NORMAN — Q: Our 9-year-old son Bobby is very intelligent and capable of doing good work in school when he wants to, but he is generally just downright lazy. As a result, he makes mediocre grades and we have to monitor his homework to make sure he does it. Even then, 30 minutes of homework takes him a couple of hours, during which time he finds every possible way of dawdling.
Believe it or not, despite his lazy ways, Bobby’s in the gifted program. He’s about to enter fourth grade and we’d like to nip his lack of motivation in the bud, if possible. By the way, a psychologist who tested him last year said Bobby’s only problem is laziness. What can we or his teacher do to get him to step up to his school responsibilities?
A: First, the fact that the school has identified your son as “gifted and talented” may be part of the problem. My finding is that a good number of children who’ve been so identified seem to feel that their mere participation in G&T programs entitles them to good grades no matter how much effort they put into their schoolwork. So they do just enough to get by and no more.
The further problem is that schools will not, generally speaking, lower the boom on these kids. Teachers continue giving them decent report card grades even though they don’t complete assignments or turn in work, do poorly on tests and so on.
And once a child’s been promoted to G&T status, demotion is virtually out of the question. These kids are smart, all right. They’re smart enough to figure out that the only consequence of their lack of effort is that adults get upset.