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11 year old daughter won’t think

I need help parenting my 11 year old daughter who is very social and kind and tender but does not do well academically. I’d say she struggles but that would imply that she puts forth effort into school work. She doesn’t care if she forgets her weekly folder or if she doesn’t use her planner like her teacher requires.  Whenever we review her work before a test, she acts like she hasn’t learned how to do the problems.  What I don’t know is why she isn’t learning at school.  Is it because she doesn’t care?  Does she have a learning disability?  None of her teachers have ever suggested that.  Her last assessment came back at 55%.  I don’t know how to help her to THINK!  It’s like thinking is too hard so she just shuts down.  She is in 5th grade now and middle school is next year so I’m just so worried that she won’t be prepared.
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973741 tn?1342342773
Hi.  Well, first. There is great positive in a well liked, socially content kid. I have an academically successful child that lacks the social situation your child has.  I long for it. So, every kid has something to work on. I don't know if there is a learning challenge your child has. You 'could' meet with a psychologist and have them tested. There is dyslexia, dyscalulia, etc. A psychologist can test for these things. ADD (not hyper) can affect kids ability to stay focused. Things can be hard. They can then avoid.  A fixed mindset is a problem for a lot of kids so they don't try when it's hard.  Moving them to a growth mindset can help.  Motivation that is the kids is important too. What does your kiddo say when you discuss things (in a friendly way, not a YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER way)?  

There is a theory of the B student. Some believe they ultimately do better in life.  Could be. could be.  

Your child is not on grade level when they do standardized assessments or are they?
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4 Comments
I would ask, Mom, do better in what way?  The truth about life is, again, people have different motivations and different skill sets.  Some get As, always got As, always will get As.  They don't try any harder, don't give up anything socially, they're just good at taking tests.  Some get nervous on tests and don't do as well as they're capable of.  Some B students are really uptight about not getting As, others just really don't care.  People are different and people have different things that trigger tension.  I've got a lot of degrees, and so I've been around a lot of students.  What's really interesting is when you get to the very highest levels of education.  Everyone there was an A student all their lives in order to get there, and then they find themselves in a culling where only the top of the class is the top of the class and everyone else isn't in it.  But it wasn't that those who excelled all the way up were more uptight than anyone else, I think maybe their success was the fact they weren't uptight.  It's like sports, those who make it to the highest levels of professional sports are the ones who just didn't get nervous about it.  It's not necessarily that they were the best athletes.  That's what makes baseball, so to speak, that we're all different.  When you're dealing with someone who suffers from mental illness, everything can get really hard, but most people don't suffer from mental illness and you can't define them by those who do.  You have to instead define them by their personality, and since doing well in school does lead to higher income and more choices in life, it is worth at least discussing this with the student who is young and isn't trying and would rather be doing other things and doesn't realize yet that those choices made when young might lead to problems in adulthood when they find their choices aren't so great.  But I don't think we'll ever make everyone care the same.  In this case, there's not enough info to really tell what's going on, but getting tested would at least answer the question of learning disability.  It won't, however, address motivation.  My best friends in junior and high school didn't try to get good grades.  Wasn't important to them.  They were really bright, they just didn't care.  That became a problem later, but not a huge problem, they did find a place, but did lose a lot of options.  Peace.
https://www.inc.com/jim-schleckser/why-b-students-make-best-leaders.html  It's a well known thought that a B student goes on to be in a better place within their career.  Of course, that is an over generalization.  Some will, some won't. You can read the link for more info.  B students work hard but aren't caught up in the drivel.  Here's a quote from the article: " B students, however, have learned to flourish by using a combination of good-enough mental horsepower with a kind of emotional intelligence that gives them the ability to relate to and motivate people."
We should probably stick to the topic at hand for the poster though and my comment was for them. Parents often have expectations but in reality, there are lots of different types of students and stellar grades are not always the one predictor of how things go in the future for them.
We are on topic.  You suggested her child is better off because she has friends and seems well-adjusted, which pertains to the problems you're having with your son, which is very sad but really doesn't pertain to other people as he has some unusual problems.  But now it appears below that there might be a learning disability here, and therefore testing for that seems essential.  But here are some things since you brought this anecdotal evidence up from real world experience you can't do with a B average:  go to a top law school, engineering school, be a doctor, become a university professor, etc. etc.  You can do all these things with a bplus average, however.  That's what I meant, I've been there and done that and the number of things you can do if you're a top student is just more than those you can do if you're not.  On the other hand, if doing anything requiring academic credentials isn't of importance or interest to you and you can pull it off, then yeah, not trying as hard or just not doing as well can get you anywhere grades don't matter.  But when you're young, you don't know that yet.  Peace, and we'll leave it there.  
Avatar universal
I'm not sure from your post if you've clarified the problem.  You say she appears to not be putting in the work, and is she's not putting in the work she won't obviously do well in school.  Lots of students really don't like learning and so they don't really try.  It's the main reason why a few excel and the rest don't as most of us are capable of doing well.  As for a learning disability, does she have problems learning things she does at home?  Like playing games with the family or doing puzzles at home or understanding conversations with the family or her friends?  But the only way to find out for sure is to get her tested.  Now, as to whether she cares or not, have you asked her?  Again, her ability to think would reveal itself in everything, not just school, so again, does she have problems reading or doing things that require thought at home?  If she's fine at home and understands things, if she has her hobbies and has no trouble understanding how to do them, it would suggest she doesn't like school.  That's a talk you need to have with her if that's the case.  Every adult on here was a kid, and we all went to school, and we all performed at different levels of accomplishment and had different levels of how much we cared about school performance.  We all knew kids who wanted all As and kids who were happy with Cs.  That's just the difference between people and how much they care about school and why everyone isn't at the top of the class and why you have a top of the class, it's more a matter of motivation than ability to get the grades assuming there is no learning disability.
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Avatar universal
Thank you for your comments.  One more thing to add is the reason I wonder if she has a learning disability of some degree is because she still doesn’t know simple things like the order of the days of the week.  Last night, we asked her “what day is after Friday?”  And she said, “Monday?!   I don’t know, Wednesday?”  She also often gets the names of aunts and uncles mixed up, and these are people she has seen 2-4x a month her entire life.  One last example, she has been taking piano lessons for 5 years and it still takes her a while to figure out notes.  

Again, thanks everyone for their comments.  This parenting thing is not easy and appreciate your help in figuring her (and me) out!
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3 Comments
Okay, I understand a little bit better now.  In the US, a parent with learning concerns for their child can request a school evaluation.  IEP's are education plans.  Further testing can be done privately (and often is where parents start first to be 'armed' before approaching the schools) through a psychologist, developmental pediatrician, etc.  They can test lots of things including cognitive ability, processing, dyslexia, discalulia etc.  These are real learning differences that impact things. Also, they can look at the nervous system to see if that is impacting things. Things like auditory processing or Attention Deficit Disorder. These things may or may not be involved but you have to know. I'm surprised the school isn't asking questions. It's not a situation of not applying herself, you are noticing this in multiple places in her life.  So, it's worth getting a full picture.  It costs money. That's the unfortunate part.  But it is money well spent.  Then, what about another set of eyes on her such as a tutor?  We have had one before and he worked with all sorts of kids from gifted to cognitively below average.  Insight into what they see as well as the help they can provide is valuable.  Ask the teachers for more input so you have a full picture of what they see.

It is definitely not easy being a parent.  I have two kids that I try to help navigate through many things. We are fortunate though to have the youngest kids in a huge extended family.  Our siblings (husbands and mine) have many kids that are older and been through a lot.

Are you in the US?  Is she in public school?
By the way, my son got his education plan, a 504 plan with accommodations, when he was in 4th grade.  A teacher was instrumental in getting it done.  Extra support for some kids can make all the difference.
Thank you so much for helping me think this through.  I had come across Dyscalculia a couple years ago and brought it up to her kumon instructor and he basically brushed me off so I hadn’t thought of it again.  And so I had just told myself that not everyone is an A student, and then, not everyone is a B student, but now I am coming up on “not everyone is a C or D student” and that just hasn’t sat right with me.  I had a meeting with her teacher yesterday and she has also noticed that my daughter is very engaged during language arts but then a completely different student during math.  So next steps is we will talk to her school psychologist and see where we go from here.  Again, thank you!!  
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