Motivation - how do they get it if they don't already have it?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jules71, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Seems I'm finding out most of difficult child's problems are due to lack of motivation in school. I've known for awhile that he is not motivated. He is not engaged. He does not like school. He does not like his teacher. It's painful - especially since he is only in 3rd grade. I didn't think I would have to hear how much he hates school until at least junior high. He is smart, bright, and capable. He gets by.

    How do we motivate our kids to want to do well? Is that the million dollar question? What responsibility does the school share in motivating him or engaging him in learning?

    Here is a letter I got today about this issue - sorry in advance for the long post - just looking for some ideas or suggestions.


    As I think about your question, I believe that difficult child’s difficulties with taking any type of test are consistent with the difficulties he has when doing his class work and pencil/paper tasks. In working with him, I see resistance and lack of motivation when he is required to complete tasks that require rereading, writing responses, applying higher level thinking or making connections. difficult child is capable, a great reader, and quite knowledgeable about topics he is interested in. He just seems to lack the motivation and effort it takes to do many of the tasks required to be successful in the subject areas he doesn’t like. If the topic is something that he is interested in then he does put forth more effort. As he gets older there will be more content based curriculum requiring him to perform tasks with more than one step. Currently, he would like to skip all the organizational, developmental, and time consuming steps designed to help him practice and demonstrate mastery of a skill. Unfortunately, without completing and practicing those steps, his final product does not reflect quality or mastery.

    At this point in time, I do not think testing accommodations are the answer to inspiring motivation, effort, and the stamina to work hard. I do think that he needs to develop the desire from within himself to perform at a level that accurately reflects his ability. To accomplish those things, he may have to accept the consequences of failure and learn from the mistakes he makes along the way. When he is successful it will be important for him to understand why and apply those things to his performance on the next task. Developing the stamina to stick with a challenge is something that needs to be practiced and it comes from within a person. difficult child has to acknowledge and accept the time and effort it takes to be successful.

    As an advocate for difficult child, I believe that he needs to be given more opportunities to develop and accept responsibility for his own learning. He seems to be receiving lots of support from both home and school to encourage success. However, I am not seeing much growth toward developing his inner personal desire, to be an independent and reliable student. I would suggest that there be some discussion with his teachers regarding ways to develop his inner desire (effort and motivation) to become more successful. I would be happy to be part of that conversation.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I disagree with the decision not to test him. If he is bright, as it seems, there is a reason he is not trying. I don't feel it is a character flaw like a lack of motivation. There is a reason why he is struggling and I would take him for a private neuropsychologist (I don't think school testing is very good...and they have motivation (no pun intended) to do nothing). Can you give us more information on your child? Is he difficult at home? How was his early years (infancy, toddlerhood) and does he understand how to socialize with his same age peers?
  3. ML

    ML Guest

    I don't know the answer. I have always had to use external motivators. Little carrots like "finish your homework THEN you can make popcorn. Hate to say it but food often works but I try not to use it too much. I even have to sometimes do this for things like taking a shower. I'm working REALLY HARD at backing off and letting the natural consequences thing kick in more. He does care about what his teacher Mr. C thinks and a little praise from him goes a long way, at least short term to meeting his expectations. We can't continue to care more than they do forever.
  4. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I agree with testing him just to see if anything is going on.

    You could also try supplying him some motivation for doing well. TV, computer, cash bonus, etc.

    My daughter is bright and never had to do much to get good grades at school. I thought if she got a bad grade, she would be motivated to do better the next time. However, in 6th Grade, she just didn't do a lot of her homework and ended up with a 77 on her report card, instead of the 97 she could have easily had. She thought that was just fine and didn't see the point of doing the homework.

    Since she has defiant tendencies, we decided to give a "bonus" for good grades instead of coming down hard and removing all of her privileges, We said she had to get all A's or no bonus. Any A+'s got even more money. We made the bonus high enough that she was interested in getting it. For her, getting all A's only meant she needed to turn in her work. The next year, she struggled more in a class but actually did try to work on it at home, so we paid for a B. We were incentivizing the work, not really the grades, if that makes sense.

    To my surprise, once she got into high school, she is motivated to get good grades without being paid since they will count for college. We were still prepared to pay every quarter, but she somehow thinks only the semester grade counts. She had some B's for the quarter, but she makes sure she gets an A for the semester.

    I didn't really want to pay for grades, but I came to accept it as a real world motivation. husband is motivated to work hard so he can keep his job and gets a bonus if he and/or his company does really well.

    It worked for my daughter, but I can see how it wouldn't work, if there was an underlying problem. So testing is also a good idea.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Miss KT knew she would be grounded if she brought home anything less than a C on a report card. If she asked me for help "like a civilized person," I would help. She had really poor time management skills, coupled with a low attention span, with a heavy dash of "I don't wanna" sprinkled on top. The carrot and stick - external motivators - worked well; her grandmother paid her $5 for every A, and we usually would do something special with her if the grades were good. After she started driving, I pulled the car keys.

    I think the desire to skip all the boring stuff - the mastery of basic skills - is common in our kids. If you feel further testing is necessary, go for it. His current lack of motivation may be simply because he doesn't like his teacher; Miss KT did very well when she liked her teachers, and pretty much tanked when she didn't.

    It does get better. Miss KT is a sophomore in college, and even though she demonstrates some of the same behaviors (doesn't want to do the work if she doesn't like the teacher), her time management is better and she does get things done, mostly on time.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    This is the $6 million question.
    I think it is part of the brain's wiring in these kids.
    My son needs external motivation, either negative or positive, or both.
    Unless it is a video game ... :)
    I wish there were some probe I could insert into his brain to activate the motivation sector.
    When he was little, he did not like repeating tasks. For example, he would take a pre-test, then the real test, then the after-test. The pre-test ensured that the kids had studied the right material and could make it through the test.
    The real test was for a letter grade.
    The after-test was to endure that the kids retained the information.
    The Mom and Teacher test was one of patience and endurance when difficult child shut down on all but the pre-test, insisting that he had already taken his test and the rest were a waste of time. :)
    If anyone figures out the answer, please let me know!
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    He's bright?

    He's BORED.

    No one - easy child or difficult child - really wants to do boring busywork. And, honestly? Most homework is boring busywork.

    When I was in 2nd grade, at a private parochial school, I discovered that I didn't have to do my homework. The teacher thought I was the cat's meow, since I was already pushed ahead a grade, and I got away with it.

    I was pretty bright. And I was SUPER BORED. I hated homework - because I knew this stuff, why did I have to do it over and over and over and over?

    I'm still not as motivated as I could be, but at least I got over that. High school, though, was a nightmare where homework was concerned. If it was challenging, or a project, or I was interested? I got A's. Algebra, Geometry, Biology... YAWWWWWN. Not interested. Knew this stuff. I remember I was in Geometry, sleeping in class. Teacher woke me up. I looked up... "Mr. G? What do I get on tests?" "A's..." "LET ME SLEEP." And he was young enough, it intimidated him...

    Incentives helped me, too. My parents paid for college - IF I got A's. B's, I paid 25%, C's, I paid 75%, anything less I paid for. Lemme tell ya, after a couple quarters of paying $300 every 2 weeks? I got A's. (This was 20 years ago... No way I could afford that now... It would be more like $700 every two weeks, or more.)
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Incentives helped me, too. My parents paid for college - IF I got A's. B's, I paid 25%, C's, I paid 75%, anything less I paid for. Lemme tell ya, after a couple quarters of paying $300 every 2 weeks? I got A's. (This was 20 years ago... No way I could afford that now... It would be more like $700 every two weeks, or more.)

    I like this idea!
  9. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Thanks for the replies - I appreciate it!

    External motivators work well for some things sometimes - like go take your shower and they you can have ice cream. I do not know how to motivate him to use the effort he needs to do the tasks that bore him or he doesn't like or are more challenging at SCHOOL. I get the impression from the school that they don't need to help him with that. Is that right? They act like I should be ecstatic that he gets 15 mins of social skills training per day. I've been told (by my school) that he would not get that much at any other school, nor would he get school counseling which he gets once a week for 30 mins. They are basically doing nothing to address his lack of motivation. If he gets by in his academics, that is good enough for them.

    They had a system where the teacher was supposed to give him a sticker (that he could accumulate and turn in for free time minutes) whenever he turned in homework or worked hard. She wasn't giving him the stickers. We went round and round and round and the Sped teacher ended up changing the plan (since the teacher c/would not follow it) to the sped teacher writing on a calendar if he turned in homework and had zero behavioral incidents - then he would earn free time. I believe most of the problem is with the teacher- but I do see he doesn't want to work hard. He doesn't want to do something over than he's already done. He doesn't think practicing school work makes sense if he has already done it - it's a waste of time. The woman who wrote that letter already is saying she thinks he has too many supports at home and at school and he just needs to find his motivation within himself. So let's all back off and let him fail and see if he likes it. Does that sound like a good plan?

    You can see his diagnosis below. He has had behavior problems, mostly with same age peers and at home following rules. He gets in fights with friends at school. He is controlling, bossy, wants things his way, stubborn - smart, capable, could be a very good leader. The school counselor and sped teacher see some aspie traits, but the upper professionals don't. Went thru a period where he would have major rages and meltdowns when frustrated or wouldn't get his way. That seems to have tapered off since adding Intuniv. He is a very picky eater - hardly likes anything. His general disposition is grumpy, serious.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I have to say, I "see" some Aspie traits from your notes, too. Psychologists and psychiatrists seem to only be trained to pick up on the totally over-the-top Aspies who fit the stereotype.
    Even if you had a carved-in-stone diagnosis, though, I bet that one teacher still wouldn't give out the stickers. We had a math teacher like that last yr. OMG, I was so glad when we didn't have to deal with-her any more. And I'm sure she was relieved to not have to deal with-difficult child. She insisted that he just didn't care and was doing it on purpose. Yes, he does not like math and is not good at it. That turns into a major deal when you have an Aspie. That's the part she didn't get and couldn't care less whether it was true or not.
  11. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Do you think it's worth getting a diagnosis even if he is just an aspie lite as you call it? I don't think it will really change the way the school does things, but the school counselor thinks he would get more services if he had that diagnosis. I worry about the label for him and I am just not sure that would really solve our problems. No matter what you call it, we still have to find a way that works for him.
  12. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Ok, so I have been reading more and came across what I think the letter writer in my opening post was getting at: Intrinsic Motivation

    Definition: Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades.

    The motivation comes from the pleasure one gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task.

    An intrinsically motivated person will work on a math equation, for example, because it is enjoyable. Or an intrinsically motivated person will work on a solution to a problem because the challenge of finding a solution is provides a sense of pleasure. In neither case does the person work on the task because there is some reward involved, such as a prize, a payment, or in the case of students, a grade.

    Intrinsic motivation does not mean, however, that a person will not seek rewards. It just means that such external rewards are not enough to keep a person motivated. An intrinsically motivated student, for example, may want to get a good grade on an assignment, but if the assignment does not interest that student, the possibility of a good grade is not enough to maintain that student's motivation to put any effort into the project.

    A few theories by different researchers have determined that students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated if the following situations exist:
    1) The student can directly associate the educational result to the work they have invested into it.
    2) The student believes they are the reason they have achieved their result, and not just luck.
    3) The student truly has an interest in learning and perfecting the task.

    Interesting. Re. #3 - what if they are not interested? Sheeesh
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    First - I thought the letter you shared was very interesting. Good observations.

    Second - I recently saw a special in which they discussed evidence that seems to indicate that intrinsic motivation springs from successful relationships. A child is motivated because he has some sense of attachment to the adults in his life. IOW - a child is (or usually should be) naturally motivated to please his parents. A student is naturally motivated to please his teacher.

    We know all too well on this board that many of our difficult children struggle with relationships and attachment issues. They also seem to struggle with motivation. They do not see the point in putting forth any effort because they do not see the *value* of pleasing others.

    So the very fact that your child lacks motivation is itself an indicator of "GFGness".
  14. Jules71

    Jules71 Warrior Mom since 2007

    Good point Daisy! I believe that can definitely tie in. Thanks!

    I also read some research about ADHD not only being linked to areas in the brain that control attention and hyperactivity --but may also be related to abnormalities in the motivation and emotion centers of the brain due to lower levels of dopamine receptors and transporters in the accumbens and midbrain regions of those with ADHD. These are two key areas of the brain directly involved in processing motivation and reward. This may explain why focusing on tasks that are tedious, boring or uninteresting is so difficult for children and adults with ADHD.

    Interesting stuff.
  15. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Unlike your difficult child, mine LIKED school and she almost always liked her teachers...but she was still unmotivated The older she got, the worse it got. When she was younger, I could use external motivators (1st grade, you get a sticker every time you finish a worksheet. Ugh, for the days it was so simple!).

    When she did work, she did very well - esp, during the first two years she was taking Strattera. Eventually that wore off and she slipped again.

    Sometimes external motivators worked, sometimes we had to do things like take her cell phone until the next grading period and sometimes we just had to let natural consequences rule.

    I wish I had some majic words for you.

  16. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Interesting topic. Like others I have had lousy teachers for difficult child's and a few brilliant ones. The difference in classroom motivation seemd to follow the teachers lead. We did have that problem with easy child/difficult child and it turned out he was gifted and bored to death. Locally the gifted students only had one period together...but it was his best class. Only you know your child and what possible
    motivation might help. It's a challenge. DDD
  17. Star*

    Star* call 911


    First of all, I agree with MWM and others and think you should ask for testing eventually. Also I completely agree with Steps assessment that your son is bored. However the problem there is if it's required reading? How do you say everyone must read this, and you can read something you like? You can't really unless he's in self-containted class. Whole other ballgame.

    My second idea would be that YOU and the school both get people to observe him in class and turn in SCORE cards on what each thinks is the problems. When we had observations and tests done? I just went on advice of the school and they (sadly) had no clue but pretended to. Later I would find they had ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE and admitted such. My thought later in life would be - BUT YOU TESTED HIM? WTH? So yeah - seek your own professional to sit with theirs and see how worlds apart the scores are. Just a tip - two people seeing the same child may come up with totally different assessments. If I had THAT to do over again? I would have bet the farm literally on my person coming up with better ideas and solutions. Theirs was - He's hyper. Get ritalin or he goes home - expelled next incident. Nice. He had loads more problems they could scarcely understand and actually I was just able a month ago to finally let one of his teachers know what kind of hell he had lived through - THAT was an eye opener for her. I hope it helped someone elses kid, and honestly? Not to be mean but for how she treated him in gradeschool? I hope she felt something on her drive home, because I didn't hold back on descriptions.

    Motivators only work if you know WHAT the problem is. Can he see? Can he hear? When was the last time he had an eye test? When was the last time he had a hearing test? I think as far as tests go? I'd start simple. Once I know for sure he can see and hear? I'd work my way up to is it something where he is just doesn't want to do the work and is bored, or isn't comfortable in the class or has problems with the distractions in the classroom and struggles with external sounds like ADHD kids - for instance - my son is a fantastic creator - but can't sit and read in a quiet classroom because he literally can hear 100 sounds you can't. We've proven it to the school. The things he could hear sitting in a classroom while everyone was reading blew.their.minds. ie: water dripping in the sink, kid kicking a desk, someones stomach growling, flourescent light buzzing, kid playing with zipper on jacket, fan squeaking, tapping in pipes, kid in classroom across hall coughing, lawn mower outside, weed eater outside, trucks and cars hitting pothole outside, flag banging against flagpole, bird singing, chair scooching across floor in classroom 2 doors down, janitor pushing cart down hall, and the list went on and on - and stuff was so far removed it would have blown your mind - how to concentrate when you hear things like that? I'll never know. And he said he hears it all at once, not like he was sitting there listening for it.

    It could be that he fades in and out of dyslexia? I rather doubt it, but it's possible. And then there is just the good old Conduct Disorder itself that works against itself and has no clue why. That voice in his head he can't hear that says "Don't succeed, just shut down, don't listen to your teacher, you don't have to do this, this is dumb." Finding a way to motivate that isn't easy because it is different for every one of our kids. It's like finding the Holy Grail honestly.

    We did find that a Mentor in the classroom was very helpful and teachers RARELY object to an extra aid being there. It can be written into an IEP and paid for by the School District. This may be some of the reason why your teacher is resistant to "oh we don't need to train." because once a kid gets an IEP - they have slightly less control over behavioral issues, and a little more work for her. (guessing)

    In an IEP - you can ask for things like - different books to motivate him. If a certain book isn't motivating him to really read and he's totally into Pirates, and you and the teacher discuss it? You can agree that a book on Pirates could be read instead. Not ideal for conforming and it kinda opens a door to allowing special privleges - so be careful.

    The best thing you can do for your son at this point? Educate yourself to the teeth - and know what you are talking about, and asking for. Don't let them bully you. Don't let them BS you either. If you have any questions? WRITE THEM DOWN. Bring them here - take them to the Education forum and ask - Then go back armed to the 9's.

    Best of luck - You are now in the ring of Warrior Moms.
    Oh.......and -----you don't have to just get him interested in school about reading you know -

    I used to take Dude to BAM, and get him a hot chocolate, the local library and just let him wander and see just what kind of books interested him while I wandered myself through the KIDS section......I'd sit and read a kids book in the corner so I could keep and eye on him and just wait to see what your son picks out. It may be........It MAY be that his LEARNING type is different than the kids in the room he's in.

    Look up TYPES of learning. It may be that he likes to be READ TO - Or that he learns better by hEARING -

    There is an entirely new science on WAYS OF LEARNING - Hands on, visual, sight, - kinestetic (I think it's called) - so maybe when it comes to reading? - It may be that he LOVES the stories but LEARNS them BETTER when they are read out loud. I'd try a weekend library read-aloud story time or maybe there is one at the museum, work with the teacher and see if THAT helps him. It could be that he's just not a good VISUAL learner - but an AUDITORY learner.....and if his hearing is having problems due to allergies or hard of hearing? That could be the problem. Maybe it's just something simple like that.

    See if having a story READ to him keeps his interest longer than him reading it. If it does you may be onto something. - Ways of learning.

    My girlfriend is getting a masters in Diverse Education - (I think that's what it's called) and is going to go back to Grade school to start sorting kids that have problems - just for that reason. (slaps head) - maybe.....this is it?
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    A friend who is a part time teacher gave me this because she spotted her son on the pages, and also thought of my difficult child. I have scanned it in and put it on PhotoBucket.
    The book is THE FIRST-YEAR TEACHER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE, second edition, by Julia Thompson, published by Jossey-Bass Teacher.
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    oops Iguess I'm not very good at this. Moderators, want me to try again so I don't use so much bandwidth?
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    There are so many factors that impact motivation, esp to do school work and extra esp for a difficult child. It is my very strong opinion that our school system profligately wastes the talent and abilities of our smarter or gifted students. If I EVER in this lifetime or the next six lifetimes hear a teacher or educator say that they don't "need" to do anything extra for a smart child because they will "get it on their own" and figure out their own way of handling their abilities I will stand up on a table and scream loud enough that it will make ears ring in Asia.

    Our school system seems to be DESIGNED to help those who are on the lower end of the ability spectrum and somewhat help those with emotional or learning disabilities and other "mental health" related diagnosis's. But the really smart kid who is bored? Is left to his own devices.

    Do ANY of them comprehend that if you leave a smart child bored long enough you will have problems in a MAJOR way?? It seems like such a logical, rational observation but it just isn't part of the overall system of education in the US. I do NOT mean to slam all teachers/professionals in the educational system. There are a LOT of good ones who do all they can to help keep kids challenged and interested on whatever their level of ability is. It is the overall SYSTEM that I rail against, plus of course those teachers who refuse to even consider making modifications for smart kids.

    in my opinion this is a MAJOR reason that for at least a decade one of the population segments with the fastest growing rate of substance/alcohol abuse problems is gifted teens. There simply isn't much out there for a gifted child to get interested in. By 13 or 14 it is assumed that they can stay home alone while parents work even during the entire work week in the summer. There are jobs, some library programs etc... but they are few and far between and they do NOTHING for kids who cannot get there, get hired, or don't want to do these things. in my opinion the old adage "Idle hands are the Devil's playground" is excruciatingly true for gifted teens. Personally the ONLY reasons I stayed away from drugs/alcohol as a teen were the certainty that I would be caught AND that my older gfgbro loved them. I wanted to be as far opposite him as possible so I refused to even try them as a teen. Most teens don't have those beliefs.

    Another part of the problem of bored smart kids is that those who do the identifying of who is and isn't gifted are those who are LEAST likely to accurately guage it. Several studies have shown that children are correct about 90% of the time if asked to identify who the "smart" or gifted kids are; parents are right about 75% of the time; and teachers are correct less than 50% of the time. A major reason for teachers being far less accurate at identifying this is because they tend to say that the well behaved child who does the work and gets A's on everything is gifted. Reality is that the gifted child is highly likely to get poor grades because they don't want to do boring things and most assignments are boring to them. Either the gifted child doesn't do the work at all or they scribble down the first thing that comes to mind without putting thought into it and often without even fully reading the problem or question.

    If you were able to do algebra problems without much problem, would you be willing to complete a worksheet with 50 addition problems? How accurate do you think your answers would be? I know that I could get all the right answers but would be likely to write down any old answer just to get it over. I would say that this is a pretty typical and understandable reaction - and something that few adults will actually be faced wtih. We may face addition and subtraction while managing our finances, but those problems represent our money and that adds its own motivation to get the right answers. We are very rarely faced with the task of doing a bunch of problems for basically no reason and where the numbers represent nothing real in our lives. So why would our kids who are gifted/smart/capable be willing to put more effort into this?

    Did you know that many math textbooks have the problems arranged so that the first problems are easier and the last problems in a section are the hardest? Those of us who have kids with 504 plans and/or IEPs have a chance that parents of gifted kids without those plans do not. We can ask that our child do the last 5 or 10 problems on a worksheet and if they get them correct 90-100% they can skip the rest of the problems in that section. Many teachers will SCREAM about this, but it is very logical. Our kids have a chance to prove they know the material and to then find out if they need to work more on the concept because they don't understand it as well as tehy thought they did. It gives them a sense of control that many of them feel a strong need for. The teachers that I have encountered who were dead set against it mostly used the "logic" that it wasn't fair to the other students if one student didn't have to do teh entire assignment. But isn't that what an IEP does? Gives each child what they need? Many of the teachers also had the sheer unadulterated gall to say that if the gifted student didn't have to do all the assignment then there would be "nothing" for the child to do while the other kids did their work. I have been in IEP meetings and in meetings with teachers and parents of gifted students and have actually heard teachers in more than one school system use these arguments. After the "nothing to do" argument there was a full 60 seconds of shocked silence from the parents in one of the schools. We were flabbergasted!

    The answer to this is to have the child attempt to do the problems in the next lesson or to have a book or research project and materials to work on it at his desk.

    I am unsure why the person who wrote the email thinks that testing will not help. It may or may not have the answers you are looking for, but if you don't test and/or otherwise try to figure out what is going on in your son's mind when he is "unmotivated" to do his work then you will never be able to help him. in my opinion it is just the same as when a classmate asked our calculus teacher why we should learn it when we were not going to need it in any job that he would be interested in. The teacher responded that you never know what info you will need, what skills will be useful in the future. If you learn it and never need it, you haven't lost anything but if you need it and never used it then you might have a real problem at some point.

    Regardless of thsi person's opinion, I owuld push for complete testing. It is pretty common for very intelligent individuals to have learning disabilities. Chances are that the person (your difficult child, me, you, anyone who fits the category) thinks that everyone has teh same problem that they do, so they don't think to say anythign about it. I transpose numbers quite often. Until I was in college I didn't know that it didn't happen to everyone. I have since learned that this is pretty common among those who have learning disabilities. I also remember being totally baffled about why I could NEVER manage to write neatly whether I used printing or cursive. It frustrated me for YEARS and often was the only bad grade I got. After Wiz started showing problems and was diagnosis'd with disgraphia I learned that there was a real reason why my handwriting hoovered the Bermuda Triangle. It wasn't lack of effort, desire or practice - it was a real problem. I often think that our difficult children suffer from this on many issues. I do know that almost every report card in elem school discussed my lack of motivation to have neat handwriting.

    I don't know that you can really motivate your child to put more effort into his work, but I do know that until thorough testing is done you won't know if he truly isn't motivated to do the work or if there is something that makes him unable to do the work to whatever the standard is. Boredom is very likely a big factor, but it is probably not the only factor. MWM and others are right about private testing. If it is at all possible, find a private neuropsychologist or developmental pediatrician and have them do the testing. School will also do their own testing, but it is expensive and time consuming to provide accommodations and schools are very motivated to NOT provide these things.

    Why pursue a diagnosis? The counselor is very right that more services will be available with an aspie diagnosis or other autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Right now autism is a big deal in the world of those who have/work with/care about children. There are a LOT of programs that are open to autistic children (even aspies and those with high functioning autism) that are simply closed to other children. In many areas the school, doctor's offices and counselors will provide social skills training, but ONLY to children who are diagnosis'd with an autism diagnosis. Insurance also pays for certain things for each diagnosis and right now an autism diagnosis of any kind opens doors that are not just shut but triple locked to children who don't have the diagnosis.

    I would esp push for a private Occupational Therapist (OT) assessment for sensory issues. If your child is overwhelmed by sensory input, like Star's son with all the noises that no one else heard, he is highly unlikely to be able to do his work well because he simply cannot concentrate. It doesn't have to be hearing, whatever he is sensitive to may be making things worse. Treatment for this can make HUGE differences.

    There is nothing wrong with offering rewards to him for doing his work well. Adults who do a good job get paid, get bonuses and often get other perks. Rewarding a child for putting forth the extra effort that is required, esp when the child is bored and/or has some type of problem that makes doing his job well and behaving well at school, seems pretty logical to me. Would YOU go to work, put up with the hassles, invest your energy in getting things done and done right, etc... if you were not getting a reward of some kind? I wouldn't. As school is a child's job, it makes sense to put something in place to make it worth his while, Know what I mean??

    One of the things that really helped Wiz when he saw NO point in doing ANYTHING for his main teacher in first grade (and again in other years) was to put school in perspective as a game. pretend you are interested, make it look like you are paying attention, do what they ask as soon as they ask and with-o fuss, give the teacher what she wants and you will find pockets of time in the school day where you can read your book with-o being bothered. My dad had brought back a copy of the first Harry Potter book from England at that time and we let Wiz take it to school to read in those bits of time when his work was done and done well enough that the grades were B or better and everyone else was still working on the assignment. We made it sort of a 'spy' game in that the goal was to not let the teacher really notice he wasn't working and that his "mission" was to get the work done correctly and then get as much reading time as he could.

    After testing is done there may be other ways to help motivate him based on what challenges he is experiencing. I hope this helps, sorry if I rambled a lot. It is something we struggled with for years in regard to Wiz.