Depressing school meeting(36 Posts)
Recently had a depressing parent teacher meeting. DS 8 is drifting along, no commitment to working hard, not interested in reading, showed me a maths test he did where he got 26/50. Saw some written work that was riddled with mistakes - capital letters, spelling, full stops etc.
He's not stupid but he is just not motivated to work hard, wants to get through it all as quickly as possible to get on with playing with his friends. He had to do a project recently and started off ok but halfway through lost interest and was rushing to get it finished and just dashed it off.
She did make some suggestions for engaging him more in reading but I was nearly in tears. I just get the feeling the school is happy for him to drift along and keep making all these mistakes but never really help him focus more. It's been pretty much the same since he started.
I'm blaming myself. I work full-time and just don't have the energy to do more with him.
Did she say she was planning to work up any strategies to engage him in school as well????? A lots of FT working parents do struggle to do lots of extra school work outside of school. In fact our school say don't, except reading, otherwise they will switch off more.
Sounds very stressful.
I don't have any advice to add but I wanted to let you know that just because he's not particularly academic, it doesn't mean he's going to fail in life. My brother was this child- he's now hugely successful. At lot more than me who tried desperately to impress my teachers and everyone else! He's very good at making the right decision for him and would never hang around in a job he hated. He's very good at being happy!
I know that doesn't help now. You probably feel like you're talking to a brick wall. Just remember that school isn't the be all and end all. Xx
Sympathy. DS is the same on the written work. I think he's had a target to use capital letters and full stops since Reception (now Y3). Maths is less of a problem, possibly because he's more interested, or possibly because it's easy enough he can dash it off and still only make very occasional mistakes.
When I was at school I was kept in at break time in reception and made to re-write my sentence with finger spaces and capital letters. And there were always corrections - write it out 5 times for spellings etc. I think that may be what it takes for DS. Someone to be mean and make it more trouble for him to keep doing it wrong than it is to make a little effort and do it right. Unfortunately by now there are some long-established habits to break.
Our school don't really set written homework so there's no opportunity to pounce on it at home there.
I admit I wasn't on the case this summer - DS sneaked his way out by starting all sorts of exciting projects at the beginning of the holiday which he didn't follow through (sound familiar?). We will be doing Christmas holiday diaries, no excuses. We've found in previous years that doing a very small amount of writing in the holidays but being really strict - rewrite the whole sentence if it's wrong etc - can help to re-set habits. Anything we do in term time doesn't help much anyway as they're doing far more writing wrong at school than they're doing right at home.
I'm very academic but that hasn't lead to success or above average satisfaction. My dd is very good at most subjects but that's not how she will learn resilience or kindness or courage. In fact being academically strong can make you complacent.
Your child probably has strengths and qualities I would envy. But school can be a drag and finding what works for him may take a while.
Thanks for the support. I agree about the lack of strategy from the school. So am going to go back to the teacher about that. I know I'm a class of 30 it's hard but writing a note in his book to "use capitals" isn't really working! Any suggestions for things I could suggest e.g. Being kept in until he does it right?
What is a Christmas holiday diary? Just writing about what you do every day?
They are unlikely to agree to keep him in until he does it right (lack of supervision, for a start).
Do you think he would benefit from having a tick-chart sheet next to him with a list of instructions?
1. Check full stops.
2. Check capitals.
I'd say a Christmas holiday diary was writing what you did. Or you could mix it up and write imaginary stuff - aliens landed, we made them a cuppa tea; it was so hot we had a barbecue and the Queen turned up on a motorcycle. Or take it in turns to write an increasingly wacky couple of sentences each day and see what story you end up with. Just a couple of sentences.
P.s get "Fortunately, the Milk.." and read a couple of pages to him at night. It's illustrated and madcap. By Neil Gaiman. Or try Diary of a Wimpy Kid (there are films to go with it). Even if it all peters out you can revive it.
Yeah, we've done holiday diaries before with just a few sentences every day, as long as they're done right. Sometimes they want to draw a picture too. DC love looking through last year's one. Though as I said to DS last year I don't mind what he writes as long as he writes something, so he could do a made up diary or write a story a couple of sentences a day or whatever he likes.
I think it's about re-setting habits, and for DS that takes a lot of repetition of the right way and no further reinforcement of wrong. Hence doing it in the holidays when we can do little and correct. I'm not sure it's possible to do that in a school setting as they can't be looking over the shoulder of 30 kids and they have lots to get through in the day. When we're only trying to do 5 minutes of writing, if we have to do it 3 times over we can.
While I totally agree with PPs that academics aren't everything, I think whatever you end up doing you'll sometimes have to do bits you don't want to do and need to be able to knuckle down to it. I don't see DS ending up with the happiest life if he spends half of it staring out of windows, fiddling with things till they break and never finishing what he starts!
Agree with setting habits. If you are too busy in the evening, can't you get up/get ready 10 minutes early in the morning and do some work with him?
It's a lot easier to concentrate in the morning, and even 5~10 mins a day will add up in the long run.
He could do the capital letters and full stops in a different colour so he has to consciously keep stopping (or have to go back and edit them in using a different colour). Sometimes a prop (e.g. silly glasses) to look for capitals can help. The audience is a big part of writing - who's it for? If he knows that you'll pop in to read his final pieces (or they'll be copied to go home), might that help? Or can he have someone elsewhere in the school to read his work to? Can you get him doing some writing for a purpose at home - writing to his football club or to a TV show or to Father Christmas?
I've just bought him a Dan feckin TDM diary for Christmas. So he can do a bit in that every day. The checklist thing might be a good idea too.
What exactly are you expecting from school? I am 100 per cent sure they are encoyraging and trying to push him to work! The fact that teacher is showing you his sloppy work shows she cares. You say yourself he cant be bothered. All you can do is push him to do his homework properly and support the teachers when he is asked to redo work etc.
I'm expecting the school to pay some attention to him. The only reason I saw the sloppy work was because it was parent / teacher meeting.
I do get him to do his homework and would support the teachers if he was asked to do it again. I'm 100% sure they're not encouraging him. He's invisible. She practically shrugged her shoulders when I said some of the work was dreadful. They're not doing anything to capture his interest.
How do you know that? Have you ever been in the class? Your child isn't the only one in class. I'm sure his teacher has encouraged cajoled, told off your son. Teachers are accountable. Why don't you ask a teacher with children how they manage! They work full time too.
You think the teacher is allowing him to drift along yet you admit you are too tired. Perhaps his apathy is partly because he thinks you don't care.
Lots of eight year olds struggle with punctuation, sit down with him and talk about the importance of putting more effort in. Create a homework chart and give him reward stickers. So many stickers equals a treat with mum...spend some time with him. Make an effort and perhaps he will too.
I was waiting for it to be the teacher's fault, even though you say you're 'too tired' to reinforce standards yourself. Do you want her to make his school life a misery over full stops and capital letters? I've got 30 kids in my class all with varying needs, some of which run deeper than crap punctuation. And at my 15-minute break I want a wee and a cup of tea, not to stand over some kid and nag him about full stops. You put in the work, Mum, and I bet your son will benefit.
Obviously I'm not in the class. If only, to get a fly on that wall!!
And no he's not the only one in the class but I feel that the focus is on the kids at the bottom and the top and there's a lot of drifting. Two other mums I spoke to said the same.
At the meeting, like I said, she offered no strategies for how we could improve things. Just laid out the facts and then ushered me out. He knows we care. Reward stickers don't work with him. He's gets lots of treats and time with me anyway.
But thanks for responding. It's good to hear different perspectives.
I do put in the effort despite my tiredness. But this is her JOB. She's not just there to child mind until home time.
I know teaching is very hard. That's why I didn't become a teacher. But as a professional I expect more than a blank look and a shrug of the shoulders.
You need to detach your emotions- your reaction isn't going to help. Speaking in hyperbole and making terrible accusations (my child is invisible and you don't encourage him is pretty much the worst thing you can say to a teacher).
It sounds like you believe your child is capable of the tasks, the problem is his motivation? In my experience, these engagement problems originate from a fear of failure OR a lack of maturity (though, at 8 he is still very young) OR an inability to keep to a disciplined timescale.
Does your son do a sport outside of school? Does he enjoy learning? Do you talk about things he has learned/projects/the books he has read? These things you can help with but without being the one to sit him down and make him practice his handwriting.
It's ridiculous to say it's the teacher's fault.
You say your son is unmotivated. How can YOU motivate him? Have you managed to motivate him at home? Have you discussed his lazy attitude?
Just wondering if you will continue to blame all his future teachers (if he continues in the same vein) or whether you will help him to accept some responsibility for his own progress.
It's frustrating but I lost all sympathy when you implied it was all his teacher's fault.
It's hard not to be emotional. And I know eight is young and boys maybe mature more slowly? He loves his outside activities (rugby, Cubs, swimming) we talk all the time. He's a chatterbox! He's very sociable and sees school as an extension of his social life.
Why is that the worst thing to say to a teacher? People frequently point out how I could do my job better, frustrating yes, but I can acknowledge that sometimes they do actually have point.
I'm not saying it's the teachers fault. But I do expect us to work in partnership to address this.
Just because a child isn't academic doesn't mean they aren't bright and capable of succeeding in the real world.
The boy in my best friend's husband's class who was ridiculed and a bit fat and unkempt is a trading floor millionaire. He left school at 16. We are all 56 now. He retired 10 years ago and has a country pile.
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