"Thank-you,,,,,finally it is being addressed. We have been to doctor,
school, guidance teacher, teachers and therapist,,,,,and fighting for my
son. He is not alone, and we need to help these kids now, and make sure
every school understands the severity of this problem.
"I have to be honest. As a student now an adult in my 50's school was
horrible for me. Why, becuase many years later in life I learned that I
was a gifted visual spatial learner. My question to parents, are do you
know exactly how your child thinks, and process information? Most do not,
and even worst nor do their educators. These children are being mislabed,
misunderstood, and not taught to their strenghts but weakness. If you have
a child in any school in the 21st century, and their teacher isn't
familiar with this type of learning transfer your child to school that
does! It is a fact that the one size fits all doesn't work. More
importantly the sooner your child is matched with his or her learning
style defined as (left or right side dominate) that exist within the
child's brain you are setting your child up for failure. It's a life time
of self doubt, embarrissement., Educators who are not trained to teach
these children will have great difficulty educating these childre!
n. Is it a learning disablity no! but they process information in
pictures not in words. However; I will be honest in most cases attention
deficit issues are also present. Becuase these children world consists of
pictures not words, most teachers confuse showing a visual image as a
teaching tool not understanding the broader scope of this child thinking,
and how they process information will not produce the desired results.
These children desparately need someone who can actually see what they
are seeing, and simply not go thru the motions. These children are highly
intutive, and know that you do not understand them. . So to parents of
these gift children you can expect a life filled with frustration, and for
the child him or herself I life of feeling misunderstood, embarrissed, and
often leading to depression. Note to educators it is imperative that these
issues are addressed in early childhood, and education. But if it is not
the situation is not hopeless, but you as t!
he teacher needs to be trained to see what the child sees ment!
ally. You have to teach to their strenghts, and not weaknesses that's
your job as an educator. What is beneficial is have someone who is quite
knowledgable to perhaps provide training for parents, and educators. I can
provide you with actual visual pictures that appears in the child head.
Why? becuase after many years of psychologist, psychiatrist, and
neurologist I came to the conclusion that their methods do not address the
larger picture unless you understand it enough to ask the correct
questions. I would be more than happy to assist any parent or educators in
addressing these issues. It's not ok for our children to suffer
unecessarily becuase the right questions, or methods were never
implemented. I will be starting a 2012 informative series titled: " How to
recognize, teach, and communicate with Visual Spatial Learners" I will
also demostrate how a visual spatial learner ( child or adult) actually
visualizes stimuli. Please let me know if you are interested.
"This description of shut-down learner fits my daughter exactly- this is
the first time I have seen a name for it. She is extremely bright and
logical but is pained by reading and writing of any kind. We have been
trying for years to determine the "problem" and how to address it with her
teachers, and have recently seen great success. Here are some things that
have worked: Medication for anxiety suggested by her family councilor -
worked immediately with tantrums and reactions to what what needed to be
done allowing her to get to work and take pride in her success without me
going nuts just to get her started. Teacher allowing reduced number of
problems to be completed so she was not overwhelmed before she started as
long as she understood the work. Seating in class with fewer distractions
but not separate from peers - facing away from main group and next to
friends she wasn't as interested in talking with. Daily planner filled in
with all assignments - she loves to check thi!
ngs off. We guess how long each assignment will take and write on top of
page then try to beat the clock. She is more willing to do work if she can
"teach" it to her stuffed animal or doll. Even in 5th grade she loves
immediate rewards like stickers and stamps for problems completed. She
works with a tutor 2 days a week who makes a tic mark when she delays and
a tick mark for success, enough good marks earns her funny drawings by the
tutor in a journal. This gives her a simple, fun reward and a short break
at the same time. It also takes pressure off me to be the task master
everyday. To keep her moving through work, she says out loud "Finished,
Next" after each problem to help stay on task. She would otherwise like to
talk about a million interesting things in between each problem. Cursive
writing is much better than printing, I think because she cannot pause and
get distracted between letters. Seriously! Reading and spelling are still
difficult. I read a page and she read!
s a page which is fun for her. She also likes to bounce a ball!
while I read and she follows along. We have simple readers that we time
to go as fast as possible to increase fluency. To study for spelling tests
- variety and hands on/movement works for her. Letters on post-its with a
different color for vowels lets her assemble the words on the wall and
then see the patterns. jumping jacks, or ball bouncing for each letter as
she says them out loud etc. We started making a chart for long term
projects where she can mark off small tasks each day they are completed.
This breaks down into manageable parts and she can instantly see her
progress toward the end while being given permission to not do more work
each day. I still have to work side by side most of the time, but am
seeing gradual independence. The fights have really calmed down and she is
having much more time for the fun stuff kids need. Her favorite treat is a
game of any sort if we have time left over. Now work that used to take 3-4
hours is getting done in 1/2 hour and I'm n!
ot shouting "Just do it, it's easy for you!" She is actually starting to
enjoy school again and not start each morning with "I have a stomach
ache". Finally some progress. I was beginning to dread middle school for
her and now am actually hopeful that she will enjoy it.
"First the teacher should be understanding ,kind,and help the child as he
spends more time with teachers in school.Second parents should be with the
child while doing the homework without loosing their temper as its their
support he needs at home.Making the child read loudly at home half an
hour daily will help him a lot.He will overcome his fear,self esteem will
improve,which will further help him to build his self confidence. Whenever
the child come across difficult words and reads ,he should be praised as
that would make him feel happy and less nervous.
"My grandson is 20. He has an IQ of 131 and was failing in school. We
were lucky, I own my own business and he finished 9-12 grades as a home
schooler, in my office. I saw to it he did what he needed to do to
graduate. Not finishing, failing, high school, was not an option for him.
Starting out life with one fail against you is not a promising future. My
granddaughter also home schooled, but her mother did not work. Do what
ever you need to, just get them through this first hurdle. Life will give
them enough problems, don't let them start off with a failure attitude. "
"I am so glad this issue is getting attention. These are great suggestions
for parents to implement into their own character to assist without
aggravating a struggling studentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s behavior.
I have tried everything, and while I truly believe in the taking
responsibility for oneself and the path they choose, I must concede that
my son had a teacher who destroyed him. He has never been the same since her
and any teacher that reflects the same type of character he crawls up into
himself hoping to avoid further humiliation .
My son,16,would fall into the demoralized learners category.
Up until 6th grade, I was able to maintain a system with my son that ensured
his getting his homework done, his understanding of materials, and him
reading out loud to me for at least 30 minutes daily. In order for me to be
able to achieve this, there was an open communication with all of his
teachers. This was especially important since he suffered from petit mal
seizures (in the brain only so the child appears as if they are daydreaming,
Ã¢â‚¬Ëœzoning outÃ¢â‚¬â„¢) Auditory Processing Disorder, and ADHD. As long as the
teacher was compassionate and patient with him not always hearing spoken
instructions or getting completely lost if there was excessive noise - or
gently bringing him back from a seizure where he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t remember what
the last thing he was doing was or what he was supposed to be doing, then he
was alright. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d take pride in himself for even trying. He worked so
Then he got a teacher who was completely obvious in her dislike for any
child who was not naturally bright needing no additional attention or help.
If my son would ask her to repeat an instruction her answer would be Ã¢â‚¬Å“You
should have been paying attention the first timeÃ¢â‚¬Â� -- she refused, even
after numerous requests, to either give my son easier to understand
instructions, or to email ME with the assignment instructions, so that I
could help him. More and more my son started to lie and say he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have
homework. Instead of calling me, advising me how bad things were getting (he
wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really talking about it since our previous efforts with the
principal had failed since they were close friends) she was sending him to
the office to sit all day long, including lunch and recess. No one bothered
to tell me. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d apparently from what I found out later, cry, beg, plead
not to be sent to the office. He would ask to please call me , heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d say
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think I need my momÃ¢â‚¬Â� !
and that awful woman told him that I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to do anything to help
him - that I knew (??) he was punished in the office. Since he thought I
knew and I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t helping him, he just grew distant from me and refused to
speak of anything that had to do with school. I later found out from parents
of his classmates that even they were bothered by how mean she was to my
son since they were going home and telling about the things sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d say.
She would single him out to confess his lack of homework, to announce his
test scores then compare him with the highest score, telling him he was Ã¢â‚¬Å“a
lost causeÃ¢â‚¬Â� and trying to get him to learn or do anything quickly was a
Ã¢â‚¬Å“wasteÃ¢â‚¬Â� of her time. It was difficult to regain my sonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trust or for
him to even believe me when I told him that I did not know what was
happening, that no one called me.
He struggled through junior high, and was looking forward to high school. He
was doing fine until he got one teacher who was the same as the 6th grade
one. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when he entered the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœshut downÃ¢â‚¬Â�. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d rather avoid
homework or school altogether! His spirit has been broken by someone who
didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to take a couple of minutes to make sure everyone understood
the lesson. What makes me really sad is how he adopted the attitude that if
he falls even a little behind or fails one test, then its to heck with that
class --period. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a point to trying to fix the
grade once heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already done badly. This leads to an avalanche of
scholastic problems. There should be some sort of discipline for teachers
who cause this kind of life altering change of esteem."
"I can so relate to this. My daughter who is 12,(and sometimes my son who
is almost 14)can be explained something (Math mostly) and one minute they
get it and the next it's like they've gone backwards a few years, and no
way I can try to explain it works. This adds to my frustration and, I'm
sorry to say, resentment, which adds more stress to the child. I think I
paralyze my kid's abilities when I'm stressing them. I hate that I do
"Thank you for posting this article. My 9 year old son often says ' I hate
school '. He will be in grade 4 this coming june 2010. Oftentimes he reads
a book while teacher is discussing a lesson. He doesn't copy the writings
on the board.He has a tendency to miss quizzes because he hates copying.
He complains school is boring. He goes to a traditional school and he came
from a progressive school. With this article it will help me with him and
my pupils as well. I hope to received more articles and also one which
concerns children with autism spectrum disorder since at present I teach
these children. "
"we need help...my 17 year old son wants to finish high s chool but feels
overwhelmed by the attitude around his IEP needs."
"i have always taught my 13 yr old son was unique but now i see there is a
few kids in the same position i am wondering 'what can we all do to help
i dont think a lot of people try to understand kids and that's where the
all of this post and topic is my thought everyday. each post here relate
to my son and i situation.
thanks to each and everyone for sharing i do wish all our kids the best
that they deserves, and the help we long for.
once again thanks for sharing. "
"My child shut down this year because of the homework temperature.
Additionally, my husband and I separated which caused the homework climate
to escalate. Does anyone know how to reverse these effects. I was
extremely disappointed when he only scored in the 70th percentile on his
first standardized test. I am glad to know that some of the parents are
experiencing the same thing, but what to do is the problem. "
"My son is in 6th grade. He has shut down since 2nd grade. Bright child,
great test taker, just doesnt want the responsibility of homework and dead
lines. What doe a parent do?"
"a truely wonderful article .it seems to address my sons present situation
,i feel relived that atleast there exists an understanding of what i am
experiencing as a parent.thank you for the tips."
"My daughter is a rising 11th grader. She was diagnosed with Bipolar
Disorder with ADHD and Anxiety. She has been in Special Education since
3rd grade. Currrently, she is on 2nd grade math and 4th grade reading
skills. The IEP team now is talking about the necessity to remain in
school longer than age 18 in order to receive a diploma. My daughter has
decided this is not an option for her. Do you have any suggestions as to
how to encourage my daughter to complete her high school education? Thank
"Thanks for sharing this. I though I was the onlyone experiencing having a
bright son becoming 'a lazy' preteen and I was cluless that others are
going through the same.... "
"Beware of boredom disguised as difficulty. There are plenty of kids
capable of working above grade level, but lots of schools can't or won't
"Ahh, the Lego Kid. It is worth checking out info about visual spatial
learners. There are websites devoted to this type of learner. Most
school systems do not embrace this style of learner. Once I figured out
that my 2d grader was a visual spatial learner, I have been changing how
his lessons are being presented. He hates to write. It even looks
painful to watch him. But he'll design and build you an elaborate cat
self-feeder, and has understood electrical circuits since he was 6. And,
as most of the comments reflect...up to 85% of gifted children are visual
spatial learners! Rote memorization almost kills them. Show them how it
works, and they remember it. Drill it into them, and they turn off.
Listening to the drone of a teacher in front of a classroom can be
excruciating. Figure out what kind of learner your child is, then go from
" My son is in the 9th grade. He completes his homework but he is not
passing his test which count for 60-75 percent of his grade. He is in on
fo the best schools academically. He is a well behaved child, but he is
not passing test."
"I agree with many of the previous posters that with the 'no child left
behind act' the teachers spend a great deal of their time with the failing
and the misbehaved ones. The gifted get left behind. That combined with a
teacher who thinks she is great but doesn't even offer to help the gifted
child or ask for help from the gifted teacher, to challenge & stimulate
this child more. We also do not have a good counselor or Principle. Also,
a gifted child is wasting time if they are spending a lot of time
organizing the class room, etc. Our 9 year old, in 4th grade, loves
everything about school, does all of her work on time, loves homework,
gets to it right away, is always an 'A' Honor Roll student, has gifted
class one day a week and is busy after school with dance classes and
private piano.. She enters things at school that she wants to, like
spelling bees and is Vice President of a 4H club. She has always been an
up beat kid about school and excited to go every day. This ye!
ar made a difference with this teacher. Our daughter always runs out of
work in the middle of the day. The gifted teacher and I work with her,
create a folder of things to keep her stimulated. She even takes books to
class. But, this teacher will tell her to put it away. When that happens,
she tells me, I relay it to the Gifted teacher and then supervisors have
to remind the teacher that if she doesn't have time to spend with our
daughter then leave her be with the work we created for her. We also get
lots of web sites from our gifted teacher to look up things at home and I
buy our daughter challenging books from Barnes & Noble.
My problem is my daughters attitude is slipping. She counts the days until
summer now. She asks if she can stay home. She said she can't wait to get
out of this school and have a different teacher. She asked me to home
school her too. This saddens me. It's hard to keep her upbeat now.
We just hope that with the closing of the middle school here and that she
will be moved back to the elementary, that next year will be a new and
fresh start and a better year. (4th graders were moved to the middle
school this year with 5th & 6th graders). K thru 6th will be in the
elementary school starting this fall - the 2010 - 2011 year. 7th and up at
the high school. My problem with this is over crowding. If, the new year
doesn't work out, we will figure out something else. (We are also
researching other states to move to).
I agree a child should be tested to see if they can skip a grade (our
daughter did) but socially I wouldn't want my child mixed in with kids too
old for her.. They learn enough garbage or about life too early as it is.
It won't matter much for a while but it will by the time they hit middle
school. Also, just because a child is gifted he/she may not be socially
experienced and I would worry about bullying. (We dealt with that too in
2nd grade. I taught our daughter to speak up and that she has rights and
kept calling meetings with the Principle and any teachers involved. Lots
of work to teach her. Thank fully we had a caring and concerned principle
and counselor in the elementary school who dealt with each incident right
away.. But, it took our daughter a good two years to speak up and report
"Dr. Selznick has hit the nail on the head in his assessment of the 'Shut
Down Learner' We frequently provide the intervention when a student
reaches this point in their academic experience. Parents come in stressed
and worried, when kids are suffering from sinking grades and low
self-esteem. Thier relationships are beginning to suffer. At our center,
we assess the student's Reading and Comprehension first to be certain this
is not the core issue of the difficulties, then we proceed with the
appropriate intervention for each student. It is so nice to see the
happiness that occurs when grades go up, self- esteem returns, and
families can focus on other parts of their lives. "
"This article describes my son to a 'T.' It gives me hope that there might
be something we can do to help him through the rest of high school."
"Clearly, based on the volume of responses to this article, families are
seriously struggling with the school experience. I believe schools need to
change the way they treat our children.
Meanwhile, it is up to parents to do what their children need. We need to
re-set our priorities. Children must come first. We trust our children to
schools and it is not working. Each family should make choices and find
what works for their children.
Schools are responsible for many of the problems we have in our culture.
Children love to learn... why is this love of learning being squelched?
"I can relate to just about to all of whom commented. My son was an honor
student during elementary school up til about 4th grade. Shortly after he
began exhibiting different behaviors that was totally out of the ordinary.
He was typically a happy go lucky kid, easy going, playful. During high
school, his sophomore year he was an honor student, from that point on he
went downhill fast. He started showing disinterest, lack of motivation,
not completing homework assignments, he would still attend school until he
began getting suspensions, then just not wanting to go and some times did
not. He eventually dropped out @ 18 went back @ 19 dropped out, went
back, dropped out even now @ 20. I have tried everything, was very
involved, tried cyberschool, charter school, nothing helped. Don't
understand. He wants to go back but fears he would not complete. What
can I do? Even @ this point I refuse to give up on my child, because, i
know what he is capable of."
"My son still takes care of all his responsibilities and does very well but
as a gifted student is compeletey under-served. With budget difficulties
gifted services were the first to be cut and school has become a slow and
pointless torture to endure instead of a place to learn. How can we
advocate to make services available? Are there any laws that give gifted
students the right to be challenged? I would love to home-school but I
can't afford to stay home, and my son wants to be with other kids and do
sports. He gets fed up and says stuff like 'Can I just stay home until
10th grade? Then maybe school will be interesting again.' At the end of
the day there just doesn't seem to be many options for him."
"My child learned to read by himself, he is so smart, and absorb in his
brain everythig, but this year his going to fail , this information that
is writing in this email happen to him, i want to help him, what i can do?"
"Thanks for the article. It's so important for parents to take the
initiative to be aware of how their child learns and pinpoint any
difficulties they experience. Schools generally are resistent to identify
issues due to their budgetary constraints. Document Document Document
your concerns to the school so you have something to reference later on if
problems persist/get worse. If you can reveal a pattern then the school
has a responsibility to test for 'suspected disabilties'.
"My neice is going to be 17 and she is definitely a shut-down learner. it
started when she was about 13. The only issue with her is that she is a
brilliant writer, she was presented with an opportuntity to travel to
Istanbul for space camp and all of a sudden the grades improved, then came
high school and it's been down hill ever sense. She doesn't go out with
friends, she stays in the house, pretends to do homework but is failing
miserably in school. My sister is a single parent and doesn't know what
to do. it's almost too late. Any suggestions."
"My son is exhibiting many of these symptoms, and they have been building
for several years, but are much worse since his Dad deployed a few months
ago. I'm am seriously considering moving him to a private Christian
school next year, rather than have him start middle school with these
types of attitudes. I think part of the problem at this age group is
boredom for the brighter kids, part of it is just the age and the
beginnings of hormones, but I really don't want to leave his future to
chance and the public school system. "
"My son is 16 is going through the same situation you call it shut-down
learner, I never heard of this but I checked all the bullets, he wanted to
drop school and refused to attend, doctors tested for ADHD he is now
takind medication and back to school, but the school does not understand
and keeps demanding and making pressure he is overwhelmed, It could get
unbearable for a teen. Please tell me what to do"
"I was diagnosed as gifted in elementary school as well and by High School
started to become 'bored' with school. I was active in school clubs and
cheerleading so I can't say I was disengaged completely in school, just
when it came time to do homework. I was always great in math and knew I
would pass without much effort so I did just that. I found ways to remove
myself from classes as much as I could. I signed up for study hall to
avoid classes and eventually ended up staying home for the first 2 hours
of the day during those study hours. But what is was for me was the fact
that I wasn't being challenged enough in the things I was interested in.
I didn't see how everything was related to each other and how they would
apply to the future, practically.
I asked a few collegues at work to describe their best day at work and
here were two reponses that I feel might help some of the students
suffering from disengagement..
1. Got recognized by someone senior for completing something of value
2. Completed an important project or process improvement
I believe creativity is key here. Give the students the creative space to
apply what they love (ie video games, art, etc) to a project that provides
practical application of their various subjects (math, history, english,
geography, communications etc.) across the board. They might be more
inclined to put forth the effort to learn those subjects and by default
raise their grades. I believe some teachers are stagnent in their teaching
and need to prepare students and teach students about life after school
and the various professions the lesson plan applies too. They should
visit pros and cons of the different professions out there, give the
students something to shoot for and let the students get excited about it.
In high school your not looking to your future career your are just hoping
to get the hell out of there!"
"We need to move from a grade/failure system to a skills mastery system.
That kind of system allows each child to work at their own pace - fast or
slow - and move on as they are ready. All children may then work together
on common topics at their own capabilities."
"When discussing Academic discouragement you forgot the teacher.
My son shutdown in third grade was because of a teacher's attitude and
behavior. This teachers' way of controlling the classroom was busy work,
of which he could not complete as fast as she wanted him. His handwriting
was not good because of hand eye coordination disability that caused him
to write slower than the other student, which the teacher refused to
address. If they had put him on the computer for the writing assignment
(which we did at home) he did well. The teacher had only 20 to 22 students
in her class. The teacher did not want to deal with a child that had a
physical problem but extremely bright.
On my son's side of the problem, he became discouraged and frustrated with
not being able to write fast enough for the teacher so she could read the
writing. If he wrote fast the teacher would complain that she could not
read the writing.
My son's reading level was at the six grade level in the first grade. We
found it interesting that his second grade teacher thought he was only
looking at the pictures in books for 8th graders. When this teacher asked
him if he was looking at the pictures and he told her no, she had him read
the book to her. She was amazed that he could read at that level, in
second grade, and found that his comprehension was extemely good.
The third grade teacher affect my son's academic education from that
moment making him feel he was dumb and stupid (found out later that the
teacher called him stupid).
The irony of the situation was when they tested him he always tested in
the 1st or second highest in his class. In fact the teacher, same third
grade teacher, accused him of cheating in one test, but could not prove
that he cheating because no one sitting next to him. In one test, 5th
grade, he had the highest test score in the school district for his grade.
I have found, at times, that the educational system and teachers are
looking for easy outs, especially for the unusal student, instead of the
well being of the students. We the parents need to keep on top of the
education system and monitor our child's progress, especially in the
elementary grades. I feel that the first 4 years in school are the most
important with regrad to skills of reading, writting, and math. Watch for
problems with reading, writing, and math because the student may need your
intervention, especially in the math (teachers seem to be weak in this
"So many 'my kid is so bright and is only shutting down because he/she is
bored' comments! As a parent of a highly gifted child and a teacher of
children at all levels, from kids with severe learning disabilities to
highly gifted ones, I see far too many parents who fall back on this one
(and they're seldom the parents of the most gifted kids in class). It's
certainly easier and more gratifying to believe that your child's only
'problem' is that he or she is just so gosh darn brilliant, but the fact
of the matter is, if your kid is shutting down, your child needs to learn
coping skills. Your gifted child is not going to spend the rest of his or
her life surrounded by equally gifted peers, in the gifted-person's job
with the gifted-person's boss, in the gifted-person's environment where
someone other than your kid is making sure that every moment of the day is
stimulating and fascinating. We all need to develop inner resources so
that we can be curious and engaged no matt!
er what we're doing, learn to buckle down and do tasks that bore us, and
accept the fact that every moment of our lives is not going to be
Yes, gifted kids need teachers who know how to teach them, and they need
assignments that challenge them. But school (and life) aren't set up to
fascinate every single person at every single moment, and we all need to
figure out how to deal with it without shutting down. Don't encourage the
'I'm bored, so I'm acting up/not doing homework/not doing my classwork'
attitude--it's a very unattractive attitude in a kid, and it will be even
more off-putting when your kid's an adult."
"My student, who is now high school aged, began talking about how much she
could be doing if not stuck in school when she was in second grade. She is
now un-schooling or healing from school. She, too is gifted, and found the
pace of school slow and her needs going unmet. She functions at a deeper
level and does best with more mature peers as she detests the 'drama' in
school. Read John Holt on Un-Schooling. He talks about LEARNING rather
than SCHOOLING. "