Sue Scheff: The Shut-Down Learner

Dr. Selznick has written a book, The Shut-Down Learner, which can help many parents that are struggling academically with their kids that are underachieving may benefit from. Is there more to their lack of motivation? Here is a recent article by Dr. Selznick.

We Keep Telling Him - “You've got to be organized. You've got to be organized!”

Fifth grader, Matthew, is making his family crazy. The nightly ritual of "What do you have for homework?" "Did you hand in your work?" "When are you going to get started on your homework," is taking its toll on the family. Matthew's mother is particularly frazzled. With Matthew being the oldest of three children, he is putting tremendous strain on her.
Not only does Matthew have a problem handing in his home work, and writing down his assignments, once Matthew gets started, it takes him incredibly long to finish.

The other night, for example, it took Matthew between three and four hours to complete his homework which turned into becoming an agonizing ordeal. Over the four hours, he dawdled and got very little completed. There was much yelling back and forth. The temperature of the household was running very high!

Matthew’s parents say they keep telling him, "You've got to get organized. You've got to get organized." That's like telling somebody with a very bad leg, "You've got to run harder. You've got to run harder."

Matthew simply doesn't have it in him to get organized. His psychological testing and history revealed he has significant organizational deficits. Telling him over and over to do so (get organized) will not make it happen.

Providing Matthew with a certain degree of structure is something that must be considered. Without structure, Matthew will plummet like a stone. The art of parental involvement, though, is very tricky and parents can clearly overdo it.

There will be much more to come in future blog posts on the art and science of helping kids stay on track.

Follow Dr. Selznick on Twitter @DrSelz

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