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My son is oin 6th grade at an all boys school. Up until this year, he was doing reasonably well.


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Anonymous December 14, 2008


His grades seem to be going down, no matter how much we help. We are thinking about taking him out of this school and putting him in another to give him a a better chance at getting into the high school of his choice. I don't want him to think I am giving up on him, and I feel like I have failed as a parent. The teachers at school say that it is not uncommon for boys at this age to lose interest in school and this will pass.
I'm not so sure. Any suggestions?

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jennifert January 2, 2009


Our son generally likes his school and is sad at the thought of changing schools again. He doesn't have a lot of friends, but he does have some. More and more, my husband and I are thinking that this is a mismatch but it has taken a while to show itself. That, compounded with what looks to be a visual-spatial learning style instead of auditory-sequential, is causing his grades to decline. His one teacher last year was much more visual-spatial, whereas all of his teachers are auditory-sequential this year. I went to visualspatial.org and looked at the characteristics of visual-spatial learners and he fits almost every category. It was like the light bulb went on for me!

When he answers tests, his answers are almost always near to right. It ranges from a simple math error to not giving the complete explanation on a short answer question. He can get the answer to a math problem but can't tell you how he got there. It isn't always right, but he knows the steps to get there. He just isn't good at writing them down, even though he sees the benefit of writing it down after the fact.

I spoke with him a little today about anxiety, and he said he does worry about people in our family a lot - so much so that it can distract him during school. We have had a rough few months, with my husband's grandmother dying on December 5th and my own grandmother dying on November 10th. My dad was in a car accident on December 30th and suffered no major injuries. That was a lot to deal with right before exams. In addition, then my son was 15 months old, his dad suffered greatly with anxiety and panic attacks. The therapist told us that it was likely he would exhibit symptoms of anxiety as he got older. I can't help wondering if that plays a part as well.

I know that educational psychologists are expensive but that will not deter us from getting our son the help he needs.

Thank you again. This has helped greatly.

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Mother4ever January 5, 2009


Hi Jennifer, I am not an expert in school matters. Just a mother of a 12 year-old boy who is now in Middle School (7th gr). In California we have the No Child Left Behind Act that provides a tool, via an Individual Education Plan (IEP), to help those students who have learning disabilities or behavior disorders, which affect the kids performance at school. Do you have something similar in New Orleans?

My son was diagnosed with ADHD, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is an Anxiety disorder), etc when he was in 3rd grade. Although my son was still performing above grade academically, after several tests (administered by the school) it was determined his performance was way below his abilities. Having an IEP "pushed" the school to be more involved in my son's performance at school and also gave my son the opportunity to, for example, take a few minutes break when he felt overwhelmed in class (overstimulation, sensory integration issues, etc). So a program of such kind could help you, if it was available.

You mentioned your son knows the material but fails during the tests. Moving from one homeroom teacher to a teacher for each subject is a big change as previously mentioned. I read all the answers and I do not recall reading if your son has lowered his grades in all subjects or some in particular. Does he complain about being bored? My son has been identified as "gifted" and he can go from being bored because the subject is too easy (so he starts day dreaming or acts out in class) to shutting down because the subject is too challenging. My son has the tendency to be perfectionist so he just melts down when he does not meet his own expectations (this is part of his learning to deal with anxiety).

Something my husband and I established in 6th grade is to give our son a monetary reward for good grades and it has worked for him. He always wants to buy the next video game so giving him $5 for each A, and $3 for each B gets him motivated. He gets no money for a C and has to pay us for a D.

Is your son depressed? How is his interest in the other aspects of life (besides school)?

Wish I could help more at this end...

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jalvarez0602 January 5, 2009


i am going through the same thing with my son. He was always coming home depressed and he just struggled so bad in math. Well i went to the school and got him into a tutoring class and i found out that he was getting bullied everyday. I had a talk with the principal and well we just started a new year so hopefully it will help. I don't know some boys are more mature than others and i think you just have to give them sometime.

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Mother4ever January 6, 2009


For years, my son has been bullied at school (and at day care) a lot. Kids with ADHD struggle to fit in because they do not have the same development/maturity of social skills. Prior to 6th grade my son did not have friends of his same age. His very few friends (1 or 2 max) were normally 2 years younger than him. Because my son's interests were different than the interests of his peers (my son was into Pokemon or legos instead of into roller skating or surfing) other kids really picked on him. I have always told him to be true to himself and that more important than been popular is to have few "real" friends. Growing up and trying to fit in is tough. My son's therapist says that usually, by High School, kids with ADHD catch up with other kids in the maturity level.

Now, in 7th grade, he has just 2 close friends of the same age. In this new school kids had bullied him too. He has been called loser and so forth and he has been hurt physically (dead legs). I tell my son the best way to fight back bullying is to be sucessful in school and in life. When other kid hurt him physically my son went to the vice-principal and the other kid got in trouble. Bullying will never stop completely. There are too many kids and only so many teachers/school staff. How our kids handle the bullying is what we can help them with.

Parent involvement is very critical for kids to be sucessful at school. After a rough 3rd grade (behavior wise due to his OCD, he though other kids were "contaminated") my son finally got an IEP. When my son started 4th grade the school was calling us several times a week for us to pick him up (before the end of the school day) because my son was misbehaving and they could not handle him. He got suspended twice in a period of 1 month !!! After the second suspension I sent a very strong email to the Principal stating our concerns about the approach the school was taken and the fact that the IEP support system had not been implemented for my son. After that, there were no more phone calls or suspensions for the rest of the school year and for the rest of the elementary school experience. I kept in contact with my son's teacher(s) via email. If you work with the school as a team you will get results.

This school year took me longer but I finally sent emails to each teacher my son has now and to the school counselor. Just to introduce myself and to let them know I am here to work as a team with them in case my son needs behavior adjustments. So far so good...

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gr8momto3 January 6, 2009


I can so relate. My 11 year old just got into a brand new school(through a lottery so he was very lucky to get in) He is having so many challenges: staying organzied, concentrating in school and completing homework. I was thinking that maybe since he has such a long compute to school maybe its affecting his ability to concentrate in class. If I get him into a school thats closer his work may improve and the upside to that is the school I have in mind has a wonderful music program while the one he's attending doesn't. The downside is he'll no longer be in uniform and its not in the best neighborhood. I am frustrated with my middle school choices and feel like I should just move out of the zone.
I hope your situation improves just remember to talk to your child through the whole decision making process and see how they feel about the situation-Lord knows you may not get a straight answer out of any tween but this way you won't feel like your making the decisions for him or have guilt that you made the wrong ones!
As per bullying its a big issue that you should Not let the principal brush under the table. They should have a no tolerance policy and when they do they'll brush it off like the two of them are going at it rather than one picking on another. Ask to speak with the school counselor and see how they are handling the situation.

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jtherou January 11, 2009


YOU HAVE NOT FAILED AS A PARENT! You are your child's advocate. You are looking out for his best interest. My son is struggling in the 5th grade too, but we are having him stick it out. What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. That is our philosophy. Our son totally hates his teacher and we tell him the best way to get back at her is by being the role model student and not give her any reason to pick on him or say mean things. This has turned my son around completely. He's completing his tasks and participating in class all to "Get back at his teacher"

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jtherou January 11, 2009


Bullying really has a lot to do with siblings- if they have older sibs and parent involvement/supervision. The kid that beat my son up 3 times in the 3rd grade within one week had a tween aged brother and a dad that worked two jobs and a mom that was a flight attendant. Sadly this child had been abused in everyway by his older brother and it took me filing an annonymous complaint to CPS to find out this was happening and to get this child help. It's not your child- it's the bully kids that are the problem and often- they themselves are having trouble.



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