How to motivate a second grader?

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DiscoveringMe
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17 Sep 2012, 9:27 pm

My second grader has aspergers and quite bright, but completely unmotivated to learn. She has math and reading homework every night, and it is tortuous for us and her. The math is simple addition and subtraction, stuff she should have memorized (all numbers less than ten), but doesn't. We use animal counters to help make it a little more fun, but we still have to help her through every problem. We also motivate her with dessert afterwards (something I don't particularly agree with, yet it's effective), but still, it takes forever.

She can sound out words, but reading is slow and she really fights it, even if we read to her. She complains the entire time, asking when she can go play on her iPod.

I think she would be a great candidate for unschooling someday, but first I think she has to see the value in learning. She really loves going to school and the structure suits her well. She has been integrated into general ed for most subjects and is quite happy and social. However, she has severe anxiety over taking tests and like I said... homework is a nightmare.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to motivate her? Will it just kick in for her someday, or is there something proactive we should be doing? I appreciate any tips you can offer! We also have a non-autistic second grader who wants to try to help her, but she finds his energy way too distracting. She can -only- get homework completed when she is medicated for her ADHD and the house is silent.

Thanks!



thewhitrbbit
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17 Sep 2012, 10:07 pm

I was sort of the same way. I hated school in 2nd grade. It wasn't until 4th grade that I really got into school.

What if you could incorporate education into her ipod?



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17 Sep 2012, 11:05 pm

Unfortunately, there is no set formula for motivation. Teachers and parents everywhere struggle with it because kids aren't all motivated by the same things - so you may have to try a few different things. I don't think it's something that you should consider as "just going to kick in". To a certain extent it might, but it can only help to be proactive.

thewhitrbbit's on the right track - the best way might be to incorporate her interests, whether that be the ipod or something else. If you're talking about something she's interested in, she will be more motivated to learn it.

I'm not surprised that motivating with dessert afterwards works. Obviously, it would be nice to have her do the work without that factor, but it is a method that's often effective. You could even expand on it with the ipod - tell her that if she does a certain amount of the work, then she can use her ipod. Two cautions with these kinds of rewards though. First, always have the work first, THEN the reward (I think you're already doing that). Second, be careful about becoming too reliant on them. The problem with external rewards is that some studies have shown that they can actually decrease intrinsic motivation (i.e. her own desire to work and learn) and that if the external rewards get taken away, they quickly lose motivation to work.

Make sure to commend her on making progress. Praise her when she does work well, or shows significant improvement (but do not ever give out false compliments). When she's having trouble, encourage her to keep working - it's important that she believe she can be successful. I don't know what your relationship is with her teacher(s), but it may be worth talking to him/her. See if the teacher has found any strategies that have worked while she's in school, and perhaps work together to discuss ways to present tasks that will engage her in the work.

Lastly - and most importantly - continue to be patient. As much as this may be something she "should" have memorized already, it won't come overnight. When I was out on practicum teaching, I taught ninth graders that still were struggling with simple addition and subtraction. This won't come overnight, so try to focus more on her own personal gains than on the arbitrary level of where she "should" be.



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18 Sep 2012, 5:55 am

<< Moved from School & College Life, to Parents' Discussion >>

This thread will hopefully get more replies here. :)


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zette
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18 Sep 2012, 8:42 am

Which child is medicated for ADHD? If it is your 2nd grader, does she possibly need an evening booster to help get through homework? Does she have similar resistance to doing work at school?

I have similar issues with my 1st grader. Reads and writes at a kindergarten level, math may be ok for him, although they aren't expected to have math facts memorized yet. We just got the first homework packet, so we will see how that goes this week. He strongly resists doing work at school as well.

One thing we are trying is to load up the iPad with educational games. Hungry Fish and Adding Apples are the best I've seen for math. Reading Eggs (website on a PC) is the best phonics based program for reading, and Reading Eggpress the next level for comprehension. Word Bingo (aka Bingo Bugs) and Eggy Words are good for sight words.

We're using Legos as a bribe. Each time he does one level he gets a token. Six tokens and we buy a small Lego he wants (such as a Christmas tree or a cheap mini figure). We're having trouble because he really wants big sets that cost $30-$100, and he's not motivated to save up a large number of tokens to get them. Is there something your daughter collects, or an activity on the weekend she particularly wants to do?

I've heard some people say they were just completely unable to memorize math facts. You might try an alternate method, there is one that involves tapping your fingers to quickly do addition.



zette
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18 Sep 2012, 8:43 am

Also, you might consider asking for homework reduction or modification in her IEP.



anticipate
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18 Sep 2012, 8:46 am

We had a lot of problems last year when my son was in 2nd. He didn't want to do the homework (it was boooooring) and he wanted to be off doing something else - video games, legos, whatever.

This year we have a new plan - school nights involve homework, reading, dinner and a walk. That's it. There is zero video game time, zero lego time, zero tv time. He no long complains about his homework, and I think a big part of it is that he no longer sees homework as infringing on his 'play time' because we don't do playtime at home.

Now, this works for us because he is able to get play time (and lego time) in at after school care. If you don't have that, I would set aside an hour to two hours after school for playing. Set an alarm on your phone or use an egg time, whatever. But let him know when he comes home he's got X amount of time for playtime, then play time is over! I think those couple of hours of free time right after school are super important to allow them to relax, let go of the stress of the day, and just be kids.



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18 Sep 2012, 3:17 pm

For reading you should bring books about her interests/obsessions, that would motivate her. That's what motivated me to read at least.



Last edited by Tollorin on 21 Sep 2012, 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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18 Sep 2012, 5:46 pm

Perhaps there is more to it than lack of motivation and perhaps she hasn't figured out how to express what the hurdles actually are for her. I would suggest you look at Dr. Ross Greene's website: http://www.livesinthebalance.org/ and try to use his method of collaborative problem solving to get to the bottom of what is causing her trouble. I know for my kiddo, NOTHING, will motivate him to do something he CANNOT do. Believe me, I have tried. Mind you, "cannot" can be very contextual. For example, she may be able to complete the same work at school that she struggles with at home because the environment at home is so different. Maybe in her mind school work is for school and just shouldn't be required to do it at home. Or any other of a number of things that could be going on in her mind. I would try to get to the reason for her resistance, then you might have more chance of mitigating the trouble she is having or you might find a different way of doing things that could make it easier for her.



muslimmetalhead
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18 Sep 2012, 7:14 pm

2nd grade?


Haha I started hating homework in...5th grade I think, then like high school, definitely 10th grade I started finding it important.


My parents motivated me with video games and comics or whatever i was interested in at the time.


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19 Sep 2012, 9:55 pm

DiscoveringMe wrote:
My second grader has aspergers and quite bright, but completely unmotivated to learn. She has math and reading homework every night, and it is tortuous for us and her. The math is simple addition and subtraction, stuff she should have memorized (all numbers less than ten), but doesn't. We use animal counters to help make it a little more fun, but we still have to help her through every problem. We also motivate her with dessert afterwards (something I don't particularly agree with, yet it's effective), but still, it takes forever.

She can sound out words, but reading is slow and she really fights it, even if we read to her. She complains the entire time, asking when she can go play on her iPod.

I think she would be a great candidate for unschooling someday, but first I think she has to see the value in learning. She really loves going to school and the structure suits her well. She has been integrated into general ed for most subjects and is quite happy and social. However, she has severe anxiety over taking tests and like I said... homework is a nightmare.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to motivate her? Will it just kick in for her someday, or is there something proactive we should be doing? I appreciate any tips you can offer! We also have a non-autistic second grader who wants to try to help her, but she finds his energy way too distracting. She can -only- get homework completed when she is medicated for her ADHD and the house is silent.

Thanks!


Children with AS often have NVL/NVLD as well and this often involves difficulty with math. One issue some of these children have is that they don't realize they are simply supposed to memorize things like addition, subtraction, or multiplication tables. A lot of them harbor the notion that they are supposed to intuitively know the answer, or figure it out by counting, and that those who memorize the answer are cheating. So it needs to be clarified to them that sometimes memorization is a permissible technique.

Concerning reading, I cannot offer much insight, as I was rather eager to learn how to read and never struggled with it. Perhaps you can try taking away the iPod but allowing her to listen to music on the computer, where she has to read and type in the names of the songs she is searching for on youtube.



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20 Sep 2012, 12:37 am

What is your daughter interested in? Is there anything she begs you to do? Somehow find a way to tie 15 min of homework to immediate gratification.

DS7 has been fighting me on working on sight words, but tonight he wanted me to help him add a special effect to a Lego stop-action video he is making (his current passion). I kept refusing, putting him off until tomorrow, and finally he wore me down and I said I'd do the first step in exchange for one round of sight words. Bingo! He totally did them without complaint.

We had a big breakthrough in his willingness to work on reading when we bought a bunch of DK and Scolastic Level 1 Star Wars books. They are still too hard for him (he's reading at "C" and the books are rated "H"), but we either read each word and have him immediately repeat it, or sound out a word and have him figure it out ("Duh ar th Vuh ay duh er").

His teacher gives out a homework packet on Friday, due a week later. It doesn't count toward a grade, and she said it was ok to be creative, for instance writing words on a white board instead of on the paper. In the first packet, it looks like half is handwriting practice, half math, plus a quiz on sight words and a practice spelling test. My goal is to do two pages a night, or at least 15 minutes. We're doing the spelling words on a label maker, and instead of all the copying of words, I'm improvising my own handwriting lessons on a small white board. First I'll make sure he knows how to form all the letters, next I'll work on writing within the lines.



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20 Sep 2012, 11:52 am

DiscoveringMe wrote:
My second grader has aspergers and quite bright, but completely unmotivated to learn. She has math and reading homework every night, and it is tortuous for us and her. The math is simple addition and subtraction, stuff she should have memorized (all numbers less than ten), but doesn't. We use animal counters to help make it a little more fun, but we still have to help her through every problem. We also motivate her with dessert afterwards (something I don't particularly agree with, yet it's effective), but still, it takes forever.

She can sound out words, but reading is slow and she really fights it, even if we read to her. She complains the entire time, asking when she can go play on her iPod.

I think she would be a great candidate for unschooling someday, but first I think she has to see the value in learning. She really loves going to school and the structure suits her well. She has been integrated into general ed for most subjects and is quite happy and social. However, she has severe anxiety over taking tests and like I said... homework is a nightmare.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to motivate her? Will it just kick in for her someday, or is there something proactive we should be doing? I appreciate any tips you can offer! We also have a non-autistic second grader who wants to try to help her, but she finds his energy way too distracting. She can -only- get homework completed when she is medicated for her ADHD and the house is silent.

Thanks!


Maybe she struggles with math and memorization, I know I do.......I never was able to memorize multiplication tables or answers to simple problems. As for reading does she ever want to read or is it always something she fights? one suggestion might be trying to expose her to books that intrest her I know when I was a kid I really liked factual books about topics I was interested in....some people thought it was weird I preferred those to picture books with fictional stories.



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20 Sep 2012, 12:03 pm

Do you know what about school she likes (other than the structure). If you gave us some specific school related things that might help us come up with rewards that were educational to help reinforce schooling.



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25 Sep 2012, 1:08 pm

My parents were genius, whether on purpose or on accident...

I didn't know I was homeschooled til third grade when they started sending me to a private school that expelled me in fourth grade (a series of events culminating in my diagnosis of Aspergers).

I just thought it was an activity book with math games. Even though it was what I'd learn to call a textbook.

Spelling was easy. Science wasn't really taught (though I was subscribed to a kids magazine for science at the time).

History was always fascinating (thanks to always watching history-based movies with my Grandpa when he'd take me every weekend).

I think the only thing I hated was writing. Never been a good writer.


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