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Hi all - long time no post!!!

My twin girls turned 9 yesterday. One of them - S - is a smart girl who cares deeply about doing well. She is organized, does her homework, loves to read, practices piano, makes her bed every day, etc. Has several good friends. Such an amazing good kid.

The other - G (always a difficult, rather bossy child)- is very smart. She was literally the smartest kid and best reader in her 1st grade class, singled out to read books to the rest of the class. Standardized tests in 1st and 2nd grade showed her to be in the 99th percentile nationally in most categories evaluated. In second grade, she did fine - nearly all As. Her interest in reading flagged towards the end of the year but she met all goals. This year (3rd grade) she is doing pretty poorly. Her test/quiz grades range from the 50s to the 90s. She says she hates to read (though she occasionally enjoys some books all considered below her level.) She tested lower this year than last year on something called the Star reading assessment. !!! She's incredibly disorganized, rushes through homework, relies on her sister to tell her what homework she has, skips over critical directions. Her teacher is not the best this year but DH and I I really don't think that's the cause. We are actually meeting with her teacher tomorrow morning.

(one bright note - this year G is the only 3rd grader that was admitted to "Advanced Orchestra." Everyone else is 4th or 5th grade. This is not due to a whole lot of practicing but just her amazing inherent talent. She can pick songs out by ear - fast - and they sound half decent. Amazing.)

I have started having G read to me out loud in the evenings. She seems to do ok when she has to read out loud to me. I do notice that there are really obvious words (recent example "activities") that seem obvious but that she doesn't recognize or (in other instances) doesn't know the meaning. She gets very frustrated with words she can't identify and, rather than ask about them or look them up, she just puts the book down (forever) when reading to herself. When reading to me, I can help her with those which she seems to appreciate.

Help!! I have had many serious sit-downs with her where I explain how important it is to do well in school, how I feel certain she can do better, etc. Her grades are suffering in every area - reading, math, social studies.

If you have any suggestions at all - things we should try, books we should read, specialists we should consult, etc. please let me know.

Thanks so very much in advance for any thoughts.
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When's the last time you had her eyes checked? Not just for 20/20 vision, but depth perception type stuff? I ask because Her Bootiness also had that same type of trouble when her vision was suffering - her prescription hadn't changed, but they had to adjust {something I can't even describe beyond what position the eyes were looking through her glasses}, and Viola!

That was the root cause - it was displaying the symptom of a low-grade headache. By the time she got to lunch, she'd have this annoying headache....and anything from that point forward was touch-and-go.

Something I am struggling with: Q is a fantastic student. immediately understands stuff, finishes homework in mere minutes, reads so much I have to tell him to put books down....

....Her Bootiness "struggles" with school. And I say that in quotes because she's not actually struggling - she's at grade level - any longer, but *compared to Q* and frankly, myself as a child - it's night and day.

I have to really, really, for realz make sure that I'm thinking of her level/abilities/struggles as they relate to her only, not "compared to". And sometimes, I realize I need to back off whatever I've pushing at that moment, because she's at the level appropriate for her grade and *for her*, not where Q or I would have been at that age.

That said, I know our 3rd grade teachers made it very clear at the beginning of the year last year that it's a "transition" year. It's a pretty rough go, and a lot of issues that were minor (like, say, not knowing some "sight" words) because very evident, due to the faster pace of instructions, extra organizational demands, etc. It could be that she's just adjusting differently than her sister.

Long post short - make sure and check on the vision thing, or at least ask about headaches. Even a low-grade headache can really jack up a day. Perhaps a full physical, just in case.

impolite
long-winded apparently
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You've already gotten one good suggestion. I am no expert on this, but I would also suggest considering the possibility of mild dyslexia. It may be worth at least a screening if this problem persists. She sounds like she is getting very frustrated with reading things that you would not have expected to be a challenge for her, and that frustration is spilling over into academics in general. Sometimes mild dyslexia can be very difficult to identify.

But like I said, I am no expert, it is just the first thing that came to mind.
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I'm totally with imp on the eye thing. I've seen it with a couple of friends here, and the difference it makes was astonishing. ESPECIALLY with reading. And if she has those eyestrain headaches... that's definitely all part of it.

So nice to see you here again, though!!!!

GSF
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Thanks for the replies, all. We met with her 2 teachers today to find she is - in 3rd grade:

- a "solid C student"
- has "terrible organization"
- often daydreams in class

I am starting to think she might have a reading disability. She never wants to read a book that's "on her level" or any book at all. Under pressure to read somnething, she reads books that she could read in first grade. She's an unbelievably bad speller and often doesn't understand things (school assignments, books) after reading them. She has many things considered "classic" symptoms (I learned today online. Didn't get much from her teacher, really.)

I am going to pursue having her tested for dyslexia/reading disability. The more I read online about it (and of course, that's not conclusive!!!), the more I think she may have this sort of problem. It was my impression that there is zero chance I can get her tested through her public school (though I will make an attempt).

Thanks so much for the suggestions! She does wear glasses and may need an adjustment. I don't think that's the problem but will pursue a check up for her. Also a 9 year old physical check up - soon.

thanks again
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- a "solid C student"
- has "terrible organization"
- often daydreams in class


This doesn't sound to me like the very bright child that you mentioned back in earlier years. Which suggests to me a few things to look for.

- Yes, check the eyes.
- Yes, check the rest of the body.
- Yes, check for learning disabilities of ALL KINDS

There are many sorts of learning disability. My DD has eye focus and depth perception problems, ADHD, anxiety (which is different than nervous or shy), and migraines. It took years to figure it all out. After much investigation, someone finally told us that all these could be aftereffects of a concussion she had when she was two. That really helped me understand all these significantly different (but all head-related) issues.

We have been working for four years to peel back the onion-layers of symptoms to help her. It's a long process, sometimes very frustrating. As we deal with one problem, it allows us room to deal with the next. So for example, we dealt with the eyes first, with the help of an excellent optometrist. And then the migraines. Without ending the chronic and debilitating pain, we never would have made further progress.

After that, we tried biofeedback, which turns out to have helped more than anything else we tried.

It and medication reduced her headaches. Reduced pain and the biofeedback allowed her emotional maturity to increase by about three years in a single school year. Increased emotional maturity, biofeedback, and a really good set of accomodations at school allowed her to concentrate and learn better.

We did a lot in a single year, but we're not done. DD still struggles in school, and some things will always be tough. Her "processing speed," which is the basic speed her brain does simple tasks, is in the 8th percentile -- low enough that, if all her scores were there, she'd be in special ed. Various other measures of intelligence are in the 95th and above percentiles. So finding ways to accomodate and use her strengths are really important.*

All that started with a really good assessment from a private psychologist. An assessment that covered all kinds of different "intelligence" measures, as well as emotional issues, attention and sensory stuff, and a host of other things. That taught us a lot about who DD is, and how the world looks to her. It's worth every penny you spend on it to get a good one done. You're not in my area of the US, or I would be happy to recommend who to go to.

We were also incredibly lucky that DD happened to attend the special needs immersion school for our area's schools. They already had dozens of kids on 504 plans and dozens with IEPs.** The school had already been helpful. They started implementing strategies that appeared to work before we ever had a diagnosis, and documented the behaviors that were out of the norm (such as visiting the nurse 30 times in a semester). When we showed up with diagnoses and recommendations, they pulled together all the needed specialists quickly because they're already at the school, and had a full 504 plan in place in less than 2 hours. Many people arent' so lucky, and really fight with their schools to get the services their children need.

So -- this is mostly just my experience, but what I really want to say is that it's a long journey to figure out what's going on with a kid who's struggling. It's hard because you want to make it better as soon as you know something is wrong, and it can be frustrating when weeks turn into months and years. It does get better, though, as you find the right people, one at a time, to help you out.

And for your daughter, keep things positive while you acknowledge there's a problem. YOU know that she's a smart cookie who is struggling for some reason. Don't let her teachers tell you or her otherwise. Instead, recruit them, and the other school resources, to help you figure out how to teach her in ways that work better for her.

ThyPeace, has been really lucky with schools and teachers, and is very grateful for it.




*As an example, her teacher asked all the students to do two timed "Mad Minute" math sheets the first week of school. These were really easy for a fourth grader -- 1+8, 10-1, 3+3, things like that. DD took more than 9 minutes on the first one. She took more than 6 minutes on the second one, when I asked her to really focus on doing them quickly.

So her teacher has told her to start using a calculator. Is that the best solution? Of course not. We would like her to have basic math facts at her fingertips. But the fact is, this is a kid who understands the math concepts and will never get very far in math because basic arithmetic is so hard for her. So we let her use a calculator and keep working on improvement in every way we can.

** A 504 plan is for kids who have a learning disability and need accomodations to be able to function in a regular class with the regular curriculum. An IEP (Individial Education Plan) is for kids with more profound limitations who may not be able to function in a regular class with the regular curriculum. Examples: Mild ADHD = 504 plan. Deaf = IEP. Mild autism = 504 plan. Significant autism = IEP. Etc.
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It was my impression that there is zero chance I can get her tested through her public school (though I will make an attempt).


Make any requests for testing in writing. They have to follow procedures under IDEA/504 rules.

http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/assessmentandtestin...

http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/disabilitylaws/qt/i...

You might not get the testing right away, but put everything in writing to preserve your child's rights and start laying a nice paper trail of documentation.
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her teacher asked all the students to do two timed "Mad Minute" math sheets the first week of school. These were really easy for a fourth grader -- 1+8, 10-1, 3+3, things like that.

if she also has anxiety, i will add a small, specific to this situation, suggestion that was useful for us.
The boy could do arithmetic in his sleep - but looking at that WHOLE SHEET of problems shut him right down.
so he was allowed a piece of blank paper to cover all but the row on which he was starting, and once done, the problems became *invisible* so he would do a row or column (whatever he lef visible- sometimes a corner) and then reveal more of the sheet as he progressed - this made a HUGE difference


peace & anxiety
t
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My DD has eye focus and depth perception problems

THIS. This is what I was trying to remember the description of in my post.

Her Bootiness's prescription is....good lawd, talk about Coke Bottle glasses.

But at one point, the *prescription* hadn't changed, but they had to shave the lenses down at certain points to change the way the eye saw through them. What tipped us off was of course the headaches, but we also suddenly noticed she was looking over her glasses at some things (think stern librarian look), and *sideways* for other things. She was literally turning her head and looking out of the corner of her eye at stuff that was straight in front of her.

They had these holographic things we tested her with, and before the change she couldn't see 3D. Like her eyes were making everything 2D. Changed it, and Viola! STuff started leaping off the chart at her.

Took a few trips to get it all exactly right, but the eye doctor (a kid specialist) was fantastic, and the change was dramatic - nearly instant improvement in the headaches, and enthusiasm for learning.

It was my impression that there is zero chance I can get her tested through her public school (though I will make an attempt)

I'm afraid you'll have to put on your Mama Bear suit and go after this one. The school district should not only help you figure out what's up, but also develop a comprehensive plan to accomodate. Go get 'em!

impolite
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In 3rd/4th grade I had a rough time. I had strabismous (sorta like lazy eye but not) and no I don't know how to spell it. I was taken to an optometrist instead of an opthamologist (don't know how to spell that either) and was basically given horrible advice that made it so I have no depth perception then, now, and very little chance of getting it back (although they are making strides every day and I read this great book called "Fixing my Gaze"...my problems were nothing compared to this author).

The eyesight issues aside...here are the problems that I had throughout the years:
1. Eyes gave me headaches which made me grouchy and unwilling to read
2. I was considered a "good kid" and so was seated next to "bad kids" in an effort to improve their behavior...I was nagged/bullied continually through the year. Though my personality was such that I wasn't traumatized or in tears each day (I was pretty good at ignoring it and my feelings are hard to hurt), it was just very exhausting to always have to deal with being nagged relentlessly
3. I had stellar grades and test scores, but we had just transferred and I was not in the appropriate honors/gifted classes and was really bored. I day dreamed through most of class because if I paid attention the tempo was too slow and I would get frustrated.

It was just a very hard and frustrating year. And different personalities will react differently to these types of problems.

Yes, check the eyes, get a surgeon specializing in pediatric issues not just an optometrist

Ask who she sits next to at school. Do they get along. Does she have friends, has she had any issues with a friend. (One of my schoolmate's worst years was the year her best friend died...).
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Thanks for the post! I actually think she has some of those same problems!!

Her vision is ok. She already wears glasses (used to have bi-lateral amblyopia - lazy eye in both eyes) and routinely goes to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Her teacher is mean - a yeller - and DD can't stand her. (of course she isn't doing better in math and she thinks that teacher is at least ok . . .)

She is very, very smart. Has always tested in the top 1% on standardized tests, for example. Due to strange circumstances that would take too long to explain and due to no fault of ours or hers, we couldn't get her into our school's "challenge" program this year. Of course "Challenge" - the gifted program - is only one day a week and mainly consists of projects so I'm pretty grateful now that she's not in it. I think she does tune out in class because she doesn't like or respect her teacher and thinks the material is dull.

She has had trouble with a girl bullying/bothering her. She stands behind her when they line up for anything because "the line is alphabetical." We raised it with her teacher who insisted that the line has to remain alphabetical. Still, I think she is working through this problem and it has diminished.

There are a lot of bad kids in her class because her teacher is considered a strict disciplinarian and, for that, she gets assigned a lot of kids who are trouble.

She does have some friends but has never been as good at making friends as her sister and doesn't have the same solid support network that her sister has in her class.

She got 2 tests back today from last week - social studies 98 and math 98 also. So happy about that.

We plan to try to get her tested for dyslexia/reading disability though I lean towards the view that that's probably not her problem.

In their school they have a program called "AR" which forces kids to read a lot of books each semester and take a test on each one. The kids choose their own books but if you are a kid who doesn't naturally like to read a lot - it's hard to meet the goals. My other DD loves to read but isn't a very fast reader and she even has trouble meeting the "goals." I loved to read as a kid but I didn't have that sort of pressure to read a ton of books and then take tests on each one. I really dislike the AR program because it crushes kids who don't like to read and can even kill the pleasure of those who like to read for fun since there are tests involved for each book. I don't think DD likes the relentless pressure of the AR program and who could blame her. It's exacerbating her dislike of reading challenging books.

DD is a bossy, difficult child who insists on doing everything her way. She hates to be told what to do and I am afraid she is rebelling by just refusing (to do homework as assigned, to pay attention in class, etc.) Her twin sister loves to know exactly what is expected of her, generally, and excels at people-pleasing which is, evidently, one of the reasons for their divergent success this year.

anyway - thanks for the thoughts.
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DD is a bossy, difficult child who insists on doing everything her way. She hates to be told what to do and I am afraid she is rebelling by just refusing (to do homework as assigned, to pay attention in class, etc.)

I see you've met Her Bootiness.

impolite
three phone calls, first week of *kindergarten*
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>Of course "Challenge" - the gifted program - is only one day a week and mainly consists of projects so I'm pretty grateful now that she's not in it.

From my experience as a child, I would ask you to re-think this and to get her into the program. I was in the one-day-a-week program as a child and still remember (I am 39 years old) the experiences that I had in such a program - whereas I do NOT remember my experiences in the "regular" classroom.

Just my humble .02

Jennifer
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I tried to get her in and didn't succeed. I got a note today, however, that they are reevaluating both of my daughters for admission to Challenge. I hope they get in if only for the prestige of it. If they do, though, I really hope they can keep up with everything.

Today she got a 103 on her social studies test (as did her sister). Maybe we are in a turn around. I hope so. I also may get the school to evaluate her for dyslexia - possibly even in the next 2 weeks - which is very exciting.

thanks
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I also may get the school to evaluate her for dyslexia - possibly even in the next 2 weeks - which is very exciting.


Make sure that any evaluation is a general one and not just for dyslexia. If there's something else going on, you won't find it if they look for only one thing, and she doesn't have that one thing. In fact, even if it turns out she does have that one issue, they won't find any others which could also be contributing.

I'd insist on the testing, and see what it brings out.
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