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Topic: Son having trouble in 2nd grade-UPDATED-suggestions?

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Subject: Son having trouble in 2nd grade-UPDATED-suggestions?
Date Posted: 3/11/2010 9:22 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,284
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My son is in the 2nd grade and is starting to have trouble in school.  When he does his homework he rushes through it and often it is very messy.  When I check it over I have to make him re-do some of it because you can't read it.  He also has a hard time paying attention to the instructions the teacher gives and yesterday he brought home a math paper graded as a 29.  I think he is fairly bright and that it is more the not paying attention that is the problem.  It could also be that he is busy talking to his friends and misses what the teacher is saying.

Anyways, I am in the middle of setting up a meeting with his teacher to go over all of this and hopefully she can shed some light on what is happening.  When I met with the teacher earlier in the year she said that there were no problems so this seems to be a recent thing.  I want to nip this in the bud now.  Also in the last month he has started to forget things.  Lunchbox, glasses, homework folders...not sure what is going on. 

He is very sensitive and is bothered when he forgets things and has trouble sleeping.  There have been no real changes to our home life so I am wondering if it is something happening at school.

Any suggestions from teachers out there on tips/tricks to help him pay more attention? 



Last Edited on: 3/18/10 9:33 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/11/2010 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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If the teacher isn't able to shed any light on a possible reason for the sudden change in behavior, I would take him to your family doctor for a check up.  A sudden change of behavior could indicate a physical problem of some kind.  You might want to look at what he's eating; is there something new in his diet?  Any changes in detergents or new cleaning fluids that he might have a sensitivity to?  Does he need glasses?  Could he have an inner or middle ear infection? That last one sounds silly, but I developed a middle ear infection several years ago that left me dizzy, made it difficult to concentrate and sometimes left me disoriented.  Just some ideas to ponder.  Hopefully the teacher will have some good information for you.  Good luck.

Date Posted: 3/13/2010 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 11/22/2008
Posts: 836
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Ditto what Sandy said.  

Tip:  Place an index card in the front pocket of his backpack.  List on it the things he needs to remember to bring home from school.  As he is readying himself at the end of the school day (when a classroom gets very hectic!!) he can use it as a reference.

 

Date Posted: 3/16/2010 8:27 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,284
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Cynthia..good suggestion.  I am going to try that tomorrow morning with him.  We have an appointment with his teach on Thursday morning so I will know some more at that point. 

He does wear glasses for reading the board but I think I need to bring him in for his yearly eye exam soon.  Maybe he needs a stronger perscription? 

He told me the other day that his seat has been moved at least 3 times so far.  Two of them were because other kids were talking and they moved my son near the "talker" in hopes to break it up and the third time was because he can't stop talking. 

Date Posted: 3/18/2010 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,284
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Ok, the teacher said that at the beginning of school my son was a quiet boy but now lately all he seems to do is talk, not listen, and not complete classwork.  He is also having trouble with reading comprehension and his penmanship is terrible. .  Right now he is doing "C" work. 

Ok, so my plan of action is....first, to have a talk with him this evening.  He has a desk in his room that he never uses, except to put his Lego masterpieces on.  I am thinking that if he had a quiet place (away from siblings) to do his homework that might help on the focusing.  I will also have him read a book or chapter to me each night (or every other) and then have him tell me in his own words what he just read.  He can certainly read but I never thought that he wasn't comprehending what he was reading. 

Any other suggestions?  The teacher was very nice and helpful about discussing what was wrong but time ran out and we didn't get to talk much about solutions. 



Last Edited on: 3/18/10 1:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/18/2010 8:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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You might want to try going a little smaller than having him read a whole chapter.  I teach elementary age special needs students and I've found that having them read one or two paragraphs, then telling me what they just read, is more manageable.  Ask a variety of questions after each chapter, you want him to be able to recall specific details, but also ask an inferential question or two.  Things like 'why do you think the main character...?' or 'what do you think this character should do?'.  Inferential questions are really tough for children, so if  he doesn't get them, don't be afraid to help him out.  Also, at this stage of the game, if he doesn't know the answer to a question that is clearly answered in the text, teach him to go back and find the answer.  Achievement tests allow this and many 1-5 grade teachers allow students to use their reading books during reading tests.  Children need to be able to go back and locate information; in the third grade classroom I'm in the teacher makes the students write the page number showing where they found the answer.  For every book you have him read, he needs to be able to identify character and setting, tell what the story is about (summarizing is another skill that most students have difficulty with), and identify the problem and solution.  He should know what an author does and what an illustrator does.  Another thing to have begin identifying is the genre of a story.  Is the story fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, mystery, historical fiction, or poetry.  Is the story non-fiction, informational, biography, or autobiography.  This may be more of a 3rd grade skill, but since it is close to the end of the school year, giving him some advance on 3rd grade skills would be appropriate.

Have him give some of his answers in written form and make him answer in complete sentences.  One of the best formats is to have him turn the question into the first part of his answer.  Hopefully this is already being taught, but if it isn't, his teachers will be thrilled to have a student who knows the proper way to answer a question.  If you give him the question in written form, it will be easier to show him what to do.  For example, you might ask him "Why did John go to the store?"  Have him underline John go to the store and read that portion aloud.  If he has a good grasp of grammar, he'll see that this doesn't sound quite right.  Have him cross out 'go' and write 'went' over it.  The statement now reads John went to the store.  Half of his answer is done, all he has to add is the reason.  Kids who dislike writing sometimes just need a starting point and once they have this part down, finishing the answer becomes easier. Practice this on homework across all subjects so he sees that this is the best way to answer questions, no matter what the subject. 

Your son's sloppy writing may be a product of not wanting to write or just wanting to get the assignment over with quickly. We teach students that they want to give the answer that makes them look good and sound smart.  See if you can get him into the habit of asking 'does this make me look good and sound smart?' My 3rd graders have completely bought into this mindset and their writing has improved in both quality and neatness.  There's a great book called Better Answers by Ardith Davis Cole, and these suggestions are from her book.  Her ideas aren't new, we've used them for years and you were probably taught writing in a similar way, but this particular book is really accessible for teachers, parents and even students.  Remind him that part of looking good means creating written work that is neat and easy to read.  You'll be working on penmanship while practicing writing and comprehension skills.  Beats boring penmanship drills, because his writing is now serving a purpose. 

Hope this helps and thank you for being willing to invest the time to help your son succeed in school.  At my school, I have trouble getting parents to participate in their child's education in any way; even signing the child's agenda seems to be too inconvenient, so any time a parent expresses an interest and follows through is a banner day.

Date Posted: 3/23/2010 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,284
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Sandy, good suggestions.  I am going to start with some of these.  He has started to take his time with his penmanship and I am definitely seeing some improvements there.  But it is still early so I want to see how he progresses in the next few weeks.

On the upside to all of this...my youngest who is  in kindergarten has now wanted to start writing out sentences too.  His teacher said to "go for it" and we have kept them fairly simple.  Surprisingly his printing has been pretty neat.  I think what I say to my older son is wearing off on my younger one.  That is a good thing..right?

Date Posted: 3/23/2010 4:22 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,546
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Improvements will come, but they will take time, so definitely give it a few weeks, at least.


Hooray for your kindergartner.  Any and all handwriting practice is good and writing sentences, even better.  His first grade teacher will love having a student who already knows how to write a sentence and is aware that neatness counts. :)