Mom needs help motivating student

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by S Dubb, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. S Dubb

    S Dubb Comrade

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    Jan 6, 2010

    Hello all, and happy new year!

    I received a phone call this morning from one of my parents who was just about in tears over her daughter. The student (we'll call her Jill) is very bright and she definitely shows it in school, but at home she's apparently a different person.

    Mom (who is very supportive and wants what's best for her children) tells me that Jill will often lie about forgetting work at school, or if she's doing work at home, she'll take "hours" to complete only a few problems. Mom is very disappointed and is feeling as if she's letting Jill down. She called to let me know that she's doing everything she can at home, but nothing's working.

    Jill has lots of siblings, so there's not really a lot of quiet space in the house to work. Mom has taken away things that Jill likes if she doesn't do her homework, and she's given rewards for doing it, but that's not really doing the trick either. Mom called me for suggestions, and off the top of my head I could only think of a few.

    I suggested taking Jill to the library (if possible) every so often to do her work, so her environment is distraction free. Unfortunately it sounds as if Mom's busy schedule and numerous kids won't allow for that. I also thought about having her give Jill a timer to have next to her while she does her work. That way, Mom can say, "OK, let's see if we can get this done before X minutes," and Jill can watch the timer. It works for one of my students in class, and his work doesn't suffer as a result.

    I was a bit embarrassed that I couldn't think of any more ideas so quickly, so I appeal to you. I told her I would call back with more ideas. What suggestions would you give this mother?

    Thanks for reading. :)
     
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  3. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Jan 6, 2010

    I'm suspecting Jill is very bright and is manipulating her mother for attention. She's getting it through negative means, but she's still getting it. Mother needs to spend some one-on-one time with this child which is difficult with a bunch of kids in the house, nevertheless, she still needs to make time for her. I would have suggested a timer too and then some one-on-one time with this child. Perhaps some type of reward when she completes all of her work. It's probably a pretty bad habit now so it'll take a lot of time and effort to break it. Is there a father in the picture?
     
  4. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 6, 2010

    You just described my middle son. I finally came to the realization that he was doing whatever it took to have my undivided attention. As a single mom of three boys, that's a rarity. Here's how I solved the problem. I took a big poster board and wrote out a daily and weekly schedule. On the daily schedle, were the things we do every day, like wake up, eat, homework, ect. The weekly schedule had things that would happen only once or twice a week. Normally, the only thing that would be on this is our family counseling appointment, which I make for the same day and time every week. This time I included something different. I carved out 30 minutes twice a week with each child. During this time, mom's attention is focused soley on that child. Unless somebody's gushing blood or you heard a bone snap, don't bother mom during that time. The kids can do anything from snuggle with mom on the couch, to play games or talk or whatever. They don't even have to use it if they don't want, but it's there if they do. Of course, this isn't the only time I'm available to them, but it's their "special" time.

    I did not tie this time to good behavior or completion of tasks. It just is, no matter what. After about two weeks, my son's cries for negative attention dropped significantly, and after about a month, it went away almost entirely. I think just the reassurance that he matters a whole awful lot in a busy, crazy household was what he neede.
     
  5. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Jan 6, 2010

    We've had good luck with 'homework wranglers' in instances like this- a strong high school student hired (usually at a pretty low hourly rate) to help the kid stay organized, get her work done, and get good attention; not a full tutor ($$$) to reteach but somebody just to be a buddy and motivator. Helps to define homework time as this dedicated hour that the buddy was over at the house, and helps separate loving parent from stressful homework. Just a thought.
     
  6. teach1st

    teach1st Comrade

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    Jan 7, 2010

    I do something similar to wrice. I use a peer helper. The peer helper comes in everyday and checks on the student. He talks to him about getting homework finished, classwork, and behavior. They talk about things that interest them. At the beginning of the year and I had a horrible time getting this child to see the importance of doing anything. Over Christmas break I was worried the child would back track a little, but he has been having wonderful days. The peer helper always checks with me to see what kind of the day the child has had. I have the parents let me know how homework went, so I can report this to the peer helper. This has been and absoluetly wonderful experience for this child. He recieves that great one on one attention from his peer helper and doesn't strive to get that attention from me or his parents in a negative way.

    Of course, I had to talk to the parents first to make sure that it was okay to do this. Since this peer helper is another student I wanted the parents to be okay with telling another student somehwhat confidential information. The parents thought this would be fine. They really didn't think it would work; however, we are all surprised how well really did work.
     
  7. S Dubb

    S Dubb Comrade

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    Jan 7, 2010

    Thank you all for your wonderful input! I actually went with the poster idea and Mom seemed to be on board for that. We'll see how it goes. I'm definitely taking note of all the suggestions here though. Thank you again! :)
     
  8. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jan 9, 2010

    I really love the mentor idea and I've seen it used in my middle school. We have some of the high school students volunteer to work with some kids on doing homework, sports stuff, or even playing their instrument in band. It works out very well and has set some really troublesome boys on the right track-- they look up to the older student and want to do things his way.

    What I did last year in my homeroom for boys who kept lying to their parents about homework was set up a planner sheet. I would write down homework with these boys and check over the planner sheet. If they had the work done, I would initial it and then they would show me what they were putting in their book bag. When they got home, Mom or Dad would look at the hw when it was done and initial that subject/assignment. Mom and Dad would watch them pack up their book bag. It was the only way we could get these kids to get their homework done.

    As for the time limit, in my grade each subject should be about 20 minutes of homework time. I would use the timer, set it to 20 minutes and then review the work with my child. If they didn't finish, then they would have to work on it sometime during the school day. Of course this should be worked out with the teachers-- in my grade we have 1 teacher in during recess time that can have students work in her classroom. So unless Jill was able to hurry things up and complete her task, she'd have to work one-on-one with a teacher to complete it.

    Just some more ideas :)
     

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