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Energize Your Child

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My son is repeating first grade because developmentally he was not ready to go on. We are finding he still exhibits some of the same behavior. He reads very well and academically is okay, but he sits outside the circle and doesn't participate. The teacher describes it as lack of motivation and apathy. She says he is just not interested.

Otherwise, we have always thought our son was normal. He plays sports willingly and has friends. I just don't know what to do with him.

A: Seven is really young to be described as having a lack of motivation and apathy. You are wise to try to address this now.

Was the retention explained to your son in a positive way? Children are very perceptive, and even if our words say that we feel good about something they may realize that deep down we may have some negative feelings. Your son may believe that you think there is something wrong with him being in first grade again.

Try talking with him to reassure him that another year in first grade will help him to be a leader in the class and to succeed in some of the things that were hard for him last year.

Talk with the teacher. Together you may be able to make school more interesting by letting him be a leader in activities. He can earn stickers or check marks for participating with the class and you can follow up at home by bringing him to the park or letting him have a friend over to play for good days.

Ask the school counselor to help your son feel positive about school and his retention. Often just a little extra attention from adults can make a tremendous difference in a child's attitude.

More on: Expert Advice

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.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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