Last night, I was out with some friends and we started talking about Attention Deficit Disorder. One of the women in the group was someone I hadn’t met before, and she told me that she had a teen-ager with AD/HD. She said that her child had always done somewhat poorly in school, especially in English, although reading and writing were favorite pasttimes. That all changed, however, when her teen was given a chance to take advanced level classes. The advanced level classes presented a welcome challenge for her child, and the result was much better grades.
I find that this is often the case for children with Attention Deficit Disorder. Poor grades can be the result of not paying attention or learning disabilities that accompany AD/HD, or other reasons, but sometimes kids with AD/HD just need a good challenge. I find that in general, people with AD/HD have average to above average intelligence. It’s not uncommon for boredom to be a prominent factor in poor grades.
Now I know that being bored is, in general, part of the average teenagers job description. Sometimes, though, they really are being honest. The classroom lectures bore them, or the homework isn’t challenging enough. It’s up to you as a parent to decide if this is a legitimate complaint or just an excuse.
If you decide that they really aren’t being challenged enough, there are things you can do to help the situation. Some depend on the school and the teacher, but others don’t. Here are some ideas:
- Ask the teacher if there is a way to make the classwork or homework more challenging. This will vary depending on the class. For instance, with math it might be as simple as working ahead, but for English or history, it may be require something different.
- Another option is to utilize your child’s unique abilities to enhance everyone’s classroom experience. For instance, a teacher once allowed my son to put together a website about Napoleon for extra credit in his history class. It played into his strengths, and was something that all of the teacher’s classes could benefit from.
- Find ways at home to enhance what is being learned in class. This isn’t easy, but worth it if you can manage it. One of the easiest ways to do this is simply to ask questions – lots of them. In essence, let your child teach you, if they’re willing. It can not only help challenge your child, but it will also help them realize how much they’ve learned, what they need to work on, and reinforce all of it.
- Depending on how old they are, you can also consider helping them prepare for college. Even a very bright middle school aged child might be a good candidate for this. CLEP and DANTES tests allow you the ability to test out of certain college level classes, and they are accepted at most colleges and universities across the country, including Harvard. Basically, you study on your own for the test you have selected. You take the test at an authorized testing center, and if you pass, you will receive college credit for that class. Each college has a list of what tests correspond to their classes, and some are pretty universal, so they will apply for most schools. If you need more information, let me know.
- Finally, simply acknowledging your child’s intelligence and resulting boredom can sometimes help. It may mean much more than you expect for you to recognize your child’s intelligence. Give it a try and see what happens.