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My little kindergartener puts NO effort into school

It seems like he will only do well when I bribe him with something. I worked out a system with his teacher that she would send home a note every day on how he did with activities in class. It is very rare that he comes home with all stars. Today he got one star, and sad faces on the rest. He flat out refused to do some of the activites. I honestly don't know what to say or do to get him to participate in class. I know the activities aren't difficult for him, we work on them at home and he does great. Today since he didn't do well all I really let him do was play with his toys. No video games or TV shows. I dont know what else to do. Suggestions??

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 1:51 AM on Mar. 15, 2013 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

Answers (5)
  • What does the teacher say the problem might be? Could your son be bored in class? Shy? Distracted?

    Answer by Ballad at 1:58 AM on Mar. 15, 2013

  • When you talked to the teacher did she have any idea why she thinks he might be acting this way? how old is he? maybe he just wasn't ready for kindergarten yet.

    Answer by MooNFaeRie30 at 5:13 AM on Mar. 15, 2013

  • You need to talk to him to find out WHY he isn't doing what he should be doing. There has to be a reason. He might be bored, he might be struggling and embarrassed for anyone to see that, he might be having trouble paying attention, maybe he has trouble understanding and following her directions. Whatever the reason, there must be one, and you need to know what that is before you can start taking steps to resolve it. Once you know WHY he does this, then you can work with him to find ways to help him get beyond that reason and start doing what he needs to be doing.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:06 AM on Mar. 15, 2013

  • Please consider not bribing him!! Why set up a dynamic in which he concludes that things related to learning/school are "hard" or "boring," or things he only does because he can get something FOR the effort. This puts all the focus on what he can get, which is a dynamic that's been proven to lower performance, diminish effort, and also to take the joy out of things. (This was demonstrated when children were promised rewards for things they naturally enjoyed, like playing with a particular set of markers, or doing puzzles. And this result, of losing interest/motivation in doing the activity for its own merits, was consistent when preschoolers AND college students were studied. The college students had enjoyed working out word puzzles, but receiving rewards for it changed their enjoyment AND their likelihood to repeat the behavior without promise of rewards.)

    His disinterest may reflect a problem but this isn't the solution!

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:54 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

  • What is the teacher's attitude toward him when he refuses to participate?
    I think the negative focus (carried over when you examine her report & essentially punish him) can't be helping the situation. I have found that a positive, nurturing attitude (that sees a child as naturally interested in learning & doing, and naturally social, interested in belonging, participating & contributing) goes a long way toward supporting them at bumpy times, when they resist something (for whatever reason.) Struggling to control them, force things, or shame them is likely to backfire. But holding that space for the child (to return & thrive, to re-engage with the teacher/group), while not entering a struggle with him, is a good way to give some space for "bumps" & resolution. Just recognizing aloud that he's apparently not feeling like doing something right now, could be "accepting" & positive enough. This gives space for him, AND for change.

    Answer by girlwithC at 5:02 PM on Mar. 16, 2013

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