Okay, faithful readers–here’s the deal: TRC brought his report card home yesterday. It’s a very good report card. Plenty of good stuff going on with him. He’s a very bright boy, and we’re very proud of him.
There’s one area that he just seems to be struggling with. Not struggling with as in “he’s doing poorly and is in danger of failing,” but more along the lines of “he’s doing okay, but really could/should be doing so much better.” If this were in an area like Math or English, I’d be less concerned–for me, the important thing is that he tries his best, no matter what the results. However, we’re struggling with an area where it’s all about effort: following directions, staying on task, completing work in a timely manner, being neat in assignments. That sort of thing. It’s something that I think is sort of fundamental to future success in school. If you can’t be focused and stay on task and follow directions, no amount of smarts is going to make up for it sooner or later.
The thing is, TRC is likely bored in class a lot of the time. He’s really far ahead in most areas, and so what everyone else is learning isn’t new to him. He gets to go to advanced classes at certain times–and he talks to us about how much he enjoys those, and how he thinks they’re fun. But that’s just some of the time. The rest of the time, there’s a good chance he’s bored. And so he talks to other kids, he doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention, he rushes through easy assignments. That sort of thing.
So what do we do as parents to help him through this?
Here’s my current plan. He gets homework once a week. It’s nothing terribly difficult, so he rushes through it so he can go watch TV. I’m thinking of having him have a set amount of time each day after school where he works on homework or other work (I bought him some workbooks a while ago–he might do some things from them). Nothing too long–probably about 20-30 minutes. Denisa or I will give him specific directions, and then he’ll have to stay on task and get the assignment done to an acceptable level. After the time’s up, if he’s done it, then he can go off and have his normal fun time. If he’s not been focusing, he’ll have to keep at it, cutting into the amount of time he has each day for fun.
The goal is to get him used to staying on task, following directions, being neat, etc. Everything he’s struggling with. It’ll be a bit more work for Denisa and me, but I’m not worried about that. One thing I know might concern him is that we’ve had a rule that homework gets done first each day–before he can watch TV or do anything else. One of his favorite shows comes on right when he gets home, so he wants to rush through things so he can watch it. As a compromise, I’m thinking I’ll tell him he can watch that one show first, then work on homework. Give him sometime to decompress from school.
I also plan on talking to him about his report card and why we’re making these changes, encouraging him to work toward better ratings in these areas. Ideally, his ratings improve and he can go back to being self-governed. If the ratings stay where they are, then we’ll worry about what to do next.
That said, the boy’s just in first grade. Am I worrying about this too much? I don’t want to put undue pressure on the kid. I’m a believer in letting kids be kids and have a childhood and have fun. At the same time, I also don’t want him getting in bad habits now that will affect him later on. So there you have it. What gems of wisdom do you have for me? Any and all advice is appreciated.