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.
them on the columnists’ website at www.dearteacher.com. ©Compass Syndicate Corporation, 2013.
Published: February 7, 2013