My gifted 10 year old has no motivation

Tami - posted on 01/11/2009 ( 28 moms have responded )

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My gifted 10 year old son I worry about his motivation. Too many things going on in his mind. Acts like writing is a chore. He can do the work and if he puts his mind to it, it's done fast. His scores on test are above average for his grade. He is in 5th grade and the youngest in his class. He got F's on his report card because he doesn't want to do his work. He seems to be depressed. I know I would be if I had to do work all day at school and still came home with all that he didn't finish in school. I feel like I am describing a child that isn't smart but it is the total opposite. He just doesn't want to write. Any advice?? Thanks!!

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I just went to a Differentiated Instruction conference where I was able to attend a session on gifted and talented students. The speaker asserted that this is actually one big difference between a "gifted" student and an "honor" student. Honor students are intelligent and aim to please (parents, teachers, etc.). Gifted students are beyond intelligent (of course I'm paraphrasing) and really need to see the real world application of what they are doing in school. Otherwise, there's no point in jumping through the teacher's hoops. I thought that was interesting to consider.

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Smita - posted on 10/05/2012

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hi Tami i am mother of two daughters age 9 and 6 and am a counsellor also with my experience i want to share something-----look .......all the big jargons of psychology are good but some times environment and family atmosphere,relationship with parents,siblings ,teacher,friends ,play very singnificant role for a behaviour it could be (behaviour)cognitive,emotional,,or social etc so as acounsellor and above all as a mother i will suggest you try to find out the cause considering these components.

regards

hope for the best and u will get the best.

Kara - posted on 01/16/2009

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Wow, Tami, it sounds as though you are describing my ten-year-old son.  He is also the youngest in his class, and he absolutely cannot stand writing.  He have questioned the whole ADD/ ADHD scenario, but most of the time we end up back at maturity (asynchronous development) and hope he'll outgrow it.  After much pushing, we had him classified as LD Written Composition since we had to practically stqand on our heads to get him to write anything.  Intensive handwriting training has helped some, but he still hates to write...except when he doesn't.  If he decides to go ahead and write something, it is generally fantastic!  It is so frustrating when you know that the ability is there, but there seems to be no motivation.  The bringing work home, and getting the homework done aspect drives us mad as well.  Please know that you are not alone in this. 



 



One thing that has helped a little, is to give him writing prompts that will get him interested.  Our son is very interested in science.  The other night I asked him to write a five paragraph essay on what would happen to the planet if all humans suddenly became extinct.  he thought on it for a while, and actually wrote a very well written, perceptive essay.  My hope is, that by allowing him to practice his writing utilizing subjects that are of interest to him, it will carry over to the more mundane.  Maybe it could help on your end as well.

Peggy - posted on 01/16/2009

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with the sensitivity aspect of what's going on with a gifted child i read the book "the highly sensitve child" by elaine aron & it deals with sensitive children who also turn out to-usually be gifted. this in turns helps out with alot of of the frustration parents & children feel while going thru these problems at/dealing with school

Tami - posted on 01/15/2009

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I agree. My friend is always saying she never realized that a gifted child would be anything but easy for them in school. Totally different personality. My son if very loving but very intent in thought process. :)

Christine - posted on 01/15/2009

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My 10yo is in the EXCEL program through our school district, she is actually bussed to a school other than our neighborhood school. The first year (last year) was supposed to be the roughest (in a class with her peers where she isn't top dog). No problem we made it through. This year, on the other hand, has been so hard. She isn't interested in doing homework, it's a struggle every night. She's constantly telling me that she isn't smart enough, which is completely untrue. She used to love reading, now it has become a chore. I've talked to the teacher, she says dd10 is doing great in class and can't believe that we struggle so much at home!! Hopefully it will get better before she gets to Middle School.



My 12yo is also in the EXCEL classes at her MS and just received all A's and an F! What's up with that? She has a horrible attitude about school, almost as if it is beneath her. She makes me want to pull my hair out. She actually handed me her iPod yesterday as she came in the door after school, knowing that I was going to be taking it away. It's as if she has resigned herself to the fact that she can't/won't improve her grades. There is no fight in her to make things better.



Both my girls can hold their own with kids in their classes, they just don't want to put any effort into their schoolwork. Sorry for the rambling, I am completely frustrated. I think I'll go color the white out of my hair :)

Tami - posted on 01/14/2009

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Brandy- I have thought maybe ADD but he has talked to psychologist (counselor that can medicate) that tell me that his maturity needs to catch up to his IQ. ( gave it a name.) With ADD tendency's. Didn't think we should medicate at this point. The homework drives me crazy! :)

Brandy - posted on 01/14/2009

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Wow! With the exception of making an F ( our lowest is a D) I would swear you were talking about my son! He is 11. When he was in the 4th grade he was given an IQ test. His IQ was 125. He is now in the 6th grade. He is also ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder)

He is in the Gifted and Talented program and because he takes medication for the ADHD he is also on an IEP ( Individualized Education Program). Everything you said describes him. He brings books from every class with homework every night, and it will be 11:00 before we give up and go to bed and still don't have all of it done. I have seen him complete his work in the blink of an eye but for what ever reason I just can't get him to do his work. He will get upset and say that he is stupid and that he can't do anything, I tell him he can do anything he wants if he sets his mind to it and works towards his goal. He is aware of his IQ and we have talked about how he posses alot of knowledge, we just need to figure out how to get it out of his head and on to his papers. He says he gets bored at school. I don't know what to do. As a parent I want the absolute best for him, and it gets frustrating for me to know that he is so very intelligent, yet I don't know how to tap into it so that he can excell all the time. His mood and actions say depressed to me as well, but I just don't know how to help him.

I know I haven't given you any advice but you have helped me by letting me know that I am not the only one with these problems.

Silka - posted on 01/14/2009

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To Laura,

I really feel for you so much. I am not exaggerating when I say that middle school was a living hell for both me and my daughter. The most unbelievably frusterating part was how little her school did to help me. I will say that I picked up a book called "The Bipolar Child" and it helped me tremendously!! I highly recommend it. I have always been against putting my daughter on medication just because she didn't fit in with the "norm" so to speak, and she does see a therapist a few times a month now, but still has not been placed on medication because I don't want to do that while her brain is still developing so much right now. The only thing that has helped her self-esteem is this new school. If they had a version of this school for middle school I would have taken her there in a heartbeat! But I felt like you, out of options, and I work full time so homeschooling her really wasn't a realistic option for me, even though all through middle school she was begging me to home school her. You know what she used to do? She would sit at the detention table at lunch by herself every day because she was so convinced that every girl at that school hated her. She is really pretty, but has always had trouble making friends. There is some information in that book about that that really hit home with me. I did not want to admit that my child was different. I think I waited too long and hoped with all of my heart it would get better, but it just got worse and worse until I completely changed her learning environment. Her therapist said that school is her "stressor" and the fear of being liked intruded on her thoughts to the point where technically she was learning disabled. I was heart broken and grieving the loss of all of the plans and dreams I had made for her like Homecomming dances and graduations with all of the other kids. It is the best thing I have ever done for her moving her to this new school which takes a very refreshing approach to learning but is still considered a public school so I don't have to pay tons of money for her to go there. I couldn't afford the Sylvan and Huntington Learning Center places that say they can "fix" your student. In line with another mom above, I did also get her into martial arts and that was a temporary confidence boost as well, but didn't help with school, just her self worth. I know I also felt that no one in the world understood what I was going through back then so if you ever need to vent I am here for you!

Silka

Kathryn - posted on 01/14/2009

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I don't have advice, but I do have a 10 yo daughter who is the same way. However, she hasn't made any F's yet.

Tami - posted on 01/14/2009

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I also wanted to add they really don't have a gifted program in our public schools so I want to check out the "idodi" website. I love to see him motivated and love all of you thoughts. I really can not thank EVERYONE enough!! I haven't heard of G.A.T.E. either. He tested into Advanced Learning classes for Language and Math..but gave an enormous amount of homework. He simply loved being there but hated the work. He missed going ..but going from one class to another everyday was hard. He didn't like people touching his desk when he left. Moving papers or messing with things. All causing the situation to be too much for him. Now he stays in class in a corner not next to anyone to help stay focused and less frustrated with others. :)

Tami - posted on 01/14/2009

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Thank you for sharing!! I am so lucky to have found this resource of other moms!!! :)

Vanessa - posted on 01/14/2009

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I want to reply to Laura Skougaard.  I also have an 11 yr. old daughter.  She was in 5th grade last year and had a horrible time with it.  As the year went on, it seemed more and more to be a conflict between her and her teacher.  For example, one issue was that Darcy gets upset easily and needs a little space to calm down in, but her teacher was a mother hen type that was all over her the instant she noticed anything was wrong.  We talked to her teacher, but it didn't help.



It sounds like your daughter's teacher isn't providing what she needs either.  If you can't work things out well within the school system, I think homeschooling is a perfectly viable solution.  That's what we ended up doing for the second half of 5th grade.  Darcy's back in public school for 6th grade now.  I won't say we don't have any issues, but she's getting along well enough.  She's making A's and B's and is interested in school again.



I know people who would disagree, saying that you need to teach your kids to work through things.  But when it's to the point of destroying their self-esteem, I think it's more important to protect them.

Christine - posted on 01/14/2009

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Hello Tami. I had the same experience Karen Long did. 



When my son was in kindergarten he went to 2nd grade for reading half of his school day. He was then transferred to a school that had  G.A.T.E (gifted and talented education) classes.



In first grade he would go to 2nd grade part of the day. Also when he was in 2nd grade he went to 3rd grade half of the day. He felt "different" because of this. However, the teachers made sure not to treat him any different and it turned out well. This went on until he was put into 4th grade all day G.A.T.E class.



For him if he didn't have a challenge with school work he would get bored and wouldn't do the work.



7th and 8th grade he went to an ALL G.A.T.E school, Elkhorn, which was too competitive academically and he struggled. Elkhorn didn't have any sports which I feel children need an outlet for them physically.



He is a freshman now and he takes all honors classes with a college class. He absolutely loves it, especially now that he can do sports.



Since your son is the youngest in the class,  he may feel overwhelmed or different. Ask his teacher how his behavior is with the other his classmates.



I wish you luck and let us know if he changes.



 



Sincerely,



 



Christine

Laura - posted on 01/14/2009

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My daughter is 11 years old & she is going through the same thing as Silka Clark's daughter...She is in the 5th grade tested at an 8th grade level. We (school & I) have talked about moving her up one grade level when she was in 2nd grade. She was in the gifted program, until last year. This was do to too much stresses in her life per her counselor. She needed a break from all the "pressures" of being oushed so hard. 



Her teacher this year considers her disrespectful because when she is bored she doodles. But at the same time the teacher doesnt want her to do any "special" work. Her teacher didn't want her tested again this year. I had to go to the principal to have my daughter tested. Now I have to fight to get her back into the gifted program. She is very talented in arts, music, math, & reading. Those are her strong points.






Another problem I have is she thinks the whole world hates her, that she is a failure at everything. She has such a low self esteem no matter what I say. I have tried counseling for her & even that doesn't seem to help. I am always encouraging her. I am almost to the point of home schooling her. Any advice/suggestions for me?



Dena - posted on 01/14/2009

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We were having that problem, and put our son in Tyke-Won-Do. It was wonderful. It got him the exercise he needed (he is not athletic) and motivated him to do his best in every area of his life, including school. He is know making straight A's and is impressing his teachers everyday. Another thing that helps is he goes to a gifted class once a week, and they started a new program called Destination ImagiNation which gives him another day to really use his brain. Check out the website at http://www.idodi.org/. Hope this helps!

Barb - posted on 01/14/2009

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I went through this too -- my son is the same age and a twin. He has now been identified LD as well (fine motor). I understand your frustration; and as well, would like some recommendations on motivation.

Amy - posted on 01/14/2009

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Get him some fun writing workbooks at a local teachers' store. I did this for my 11-year-old for over the summer and weekends, and he loved the different prompts and story ideas. Reward good behavior; there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe a trip to the movies or to see a sporting event if he brings home at least (3,4,5--you pick) A's on his report card. They need encouragement and motivation at this age. Don't say he needs all A's--that's too much pressure. Maybe $5.00 for each A? Whatever he loves, motivate him with that! GOOD LUCK!

Silka - posted on 01/13/2009

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My oldest two children are in my opinion both incredibly gifted kids, and yet complete opposites when it comes to school and personality. My 15 year old daughter struggled with the same problems as your son when she was his age. My kids go to some of the best schools in the state of Colorado (Cherry Creek School District). Karlee started having major problems in school in about 4th or 5th grade when the homework really started to get piled on. In fact, most days not only was she sent home with all of her homework but pretty much all of the classwork for that day too, so I ended up literally spending 3-4 hours a night with her trying to get it all done. She hated it, cried, and tried to do whatever she could to get out of it. Her teachers kept her on a learning plan through elementry then sent her on to middle shcool as usual. Middle school was a disaster. They expected her to be completely independant, go to her 8 classes a day and bring home 8 classes worth of homework. Kindof worked in 6th grade, but by 7th and 8th she realized she could just start "forgetting" to bring it home. She failed as many classes as she passed, and yet she scored fine on the standardized tests so they sent her on to high school this year. So...as a freshman, in a school with nearly 3000 kids she began the school year mostly happy about making friends for the first time (she was also a bit of an outcast in middle school and dealt with a lot of depression because of it). Needless to say she made friends with the wrong crowd and started ditching class and of course failing all of her classes. This semester I pulled her out of that prestigious renowned Cherry Creek school and enrolled her in an "alternative" school across town. The difference with this school is very small class size (about 10 or 12 students per subject), NO HOMEWORK, yep that's right I said no homework at all, all work is completed in class, and her school day is from 1:10pm - 6:30 pm, which works out great since she also has trouble sleeping and really hated waking up at 6am for her other high school. She had to test to get into this school and pass at at least the 6th grade level, which I was actually worried about considering her grades for the past 3 years. She passed at the 11th grade level in every subject which blew my mind. She LOVES this new school, feels accepted by her peers, feels smart for the first time in her life, and I finally feel like she has a chance for success.

My son Anthony, is extremely smart. In 5th grade and working at the 7th grade level. I have to question him about homework because he almost never has any and when I ask him he says he finished it at school already. And he is right! His teacher has recommended that I get him into the Gifted and Talented program next year in middle school so he will be on track for IB in high school.

My point is, I raised these two kids so far, and I can vouch for how equally brilliant they both are in completely different ways. My daughter is an amazing artist and musician but even though her handwriting is still not the best, when she writes - what she has to say is profound for her age and moves me sometimes. My son is determined to be an air force pilot, has straight A's and school is like a cake walk for him. I guess my point is, don't think too much of his behavior just yet, but if it becomes a pattern the sooner you help him change his perception of himself and his education the better. He needs positive reinforcement, which I thought my daughter was getting all along because her teachers all seemed so "nice" but it was the curriculum that they were stuck with and the ways that they were teaching to a standardized test (the CSAP in Colorado) that was making my daughter feel like a failure every day, which snowballs making her think her teachers hated her, and then everyone hated her...and so on. It was a nightmare surviving middle school for me until I realized that Karlee learns in a different way, needs one on one attention and constant encouragement, and she simply get's bored if it's too easy so she doodles to pass the time. Seen as disrespect to her teachers...but I must say her little doodles have turned into some beautiful works of art! Hang in there, it can be hard but kids that keep us on our toes keep life interesting too :)

Tami - posted on 01/13/2009

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Thank you for your reassuring comments. I do get so over whelmed with his homework. I guess feeling that I should let you know that he is really a terrific boy! He continues to smile and try to please his mom, teacher and all involved. It is like this...he goes to school he feels out his agenda (FINALLY) and his teacher has agreed to check off that is done so I finally can know what hasn't been done. We work from when he get home at night till bed time. Only stopping for dinner. He doesn't get to play or be a kid because his work takes forever. He is really capable of doing the work but his writing skills..putting answers on paper is time consuming so we spend a long time. This why I say depressed because "we" work hard everyday and we have to work this hard to see if he can score better then an F this grading period. I don't know maybe I am the one depressed.

Jeanne - posted on 01/13/2009

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Is it just writing? You talk about writing but your message implies it's more than that.



My nine year old, in 3rd grade, is similar. He either procrastinates for what he'd prefer not to do (which is most things), runs out of time, then finds an external excuse, or gets so particular about his instructions he can't figure out how to meet them (perfectionist tendencies).  I'm happy to say in the past two weeks we're actually seeing some success in school! I have no idea how long it will last, or what exactly did it. In any case here's what we've been trying:



- Don't let him wait himself out of work. If he doesn't do it in class, he must do it at some point (sounds like you're already doing that).



- As Samantha Hall said, make connections between what he wants to do in life and what he needs to do to get there. In my son's case he wants to be an astronomer so I explained that you can't just decide you want to work as an astronomer and someone will hire you; you must be a better job candidate than the others, so you have to have gone to a good college and done well there, and to get into a good college you must be better than the other applicants (it was news to him that you had to competitively apply for college), and so on back to working hard today.



- Define and emphasize that success in life isn't due to being smart but to working hard.



- Show him how his own actions lead to his own results. When he blames something outside himself for a failure, help him realize how he could have made different choices that would lead to a different result.



- Don't talk at him; ask him the right questions to get him to come to the right conclusion by himself.



- Be positive, gentle, and patient  (the hardest one on this list!)



Having said that, it's a challenge when this son insists writing is un-necessary. Why does an astronomer have to identify a plot, or say what parts of a story he thinks are funny, or write about his birthday? I point out it's all about learning to communicate through writing, which is important to anyone; you can have made the most important discovery in the world or invented the best thing but if you can't communicate it, it's worthless. He said yes, but why write it when you can just say it? I pointed out that people might not be in the same room as you. So use the phone! Well, what if they're in a different time zone and they're asleep when you're awake? Record a video! What if you get sick and lose your voice? Then I had him, but he didn't want to admit it.  *grin*

Leticia - posted on 01/13/2009

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I came across this problem with my 11 yr old daughter last year. After much research I did find that gifted children tend to be "messy" with writing because their brain is working faster then their hands can keep up. It's a very common issue for them. I spoke to my child's teacher and asked if it would be possible for her to TYPE out the good copies of any work she has. After all - living in the day and age of our technology, how many of us actually WRITE letters anymore? The teacher accepted my offer as long as my daughter did her best with the rough drafts and continued ansering questions in other subjects with neat hand writing / printing. It eased the stress on my daughter of trying so hard to be neat or rushing through and not caring.

Michele - posted on 01/13/2009

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My son (10) hated to write - hated it.  He's verbally extremely advanced but writing was a nightmare.  We set him up with a woman who teaches kids creative writing, and she unlocked him by taking off all the rules.  He now writes fluidly and it's not a chore.  He still works with her weekly. He brings in some of his big writing assignments for school and she helps him figure out how to make it fun.  If you can find a writing coach...it worked like magic for Cole.

User - posted on 01/13/2009

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This sounds similar to my 12 year old. I have had this problem with him for several years. My son always tells me he is bored with school. His test scores were great until middle school. Then they dive bombed. I personally believe that a big problem is our schools aren't teaching to the kids they are teaching kids to pass a test. I keep hoping something will spark an interest for him. Until then, maybe you'll find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

Samantha - posted on 01/12/2009

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Sounds like a really difficult situation.



I haven't had this experience, but have spoken with a lot of moms who've had the same problem. In fact one mother whose son failed out of school completely by the time he was 16. He then took the GED and went to college where he could FINALLY study what HE WANTED and aced every class, every test... He became a doctor.



That being said, my only advice would be to find a way to make his work seem relevant or interesting to him. 

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