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My Grandson Is Not Working to His Potential

By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator


During first grade my grandson was on the honor roll the entire year and was very proud to get A's in everything he did. This year in second grade, he does his homework very fast and when he brings it to me for grading I always find several problems that he gets wrong. I know it is because he has worked too fast and wants to go out and play. I check the wrong ones and ask him to do them over and then he gets the correct answer without any help.

He also brings home his school papers and about 25% to 30% will be wrong. The incorrect answers are usually ones that he will get correct when I ask him to do it over.

He tells me that it is not important that he gets an 'A' all the time, and I try to stress that what is important is that he does his best. Am I expecting too much from him?


I think your expectations are appropriate as he should always try to do his best work. I would not recommend that you expect him to get a particular school grade, like all A's and B's, but he should certainly show the level of work that he is capable of doing.

I wonder, if perhaps he is not being challenged by his schoolwork and thus finds it so boring that he is rushing through it, losing focus and making careless errors. I think it would be wise to talk with the classroom teacher at the start of the year about finding ways to ensure that the work is challenging and engaging for him. Maybe instead of writing a sentence with each spelling word, he could combine two words into each sentence. Perhaps by encouraging some more critical thinking, he will become more engaged and make fewer careless errors.

Finally, I think it is great to check homework for completeness, but perhaps you need to allow your grandson to find his own errors. Tell him that when reviewing his paper you see three mistakes and let him take the paper back to locate and correct them. If he can't, allow him to take it into school that way, so the teacher is aware of the work he is doing at home. It is important that the teacher see a true independent product in homework to assess the student's progress.

Allison Gardenswartz is the founder of a San Diego tutoring center specializing in gifted and remedial learning and test preparation studies. An educator for over 15 years, Allison is an expert in identifying and enhancing the learning abilities of school-age children. Allison now fully devotes her time to parent education, consulting and college counseling. Allison has a teaching credential and has taught for several years in various public school systems. She has three children: Jacob, 11, Sofia, 7, and newly adopted Ryan, who is 3.

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.

Comments from readers

"My son is the same way! He's really smart and a quick learner, and on the mistakes I've seen on his papers, they are things that he definitely knows! He is more into being 'cool' this year and he even told me that he thought it was cooler to get bad grades. :( I told him if he did not do as well as he could, I would have to limit TV viewing since that must be where he got the idea that it was not as cool to be smart! So far he has not made enough mistakes to bring his grades down but I am watching it closely. The expert's response is good as I think my son too is bored with the work he's being assigned. It is very easy for him."
"I had the exact same question and with your answers I now know new ways to handle my son with his homework. I hope this will work and he will become a more independent student. I also stress that we want A's and B's and C's will work we just need to ask for help when work becomes diffcult. Thank you!"