Q&As from a Teacher

get answers from a teacher sm

How to Stop Children from Being Quitters

Q:     How can I help my third grade son who just gives up at the first sign of difficulty? What can I do to help him stop being a quitter? – Cheerleader Mom

A:     Children usually start giving up after experiencing a cycle of failures at school. Your son is only in the third grade; he more than likely wants to do well in school. Very sadly, not all bright children succeed in school. Some begin tasks very halfheartedly and give up at the first sign of difficulty. Psychiatrists call this “learned helplessness.” It can happen in the early grades because of emotional immaturity, low frustration level or over-dependency on adults. It also can happen when children start fourth or sixth grades because these are points when learning requires more effort, and some bright children have no strategies for handling difficult assignments and give up too quickly. It’s not easy for these children to overcome the tendency to give up when the going gets tough, but they can with continued help from teachers and parents.

By modeling how to approach a problem and giving specific instructions at every step along the way, parents can help their children learn how to tackle difficult assignments. They will need to teach them:

  • Effective problem-solving strategies
  • To look for more than one approach when solving a problem
  • To retrace their steps to find errors
  • To use self-talk as a guide for solving problems.


Grades for Effort Do Matter 

Q:   My son receives a grade for both achievement and effort in every one of his subjects.  I am not sure which grade I should be most concerned with? Is it important to receive both grades for each subject? – Puzzled

A: The grades measure different things. The achievement grade reflects how well your son has mastered the subject material. The effort grade is less precise. It shows how hard your child is working including doing classwork, participating in class discussion, and completing homework assignments.

You should be most concerned about the relationship between the two grades. A good grade in effort should ideally be linked to a good grade in achievement. On the other hand, a poor grade in effort can often explain a low achievement grade. And a high achievement grade coupled with a low effort grade may indicate that a child needs more challenging work. Whenever there is a significant difference between the two grades, a discussion with a teacher should be arranged.

Research has shown that students’ beliefs about effort are very important. If students believe that the effort they put into learning an academic subject will lead to achieving a better academic grade, the students are more likely to put forth the necessary effort to obtain the results they want to achieve.


Help for 6th Grader Failing Math

Q:     My granddaughter failed math in sixth grade and got a failing grade the first semester this year in seventh grade. She hasn’t mastered multiplication, and her addition and subtraction skills are poor. She has just been passed along. The school did not have summer school, and the teacher is a poor communicator. I’m trying to work on helping her learn the basic facts. What else can I do? – Want to Help

A: The best thing that you can do right now is to see that the child gets the help that she so obviously needs. The individual responsible for this child, whether it is you or a parent, must immediately contact the school to see that help in math begins at once. It would be a good idea to meet immediately with this teacher. Find out why an intervention or testing for a learning disability has not been done.

If you do not receive a helpful response from the teacher, contact a counselor or the principal. This child’s skills sound so weak that an individual tutor or math learning center may be needed. Nothing but serious problems in math are going to occur in the future without considerable help. How will this child ever be able to handle math in high school to fulfill graduation requirements?

You can supply some help to your granddaughter. To work on addition and subtraction, use manipulatives (counters, coins, etc.) so she can actually see problems. If she is strong enough to work on multiplication, try this technique: For a problem like 3 x 4, have her draw three parallel vertical lines and cross them with four parallel horizontal lines and then count the intersections (12) to get the answer. You will also find it helpful to search on our website for math under the elementary level, as you will find a variety of suggestions about ways to teach basic math facts, starting with addition. Do not consider your granddaughter’s math skills strong in any area until she can solve basic addition, subtraction and multiplication facts in 3 seconds or less.

--------------------------------
Parents should send questions and comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ask
them on the columnists’ website at www.dearteacher.com. ©Compass Syndicate Corporation, 2013.

Published: February 7, 2013

Beyond Books: 20 Reasons to Love the Library

Beyond Books: 20 Reasons to Love the Library

If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the library, perhaps you only associate it with hardcover and paperback books. The library has so much more to offer than awesome books! Stop in your loc . . .

Read more

Homework Help: Apps and San Diego Tutoring Services

Homework Help: Apps and San Diego Tutoring Services

Every student needs homework help at some point—sometimes more support than a parent can provide. Here are six educational apps that offer homework help (most available on iTunes and Google Play), . . .

Read more

5 Things Parents Can Do Now to Prepare Children for Kindergarten

5 Things Parents Can Do Now to Prepare Children for Kindergarten

It’s not uncommon for parents to wonder if children are learning and developing at the same pace as their peers. Many first-time parents have little understanding of what today’s kindergarteners . . .

Read more

Education Directory - Fall 2018

Education Directory - Fall 2018

Choosing the right school is one of the most important decisions to make for your child. Our biannual directory features educational options from preschool through high school in a variety of learni . . .

Read more

How to Find the Right Preschool

How to Find the Right Preschool

Choosing the right preschool is an important decision for parents. For some, it will be the first time a stranger will watch and care for their child. Here are tips to help make the right decision.C . . .

Read more

5 Tips for SAT Success

5 Tips for SAT Success

Mastering the SAT can have tremendous impact on a student’s life, but it comes at a cost. Preparing for the SAT can be a stressful process for teens (because the stakes are high) and for parents ( . . .

Read more

5 Back-to-School Tips for Divorced Parents

5 Back-to-School Tips for Divorced Parents

Transitions from grade to grade can be challenging. Adding the stress of divorce—especially for newly divorced parents—can make a new school year even more nerve-racking for the entire family. C . . .

Read more

Farmers Markets Offer a Bounty of Learning Opportunities

Farmers Markets Offer a Bounty of Learning Opportunities

Going to farmers markets on a regular basis puts fresh, seasonal produce at kids’ eye level. They start to notice that foods vary week by week and learn what’s in season. This offers an opportunit . . .

Read more

The Preschool Years: The ideal time to introduce a second language

The Preschool Years: The ideal time to introduce a second language

Studies show that when children learn a second language, there is a boost to cognitive growth, creativity and critical thinking skills. Bilingual children also tend to be more empathetic and open-mi . . .

Read more

Safety Tips for Children Who Walk to School

Safety Tips for Children Who Walk to School

Is your child ready to walk to school? Ask yourself the questions below before deciding. These safety guidelines and tips will help ensure a safe walk to school.Walking to school is a healthy altern . . .

Read more

25 Activities that Support Your Child in Math

25 Activities that Support Your Child in Math

Is math homework giving you a headache? Do you dread hearing the words, “I hate math!” While math may not appeal to some children, it is helpful to everyday living, and strong math skills can op . . .

Read more

Your Child's Education: You Have Options

Your Child's Education: You Have Options

When it comes to being a parent, perhaps one of the most important responsibilities you have is to provide your child with a quality education. The good news is, parents have numerous educational op . . .

Read more

How to Volunteer at School without Burning Out

How to Volunteer at School without Burning Out

According to the nonprofit research center Child Trends, parent involvement in school is linked to better grades and fewer behavior problems in students, particularly for those in elementary school. P . . .

Read more

How to Manage Child-Teacher Conflict

How to Manage Child-Teacher Conflict

“I hate my teacher,” *Elora, 9, declared to her mother. But, when pressed for details, her mom says Elora buried her head in her knees. So she tried a different approach. “I engaged her in a f . . .

Read more

A+ Parent Teacher Conferences

A+ Parent Teacher Conferences

Parents usually fall into different categories when it comes to parent teacher conferences. Some love to spend time with their child’s teacher, talking about what is going well and brainstorming s . . .

Read more

How (and Why) to Maintain a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

How (and Why) to Maintain a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

The relationship you have with your child’s teacher affects how your child views school and education, which will impact his life for years to come. Use these tips to cultivate a positive working . . .

Read more

Discover San Diego's Landmark Central Library

Discover San Diego's Landmark Central Library

Looking for another great way to inspire your little ones to get reading? How about a visit to the Central Library (opened September 2013)? One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit the . . .

Read more

Exploring the Common Core Curriculum

Exploring the Common Core Curriculum

The Common Core State Standards or CCSS (also referred to as the Core Curriculum) have been adopted by 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. These new educational standards will replace the N . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!