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Old 05-03-2010, 02:18 PM
 
1,065 posts, read 1,270,567 times
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Default 5th grader suddenly having problems with school

My 5th grade son started having difficulties with school this year and it has progressivly gotten worse. Before 5th grade, he couldn't wait to get to school every morning, hardly ever had a bad day and was an A/B student. Since the start of 5th grade, he has struggled with Math to the point that he cries on a daily basis because he has so many corrections to do. This is not like him at all. His teacher has been wonderful. Most of the time she notices if he is having a difficult day and tries to help him and even stays after school when he asks for extra help. When I approached the principal with my concerns about his grades in Math, she blew if off stating he did not qualify for any special services like Resource or Title and that he should get all the extra help he can get. He has had a D/F average with the exception of one C- on a mid-term (his Science grade suffered due to his extra attention to his Math). He now plays "sick" to get out of going to school. He is often sad and doesn't want to be involved in normal activities anymore. Am I wrong to be upset that our school does not consider this a problem? I have expressed my concerns numerous times with the principal and teacher and keep getting told that "5th grade math is very hard, he will probably get it next year". Can I hold the school responsible for low grades when the student has been going in for extra help after school on his own and I have talked to the teacher and principal concerning this? My son hates Math now and I'm worried that he will have that attitude next year. It's pretty bad when a 5th grader begs to go to the Resource Room for Math.
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Old 05-03-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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I would not worry about his grades in 5th grade. They don't mean anything. I would worry that your previously happy 5th grader has suddenly lost interest in his normal activities and is acting sick to get out of school. Focus on the important stuff. The grades don't matter. They are the symptom, not the actual problem.

I would take him to the doctor and have a medical evaluation to rule out depression as the root cause of his issues. If that is ruled out you need to find a fun way to work on his math issues over the summer. If he does suffer from depression that needs to be treated because that can affect his ability to learn.

Work with him in a low pressure manner over the summer. Set aside a time for you and him to spend time working on math together. Make it warm, loving and low key. If you are not capable of doing that then I would try to hire a tutor to work with him over the summer. I would not have him devote his entire summer to math, nor would I punish him in any way. He does not need to devote 24 hours a day to math over the summer in order to improve his skills. An hour to hour and a half a day on a consistent basis should greatly improve his ability. Additionally, make it a warm, supportive environment. Do not grade him. Give him points for correct answers, and offer rewards once he gets a certain number correct without any negative reinforcement for incorrect answers.

Good luck.
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Old 05-03-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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Sounds like something drastic (to him) changed in your son's life. Think long and hard. I am assuming no other areas of his life are problems?
Does he have a physical outlet to blow off steam and pressure. At 10 your son is probably getting ready to head into the first stages of extra testosterone flowing through his system. If you get my drift. Does he have a male role model to help coach him? I'm not trying to be a jerk but maybe the little guy is starting to change physically and chemically. I had a hard time 5th through 8th grade.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:06 PM
 
Location: Wyoming
169 posts, read 163,541 times
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Have there been any signs of improvement? Were there any signs of struggling in math or any other areas (academic or behavioral) prior to this year? Any big life changes? Is the D/F average just for math or everything? Is 5th grade part of a school that he has attended for awhile?

I would be troubled by the fact that he seems to have a good teacher and interventions are being put into place for him, yet he continues to struggle. The loss of interest of activities and avoidance of school is troubling too. This stuff shouldnt just happen overnight. It makes me wonder if there is something deeper going on. Hope things get better for you guys.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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To make a D or F in Elementary School is a little abnormal actually. Very few kids make that type of grade in Elementary School because most student grades come from classwork and homework, not tests. So, I am just a bit confused as to how he has this grade after all the extra help. Even if he were doing poorly on tests, aren't there other grades he is receiving throughout the quarter.

Also, I agree with what has been said. Think long and hard about anything that may have happened. Normally when an A student struggles, they make a C, not an F. It does sound like something is going on. I would contact his teacher from last year and forcefully ask him/her if they noticed struggles. My sister has ADD, however, her type does not result in hyper behavior. She was the kid in class that was always doing as she was told, on task, well behaved. However, she completely bombed tests because she could not focus. No teacher ever bothered to talk to my mom about it because she was such a good kid, and her homework/project/classwork grades were high enough that her overall grades stayed high.

My point is that maybe there has been a problem for a while, but since you have a good kid it has gone unmentioned. Often when kids have learning disabilities, but do not act out, they do not get serviced as quickly as they should.

I say think hard about the last year or so and then go talk to his previous teachers.

Oh, and you can insist he gets tested. Put it in writing that you want him tested and send it to the principal, teacher, and Spec. Ed. director at the school. Document the number of times he has gone if for tutoring (put that with the letter) and his current grades. If nothing happens explain that you will be contacting the Spec. Ed. director at the county/system level.
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:39 PM
 
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The low grade is only in Math. He only cries when he is having trouble with the Math. He has never had any problems with any subject in the past, as I said, he was an A/B student until this year and his only low grade (below a B) is Math. He is a very good student and his only goal was to be on the honor roll. His Math grade is the only thing holding him back. I guess he could be depressed because he did not make honor roll. I have requested testing for Resource/Title but keep getting the answer "He does not and will not qualify" or "We don't have a slot for him in Title". His teacher is great-it's the principal and superintendent that seem to not give a hoot.
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:02 PM
 
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I apologize, now I am confused. So, what is his actual grade in Math? Is it an F?
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:16 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
864 posts, read 1,761,862 times
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I'm not sure what you mean when you ask if you can hold the school responsible for low grades.

Does he struggle on daily work, homework, and tests? Or just tests? Many schools and/or districts count summative grades (tests/assessments) as 40% or 50% of the grade and formative (independent work) as the remainder, so bombing on tests could be skewing the average. (Also, homework at some schools does not make up a large portion of the grade since it is not always clear whether it is Johnny's work or Johnny's mom's work, so even if he is sailing through homework it might not make a huge impact on his grade.) If he is just struggling on tests, is he anxious on tests? Unfocused?

Also, is he having difficulty in all areas or just specific ones (such as multiplication facts, fractions, decimals, geometry, ...)? Has the school switched textbooks, curriculum, and/or method of instruction? Did they use a lot of manipulatives (counters, linking cubes, etc.) up until this grade and now it is less hands-on? I can't imagine there was a ton of manipulative use in 4th grade (it was very rare when I taught 4th), but maybe there was and so now it is a change so your son is still working to move the concepts from being so concrete?

Typically if a kid has a learning disability in the area of math, there would have been signs before now. That's not to say there isn't one, but other issues probably need to be ruled out first. This close to the end of the year, there isn't much that can be done, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on in 6th. If it is the exact same issue after the end of the 1st 9 weeks (or however long your grading periods are), then you might need to pursue more.

I would work with him over the summer - if you can find out the main areas of concern, that's even better - but in a fun, positive way and for not too long at one time. Don't start to get into his head that, "Oh, math is just a little harder for you than the other subjects" because that might encourage his negative feelings about the subject. Does the school have a subscription to Study Island or any other website that works on math skills? If so, does the subscription go into at least part of the summer? There are a ton of websites that he can use to play math games (such as FunBrain) as well as those that you can use to print worksheets or other activities on his area(s) of weakness.
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Old 05-04-2010, 04:41 AM
 
Location: On a Slow-Sinking Granite Rock Up North
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magoomafoo View Post
The low grade is only in Math. He only cries when he is having trouble with the Math. He has never had any problems with any subject in the past, as I said, he was an A/B student until this year and his only low grade (below a B) is Math. He is a very good student and his only goal was to be on the honor roll. His Math grade is the only thing holding him back. I guess he could be depressed because he did not make honor roll. I have requested testing for Resource/Title but keep getting the answer "He does not and will not qualify" or "We don't have a slot for him in Title". His teacher is great-it's the principal and superintendent that seem to not give a hoot.

When did they introduce Everyday Mathematics in his class, and in what grade was he first exposed to it?

Last edited by reloop; 05-04-2010 at 04:42 AM.. Reason: added
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Old 05-04-2010, 05:14 AM
 
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I feel the education of a child is the patents responsibility. Most parents choose to educate their children through public school. If my child was failing math at public school and had a great teacher, I would check to see if a lot more kids in the class are failing. If not I would work with him myself. Why would you hold the school responsible? There is no law that says your child must be great in math. Below a B, is that a C? That is passing and is average. Personal responsibility must be shown too. My dd is in 5th grade and I would think something more is going on if she is crying about a math grade and having the other problems your son is having. I would go the the 4th, to see if he missed something their, the 5th to see what he is having trouble with now and the 6th grade teacher to see what he will be doing next yr and just woek with him over the summer.
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