• Welcome! Log in or Register Now for a free ProTeacher account!

child who won't do anything



I teach second grade. I have a boy who just sits most of the day. He doesn't socialize or mess around. He just sits. During center time, he might start 1 center but it is rare for him to finish anything. During group lessons he will have the appropriate materials in front of him (after many reminders from me), but he will not be on task. I have met with his parents several times and they say he has always been this way. They say his doctor cannot explain it and neither could his old school. (He repeated first grade in another school system.) What little I can get out of him seems to be close to grade level but he just doesn't care. I've tried rewards and punishments and nothing fazes him. The school psychologist observed him for a few minutes. His opinion is that it is an attitude issue and not any kind of learning disability, so there is no point in referring him to child study. I don't know what I think but I know that he is not progressing. Any ideas? Suggestions?


Junior Member
The psych only observed for a few minutes? That seems like a very short time to give a professional opinion. What does your principal say?

Have you tried talking to see what kinds of things do motivate him? Interests? See what he gets excited about - that may help with a reward system.

What do his parents say about this?


Senior Member
If I only had a nickel...

If I only had a nickel for every time someone looked at my son and said he had an attitude problem! No one, and I mean NO ONE can diagnose or not diagnose on a "gut" feeling. Only formalized testing can accomplish that and for some children that means not just the usual Woodcock-Johnson or WISC, but possibly even a neuropysch evaluation.

Forego his opinion and refer this child to child study. Keep in mind that that the law states that in no way should the process of child study prevent any one at any time from requesting the evaluations. Please speak to a sped techer and have them observe this child if at all possible. Sounds to me that it is quite possible that there is a processing issue, or an ephasic (sp) element happening. What got me was the statement that he will try a center but rarely finishes.

He already sees school as a place to fail. You are trying to be the teacher that makes the difference. PLease don;t give up.

I'm not only a mom, I'm a sped teacher PK-8.


Full Member

A few minutes??? Don't accept that!!! I would definately ask for a student study team meeting. I would even tell the parent to request one and then the school can't deny and the psych will be forced to do more than a few minutes. You must be an advocate for this child!!!


Senior Member

I too have a 2nd grade child this year that sits and does nothing. He can sit for an hour and not complete one math problem. He can do it he just doesn't. I agree with the other posters; refer him to you child study. He needs help and you need ideas. One thing that I am doing with this child is a behavior contract. We are currently working on improving 2 behaviors - completing class work and staying on task. Now this contract seems to have no impact on him whatsoever! This makes it clear to me that this is not attitude, but he truely cannot help it. He is as ADD as the days are long! I have talked with his mother and she just says he's always been that way and thinks he will grow out of it. He may, but in the mean time he may fail. That is so unfortunate for him. While you are waiting for you child study team something that I do with him is put a timer on his desk. It is amazing what he can do with that timer there as a reminder. Just today I gave him a math page - front and back - full of math problems. He sat there for several minutes (10-15) and had 1/2 of a problem done. I remembered the timer set it for 7 minutes. He finished. It is very effective for him maybe it will work for your little guy too.


Senior Member
To my everlasting shame....

I regret not seeing ADD in my own daughter. Her father and I thought she was disorganized, lazy, dingy, below average, an underachiever, etc. I have seen so many medicated kids that I shied away. Everyone associates the hyper part, and she could sit for loooong periods of time accomplishing nothing. She is taking Stratera and it is like a MIRACLE! She gets 95% of her work done in a timely way, and done well. We no longer have homework marathons and her self-esteem has sky rocketed. She is in the 6th grade and it breaks my heart that we let it go for so long.

Like the other poster stated, please be his advocate; it could be life changing.



Add and testing in public schools don't work. You can tell the parent the signs you see, but the moment you say ADD to a parent you are setting yourself up. I have talked about the lack of attention and can't stay focused and have even done the check list, but will never say he appears to have ADD. You will walk into a lawsuit. We are not, afterall doctors, even though we can usually diagnose better than doctors! I would definitely go Child Study route. Good luck!


its OK!

you know what, i have a whole class like this and i work in an Indigenous remote school - Australia. from my experience it is just a matter of teaching out of the box! try doing a maths lesson through drama or cooking, spelling through Powerpoint etc. i have also tried with success having a "special helper for the day" i usually choose children who are similar to your predicament and it has worked. all too often we are ready to point the finger at the child having some sort of chemical imbalance when infact they might be gifted and just need to be stimulated in a very unorthodoxed way.

keep smiling and you are doing your best.