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Q: My fifth-grade daughter is very immature for her age and has trouble making friends. In order to get good grades she really has to study. Her writing skills are very bad; she has been tested and her writing will be monitored. What can I do to help her?
A: Try helping your daughter find friends with similar interests. A soccer team, Girl Scout troop, or church group may provide opportunities to improve her social skills. You might encourage her to make friends in your neighborhood by helping her invite some other children over to play. Since your daughter is immature for her age, you might want to encourage her to make friends with children a year or so younger than she is.
Keep in mind that fifth-grade friendships are difficult for all girls. As they become more independent and begin to experience the hormonal changes that come with puberty, their friendships can change from day to day.
Try to find assistance for your daughter with her writing skills and her studying. Check into tutors in your area or ask around your neighborhood to see if there might be a high-school student who could work with her. The extra boost of confidence that can come from feeling good about her school work can carry over to other parts of your daughter's life as well.
Talk also with the school counselor. He or she may be able to give your daughter some individual time or include her in a small group on friendship, social skills, or study skills.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.