that until they'll talk to me. Funnily enough, I endured years of people demanding that I explain why I let my youngest (PG extrovert) talk to me the way he did (which was as an equal, I guess). Now, years later, those same people are telling me that their kids won't talk to them.

 

My kids tell me most of their day, and feel free to talk to me about annoying adults, unfair assignments etc. MOST of the time I am now able to listen without judgement. And IF they want to brainstorm ideas for solving a problem, I will help them. Usually both kids, 9 & 13 years, can now self-advocate. But they know that if they come home with a problem they can't solve, I'll brainstorm with them, they'll choose a solution, and they have the option of me intervening. They don't need to take that option very often anymore.

 

It seems overly simplistic, but when the bond is good, many of these problems just go away.

 

There may be good reasons for the lack of motivation that you aren't aware of... bullying, unjust teacher, fatigue (texting at night... phones should be stored OUTSIDE bedrooms at night) etc. Grade 7 seems to be a point where teachers don't teach study skills or organization, but strangely expect the kids to have it.... we use this system.. it takes about a year to individualize (we added study sheets), but it is good... my daughter is by far the most organized in her gifted class.... http://www.amazon.ca/SOAR-Study-Skills-Efficient-Earning/dp/0977428001

 

I also agree with slackermom that effort should be the focus. And beauty. The other day my daughter had a solo in a concert, and a friend emailed to say how much she enjoyed the solo, and how proud she was that my daughter nailed it. An hour later, my daughter was upstairs practising. She hadn't played in days.

 

When I tell my kids that their music makes me happy, or the way they solved a math problem is beautiful in its simplicity, I am telling the truth, but I am also inspiring motivation.

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