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dgraab
dgraab , Parent asks:
Q:

How can parents help children with faster in-class performance?

We received our daughter's report card on Friday, and everything looked great except one area: 'classroom work and test taking' was marked as "needs improvement". The teacher elaborated in the notes section that our daughter needs to increase her speed with in-class assignments and test-taking. She received the highest marks for homework (scoring "excellence"), and the teacher previously changed her seating arrangement to reduce in-class socializing. What can we do to help my daughter work faster in class (without sacrificing comprehension, or creating too much pressure or anxiety for her)?

She's in 2nd grade, and scores 100% on spelling tests nearly every week, but also comes home with incomplete classwork without explanation about why she didn't finish it (typically she says she doesn't know why or that the bell rang before she could finish). I've noticed that many of these assignments are very lengthy math fact quizzes and narrative assignment worksheets that don't have clear instructions.

Should I try math flash cards, and ask for narrative worksheet assignments in advance (or more in the homework packet)? We do extra worksheets and activities from Education.com. What else can we do at home to help manifest the speed improvement needed? Thanks for suggestions!
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school, Helping my child with school work and home work, Parenting / Our Family
> 60 days ago

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Expert

MomSOS
Mar 27, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Well, first of all, your daughter sounds like she is doing very well. I would not be too worried about the speed at this point, because it sounds like the learning is taking place, and is succeeding.

What you might do is to develop a "research project" to see if you can understand the roots of this issue.  (I hesitate to call it a "problem," although I respect the fact that you are concerned.)I recommend that you go in and talk to the teacher. See if the teacher can help identify any particular circumstances, such as time of day, time of the week, before or after lunch/recess etc. that might be when your child is slower. You might make a chart and see if you can get some data, with the teacher's help, to track the basics of this situation.  

I think it also makes sense to bring up, with the teacher, concerns you have about the length of the assignments and the instructions that may not be clear. Sometimes little ones who do as well academically as your little girl is doing, are perfectionists, and spend a great deal of time trying to make the work absolutely perfect.  If this is the case, that can slow the child down. You might want to bring up this with your daughter and also ask the teacher if she has noticed this behavior.

You might also try talking this over with your daughter a little more. She says the bell rang before she could finish. Perhaps you, or the teacher, can probe a bit to see if you can get a sense of what her thought processes and rationales are as she approaches and digs into her work.

I think doing extra work at home is fine if she enjoys it and is not feeling overwhelmed by it. Asking the teacher for worksheets  that are similar to what they are doing in class might help. That might work like practice tests that adults take for standardized professional exams.

Another idea is to see if you can find out if others in your daughter's class are also finishing late or not completely. It may be helpful to see where she is in a context of her peers.  That is not to compare her, but to get a sense of norms.

Again, she sounds wonderful.  I would not worry too much.  She is young and school is still a new experience in grade two.  Give her lots of good feedback for how well she is doing.  Keep talking to her and see what you can find out.
Good luck.

Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
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