Q:

My son in fourth grade already hates school. So far this year, he has received all F's on his report card. He really has totally given up. He doesn't do his classwork or even take tests. He struggles for hours with his homework, and what he does do he never turns in. The teacher has no suggestions, and I can't figure out how to turn things around. What should we do? -- Frustrated

A:

Giving up on a child who is only in fourth grade is definitely not the answer. Fourth grade is different from first, second and third grades. The children have branched beyond just learning the 3 R's.

It is hard to believe that the teacher has no suggestions. Ask the teacher to have your son tested to see if he has any learning difficulties. This could be the answer. Can your son read? Is he capable of working on grade level?

Your son needs to be observed in this classroom by professionals. You need answers to these questions: What is he doing in school when he should be working? Why will he not take the tests? Consider also how he did last year in school and whether any major events have occurred in his life that could cause him to disengage himself from learning.

Since your son is struggling with homework, help him with it. And limit the time he spends -- whether he is done or not -- to 45 minutes. Then pack his work in his backpack and have him give it to his teacher as soon as he gets to school.