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Old 01-14-2008, 11:52 AM   #1
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Default Help me help my daughter (schoolwork problems)

Hi ladies. I need help. My 9-year-old daughter (in 3rd grade) is having a horrible time with her spelling words this year. We study, and study, and study, and study, and she seems to have them all memorized. Then she goes to school and takes the test and gets anywhere from a C to an F. Her attitude is quickly deteriorating. She hasn't said it, but I know she's thinking "Why bother studying at all?" Frankly, I'm starting to think that way, too.

Although she has been diagnosed with ADHD, it isn't bad enough that we feel the need to medicate her. She's a good student who doesn't disrupt class or anything. She never gets in trouble, and she got all B's on her last report card.

When she came home today, she was practically crying when she told me how badly she had done on last Friday's spelling test. She got a 40%. I absolutely couldn't believe it. I mean we really, really studied hard last week. I just don't understand it. She said "Mom, I get really stressed when I take the tests." Well, I don't know what to say to that. She has to take the test.

She's already somewhat of an "outsider" among the other kids (actually, just among the girls - but that's another looooooong post), so I really don't want to ask for any special treatment for her in regard to taking the test.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, ladies. I wanted to cry with her today when she told me about the test. I am going to call the teacher tomorrow and set up an appointment to discuss the issue, but in the meantime, I just needed to talk to someone here. Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me that will help me help her.

P.S. It doesn't help (the 9-year-old) that my 12-year-old daughter is a straight-A student in 6th grade (with very little effort, I might add).
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
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Sounds like she is having anxiety before the test...

maybe teach her some meditation techniques - deep breathing. It might help calm her down (from the anxiety) and focus.

Good Luck.
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:07 PM   #3
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(((Hugs to you)))
My DD had some major issues in 4th grade with anxiety and was pretty much failing in math. She never had any problems before and was at least an average student. We ended up putting her in summer school which didn't help either. This year, I switched teachers after talking to the principal and my DD is a COMPLETELY different student! She is excelling at math, and her reading scores went up as well. Keep your appointment with her teacher, and make sure the lines of communication are open with the school. Does the teacher know about her ADHD? They may be able to make special arrangements for your DD so that she could have extra time to take tests, maybe that would take some pressure off of her so that she can relax, take her time and concentrate on the questions. If she is anything like my DD, she probably knows the material, just freezes up when she is under time pressure. If you would like to talk more, feel free to PM me.
I wish you luck, and keep doing what you are doing...you are a great mom!
Let us know how she makes out!
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:27 PM   #4
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i was just thinking does the teacher know of a different way of taking the test? or maybe a different way to study too? I wonder if working with one of her classmates might help?
just thinking...
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:31 PM   #5
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ask the teacher if your dd can use colored papers to take her tests. blue, yellow, and pink papers can help her to focus. It's not a cure, but it sure can help.
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:34 PM   #6
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Maybe less studying would help? I know that seems a bit backwards, but an excess of studying or cramming often builds up one's anxiety prior to taking a test. As long as she knows the material, perhaps less studying and finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety both at home and school would help. Many students perform poorly on tests due to anxiety even though they know the material and do well on homework tasks, etc.

You should also ask the teacher if she'll allow your daughter to do a retest or some other extra credit work to help bring up her grade. It will give your DD an opportunity to show the teacher she knows the material.

Do you have any alphabet stamps that your DD can use? It might be a fun way to study if you read off the words from her spelling list and she spells them out with stamps. When she's at school taking her test, she can imagine stamping out each letter in the word. Just a suggestion. I always stamp stuff when I'm feeling stressed out.
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:40 PM   #7
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You really need to speak with her teacher - she may be able to help ease the stress.

Also, how is your daughter studying? My middle guy (now 12) hated writing, so writing words to practice was not a great option for us. We used magnetic letters on the fridge for a while. Or writing BIG in colorful markers. Using an alphabet stamp set would be a great way to go. What about typing?

Since your daughter is learning the words, then stressing (and losing them), how is her spelling in her writing? Is she spelling things correctly in non-stressful situations?

Maybe have "pop quiz" at home (odd times), to see if that helps her.

Give her a hug. Tell her this does not define her.

Kathy
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:48 PM   #8
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I agree with Kathy's suggestions. As a first grade teacher I am always looking for new ways to suggest to parents on how to study. One thing I thought of --when does she get her list? If you can get it the Friday before this may help to break the studying down. For example, on Friday and Saturday she can write them out 3 times each. On Monday you can quiz her and see what words she is having trouble with. On Tues/Wed have her say the word, spell the word and then write the word and you check it. On Thursday, give her the actual quiz. Writing them with different mediums is always fun--one center in my class is pen, pencil marker and crayon--the students write the spelling word 4 times, but with each medium. The kids love this center. Stamping is a great way also. Don't spend so much time each night that you stress each other out. 15-20 minute should be all.

I hope this helps! Doing homeword at night can be so stressful!

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Old 01-14-2008, 12:52 PM   #9
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I'm a retired teacher and the mom of an ADHD kid so I know both sides of this one. If your DD has been classified and has an IEP there should be modifications for her regarding any test-taking. Work with the teacher. Many children can spell words out loud yet not be able to write them correctly. She could take an oral spelling test. You and the teacher and your child can work together and take the stress out of the situation. Good luck.
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:12 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for all your suggestions and support. It is very much needed today.
Mediation/relaxation - I hadn't even thought of that. She is the kind of child who would be open to trying it.

I think several of you are right about her feeling "pressure," and not handling that feeling very well. Now that I think of it, she gets really anxious during the 3-minute timed math papers she brings home each night. She used to look up at the clock every 30 seconds, but she finally stopped doing that.

Barbara, I hear what you're saying about a "different way to take the test". Believe me, I've done my share of studying the different ways kids learn (this DD was in sensory integration therapy for 2 years, and boy did I learn a lot). I will talk to the teacher about that, but I fear she may have to undergo "testing" to see if she qualifies for such special treatment.

Bessie: Wow! I never would have thought of that! Different colored papers, huh? Very interesting! I will talk to her teacher and the special ed teacher (who I know very well from Girl Scouts) about this.

Cryth: I do try to make studying fun, and not a "drill". I even made up a song to the tune of "B-I-N-G-O" to help her remember how to spell "neighbor" - and yes, she got that one right on the test (and it was by far the hardest word, lol). I like the stamping idea! She is my little stamper (12-year-old DD could take it or leave it).

Koopdeedoo: My daughter hates writing, too, so I let her just spell the words out loud for me. I'm thinking there's a little brain wire misfiring between her verbal and writing skills. Her spelling in her writing (short stories, etc.) isn't very good either. I have been meaning to talk to the teacher about that, too, because I really don't now how good it should be. Yes! I do the "pop quiz" think in the car and around the house. I'll just call out "Cara, spell 'scream' ". And she does, without a problem.
I like your idea of big colorfl markers, because I'm really starting to think that she actually needs to practice writing them instead of verbally spelling them for me. Practice just like the test is going to be, but I can still make it fun by letting her use different colors and different writing utensils (even stamps).

I know there are some kids out there that can take a test on a computer and whiz right through it and get every answer right, but when a teacher calls on them, they are unable to verbally give the answer, even though they know it. SAme thing with writing. I am very much aware that different kids learn in different ways. However, with 32 kids in her class (I know, ridiculous, isn't it?), I don't know how much "accommodating" (did I spell that right, lol?) they can or will do for her.
Don't worry! I will do all I can for her, and I know the right people to go to. I could write a book about all I've done to help her in the past. A no-preservative, no-artifiical colors, no artificial flavors diet (man, that is HARD!), 2 years with a psychologist, 2 years of twice-a-week occupational therapy, and more. Finding the help she needs now should be a cakewalk compared to all that I've done in the past.

Thank you, ladies. I knew I would find the support and help I needed here! Cyber hugs to all of you!

Keep writing! I'm open to more suggestions.
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harley91 View Post
I agree with Kathy's suggestions. As a first grade teacher I am always looking for new ways to suggest to parents on how to study. One thing I thought of --when does she get her list? If you can get it the Friday before this may help to break the studying down. For example, on Friday and Saturday she can write them out 3 times each. On Monday you can quiz her and see what words she is having trouble with. On Tues/Wed have her say the word, spell the word and then write the word and you check it. On Thursday, give her the actual quiz. Writing them with different mediums is always fun--one center in my class is pen, pencil marker and crayon--the students write the spelling word 4 times, but with each medium. The kids love this center. Stamping is a great way also. Don't spend so much time each night that you stress each other out. 15-20 minute should be all.

I hope this helps! Doing homeword at night can be so stressful!

Missy
Ah! Yes, I think I'll ask for the list on Friday instead of waiting for it on Monday. And again with the different writing utensils! Why didn't I ever think of that?! She's such a tactile girl, too!
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maggiemeow View Post
I'm a retired teacher and the mom of an ADHD kid so I know both sides of this one. If your DD has been classified and has an IEP there should be modifications for her regarding any test-taking. Work with the teacher. Many children can spell words out loud yet not be able to write them correctly. She could take an oral spelling test. You and the teacher and your child can work together and take the stress out of the situation. Good luck.
An oral test! Oh, perhaps the teacher will allow that. She spelled all the words really well for me on the night before the test.

She has not been "classified" as ADHD and does not have an IEP. The teacher knows she's ADHD, but it's not in her file anywhere, and none of her teachers in the past ever felt it was an issue at all. However, I know that sometimes as ADHD kids get older, it does become an issue. OK, I can see I have a lot of calls to make tomorrow.

Thanks again, ladies!
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:34 PM   #13
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My son when in 2nd grade had a problem with spelling.
Knew the words, just couldn't get them to the paper. The teacher let him take the test with the class and would then call him up later and redo the ones orally that he had missed. She did this until the problem faded away.

Talk to your teacher, I am sure he/she will be more than happy to help ya'll find a solution. Best of Luck to you and your child.
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:58 PM   #14
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Bessie: Wow! I never would have thought of that! Different colored papers, huh? Very interesting! I will talk to her teacher and the special ed teacher (who I know very well from Girl Scouts) about this.

one color will likely work better for her than the others. I suggest you start with yellow, then pink, then blue (but that's just me).

if you have trouble finding her notebook paper in colors, you can also get colored transparencies (also super for reading) to lay over her work.
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:28 PM   #15
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There are many options open to you. Public school is great for some kids, for others it's not. I hope some of the previous suggestions work for you. If not, public school is only one of many choices. Charter schools, private schools, home schools...there are many wonderful avenues for kids to get an excellent education.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:15 AM   #16
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does she have problems in other subjects like reading or writing? if so have her tested for learning disabilities. schools tend to not want to give help for just spelling as it's not a major subject area. If a child need accomodations though, i'd hate to deny that just because of other kids. the teacher could do something discretely.

we have the same issue here, and two brothers who make great grades with little effort, but dd has learning disorders in math and written expression,which includes spelling.

the way schools have kids 'study' spelling has never worked for dd. write them over and over, write sentences, just doens't work.

writing in a tray of salt worked. they spell it out loud while writing in the salt and that makes it multi sensory and more likely to stick with them. spelling it out loud worked some too.

the best method though, has been to make flash cards on index cards w e get the words on friday so she can make the cards on the weekend. She writes one word per card, and breaks the words into syllables. if she needs help we help her. Each syllable is a different color. our OT suggested this and amazingly, she went from failing spelling tests to a's and b's! it still doesn't stick with her too much past the test, but at least she's passing the tests.
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Old 01-15-2008, 04:07 AM   #17
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does she have problems in other subjects like reading or writing? if so have her tested for learning disabilities. schools tend to not want to give help for just spelling as it's not a major subject area. If a child need accomodations though, i'd hate to deny that just because of other kids. the teacher could do something discretely.

we have the same issue here, and two brothers who make great grades with little effort, but dd has learning disorders in math and written expression,which includes spelling.

the way schools have kids 'study' spelling has never worked for dd. write them over and over, write sentences, just doens't work.

writing in a tray of salt worked. they spell it out loud while writing in the salt and that makes it multi sensory and more likely to stick with them. spelling it out loud worked some too.

the best method though, has been to make flash cards on index cards w e get the words on friday so she can make the cards on the weekend. She writes one word per card, and breaks the words into syllables. if she needs help we help her. Each syllable is a different color. our OT suggested this and amazingly, she went from failing spelling tests to a's and b's! it still doesn't stick with her too much past the test, but at least she's passing the tests.
I love these ideas! Writing in a tray of salt especially sounds like a winner for her. She needs a LOT of sensory stimulation, and that's a great way to get that while studying at the same time.

I called the teacher at 7:45 this morning and set an appointment for 1:00 tomorrow. I briefly told her about how my daughter absolutely knew the words on Thursday night, and that my jaw hit the floor when she brought home that test with a 40% on it. The teacher thanked me for bringing this to her attention (are there actually parents who wouldn't do so?) and said she would gather some materials between now and tomorrow so that we could talk about ways to help her. She's a great teacher (my older DD had her three years ago) and I'm sure she will do all she can to help my daughter. I'll come back and let you know what I decide to do.

Thanks again for all these great suggestions, ladies. I knew I would find help here, and I'm so grateful. It's so nice to "talk" to other moms whose kids have learning problems, and also with teachers. You guys are the best!
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Old 01-15-2008, 05:50 AM   #18
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Let us know how the appt with the teacher goes!!

Someone suggested writing in salt...maybe get some sandpaper, let her write in crayon on that? Or Bazzill cardstock!

And flashcards that she is in charge of - love that one!

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Old 01-16-2008, 04:43 PM   #19
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Hi again, ladies. I met with the teacher today. My first question to her was "Do you think she has a learning disability?" I mean, I was really starting to think that she did. The teacher very quickly assured me that she does not think so at all. I asked her about how she gives the test. Is there a certain amount of time given for each word, etc.? I asked this because my daughter says she feels "stressed" when taking the test. She said "No. I say the word, and then I say the word in a sentence, and then I say the word again, and then they write the word. I wait and watch, making sure each child has finished before I go on to the next word." She said that if she starts the next word and a child isn't finished, they are supposed to raise their hand to let her know, and then she'll stop and wait. She said that she hasn't noticed my daughter being the last one to finish, or ever having to wait for her to finish before going on to the next word.
She asked me if maybe my daughter was putting pressure on herself because she wants to "please mom", because the teacher has noticed that my daughter does have that kind of personality - she wants to please (ha! She wouldn't have thought so if she'd been here for last night's tantrum).
She gave me some sheets with tips on different ways to study the words. I told her about all of your suggestions, and she thought they were great! She said that "using color definitely does make some kids' brains 'wake up' and function better". She also nodded when I talked about writing in the tray of salt. She thought they were all good ideas.
I did tell her that this week I'm having my daughter write the words when we practice at home, instead of just doing them orally. I'm also going to (unbeknownst to her) time her on how long it takes her to write them.
This week's list is the hardest yet.
She surprised me today when she simply wanted to write the words, and not try any of the suggestions you guys gave me. She did, however, ask to sit on the couch with the tablet of paper on her lap instead of sitting at the kitchen table. I allowed her to do that. She only missed 4 words, compared to the 9 she intially missed when we started on Monday (and the 6 she missed yesterday), so we are definitely improving each day! Of course, the true test will be on Friday....(Oh darn, I just remembered that I forgot to ask if we can get the list on Friday! Another call tomorrow.... lol).

I really, really appreciate all of your advice, suggestions and support. I was really getting depressed over this situation until I put out my post and got such an awesome response. Thank you all!
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Old 01-17-2008, 09:22 AM   #20
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Good luck!
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Old 01-17-2008, 11:33 AM   #21
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Donna, what has seemed to work for us is a couple different things. My DD is in first grade and what I do with her is I quiz her on her spelling words and she writes them just like a test.

I say the word, use it in a sentence, say the word again and have her write it on the paper.

Another trick is my DH and I both look over her spelling words and make a sentence (we each do this a couple times) deliberately misspelling some of the words, and she has to spot the ones that are spelled wrong and correct them.

She even comes to us now and requests that we do the "wrong sentences".

Sounds like you've got a good start! Good luck!
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Old 01-17-2008, 12:57 PM   #22
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Oooh! I like this idea, too! I'm sure she'd love to catch me spelling something "wrong". Thanks!

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Donna, what has seemed to work for us is a couple different things. My DD is in first grade and what I do with her is I quiz her on her spelling words and she writes them just like a test.

I say the word, use it in a sentence, say the word again and have her write it on the paper.

Another trick is my DH and I both look over her spelling words and make a sentence (we each do this a couple times) deliberately misspelling some of the words, and she has to spot the ones that are spelled wrong and correct them.

She even comes to us now and requests that we do the "wrong sentences".

Sounds like you've got a good start! Good luck!
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