By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
My son has been getting C's and D's on his grammar and math tests. He was an A student in third grade. He is also an excellent creative writer. I am baffled as to why he is not doing well this year.
I have had talks with his teacher. She says he appears not to be paying attention and is often caught daydreaming. She even consulted his third-grade teacher from last year, who was surprised and said that was not like him.
My son says he misses his third-grade teacher and that she made classroom learning fun. It seems he is not adjusting well to his fourth-grade teacher's teaching style. How can I get him back on track to being the "A" student he is capable of being?
There's no question that fourth grade is one of the most challenging of the elementary grades, with several important changes taking place. Learning occurs at a quicker pace, with lessons in all subject areas being taught in longer segments (30- 45-minute blocks). The teacher will probably also teach "across the curriculum," using reading, writing and math to augment lessons in other subjects, such as social studies and science. There are added responsibilities, increased homework and greater emphasis on independence. It can be a lot to handle.
On top of those changes, adjustment to a new grade in school is often uneven at first and many children have problems at the start of the new school year. They may miss being home for the summer, or they may miss their friends from their old class. Some students, like your son, miss their old teacher and feel reluctant to connect with a new one out of a sense of loyalty. Your son could be feeling a combination of these issues.
Here are some suggestions:
If you still have concerns about the teacher, then arrange a conference. A good teacher will want to work with you to make your child's experience a positive one.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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