Very able but lacks focus?

(11 Posts)
classof2017 Wed 05-Oct-16 14:53:43

My DC (8) is very able. Picks up things very fast. Will never get 100% for spelling tests because finds them boring but then gets them right within written work.

For maths will pick up concepts exceptionally fast. Will get the first 3 or 4 right and then either loses concentration or can't be bothered doing them and gets them completely wrong as if there is no understanding whatsoever! But does them again the following day and the understanding is there but will not get 100% for a test.

Sometimes will spell entire name wrong! The teacher seems to think that DC is really competitive and wants to finish first and rushes through, but I'm not entirely convinced. I think it is actually bored, doing row after row of work that DC is already secure in.

Is musical (piano grade 5) and sporty too so not sure if DC just has too much on. Has anyone's own DC behaved similar?

catkind Thu 06-Oct-16 00:21:28

I think I have an able but unengaged DS, though it doesn't manifest exactly the same. He's more likely to slow down and daydream if the classwork is too repetitive. He's got a bit too used to tuning out the teacher input part, as 95% of the time it doesn't give him anything, so he can occasionally miss the point of what they're trying to do. At least I think that's what it is, it's all deduction from looking at his books and things that don't add up between home and school.

DS is competitive I would say, and does tend to do well on tests. Or he did well on SATs anyway; but they would be much more engaging because they covered lots of different things rather than being repetitive. I agree that competitive wouldn't quite add up for your DS, surely if he was competitive he'd care about scoring well on tests?

He spells his own name wrong? That's impressive if so!

Do you think it could be a bit of laziness? He'll do it as long as he's interested, but when he loses interest just can't be bothered.

How do the teachers deal with it when he does this tuning out? I find with DS that when he doesn't care about something himself, we need to make it more work for him to get it wrong than to get it right. For DS e.g. with handwriting, he can write lovely cursive, but if he thinks he won't be called on it he'd rather write illegible scribble. The "just praise it when it's good" thing doesn't work on him. He writes homework neatly because he knows I'll just get him to do it again if he scribbles it. If teachers don't pull him up on it his handwriting gets worse and worse over the course of the school year.

Blackcat321 Thu 06-Oct-16 00:39:44

maybe too much screen time?

Blackcat321 Thu 06-Oct-16 00:41:40

Its daft to say he gets things wrong because he is bored. He gets things wrong because he can't do them at the speed he is trying to do them. Not secure in it at all

instantly Thu 06-Oct-16 00:47:52

He sounds super lazy, and I agree he's not secure in his knowledge if he's getting it wrong. If he found it completely easy it would be much simpler and easier for him to rush through and get them all right.

Linpinfinwin Thu 06-Oct-16 13:59:30

If it's too easy, would he be amenable if you explain to him that it's only by completing the tasks fully that he will give the teacher the evidence they need before moving him on? I don't think harder questions will make him magically knuckle down and see the task through to the end though.

You can compete on anything. My DS does compete on speed - why not, he does in the playground when running races so why not with worksheets? Competitiveness specifically on getting good marks is the "proper" way to compete in the classroom from an adult perspective, but a child doesn't necessarily see it like that yet. They need to learn to value quality over speed (while still completing the task in the time allowed).

a8mint Mon 10-Oct-16 07:12:24

Understanding is important, but so is accuracy and attention to detail

Ditsy4 Mon 10-Oct-16 07:47:01

Does he just want to be first finished. We have two boys in class like this . One able, one not so able but brags to everyone that he is finished. The first one gets the first four or five correct then gets the rest wrong because he is rushing and not taking care. I make him go back and redo them after making sure he can do them by sitting with him.he can he just rushes and makes silly mistakes. The other one struggles but wants to be first finished so he does the ones he can manage then writes anything in the other just so he can shout out he finished. He then gets annoyed with me because I make him go back and have another go.
If it is homework make him redo it or allocate a time that he has to stay at the table so he isn't rushing to finish and go on to play the x box or whatever. His teacher will make him redo them.
He doesn't sound bored he sounds like he is rushing to finish and makes mistake you need to chat to him.

irvineoneohone Mon 10-Oct-16 08:30:46

My ds is similar, he rushes and make silly mistakes if he have to do lots of repetitive work. I don't think it's because he is bored, I think it's to do with his laziness. I just think if you make silly mistakes on easy questions, how can he convince teacher he is secure? I will always ask him to check and redo it if it was a homework.

Spelling, it's easy for him. But he always get 10/10.

I would listen to teacher what she/he says, rather than making excuse for him.

chamenager Mon 10-Oct-16 10:05:33

Hm I don't think we can unpick this for you from afar, without a lot more information.

Laziness, boredom, perhaps not grasping the concepts as well as you think, has been mentioned as possibilities. But there are more.

My DS is fairly able but in Y1 in maths particularly, he didn't want the teacher to know what he could do (e.g. he tried to hide from her that he knew his 5 times tables). He would make deliberate mistakes, answer 'I don't know' when called up, never volunteer answers in class. I am not entirely sure why he did this - he claimed he hated being on 'blue table' because they constantly had to 'work independently' whereas he preferred group work when there was an adult there. It may have been due to group dynamics / social maturity rather than with academics per se.
His teacher noticed that he picked up new concepts very quickly and easily (err - in some cases he didn't have to 'pick it up', he simply understood it already beforehand, but didn't let on) but never really did stretch him much because he indeed never appeared 'secure' to her in his classroom work. He put some effort into creating that appearance!

I used to coach a young chess player at World Youth Championships and such. At one stage, she lost lots of important points due to 'rushing'. In her case I worked out that it was a kind of perfectionism/fear of failure that was the culprit. She figured it was worse to make a wrong move if you had thought about it a long time, than if you made the same wrong move quickly. In the latter case you made a mistake not because you were not clever enough, but simply because you hadn't given it much thought. Whereas the result is the same - you lose your game and point - it doesn't reflect badly on YOU, on your 'inherent ability'. You and people around you can still think of you as clever.
By refusing to 'try' (properly, giving things the necessary time and effort) you cannot fail. Well that's the perfectionist's response anyway - growth mindset can be the antidote to this. Talking about effort, not results. Discussing what /how much you learned, not how many you got right.

With your child, OP, I am wondering two things:
- Does it matter?
Clearly your child is learning. The spellings are correct in their writing, which matters more than the spelling tests anyway. Similarly they may not get great scores in maths tests/sets of problems, but they do learn the concepts and are able to apply them successfully in the future. It seems to me that that is not too bad at all - I prefer it to the situation where someone is able to mechanically apply a process to problems and get 100% right, but with little understanding, and once the next process is covered in class, forgets or struggles with previously taught ones.
So what exactly is the problem? Would you like the teacher to recognise your child's ability, in order to a) get good reports, b) access further challenges/stretching? Does your child want these things? Is there a good chance that they would actually be given more interesting, varied problems, sidewise stretching, if their ability was recognised? All too often, the very able are basically given more of the same (e.g. same concept but with larger numbers). I don't think that this would appeal to your child...

- If it were indeed valuable for your child's abilities to be recognised, would your child be amenable, as PP suggested, to an open discussion about this? Where you recognise that your child may sometimes find things boring/may sometimes feel too lazy to apply themselves, but explain that the teacher needs to see x happen before they can give them y.

As long as it doesn't mean your child is missing out on some amazing opportunity, IMO at primary age, and as long as you are certain that your child is secure in the concepts, and CAN apply them when it counts, I personally wouldn't worry too much. What is your priority - having them at the top of the top table (which no-one will care about in the future) or having them really properly comprehend the concepts (which will make a massive difference in the future).
Perhaps provide them with some sidewise stretching at home - coding, chess, NRICH, Wild Maths come to mind.

classof2017 Mon 10-Oct-16 10:45:30

Thank you all for your responses. CHAMENAGER I think you have nailed it by saying it is fear of failure.

Since I last posted I have had parent's evening and the teacher has had a bit more time to get to know him and she said pretty much the same. He is way ahead of the class so there is a bit of laziness but worried that if it is not good enough --it really wouldn't matter if he failed it. Similarly with his handwriting - similar with a previous poster it was illegible since the start of September, when then teacher moved him away from his friend in class. She noticed that he particularly got on with this child so moved seating arrangements again last week and his handwriting miraculously is now beautiful. It's like he's "cutting his nose to spite his face" and testing to see how much he can get away with.

Yes he is very secure in his understanding because he is given the task to teach his friends too. It was this misconception in year 1 from the teacher that nearly killed his enthusiasm of learning. The year 3 teacher always extended him by giving him 1 or 2 broader questions that required deeper thinking instead of just handing out another page of rows and rows of the more type of work but with larger numbers or harder words. In this year I noticed that he worked to the best of his ability and didn't seem to "rush". I was therefore trying to figure out how the teacher's teaching methods were different and how I could help him.

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