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My daughter is in 6th grade and she is not interested in school at all. What can I do to motivate her?


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Anonymous January 13, 2009


My daughter is in 6th grade and she is not interested in school at all. What can I do to motivate her?

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drjohnson January 13, 2009


Tell us more about her and her school experiences. Has she had difficulties with course work? Does she have trouble making friends? Is this a sudden change? Etc.

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jjkpaward January 13, 2009


She doesn't seem having problem making friends. She's very smart but super lazy. She doesn't like to do home works and often miss assignments..... I don't think she has difficulties understand the material, she is fine with it; just that she does not want to do her work. The low grades she got last time was due to missing assignments. I really hope that she will take initiative on her assignments instead of me going after her every night. I am tired and she's frustrated.

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eccentric January 13, 2009


jjkpaward,

I think I can relate to your frustration. Until he started 3rd grade, my 8 year old son was a happy child who loved going to going to school. He was separated from the rest of his friends in 3rd grade. Now, he doesn;t like the teacher, doesn't like school, and it's a battle almost everyday to get him to do his homework. He is still one of the top students in his class, just not motivated enough to take an extra step to better himself!

This is still in it's initial stages so my husband and I have come up with a plan which is to have him make a list today. He will make a list of
(1) things he's supposed to do every morning before he goes to school
(2) things has to do after he comes back from his school, and
(3) things he has to do before he goes to bed!
Initially, I will check his list "one time only" with him. If he doesn;t do his work, he will get recess detention at school...I have talked with his teacher! I think, at this point he's too ashamed to be punished at school cos he has never ever been punished. I'm hoping that'll be enough for him to get back on track.

My yelling or getting frustrated at him or him getting all upset was being very counter-productive and simply wasn;t working out for us. Good luck with your daughter. Talk to her teacher and come up with a plan that can work.

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drjohnson January 13, 2009


jjkpaward -

Has your daughter always hated school? If not, when did you notice a change?

You say that she's very smart. Is she perhaps bored with work that's too easy? Is she afraid boys won't like her if she's smart?

Is there a change in who she's friends with? How does she feel about her teacher? Is she having a rough time with puberty?

Does she have any interests outside of schoolwork like sports or arts?

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jjkpaward January 14, 2009


Yes, she is very smart and she picks new material up just like that, IF she wants to. She likes all of her teachers, I don't see any issues with that. Her friends... pretty much same group from 5th grade and a few additions. She doesn't always hated school, I think the dramatic change started in 4th grade. That was a rough year. She was in private school from K-4th and I transferred her to Millbrae after 4th grade. The teachers in the private school (4th grade) completely destroyed her self-esteem and confidence. She started to hat school since 4th grade.

The problem we have here is that she does not want to do homework. She does fantastic job on all projects in school, she's a good writer & reader. The Core teacher commented that he gets "A" papers when she turns in her work, the problem is she does not always turn in her assignments. She LOVES arts and she's a very good artist. We set up all kinds of rewarding program with her in the past.. and it always work at the beginning and she just quits it after a couple of weeks.
Her grades does not meet up with her capability.. mainly because she missed so many assignments! Iyaya.......

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TeacherParent January 21, 2009


Children whose self-esteem and confidence have been destroyed can have a tough time 'coming back' from such an experience. You say that 4th grade was rough but how was 5th? When she switched schools, did you see a noticeable difference in her self-esteem and confidence? If not, she's likely still reeling from the loss of her self-esteem and confidence and it's going to be hard to reel her back in to trusting any school.
Especially if this is a large and bustling school - when you moved her, did you let the guidance counselors know she was coming in with a rough history from her other school? it's not too late to talk this over with guidance counselors and her current teachers.
And does she hate school? Or just hate homework? There's a big difference. If it's just homework, she's not alone and I'd suggest sitting down with her at night. Doing homework can be a lonely task -I'm not a fan of the modern movement that says children should always do homework in their room alone. I like the old kitchen table. And I like the old way that was parents helping with homework - pitch in with ideas if she welcomes them, puzzle over problems if she'll let you. If she writes something out by hand, don't hesitate to type it up for her. Such things can help a lot to restore the self-confidence of those kids who feel defeated by the time and effort homework takes at night when they've already given their time and effort in school all day.
I don't find 'reward programs' very effective for homework when the underlying problem is - the student Hates homework. No reward program other than the reward that is a helping presence does much in the face of the tedious task that is homework.
In the ideal school in the ideal world - her teachers would be motivating her - in that ideal school, it's a teacher's job to motivate students. Sharing with students the fascinating world that truly is around us rather than just handing out lists of more defintions to be memorized. But until that ideal world is here, it falls to parents to motivate their children. I did it by commiserating - letting my son complain about school, by offering him a listening ear and sitting down with him until the work was done and helping where I could help. I found things like "you'll need this one day" turned him off as much as the next school day would.

consider this - when your daughter goes to college, she'll have Many different kinds of colleges to choose from - but for school, she has very few. No one school is the right school for every student. You've switched schools but that doesn't mean this new school suits her learning style anymore than did the other. Getting our kids an education is too often a process of forcing them to conform to teaching styles that don't match their learning styles. My son could describe exactly the kind of school he needed - one where teachers didn't leap to negative judgments, one that allowed more than 3 anxious minutes to pass classes and one that didn't allow more than 3 hours of homework a night. One where art was more than a 'special' and where science actually had kids doing experiments rather than just reading about them.
I couldn't find him such a school - and that's sad - but I could commiserate with him that he had to go to a school that was less than he deserved.
Perhaps try that approach with your daughter - it really helped with my son.
Good luck.



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