Good news, bad news

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Sep 26, 2007.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    So, I found a empty pkg of boys' underwear on the kitchen table today. difficult child clearly found it in his room and is wearing it. Yaaay!

    Bad news ... he got Bs, Cs, and a D on his mid-term report card. He ended last yr with-all As and Bs. He's been tutored at Sylvan all summer, just so this wouldn't happen.

    I'm going to email the teacher and ask if we should be alarmed or if she's trying to get him to work harder.

    Meanwhile, no computer or video games ... husband can break that to difficult child. I'm sick of being the bad guy.

    Thank you all so much for your support. I really appreciate it.
  2. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    It looks like I have some catching up to do regarding the underwear.

    I'm so sorry about difficult child's grades. I understand how frustrating it is when you know your difficult child is capable of so much more than he is producing. Are the C's and the D because he isn't doing some of the homework?

    I used to try to get difficult child 1 to do his homework. No matter what the consequences, he still refused to do it. We tried taking away his computer, the one thing that motivates him. It didn't work. I hope you have much better luck than we did!!!

    I know what you mean about always being the bad guy. I was tired of it too. I talked to husband about it. Now, when we have to tell difficult child 1 about the negative consequences caused by his poor choices, we tell him together. This has made it a bit easier for me.

    difficult child 1 knows that husband and I now operate as a team. He is no longer able to use his ODD tactics successfully. This in itself is a major accomplishment!!!

    I'll be thinking of you and hoping that difficult child accepts the consequences as a result of his grades without "punishing" you. WFEN
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Glad he is wearing the underwear! I'm sorry he is struggling at school. Do you think it's his effort? or something else? I hope husband will break the news so you don't have to be the bad guy! Hugs.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Apparently his homework is fine but the classwork is not. Don't know why yet.
    We'll arrange a mtng with-the teacher.

    Tomorrow easy child and I meet with-the child psychiatric alone. I hope we cover some ground.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Terry, a couple of thoughts.

    I doubt whether a teacher would grade a child low, in order to make him work. As I understand it, the grades SHOULD be based on the child's performance either on an absolute scale or relative to the other kids. If the class get all As, then the teacher is making the work too easy. if the class get all Ds, the teacher needs to find a better way to communicate the lesson to the kids. What a teacher aims for is a spread of scores to indicate the range of abilities. At some level if she has taught well, there should be no Ds or Es; but in some grading systems, SOMEONE has to get the top mark and someone has to get the bottom mark, the top is called A and the bottom one is called E (or F). And all the others get graded in between. I don't like that system either - it is too hard on the kid coming last, who may have actually turned in a good paper, just not done as well as everyone else.

    So the marks - I suspect they are a true reflection of how he's going academically, and that's not good.

    Before banning computer games entirely, I would sit and think. And talk to difficult child as well as the teacher. Find out EXACTLY what the problem is.
    Example: I got bad marks in Grade 7 because for the three weeks right before the exams, I was absent from school with measles. I missed a vital three weeks with work which seemed to comprise a large part of the paper for maths & science, my two best subjects. I didn't fail, but my previous high marks were reduced to a bare pass. On the basis of those exam marks, I was dropped down two grades for the following year, which was ghastly. Of course, the kids in the lower grades got poorer teachers and it made it very hard to get out of the low grades.

    So find out both from difficult child (what he thinks is the reason) and the teacher.

    Then consider - Aspies/autistic kids tend to use computer games as a way to wind down and to mentally recharge. They also learn other skills in the process. Of course, our kids over-play these games and need to be rationed, but the games can be used as an incentive also, especially if you get the kid's cooperation.

    I went through this with difficult child 1 and we're currently going through this with difficult child 3. Interestingly, both BF1 & BF2 use their computer games as a wind-down from work. BF1 especially uses the games to keep his mind 'on edge' and ready to fire. And yes, I suspect there's a bit of Aspie in both.

    Back to your difficult child - I wouldn't ban games completely, but I WOULD suggest rationing games. You need difficult child's cooperation in this, for this to work. And remember - what is your aim? To help him boost his grades. Never lose sight of that. It is frustrating when you see them playing games (brilliantly) and yet you know their grades have slipped. You want to scream at them, "If you put as much effort into your schoolwork as you do in your games, you would be a Grade A average!" But it doesn't work like that.
    Chances are, if you ban games outright you will make the problem worse because you will be taking away something he uses as a coping strategy.

    So talk to the teacher. If she says, "He's just not staying on task in class," then taking away games at home won't do a thing. It certainly won't get him to stay on task in class - he could be getting too disturbed or too distracted by the other kids. Also, we know how a kid who does well in one class can do badly in another, and vice-versa. There are so many factors - finding the specific factor and working on it is best, but not always easy.

    But talk to difficult child and ask him what he feels he needs to do, in order to get better grades. You've already tried coaching - so why didn't that work? Again, ask difficult child how well he felt the coaching helped - or didn't help. And why. Remember, HE is the one who will benefit from getting answers here, this is his problem too and the parent's task is to help him learn to solve his own problems. It's never too soon to start.

    If you feel that maybe limiting his games at least would give him more opportunity to study, I suggest several things -

    1) Negotiate WITH your son to find a range of times he can live with. A good start is to ask him how many hours a day he feels he should be able to play games. Trust me, they always grossly underestimate how much time they spend on gaming. This is what I did with difficult child 1 and it was lovely to see it backfire on him - he loudly announced, "I want to play for six hours a day!" thinking he was being outrageous, so I immediately pinned him down to times - he could play for an hour before school, then once school finished at 3.30 pm he could play until 7.30 pm. After that - games went off. And when he began to go into withdrawal, he realised how much time he'd been spending on games, and rationed himself - my ultimate goal.

    2) Find ways he can learn, in a computer game format. What are his weak subjects? How bad is it? Why (do you think really) does he have a problem in this area? How much would you spend on coaching this to get him back on track?
    Then find a computer-oriented system (no human interface) that costs that amount or less, and trial him on it, instead of his computer game time.

    When I was home from school as a kid because I had measles, no work was sent home for me. If there had been work, I would have happily done it and still been learning. But times have changed.

    When difficult child 3 was home from school, I asked for work to be sent home. He did it all very quickly at home and I had to scrounge for more. As I supported him doing his homework, I noticed the subjects he had most trouble with, I talked to him about them and realised - he had HUGE gaps in his knowledge. IN class he could fudge to a certain extent, but it had become such a serious problem that he was too far behind and it was now showing. On top of this, he had always been way ahead in maths, so far ahead that he stagnated constantly as the rest of the class caught up. He lost his early advantage due to lack of actual lessons in the subject and his grades began to slip. In fact, as I really looked closely at his class report, I could see that his marks were moderately high in the subjects he was personally ahead in, and slipping badly in the others. This doesn't look too bad - at least he's passing maths. But in fact, he was doing very badly, because the maths he DID know, he had learned at home and not at school. In fact, he was learning NOTHING in the classroom.

    Punishing him would have done absolutely nothing. His Geography knowledge was woeful - he could barely recognise a globe as representative of the Earth. He had no idea of countries, distances, locations, different peoples, culture - nothing. While he had written a passable report on Japan, he had got it all from books and simply quoted them. He could not relate it to anything in his life.
    I bought a copy of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" and let him loose on it. I was a bit disappointed because the earlier version we had seemed to have more scope, but it turned out to be a good start. By the time he'd worked his way through the game, he had a concept of the world in his head that he could relate to. he could tell me the capital of various countries, find them on the globe, talk about other interesting things relevant to that country. And most important - when news came on TV that mentioned a country he'd heard of, he stopped and paid attention for the first time in his life.
    This is just an example, but we followed through with other subjects too, including his skill areas. He'd been left to stagnate and his interest in science and maths was waning. We needed to revive it to give him some hope that education was a good thing.

    Basically, we taught him at home, using the times he was sent home from school; holiday times; weekends and other times. We reduced his computer game time but didn't eliminate it and instead replaced it with computer-based educational games. Documentaries on TV are good too, especially ones aimed at kids. Or really interesting, graphic ones like the ones we get from BBC.

    Long before we pulled difficult child 3 from mainstream, we had put in place (without realising it) our own home-schooling system. We would have (and could have) kept this up with him still in mainstream, but for us there were also other problems.

    By involving him in this, he 'owns' and accepts the reduced game time because HE agrees with it. It was a mutual compromise. If we'd simply enforced it, he would have been resentful and we would have been constantly fighting. Instead, he would willingly toddle off to the computer and occasionally dash out to announce excitedly that he'd solved another puzzle in the games. And most importantly, he was learning.

    Now he knows enough to think about what he learns and ask questions. And what questions! About organic chemistry, about the history of science, about palaeontology, about scientific method - and even more basic questions such as WHY we know that the area of a triangle is half the base times the vertical height (you copy the triangle, mirror-reverse it and put it next to the first - and you get a parallelogram whose area is one side multiplied by the perpendicular height measured from that side - the triangle is exactly half that).

    We never had that before.

    Good luck with this one, I hope you get some enlightenment from your talk with the teacher. But have a couple of talks with difficult child too, including one BEFORE you talk to the teacher, so you can compare notes.

  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Marg.
    difficult child gets crazy when he plays computer games. It creates useless electrical activity in his frontal lobes. He's already got ADHD, which also involves the frontal lobes. I keep him on a strict schedule, timed with-the microwave, to help him transition (another one of his serious issues). It's much healthier for him to play Legos, color, read, and do sports. And in fact, he enjoys those things. He's just so addicted to computer and video games it's hard to rein him in once he starts.

    I wrote a note to the teacher and suggested we meet Tues. I'm sure it will be interesting.
    And yes, I will talk to difficult child long b4 then.