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MomTalk.com November 24, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Challenge May Be a Better Solution: Sylvia Rimm on Raising Kids

Q. My oldest child will be 8 years old in August, and I've chosen to give him an additional year in second grade. While he's very bright and eager to learn, it seemed like he didn't show up mentally for school this year. He displayed conduct that was very disrupting to his classmates. His pediatrician and teachers said he has classic Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); however, when tested by counselors at school, they found no ADD. Since prekindergarten, teachers have said he's immature. Everyone, with the exception of his first grade teacher, has recommended retention.

By Sylvia Rimm

Q. My oldest child will be 8 years old in August, and I've chosen to give him an additional year in second grade. While he's very bright and eager to learn, it seemed like he didn't show up mentally for school this year. He displayed conduct that was very disrupting to his classmates. His pediatrician and teachers said he has classic Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); however, when tested by counselors at school, they found no ADD. Since prekindergarten, teachers have said he's immature. Everyone, with the exception of his first grade teacher, has recommended retention.

His first grade teacher embraced his love of research and allowed him to read his encyclopedias each evening and present a three-to-five-page oral report to his classmates every day. His grades were off the charts in first grade, but this year they're quite the opposite. He was tested for the gifted and talented program; the teachers agreed that considering his tested reading level, his grades should be straight A's. Is maturity alone reason enough to keep a child back when the grades are passing, but aren't up to his potential?

My other problem is that his sister (11 months younger) will be in second grade this upcoming school year. Could I be creating a situation where competition complicates their relationship? They get along as most siblings do -- loving one another, but at times fighting like cats and dogs. My daughter has made honor roll each of her nine weeks in first grade. I'm so confused, because I never planned for two siblings to be in the same grade at the same time. I've jokingly called them my "Irish Twins."

I've never been totally convinced that public education is what my children need to flourish on their journey of learning and have explored Montessori-type learning environments and considered home schooling.

Also, I have a 3-year-old daughter right behind her brother and sister with much energy and an inquisitive personality. Any advice would be appreciated.

A. Because your son had an amazingly good first grade year, and because his test grades for gifted and talented and reading are high, retaining your son in second grade would seem counterproductive. Most first graders cannot read encyclopedias and write reports. His poor performance and his behavior problems this year could more likely be related to lack of challenge than to immaturity. The gifted and talented coordinator may be able to assist you in finding an appropriate path for your son to receive positive attention for his abilities. Preparing independent reports to share with the class seemed to excite him in first grade and may continue to motivate him in third grade. Opportunities to read to younger children, to do especially challenging spelling or writing assignments, or to pursue special interests in social studies or science could reclaim his engagement in school. Your son should be evaluated by a psychologist who specializes in gifted children, and that professional may be able to assist the teacher in providing special curriculum for your son.

Having siblings in the same grade is never ideal, but in your case, there seems no good reason to do this. It's true that your daughter's excellent performance may be having a negative impact on your son's achievement, but a psychologist could help you with that problem as well. Sibling rivalry between a perfect sister and an underachieving brother is quite common.

There would be no need to change schools or home-school your son if you could detect what's gone wrong this year. As to your concern about Attention Deficit Disorder, let me repeat what I often say to audiences when giving presentations, "An attention-addicted child who feels attention-deprived often behaves exactly like an ADHD child."

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at www.sylviarimm.com.



Categories: School-Age, Children,


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