Mischievous … and Misbehaving at School
Q My son, a first-grader, is a saint at home, but he behaves terribly at school. I get an e-mail from his teacher almost every day about his constant talking, making funny noises and getting out of his seat. The teacher has tried sending him to the principal’s office, eliminating recess and putting him in the hall. I have taken away privileges — from TV time to play dates with friends. What can be done? His teacher says he appears to be gifted academically.
A What your son is doing in the classroom is not unusual behavior for first grade, and it would be best handled in the classroom. But if the teacher doesn’t seem to know how to handle your son, she should ask for help. One or more experienced teachers could visit the classroom and make suggestions.
You are too removed from your son’s behavior to be punishing him after he has misbehaved. Instead, do tell him firmly you expect him to behave well in the classroom. Also, it would be wise for you to visit the classroom and observe what he is doing. You might come up with some good suggestions for the teacher, based on your knowledge of what type of discipline works with your child. For example, a behavior chart is helpful for some children. Your son might check each time he talks to classmates. Then the goal would be to reduce this number each day until it is at an appropriate level. Also, seating him in the back of the room could make his behavior less noticeable.
There is always the possibility your bright child is misbehaving out of boredom. Perhaps he could be assigned more challenging work after he has completed routine assignments. This might turn things around. Also, he may need help with his social maturity in order to handle being in the classroom environment.
This teacher is spending an inordinate amount of time e-mailing you about your son. She also may not have good classroom-management skills. While it is rarely possible to change teachers, a different teacher might be a better fit for him.
Q We have been struggling with our 10-year-old son, who is definitely an underachiever. He has been evaluated/tested recently and was not found to have any learning disabilities. His IQ tested in the gifted range.
Last year, it was a nightmare trying to get him to do his homework. The same thing is happening already this year. Punishment/rewards simply don’t work. I could go on forever about the struggles we have had with him. Do you have any recommendations to help him?
A Ask your what it is about his homework he doesn’t want to do. He may say he doesn’t want to do what he already knows. In this case, both of you should talk to his teacher, or teachers, about making a deal to reduce the homework load provided he is succeeding on tests without this practice. Another alternative is to have him be given more challenging assignments.
On the other hand, if your son says homework is boring but he is not doing well on tests, ask what is holding him back on tests. He may say he has trouble writing out the answers to test questions. In that case, he needs to be taught to organize his answers. Whatever he says is the problem, make sure he gets help in this area.
High IQ scores are not always predictive of success in school. Many bright students need help in learning how to study or have areas of weakness that need to be worked on. Your son needs to learn the discipline of handling appropriate homework assignments. Look for the help he needs now before he progresses to middle school.