dgraab , Parent asks:

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



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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Additional Answers (2)

desktop writes:
I have the same problem with my daughter and was looking for some help..but i'm not seeing any suggestions..she does really good in spelling test as well and at homework..but the teacher complained she is writing to slow in class..any sugggestions anyone?
> 60 days ago

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afrog88 writes:
Similarly, I have a second grader experiencing the same exact situation.  He is academically strong, but can take twice as long (or longer) to complete school assignments/activities.  He is significantly behind his peers with his work pace, and this really has affected his confidence.  In consequence,  I believe that he is going even slower because he feels he needs to "get it right" in order to build his own confidence...He realizes that he is very behind.

However, when I look at his work compared to the average 2nd grader, no wonder he takes so long!  He is a perfectionist and wants everything super neat--and of course has really high standards for himself.  Just telling him, "You don't have to be so neat, just get it done..."  is not a good approach.  He truly believes that this is a MUST.  So instead, I need to validate his feelings (not telling him his right), but letting him know that I understand HE wants to turn in perfect work.

My son's teacher wants to start using a timer for him.  I am unsure if I like this approach.  I understand the pros, however, I also know this may frustrate him or cause even more anxiety for him.  I believe she will start this next week, so I will soon see if this is a good tactic to take.

My hope is that my son starts to work faster.  However, his personality (specifically is anxiety) may really hinder that.

When I analyze this further, I can relate very well since I was the same way.  My parents were always told that I was the very last one to get things done.  I was a slow learner, I needed extra help,  I should get a tutor... and so on.

Well, I "grew out" of that stage be 5th/6th grade.  I am now a Language Arts teacher.  I am proud of my accomplishments and learned a lot along the way.  I am worried about my son, but I feel that he too will "catch up" when the time is right for him.

I've already been approached by his 1st grade teacher that he should be on a "plan," but I feel he just needs to take his personal journey and grow on his own time.  Too bad everything needs to fit a specific model these days....
> 60 days ago

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