Is it ever worth saying anything if your quiet well-behaved child is overlooked?

(50 Posts)
ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 19:01:42

Or is it just a waste of breath? Y3 son. Comfortably above average in year group but certainly not stellar. Not particularly outstanding at anything although fairly able at music i.e. two musical instruments at Grade 1, which he considers his 'thing'. Okay at sports - not rubbish, but not outstanding.

Same old children at school tend to win competitions, get the special house awards etc. (I know this isn't really much different anywhere else by all accounts btw) House awards have just been given to certain children who performed in a musical evening - he performed but didn't get one. On the face of it his performance wasn't manifestly different to anyone else's - truly and honestly, that's not a mothers rose tinted spectacles I promise! He's not the only one that didn't get an award but he's really disappointed. Of course I have dealt with that in the usual way saying it's all about taking part etc. etc.

He has recently done exams and is comfortably in the top half of the year across the board (they give you the year group average and median marks). Yet he has been left in the bottom set for maths - no real reasoning given - I suspect it's because I don't make a fuss.

Anyhow. Specifics aside - I'm just giving background - is it just the case that, in a class of 19, if you're middling at stuff, don't really speak up and just behave yourself you are going to fade into the background a bit? I am a very laid-back parent so don't really get very exercised about these things but am I doing him a disservice by not standing up for him? He does legitimately seem to be being overlooked at the moment but does it even really matter in the long run? And, even if I do say something, is it likely to be counter-productive?

Or does this all just sound like sour-grapes and I should suck it up?!

Thanks for reading!!

lljkk Thu 05-Jun-14 19:07:12

Does he mind being overlooked? Or does he prefer a quiet profile?

I don't understand why you making a fuss would improve his math skills.

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 19:12:51

Well he's upset about the music concert which is what has given me pause for thought. He's also not quiet AT ALL outside of school but seems much quieter in a school environment - he's pretty extrovert outside of school in fact.

The maths thing is just that his marks (comparatively) clearly suggest he should be in the top set - and hav done in both sets of exams this year - But he's not. I suspect this is because I'm not pushy enough about it combined with the fact that he doesn't push himself forward bug I may be wrong.

tryingtocatchthewind Thu 05-Jun-14 19:18:13

I would definitely question the maths streaming if he is above average why is he in the bottom set?

lljkk Thu 05-Jun-14 19:19:00

There are lots of plausible reasons why he might be in bottom maths set (if he really is in bottom set). Nothing wrong with you asking them why the apparent discrepancy.

I think same about the music concert. I wouldn't tell them what solution I wanted, just say that he was disappointed not to get more recognition for his part. So what do they have to say to that. Put the problem on their laps & see if they squirm & reconsider. If he has previously been happiest with a low profile, they may not realise that he wants more recognition nowadays.

ComradePlexiglass Thu 05-Jun-14 19:19:49

What a shame he didn't get a certificate for his music performance. Sounds mean not to give all the kids one, tbh. Performing in a concert is so exciting and nervewracking, anyone who puts the effort in deserves a reward if rewards are part of the school's way of saying well done. But I think generally not making too big a deal of things is the way forward as long as he is not feeling truly disheartened. Does he generally like school? Perhaps he will get a rocking year 4 teacher who recognises his worth and lavishes praise next year. Hope so.

However, even though I am broadly of the don't make too much fuss brigade, I would certainly ask why he is in the bottom group for maths if he has done well in the exams and is consistently doing well.

Nocomet Thu 05-Jun-14 19:25:36

Yes, it is worth saying something. All parents of quiet middle of the road DCs should say something and keep saying something.

It shouldn't be difficult to keep lists of certificates for a year group of 20, but IME it jolly well seems to be.

By this time in Y6 my very good at English DD2 had a sheaf of certificates, her quite middling ability DF had non.

I often sat by her DM in merit assembly, it got very blush. In the end we agreed her DM was going to have to moan. The next week she finally got an award.

The whole system seems daft, DD2 is the granddaughter of two Englishteachers. She seems to have acquired all their genes. Writing a good bit of KS2 English is no effort to her.

I'd much rather she got certificates for maths where she needed to try.

A few certificates for outstanding ability are one thing, but DCs know who is best at maths and English, they don't mind their DFs getting recognition for trying hard.

(However, only Y5/6 are likely to understand certificates for tiny improvements in behaviour and they still don't like them.)

Spurious Thu 05-Jun-14 19:27:35

Say something. I hate this kind of thing with a passion, but if you don't stand up for him, who will?

My DD, also Y3, is similar, not stellar at anything ( but good at music ) well behaved, happy to operate under the radar.

I went and had a quiet word with the head as she is in a class of memes and I thought her performance wasn't being measured at all.

Lo and behold the next week, three things happen to give her recognition.

Definitely worth saying something. I made sure I wasn't critical, kept to the facts, and blew her trumpet a bit.

Tex111 Thu 05-Jun-14 19:34:25

Definitely say something. Very similar situation. I had a chat with the teacher (who was new) and the deputy Head. Following week DD was recognized for a report she wrote and was absolutely delighted. Things have continued to improve. Having a quick chat isn't complaining. You're just expressing how your child feels when they're unable or uncomfortable doing it themselves. The school may have no idea that he was upset.

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 19:37:00

Thanks. You're right - I will say something low key but impactful!

The maths thing really is an oddity. But I think it's simply a case that of the 10 children in the middle of the year group ability wise I am probably the least likely to make a fuss so, when deciding groups, even if he is top of that 10, they've opted to put him down. Because they know other parents will make their lives a misery for it and I probably won't. Shouldn't be the decision criteria but I think we all know it sometimes is ;-)

sugarhoops Thu 05-Jun-14 20:00:41

Gosh you could be writing about my DS (yr2). Our situations sound almost identical! I, too, often feel like DS is overlooked in the classroom - he's so sodding easy and self-sufficient that he rarely gets awards, achievements etc.

However, upon discussing it with him, he does get given responsibilities that other class members don't - lots of speaking parts in school plays, responsibility in the classroom that others aren't offered eg taking things over to the office, registers, dinner money etc.

In reality, my DS would much rather receive something tangible eg certificates / stickers / awards, as opposed to being awarded 'responsible' tasks. BUt we've discussed it and he now appreciates his roles.

I would definitely speak to the teacher about the maths streaming. Perhaps also mention the lack of recognition - I did do this once, and the very next week, DS received a Head Teachers award. I think, sometimes, teachers do miss these quiet, conscientious little people & need memory jogging that these types of kids also need tangible recognition from time to time.

sugarhoops Thu 05-Jun-14 20:03:32

ps I too am a very hands off parent at school - I figure that teachers generally know way better than me about how to teach / stream / reward kids without a bolshy parent telling them otherwise. However, I think because I'm laid back, they do tend to listen and take me seriously when I do make of point of chatting to them about something - they know I only do it occasionally, and when I do, its because its a matter that is really important to me & my DC. GOod luck!

PaulinesPen Thu 05-Jun-14 20:13:44

Yes I think I would say something. Most esp about the maths stream. I'm also of the hands off, that's life type of parent but I think there's a limit as to how far to take that.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 05-Jun-14 20:24:02

DD is very upset as she hasn't had a Head Teachers award this year. I thought they all got one but I am starting to wonder as we are running out of term and they have had about 30 weeks of assemblies so could have given all the children one by now if they were going to.

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 20:25:15

Thanks. It's very difficult to put aside my view that none of this will matter when he's in his 20's and my que sera attitude. But I think you've all convinced me that it is in his best interest to say something.

I'm the most bolshy bitch at work but just cannot bear pushy, unobjective parents - however, I think it's time to use some of my famous workplace assertiveness on his behalf smile!

NCFTTB Thu 05-Jun-14 20:32:54

Yes definitely say something but in a nice way!

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 20:36:50

Assertive but nice for sure NCFTTB wink

Bearleigh Thu 05-Jun-14 20:46:29

Is he young in his year? BabyBearleigh didn't win/get anything for years except the PetCare Cup, and then he started. I always assumed it was when he caught up, as he has a June birthday.

BarbarianMum Thu 05-Jun-14 20:47:30

In a similar situation my friend innocently asked her son's class teacher what he (the son) needed to do in terms of work/effort/participation etc to allow him to win more golden tickets (the reward system at his school, similar to house points). This brought the fact that he was constantly overlooked and it was bothering him to the teacher's attention without her accusing the teacher. Soon afterwards golden tickets began to appear.

I thought it was a dead clever way of tackling it.

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 20:48:21

That's interesting - he is indeed an end of June baby. Maybe that's part of it.

sugarhoops Thu 05-Jun-14 20:52:30

I guess we have to cut teachers some slack in that, in a class of say 30 kids, there will always be the loud / confident / noticeable types who will get rewarded, and then the 'tricky' types who require reward in order to engage them in the classroom community. Our quiet, conscientious workers are easily overlooked.

Rightly or wrongly, we have touched on the point to our DS that this is what he will find throughout life - the loud / noisy / look-at-me / boisterous types, plus perhaps the more challenging / high maintenance types of person will get more attention throughout life, as opposed to the quiet, get-on-with-it type of person. I think its a pretty good life lesson in itself for kids.

Nonetheless, a parent does need to stand up for their child in times like these wink

Meglet Thu 05-Jun-14 20:58:29

Yes, say something. DS was overlooked all through reception year I even made a spreadsheet of what was listed on newsletters and only started receiving certificates when I mentioned it in the january of Y1.

DD is coming to the end of reception without an aware but I've spoken to her teacher who realises this and assured me she will get something in the next month.

wheresthebeach Thu 05-Jun-14 21:03:32

Yep...the lost middle. My DD's report from last year nearly made me weep. Sounded like they thought she was hard working, beautifully behaved, kind, and decidedly average at best.

I went into see head of KS2 and just asked them outright if this was what they thought? They were horrified.

So this year? Suddenly I've got parents commenting on my DD 'being picked AGAIN'...she's on student councils, school teams, presenting stuff to whole school assemblies, chosen for a music solo etc

They didn't realise...I kinda think they're busy running a school which is a big job and some quiet, nice kids get overlooked unless someone (parents) pip up (nicely and with a smile of course).

So...say something.

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 21:17:07

Thanks for the support everyone - good to know my middler ain't the only one!

oneearedrabbit Thu 05-Jun-14 21:29:24

I do remember a friend saying to me "the squeaky wheel gets oil first"; I think sometimes you should be the squeaky wheel for your child! Just pick your time . The maths thing sounds exactly the time.

CheeryName Thu 05-Jun-14 21:29:25

My middler is an absolute treasure and I am so heart burstingly proud of him.

He gets overlooked at school and at Cubs. He doesn't want to be centre stage but he does want recognition when 'the naughty ones' get rewarded for coping a bit better and 'the clever ones' get rewarded for being clever.

However, he joined a football club and they gave him an award for turning up regularly and being reliable and hardworking and committed. (The fact that they all got one doesn't matter!!!) OMG it made his year smile

WipsGlitter Thu 05-Jun-14 21:35:39

I made it clear my DS was working to get the weekly prize. I agree quiet children do get overlooked. My DS is 6 I'm on,y really working out the system now. Am dithering about talking to the headmaster about some stuff - mainly the use if ability tables. Will also clarify next year if the class monkey thing (if there is one) is random or for good work.

Deffo speak up re the maths thing.

ZakuroFujiwara Thu 05-Jun-14 21:37:04

Cheery - you're right - mine is a treasure too - and I think that's why I think in the end it won't matter because he's lovely, not showy, not boastful and pretty down to earth and that will stand him in good stead in the long run.

But, time for this wheel to start squeaking a little bit on his behalf as it's a thin line between overlooked and a self-esteem/self-confidence issue.

sugarhoops Thu 05-Jun-14 21:38:39

For everyone with a 'lost middler', I distinctly recall a thread on mumsnet on which a teacher posted saying that this 'lost middle' (or the quiet, conscientious kids) are, literally, the glue that holds a class together, and they are hugely valued by teachers (even if they're not specifically recognised as such).

The teacher talked about the classroom being a 'community' where everyone plays a role. Its the quiet, hard-working, average (hate that word) kids that just simply get on with it whilst the kids at the 'extremes' or the edges of the community get the lions share of the teachers attention.

We've used this analogy to help explain to our DS why he gets overlooked for awards / rewards etc. I think he's gradually getting it as he grows up and matures.

RolloRollo Thu 05-Jun-14 23:01:59

I had similar. DD was a middle-ability quiet child who despite an excellent school, got a bit lost.
At parents evening I'd listen to a few minutes of 'she is bright, but quiet', 'she seems to enjoy class, but doesn't speak much', 'she likes PE, but isn't very confident'...
It was as if the teacher was unable to see past the fact she was shy and knew little about her other than that was what held her back in the teacher's opinion. Frustrating!
I agree with other posters, say something but without creating a storm. Even just a hint can bring the child under the teacher's radar and make them start considering your DS more.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 05-Jun-14 23:18:11

it isn't only the middlers though who can be overlooked. DD1 is one of the top achievers, a real all rounder, bright, clever, incredibly hard working, well behaved, kind, helpful etc etc etc but hasn't had an award this year.

zzzzz Thu 05-Jun-14 23:24:48

The only thing that would concern me from your post is that he is extrovert at home and not at school. In my mind this is a flag that all is not well.

Toomanyhouseguests Thu 05-Jun-14 23:25:47

My initial thoughts...
1. A class of 19 is actually rather small, many state primary classes are 30 or even more, so class size shouldn't be an issue/excuse for the teacher
2. A grade 1 in two different instruments in year 3 seems really rather good to me...certainly much better than any children I know of at our school. Not middling talent at all, but on track for a possible music scholarship to an independent school etc! (Here children need to be level 5 in their first instrument and a grade 2 in their second instrument by the end of primary to compete for music scholarships.)
3. I would politely ask about the Math setting. It doesn't make sense at all.

2Retts Thu 05-Jun-14 23:47:46

Oh OP, I had two 'middlers' at that age. They just seemed to find the middle ground despite being so confident and self-assured outside of the classroom.

I quietly challenged a couple of specific things at the appropriate moment (e.g. parent's evening) and it had little impact on their day to day. They were happy enough.

Like Cheery, I (and they) did feel the occasional sense of injustice sometimes that the very naughty children and the very bright children seemed to demand all the attention and reward.

One day DD came home from school with the latest MP3 player (when they were the thing to have). I was slightly bemused. I asked why she had it; she explained it was her prize (end of term). What for? She was the only child in the school with 100% attendance.

Although I appreciate there are children who have to miss school through sickness etc., I couldn't quite believe that the first reward she was awarded in this school was for simply turning up.

Excellent post sugarhoops and this has indeed been my DC's experience as they have gone through their respective schools (recognition and respect from most staff).

I agree with your general attitude Zakuro; the odd squeak is never a bad thing but keep your perspective.

Ludoole Fri 06-Jun-14 00:58:52

Both my boys were overlooked as they were quiet, well mannered and well behaved.
Ds1 left primary with fantastic sats results but no recognition of any achievements were made through his time there.

Ds2, every teacher said they would love a class full of kids like him, but again no recognition or being picked for anything.

However a chance comment with a teacher at parents evening when I said he was quite the entertainer at home, led to him being asked to audition for a part in the school play. It gave him so much confidence when people were asking teachers who the boy playing his part was as he was wonderful grin Even now a year on, people mention it to me! grin

NaturalHistory Fri 06-Jun-14 11:35:16

The difference between a top tabler and a middler is a parent that knows the curriculum and does work at home with the child on a regular basis from an early age IMO. A parent that isn't afraid to push, ask when the assessments occur and about specific weaknesses.

Agree that books should come back and there should be complete transparency. I am at the relaxed end and think children should learn to be independent but at a typical state primary I think that massively disadvantages your child. You only need to read this thread to see why.

My friends that teach often have children that are G&T in one subject or other or go on to win scholarships at independents, some talent early on is spotted and nurtured. They are not always the brightest children (although of course they will be sometimes) but the children work smart, very hard and their parents know what's coming up and when. Fantastic early foundations are laid and it's a virtuous circle from there on in for the child. They hit the ground running.

RolloRollo Fri 06-Jun-14 13:41:01

zzzzz From my experience as a teacher it is very normal for children to be loud and extrovert at home but much more introvert at school. We are comfortable in our home environment, at school we are taught it is bad to call out, talk too much etc and there are 29 other children in the class... that is going to change many children's behaviour and leave them slightly more subdued.

One thing I do note is while it perhaps bothered me, it didn't directly bother DD. I guess things like not getting awards probably didn't help her confidence but I made sure in other areas of her life e.g. sports club or just generally at home she got lots of praise.

Toomanyhouseguests Fri 06-Jun-14 13:58:02

This is very insightful NaturalHistory. You have pinpointed the problem.

The lack of transparency gives a BIG advantage to people "in the know," eg. parents with older children who have seen it all before, parents who are, or who have teachers in the family etc. Because the children all have different targets and are not all necessarily taught the same thing at the same time, it makes it very difficult for underestimated children to "outperform" their targets. Their targets are lower and they aren't taught as much...pretty hard to catch up in a system like that.

With my first dc, I couldn't understand the tutoring cultural. It seemed counter productive; a waste of time and money. Now I see that parents are just frustrated and desperate.

All that said, I think the alternative, all kids taught the same thing at the same, given the same routine and frequent tests, those tests coming home to parents etc, would be "fair" but rather merciless to the children at the bottom of the class.

zzzzz Fri 06-Jun-14 14:04:26

I don't agree rollo while it may be true that some children behave very differently at school to at home, to me that would indicate that in one of the settings they were not being adequately supported. It is natural to be more reserved in a new or challenging situation but neither school nor home should cause that level of across the board change in personality. Obviously we adjust our behaviour to some extent in different surroundings but following the rules is not the same as displaying subdued behaviour over in an environment in comparison with loud extrovert behaviour in another.

BarbarianMum Fri 06-Jun-14 15:39:11

I think if most children were as extrovert at school as they were at home then school would be impossible.

Soveryupset Fri 06-Jun-14 15:43:50

naturalhistory and toomany, I agree with you. The tutoring is rife these days, and it isn't just paying tutors, but parents printing sheets, subscribing to websites, doing "fun" games and buying books.

When I was growing up (different country) this certainly wasn't the case but we were definitely all learning the same curriculum - there was some tutoring but typically for the few children who needed help.

Toomanyhouseguests Fri 06-Jun-14 15:46:02

That's how it was for me too, Soveryupset. The first five years of having a child at primary school, I wondered why children who were doing well were being tutored. The self-referencing targets create "moving goal posts." Parents get twitchy.

knickernicker Fri 06-Jun-14 15:47:42

Re the Maths- they will probably say that because he's quiet the lower set will be more nurturing, he will get more support, more notice taken of him etc.
I hate that, I also feel my quieter child faces this sort of discrimination. If he's bright enough to be in the upper set he'll be happier there.

CheeryName Fri 06-Jun-14 15:59:37

Its hard when you are a parent that's not a teacher! Its like this whole minefield of information that you don't have.

My DS isn't pushy enough, he follows the rules for no talking/when to hand things in etc and so feels that he is not allowed to say e.g. 'Is this the right sheet' or 'Fred left me out when giving out the homework' or 'I lost my book' or whatever.

Consequently he can end up with the wrong information to learn, or doesn't get to hand something in 'because its not Tuesday', and then hes not doing as well as he could.

He turned down music lessons because he would miss 'normal lessons' and it would be too complicated.

Toomanyhouseguests Fri 06-Jun-14 16:04:27

sad cheeryname

I feel really touched that he feels his environment is so chaotic that he cannot cope with the additional burden of a music lesson. The grown ups need to get organised!

Oblomov Fri 06-Jun-14 16:04:41

Definitely say something.
Please don't let this go.

ZakuroFujiwara Fri 06-Jun-14 16:50:40

Thanks everyone. He's moving up with maths from Monday - victory!

In fact, because we'd drawn attention to it, his teacher looked back at last years Sats/exam results and acknowledged that his progress this year has been extraordinary. This was definitely a bit of news to the teacher so all of you who said that there's no need to be overly pushy about pointing things out were absolutely right in this case - she looked just the tiniest bit shamefaced...

I'm going to leave the music thing for now - I'll keep it up my sleeve for future conversations! Pick your battles etc.

And naturalhistory and toomany 100% agree with you. As previously stated - spot on posts! I have probably erred too much on the side of relaxed parent and with Y4 looming I need to step it up a notch. Whilst not turning too nutty about it all in the process!

Toomanyhouseguests Fri 06-Jun-14 17:58:20

That's great Zakuro! I hope the move is the encouragement he needs to keep up the good work.

RaisinBoys Fri 06-Jun-14 18:07:47

Definitely say something. Sometimes teachers just need a reminder... Good luck! Your DS sounds delightful.

Morebiscuitsplease Fri 06-Jun-14 18:09:48

So glad you had a positive outcome. I think sometimes we do have to champion our children...who else will. I have quiet well behaved children who are introverts and the education system doesn't favour them. In a class of 30 they can be overlooked. Quite often it is onley after a good SATs test result that my eldest was moved up top on Maths and Reading. In a class of 30 it is too easy to focus on the loud ones!!

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