Need Advice, Single Mom With Gifted 9 Yr Old

Heather Lea - posted on 11/16/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )

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I have a 9 yr old girl, who is highly gifted and knows it....
the problem is that I'm a single parent that works practically 24-7...
I work 1st and 3rd and unfortunately means she doesn't get much time with me.

I need a way to keep her organized at home to help her grades at school.
She does her homework but doesn't turn it in. We spent all this time working on 12 book reports only for her to "misplace them".

She's at such a high reading level but yet got an F on her report card for spelling.

She gets bored at school and starts doodling instead of doing her work....or just rushes through the work half ___ing it.

I've tried taking TV and PC away from her and do her work first....but then it somehow doesn't make it back to school.

I'm afraid that she will never do good in school because unfortunately she see's how hard I have to work and has already told me, what's the point mom? I already know what they are trying to teach me and I won't ever use it when I get older!
To which I keep telling her, if she would just show them how smart she is and actually do the work, they would more than likely move her to a more appropriate class or even grade.

You know how your parents are like, I hope you have one just like you....well yep...I was gifted and learned early on school wasn't that important in the long run...however she and I differ because I still strived to learn as much as I could, where she seems to be the opposite. She loves to learn by reading, searching things online and watching discovery/history channels but when it comes to sitting in the class room she just doesn't care. She can't seem to see the point in doing the work. I'm hoping that in later years with more challenging classes and more opportunities (ie foreign languages) she will be more enthused. However, I'm afraid at that point she will already have inbred a bad attitude for school.

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Brandee - posted on 12/29/2010

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Although, many of what these mothers have recommended are beneficial, you must address the entire scope of the challenges you are facing. Your daughter could be screaming for attention however she also may be screaming because she isn't being challenged enough at home and school. You are completely right in that she will end up with a bad attitude for school if she cannot make the connection of her IQ (potential) and her achievement. She needs an experiance that will allow her to learn the entire process of learning: IQ, Talent, hard work, organizational skills, planning, implementation, achievement and recognition. Each gifted child is not a cookie cutter 100% gifted child in all areas. And I learned the hard way that public schools were not for my children. My daughter attends a charter school in which specialized learning styles are tailored to. They are supported yet challenged. Most public school's do not tell you about children's various learning style's. Do you know your daughter's? My son learns through touch, feel, and interaction. For instance, he cannot learn spelling words by rote memorization. He uses scrabble pieces to build his spelling words. Learning about your child's needs and seeing what works for her and doesn't will be so beneficial for her.

For instance, my son has a photographic memory but he cannot access it unless he is allowed to move.........
Organization and structure is important but each segment of the big picture is equally important because you must have all of the components, not just some.

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Julie - posted on 09/16/2011

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I realize you are working 2 jobs, but you need to at least start emailing her teachers, guidance counselor, the Principal, and any GT professionals for your school system and possibly the state. The key to getting her more involved in school is to get her involved in the process. What does she want to change? Who does she need to speak to? What does she need to do to show them she can do the work or already knows the information? Can she test out? Can she take the SATs and get into a GT program? Are there any local programs offering courses she could take that the school would offer her or any online courses? Is there anything else going on at school other than being bored that is causing her to not care about school? Are there other issues people have overlooked because there is no academic impact (ex. executive functioning skills, dyslexia, etc. - twice exceptional) If you wait years for more advanced classes from the school system you will lose her. You both have to start fighting for her now.

Juanell - posted on 09/16/2011

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Being gifted and disorganized quite often go hand in hand. try a notebook system that all the work goes in. Let her pick the color and ask her if she has her folder. Let her teachers know what system you are using and usually they will try to remind her also. I quite often have to email the parents about homework that is lost. You might also tell your daughter that some bosses look at grades and organization to let them know if she is a good worker. Management makes promotions based on the final product that is turned in on time. good luck and keep encouraging her to try.

Tammy - posted on 01/28/2011

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Julie-it would be great to be with your child 24/7 but some parents don't have a choice, they have to work to feed their children, especially single moms. And I think it is more harmful to be on welfare and set that type of example for children than to try to work.

Julie - posted on 01/27/2011

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Someone is crying for help - namely she wants her mommie.
You haev ONE CHANCE to do it right... Make her your #1 priority...
I have never heard anyone on their deathbed say, "I sure wish I would have spent more time at work..." but I have heard plenty say just the opposite!

Tammy - posted on 01/25/2011

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I am a single mother of 5 children. My oldest two are highly gifted and attend a residential high school for gifted children. My middle son tests even better than my oldest but he has ADD and simply doesn't turn in homework, loses it when I sit down and force him to do it, or just doesn't try in the classes he has no interest in. Many will disagree with my decision but he was getting 100's in some classes in high school and like 50-60's in others, so I told him as long as your not failing any classes I'll leave you alone, grades aren't the most important thing in the world. He'll still go to college, he'll be able to major in something that interests him, and he will excel in that area because he has passion and intelligence. Now that I've stopped stressing out and nagging because he doesn't get straight A's and won't get into the "best" school, his grades are better (no F's) and we are both much happier. I mean in real life I don't care if my brain surgeon can also play the cello and recite Shakespear, I just want him/her to be really, really good at brain surgery!

Amy - posted on 01/06/2011

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Your daughter sounds so much like my son. My thoughts are similar but different from the others. Have you considered testing for ADD? My son is ADHD. I fought the diagnosis and the meds... but now I'm so glad we have both.

Girls exhibit ADD/ADHD differently than boys, most specifically in that they don't usually have the hyperactivity component. The good news is that there are many non-stimulant meds for ADD (if this is even what's going on).

At any rate, since the inattentiveness and lack of focus is having such a bad impact on her overall acheivement, I'd encourage you to check the possibility out with a pediatrician, child psychiatrist or child neurologist. A school psychologist is NOT a doctor and cannot do this for you, so I'll encourage you to not start in the school system.

My son is in ALP reading (though he hates to read), but not math because the math facts are boring for him, so he doesn't "test well" even though he loves math concepts and learns them easily. ... Even on meds. So it's always a challenge, but at least now we have SOME hope. Please understand that ADHD children are often gifted, it's a common comorbidity.

Cindy Renee - posted on 01/05/2011

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Was dealing with just about the same problem and my eight year old (reads 6th grade level) is also very unorganized. We set up a "Compliance Chart" on the fridge that we made out of a dry erase board and fancy duck tape. It simply looks like a calendar with areas for her to mark a star in. Whenever she complies with any request she gets a star and if she gets 15 a week she gets her reward (should be somthing they pick out so they are motivated to reach the goal). My daughter chose to have a day "out" with mom (I am also very busy too). Her homework goes in her folder right back in her backpack each night (that is an example of an earned star). Her teacher is also in on it at a point. Hannah has to get teachers initials at the end of the day to get her compliance goal (except for school compliance she gets 15 extra game minutes on "webkins" site. So far it is working great. I no longer find myself having to keep up with neg. consequences. She is more motivated by rewards. Friend me on fb if you like.

Jami - posted on 12/07/2010

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My 9 year old daughter can also be disorganized. One thing that greatly helped that was we designated a place for her to do her homework everyday right after school. It so happens she prefers to work at the dining room table. So on a side table close by I have a pencil holder that has pencils, pens, erasers, a ruler, highlighter and graph paper (alot of her homework is math and she prefers to work her problems on graph paper to keep her columns aligned). When her homework is done, it must be checked and signed by me. After it is done, I watch her put it in her folder and put the folder in her back pack. She then hangs her backpack on the door knob of her closet door.

This might seem like micromanaging, but I have found with her that routines help greatly. And like your daughter, my daughter reads years beyond her age level, but sometimes struggles with spelling. We have a deal; as long as she keeps a good grade in spelling, I do not bother her about studying her words. If not, it becomes a part of daily homework. Also, there is a website called spellingcity.com. You can sign up for a free account that will allow you to put in her spelling list each week. She can then play games and take test that are specific to her list. Since you mentioned she liked learning from the computer, I thought this might appeal to her also. Both of my kids prefer this to "quizzes by mom."

Finally, you mentioned that she is highly gifted, but she doesn't seem to be in gifted classes. I assume this because you said you have told her if she would do the work, they would more likely move her to a more appropriate class or grade. Her behavior seems common for gifted kids in regular classes who are just plain bored. Our district will test upon parent's request to see if they qualify for the gifted program. Check to see if your school will too.

Hope some of this helps. It must be very difficult with working 2 jobs and keep up with her. My hat is off to you.

Julie - posted on 12/07/2010

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Laura's suggestion of spending time with her is defintely a great idea. I'm not sure how the reward system will work, even if it's followed through on. It hasn't really worked in my house since my children seem to be to independent or don't grasp the concept that their actions/inactions affects the family (cause and effect - maybe they just don't care anymore because of what's happened at school?). That will depend on the mindset of you and your child (and how much your child has already read about psychology).

Have you contacted her teachers, guidance counselor, and principal yet about the situation? Get your support system at school involved. If they don't understand gifted students educate them, otherwise it will be an excrutiating educational experience for everyone involved, but more so for your daughter emotionally, psychologically, socially, and physically.

Having trouble organizing, remembering to turn things in, etc. is under executive functioning skills and can be evaluated by a professional. It's frustrating isn't it? Common sense seems to be lacking in gifted individuals - my children keep telling me "They didn't tell me that." They almost need to be told specifically what to do and then be reminded to help them remember basic daily common sense skills that get pushed aside because they get side tracked on other more interesting things. I sometimes wonder if they were given a general time frame instead of a specific time frame to get work done things would work out better. Otherwise, it sounds like she's frustrated - "what's the point" in doing the work part. I heard that this morning from my son when it came to him remembering to do basic personal care - brushing his hair. In your daughter's case, Why would you do the work if you already knew it all? What's the point? To prove to someone you can fill out a paper? To give the school a passing grade on a test so they can get funding? Gifted students don't just want to know how they want to know why and many instances they are told to do this because I said so/ because you have to and do it now. I'm curious, what does you student want to do when she gets older? What is she being taught that she already knows that she isn't going to use? Be creative and show her other ways to apply what she is being taught or how she can survive the boring classes until the two of you can work out a solution with the teachers, guidance counselor, and principal. Have her start writing a book with all the doodling she's doing. Put her ideas into action somehow. Help her feel valued instead of punished. Who's helping you? Take care.

Laura - posted on 11/16/2010

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Good study skills and habits are learned early on by ANY student, you are right about that. In many ways the most important skills learned in school are the periferal skills (studying, following instructions, abiding by due dates, etc) rather than the content of the class itself. Your daughter can "learn" facts and figures from a book, as you mentioned already. What she is not learning are the periferal skills! I suggest you make those top priority rather than the content of the class. It won't matter how book smart she is if she can't (or won't) follow instructions! That goes for any student, not just gifted.

If this were my daughter, I'd stop focusing on how "gifted" she is in retaining facts and information. Those periferal school skills are not only needed in gifted programs but expected by the teachers even more so than in a regular class. I would shift the focus to those periferal skills--the ability to follow instructions, the ability to organize oneself, the ability to demonstrate responsibility, etc. If she is unable to demonstrate these skills now, then she will have a very difficult time adjusting to a gifted or advanced program.

One suggestion to encourage this behavior is to "grade" her school behavior at home. Create a chart or list of behaviors with accompanying "punishments" and rewards. If she demonstrates her ability to make good school-related choices, she earns a reward--either immediate or accumulative. If she makes poor school related choices, she loses priveleges (no computer, no tv, etc), has to do extra chores, whatever task she doesn't like, she has to then complete. Be creative! The consequences for poor choices should be immediate but not lengthy. Once you have spelled out your expectations for her behavior, be consistent in your follow-through! Afterall, you are the parent and set the rules, not your daughter. Whhile you work 2 jobs to support the two of you, make it her "job" to do well in school.

Finally, something to consider as background info to your situation: You mentioned at the beginning that you work two jobs and hardly have any time with her. Your daughter's negative behavior with school may be a way of simply getting attention from you! Kids desire attention from their parents and will do whatever it takes to get it, even if it means doing something "negative". In this case, your daughter may have figured out that by NOT doing school work, she gets in trouble enough to actually gain attention from you. Remember, the key is "attention", it does not matter to a child if it's good or bad attention. When you talk to your daughter about your new expectations and consequences for her bring this up. Try and get her to share her feelings about your situation--all of the work, little time with you, school, etc. Open and honest communication between the two of you can help unravel the "root" of her behavioral problem which will then allow you to find a more appropriate solution. A simple solution that might be able to help would be to set aside a small amount of time each week fo the two of you to do something fun and special. This can be anything; a walk, a trip to a park, a special meal, etc. Use this time for...attention! Make this an activity that you both look forward to doing and make positive! I know that with two jobs this may seem like a lot, but it doesn't have to be a lot of time--15 -30 minutes, for example--but it does need to be consistent. This time will help you too! This positive attention might help to shift your daughter's attitude away from the negativity of school behavior. It will provide the two of you with time to talk and share, which is never a bad thing! I hope some of this helps and the best of luck to you and your daughter.

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