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View Full Version : Motivating a 1st grader...


Joe Hart
01-12-2009, 08:16 PM
So my son is has to potential for being a slacker. He does just enough to get by. For example, he will do the spelling tests, but he doesn't want to do the challenge words (extra credit). We have gotten his work (that is done in class) back from the teacher and she marks "okay" but "needs to be neater" or "he needs to write more".

So what are some methods that you have used motivate your children to put in the extra effort? Corporal punishment has crossed my mind (just kidding).

I am trying to come up with something better than acumulating so many stars and then it is off to Chucky Cheese. I know that would work, but man Chucky Cheese pizza sucks.

I also would like to try and make it so that he wants to do good work and not just do good work because he will get something.

Yes, we do tell him that he did a good job when he has done a good job.

Don't get wrong he is a good kid, I just want to nip what could be a potential for slacking in the bud before he really is a slacker. Setting the example would be great if it weren't that he is in school when I am doing things that could be used as a lesson in doing a good job. I make sure that he does his homework in satisfactory manner. I can't have the onus be on the teacher all the time, because she has 24 other little heads to fill with information.

I am having a hard time remembering 1st grade for me and what my parents did. It was a while ago.

Steve Liberati
01-12-2009, 08:31 PM
CrossFit for Kids.

Patrick Donnelly
01-12-2009, 08:38 PM
Church, athletics, and no rap music.



Worked for me. (Not a child of mine, but me myself.)

Allen Yeh
01-13-2009, 04:21 AM
I don't think there is any 1 or 2 answers for this question as it seems to me that children are so different and respond to different things. What does he like to do with his spare time? Toys? Activities? Sports? Video games?

My younger stepson has always been pretty academically motivated and I've been in his life so far from grades K - 4. There are always those days or times when he just doesn't want to do his work and all that but for the most part it takes very little to make him want to do well in school. He does get rewarded for bringing home good grades and such but to me it seems that he doesn't really pay the reward system any mind until the grades are in at the end.

My older stepson has always been the tougher student and I've been with him from 5 - 9th grades and this year seems to be an all time low of motivation for him. He's bright but there are things I feel aren't being explored in regard to why he's not doing well. Low motivation is one of the things but I think it's more than just that. Anyone with experience in getting a teenage stepchild back in line...I welcome the advice. I'm at wits end in regard to his schooling.

Dave Van Skike
01-13-2009, 12:24 PM
No offense intended but......are you seriously asking this question.....here?

He's in first grade. If you have identified his slacker tendencies at 7, I don't know that the problem is with the 1st grader.

further, if he's already figured out that the goal in life is to do as little of what other people want and as much as what HE wants, then he's a step ahead.

Dave Van Skike
01-13-2009, 12:29 PM
Church, athletics, and no rap music.



Worked for me. (Not a child of mine, but me myself.)


Funny, my parents tried a similar recipe but I came out a violent agnostic that depises team sports and loves old school punk (the rap of my generation).....Works for me, but my parents not so much.

Blair Lowe
01-13-2009, 01:13 PM
For one of my team boys, their parent asked me how to get him to be motivated to do pushups at home since it is one of his weak points in his floor routine. He was complaining about doing the pushups at home. He recently turned 8.

Simply put, 10 pushups for 10 minutes of DS. I need to tell my mom this. It will make my 11yo brother into a monster. His face is always looking at the thing as it seems he is always playing it.

I would have been a machine as a kid with that rule. With all my playing outside, the extra work would have justified what time I played on the atari or nintendo or after I got a PC and got hooked to Diablo and Quake and RTS/RPG games.

While he may not be into a DS, the principle is simple. 1 pushup or burpee per minute played be it whatever he'd really like to do if it is something like a tv show, internet game ( Toontime ), video game system.

This type of programming would make online gamers of role playing games not have to worry about type 2 diabetes and becoming fat lard asses. Cartman, no more!

Gant Grimes
01-13-2009, 01:18 PM
1) Remember he's a FIRST GRADER.

2) Help him with his homework. Tell him why the extra stuff is good. Other than that, set a good example around the house.

3) Get him into judo.


But mostly #1.

Patrick Donnelly
01-13-2009, 02:11 PM
Funny, my parents tried a similar recipe but I came out a violent agnostic that depises team sports and loves old school punk (the rap of my generation).....Works for me, but my parents not so much.

Either way, you're not a slacker, so I guess in that regard, it worked!

Derek Simonds
01-13-2009, 02:46 PM
Aw Patrick don't give Dave too much credit. :D

We went through the same thing with my son in the first grade and I am of the conclusion that as long as you are participating in it with him that first grade boys are not neat and that they really don't care yet.

So we went the bribe route. He wanted his first set of heelys so we came up with a formula that allowed him to earn enough for the heelys after 2 months of A grades in spelling. Spelling was his nemesis. We also created a routine that we do even now in third grade with him. On Monday when they get the words he has to write them several times each. On Tuesday we start going over them at breakfast. My wife or I (if I am in town) will read the word and he has to spell it. We mark any that he misses and he writes them again Tuesday night. Wednesday morning we do another quick spelling review and then when he does his homework Wednesday night we will review them again. Finally Thursday morning he gets his last review and then he takes the words with him in the car to read on the way to school. I don't think that scored a B in a long time.

I know that seems like a lot but it isn't, it is actually just a couple of minutes each time we engage the words. The other thing I do when he has a hard time with a word is I say you say with him. You break a word down into a couple of letters and just say them back and forth getting faster each time until they are saying all the letters in a row. I also make it funny by doing accents, yelling or singing while I am doing it. So lets say the word he is struggling with is extra. I would start by saying EX and he would say EX back, then TR and TR back, then A and A back. I would repeat that a couple of times and go to EXT, RA couple of more then finally EXTRA. Kooky as it sounds that is how we have nailed most of the hard words he or his sister have had.

Last thought I can't give enough credit to my wife for her untiring efforts around their school work. My wife is extremely structured so the kids know that at 3:45 they will do homework until 4:15 and if there is any left to do they will do it when they get home from gym. They also know we are going to do the spelling every morning and my daughter will often ask when can we start on her words. BTW notice the difference between a first grade boy and first grade girl!

I truly believe that above all else just being involved and communicating what is acceptable will make a major difference especially as your son matures.

Allen unfortunately I think you are screwed (hehe)

George Mounce
01-13-2009, 03:19 PM
Could it be that he doesn't feel challenged? I was a bored kid, and since I was bored I would slack off because I thought it was boring. Maybe trying to find a way to tie things he is interested into his learning. So he has to spell some words. Add words to things he is interested into as a sort of extra credit. Teach the words in a method that they tie into something he likes.

Plenty of ways to skin that cat.

Blair Lowe
01-14-2009, 12:17 AM
Or you could simply let him find words in an encyclopedia and have them tell you all about besides spelling it. I used to ransack my grandparents and my house for anything to read, especially encyclopedia volumes. Yes, I read the dictionary for fun besides thesaurus...I prized those things.

Gotta make it fun somehow, unless of course they are naturally driven which makes me think they tend to be troublesome looking up how to make gunpowder out of chemical sets and other boyish things to do.

Jamila Bey
01-14-2009, 11:18 PM
Church, athletics, and no rap music.



Worked for me. (Not a child of mine, but me myself.)


I got church, ballet class and I wasn't into rap, but my parents HATED my love of hard rock.

I am now an evangelical Atheist who will go to her grave ticked that mommy made me waste every weekend for a decade wearing pink... And I made my living as a music journalist for some time... True story- I actually got to meet a NUMBER of people I thought were cool just 'cause I was (an incredibly young looking) 20 year old who could go toe to toe with ANYONE on be-bop jazz history.

Look- your kid is in FIRST grade. Spelling isboring. Math isdumb. That's just the way it is. And the reason I plan to homeschool mine. What's fun about the teachers asking him to spell words and then spell EXTRA words? What's in it for him?

I admittedly AM a slacker, but I believe myself to be pretty darned successful when it comes to my own life...

Here's the thing. I loved gems and dinosaurs. My dad took me to the museum for fun and I learned to spell the stuff I liked. (I hated spelling too!) I loved to read, so I got biographies of people dad thought I should know. (How I got my Black History- 'cause Dad didn't like that I never learned about people who looked like me in my schools. Other than MLK, but that's a rant for later.)

After YEARS of Cs and Bs in math, I understood geometry and physics in a huge flash when I realized while playing pool what it means that "opposite adjacent angles are congruent." English is torque! Friction is different on different tables...

I wept to know that my sister's kid struggled with fractions. I kept him with me for a week and we cooked everyday. He ruined a batch of cookies because he couldn't add properly. By the end of the week he could divide and multiply fractions almost in his head.

Bottom line, your kid is fine. When he sees someone doing something cool that he likes, a doctor, metalworker, puppet master- IDK, then you say, "You too can do that, and talk him about the stuff he'll learn." He'll think it's fun.

Please don't make your child hate learning. The schools tend to do a good
enough job at that!

Off my soapbox.