Tell me about your bright, able but can't be arsed DC's

(61 Posts)
sandyballs Tue 12-Nov-13 11:52:52

I've posted on here before about 12 year old DD (Year 8). Thankfully her behaviour has improved since those posts but she still is still under performing in most lessons.

Feedback from teachers say that she's bright and able and when she sets her mind to it she can create some fantastic work ..... but she can't be bothered most of the time.

I've tried calm chats about the future, about how she will be doing exams in just three years, which prob sounds a life time away for her, but it really isn't. I've tried being cross and punishing. She just doesn't care.

She's a lovely girl, funny, kind, lots of friends, is involved with guides and lots of sport, but how can I get her to buckle down at school. It's the same with homework - at the weekend she had to do a PSCHE article on the history of alcohol, when I eventually managed to get her to sit down and do it she spent about two minutes cutting and pasting from google, producing a piece of work which very obviously wasn't her own.

When I look back at primary school she had a great thirst for knowledge and loved reading, homework, learning ........... I'm sad this has vanished and I'm worried about her future. If she was struggling at school but did her best I'd find it far easier than being capable but not bothering.

Any ideas/experience?

Talkinpeace Wed 20-Nov-13 13:41:02

Very true, and DDs HOY is great, DS head of year is burnt out and everybody knows it (including them)

IloveJudgeJudy Wed 20-Nov-13 12:53:27

I haven't RTWT, but I will tell you what happened with DS1. For a reason that I won't go into here, we had a meeting with his HoY in Y8. She was very clever and got reports from each of his teachers. The ones that were strict gave him good reports, the weaker teachers gave him not such good reports. But, the HoY told him that academic ability is not the only reason for the set placing in schools. Behaviour comes into it, too.

The wording from the horse's mouth made a definite difference to DS1. I won't say that he changed overnight into an academic fiend, but his attitude definitely changed. He's now doing A levels and has just applied for uni. He's on track for As and Bs.

I think in your situation I would ask for a meeting with HoY. Let your DD hear things from them, not just you, the parents who don't know anything smile!

Talkinpeace Tue 19-Nov-13 21:59:36

fingers crossed that it continues

The first teacher we saw (saws subject that he was actually feeling quite confident about) said that he's putting in about half the effort he could.

Every teacher said that he is capable of exemplary work and high achievement but that inconsistent effort means that he rarely produces the goods.

The word "coasting" came up a lot.

Several teachers said that they will not be able to argue the case for putting him in top sets for GCSEs unless he comes up with the evidence within the next few months.

The evening ended with a reality check from the head of year, who reminded him that he is still academically gifted (despite recent appearances) and that he would be of an ilk to be head prefect and apply to Oxbridge if that's what he chooses, but that he would have to start putting the effort in now.

As soon as we got home, he decided to re-do two pieces of homework. grin

Parents' evening today. This should be interesting...

BerstieSpotts Mon 18-Nov-13 19:15:15

Yes! Bread you make a really good point. If you imagine that working hard means long hours, stress, burnout then you avoid it like the plague. However it's actually the opposite - that a little effort put in earlier will prevent the need for so much work that you do burn out. It's a silly catch 22 - I still do it now.

On that note I should really go and round up some rubbish or something else which isn't all the housework (that I'm ignoring) but is something.

notagiraffe Sun 17-Nov-13 12:50:46

Same here Time to ask. Takes a long time to unlearn those bad habits. DC are at a school where they are expected to really work - real nose to the grindstone stuff. Sometimes it freaks me out and I want to pull them out and send them somewhere laid back, but I have seen them develop from being idle and complacent, and realise how much I'd have got from a school that taught such self discipline early on.

lotty - when I got a place at an oxbridge college (vague so as not to out myself here) my mum said, shame it was you not your brother (he didn't get in) as you won't need your education and he will. Oh the good old days hmm

lottysmum Sun 17-Nov-13 10:02:02

Timetoask - I could have written your post but I was born in the age where my parents expected me to get married and have children rather than have a career.,..they pushed my older brother but were laid back with me and I was therefore VERY lazy..... I had a conversation with my DD about this because she is very able but show signs of doing bare minimum sometimes or just lack of confidence motivation ...I think sometimes its down to whether their teacher can motivate them too...my DD seems to have switched back on in English because she likes the teacher but turned off in Maths because the teacher in not motivating her...

Unfortunately for our DD her dad and I are both the same but did OK but didn't fulfill our potential...

Timetoask Sun 17-Nov-13 09:47:24

I was like this at school. Left everything till the last minute, then stressed myself for a couple of days and everything was fine and rosy again when my marks were good.

The problem, is that although I did ok, I could have done so much better! If I was a more organised person and not a procrastinator. This habit has continued with me until adulthood and it is now so difficult to get rid of.

I know I shouldn't blame my parents (but I do!). My mum (main carer, dad worked long hours) is an extremely disorganised person as well. So although she always emphasised the importance of a good education, good career, etc, she never really showed us how to organise our time properly, how to have an orderly mind. She allowed us to watch far more TV than what was ideal.

I am desperately trying to avoid this problem with my own DC. Luckily DH is the total opposite!

Willemdefoeismine Sun 17-Nov-13 08:07:37

Notice how it's mainly boys mentioned...says it all...

Basildonbond you are lucky that your DD has a different attitude - unfortunately our DS's has rubbed off on DD too ;-(

basildonbond Sun 17-Nov-13 06:40:06

All depressingly familiar here ... Ds1, extremely naturally bright - he just 'gets' things easily but also extremely lazy ... Was predicted all A*s for GCSE - came out with a sprinkling of A*s, As and a couple of Bs. Is utterly convinced of his superiority but doesn't seem to realise that the outward evidence doesn't support his conviction (71 boys in his year got all A*s and As so he's not even in the top third of his cohort). He's now in lower sixth doing IB in subjects he likes and is naturally good at and is still arsing around and getting behind - I could tear my hair out in frustration

Ds2 is in the top stream of his school - again is very bright but does the bare minimum and seems to think revision is 'cheating' - he's in Y9

And then we have dd (Y6) who's also very bright but who works hard and oh my, the difference!! I will be amazed if she doesn't end up being anything she wants to be - I just hope she doesn't feel she has to support her lazy brothers in their impecunious old age hmm

breadandbutterfly Sun 17-Nov-13 00:20:40

And stay on top of stuff from the start - it's always much, much harder to catch up once you've got behind.

This is where parents can help, by ensuring dcs don't drop behind initially in subjects they find harder.

breadandbutterfly Sun 17-Nov-13 00:18:52

I was a bit like this in that everything was v easy up to O Level - no need to work at all. At A Level it was harder but I coped. It was at uni where I came unstuck my first year and ended up with a third - a v helpful tutor rescued me by explaining that getting a good degree was just about putting in the hours, like in a job - he said if I put in 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, like a (not very demanding) job, I'd get a 2:1. And he was right. (Oxbridge)

I had previously imagined that working hard meant working really HARD, all the time, so procrastinated lots. Actually, kids need to be told early on it's not about exhausting yourself, it's just about keeping on top of things, with regular, organised work. Not last-minute, exhausting panics.

Wish someone had taught me that when I was much younger - would have saved me lots of stress.

It's the message I try to get across to my dcs now. No need to knacker yourself or stress. Just stay on top of things. Much nicer way to live.

Labro Sat 16-Nov-13 17:18:37

Ds is one. Coasted through primary age range, now yr 7, got a massive kick up the backside recently as maths has suddenly become 'difficult' Am seriously considering booking him into prep club on the evening he has maths to do!

BerstieSpotts Sat 16-Nov-13 13:56:23

The only thing I can think of is this, and it might or might not be helpful (bit of a stream of consciousness) so I'm just going to throw it out there. Coming from a person who was like this at school, and has struggled with further education and (at times) everyday life but now has a job, which I love, and put a lot of effort into, even though I can at times get away with not putting the effort in.

Okay, firstly, there must be something, somewhere in her life that she enjoys and puts effort into. Maybe it's not traditionally academic, maybe it's not academic at all, or perhaps it's something that seems very trivial and a waste of time, for example a computer game. It might help if you can quietly encourage this interest, so that she can experience that sense of what you can get out of something when you put time and energy into it. If it's something you can link to school, like a sport or art/drama/music/writing etc that she could join a club for, then that might help her form a more positive impression of some of her teachers or a new appreciation for a subject. It might also make her feel like there is more value in school work if she can link it to something she enjoys or is interested in. Obviously don't encourage it SO much that she doesn't end up with any time for homework, though.

Secondly, I think part of my "can't be bothered" is a huge tendency to get distracted and generally not focus. Even as an adult, I have to compartmentalise massively or I don't get anything done. I can't work at home (never have been able to) and work I do at home is not as good as work I do elsewhere, mainly because I will spend hours procrastinating before I even start. confused When I was at college/uni I used to go and work in the college library, and now I have a job that I need to spend extra time preparing for, I do this by going to my place of work and doing it there. If I do have to do it at home then I go into a totally different room than the one I usually relax/spend time in. (and still I end up on mumsnet/facebook for about an hour before I make a start) So for this reason I wonder if it would help to look at a homework club at school for her to help her separate out work time and home time?

sandyballs Sat 16-Nov-13 11:24:41

Really interesting to read your posts and it has made me realised that there is only so much we can do for her. Something has to click with her and make her want to study. So frustrating though. We got her 'assessment of student progress' scores yesterday and she's under achieving in almost everything. And Lots of 3s and 4s for effort - 3 meaning requires improvement and 4 is poor. What a waste sad.

Maths she got a 5a, she left primary school with that level so she's achieved nothing in 18 months. Same with English, 5b and science 5a. Her end of year target for English is 7c, maths 6a and science 6a.

Panadbois Fri 15-Nov-13 18:03:11

I appreciate the support smile

I have had my apology. He is now waiting for my acceptance of that apology grin

I told the teachers at the parents evening 'You can take a horse to water...'
He has support and encouragement. He has love and kisses (when wanted never) He has good food, clean clothes, safe place to live and sleep. Quiet place to work and study. the rest as you say is up to him.

I worry about his future hmm

SirChenjin Fri 15-Nov-13 17:15:32

I have one - he's currently upstairs not revising for his Highers, but tomorrow I will make him with the threat of no night out with his pals if he doesn't.

He has been the epitome of bright-but-lazy over the years, but it did seem to change in the lead up to his Standard Grades (as my friend who is a teacher promised me it would) and he seems to be much more focused on getting into university. Some of them seem to need the looming exams to actually get their fingers out and work - some of them will remain lazy buggers all their lives, of course, and some will never be academic or want to go down the academic route, but there does come a point when you have to say "it's your life, I cannot make you study*. They have to want to do it for themselves.

notagiraffe Fri 15-Nov-13 17:06:59

@lainiekazan
To this day I feel weighed down by my inner sense of superiority concealed by an outer layer of failure

This made me laugh. I know exactly what you mean!

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Nov-13 13:25:13

Panadbois
you have my total mental support too.

DD doing her first GCSE mock today.
I think DS is suddenly realising that he might have to start working next year (fingers crossed)

lainiekazan Fri 15-Nov-13 12:59:48

Glove punch of solidarity to Panadbois grin

Ds is doing his GCSEs. Last night he spent two hours playing the guitar. He just doesn't get it. He has always been top through primary school and secondary school but seems confused by the concept of trying .

Actually he is a chip off the old block. I went to a superselective grammar school (well, they weren't called that in t'olden days) and was in the top sets for all subjects and came top in most exams in the first couple of years. I did not distinguish myself after that. For a start I believed people when they said, "Oh, I didn't do a stroke of revision." (It was cool to not try.) And also I remember feeling that it was "cheating" to make an effort, as if you weren't really any good at a subject if you actually knuckled down and rote learned things.

To this day I feel weighed down by my inner sense of superiority concealed by an outer layer of failure confused .

BerstieSpotts Fri 15-Nov-13 08:52:07

I had this problem at school. I never really sorted it out and still struggle with motivation, self discipline, organisation etc.

I agree that it's the case that being "bright" can be a disadvantage later because they get used to coasting and then when you actually have to put some work in, it's a massive shock.

I'm sorry I can't tell you how to fix it, though. If you find out, please tell me grin

Panadbois Fri 15-Nov-13 08:45:34

I could murder my bright DS this week. It started when he refused to come with me to the parents evening tuesday and it has escalated. Now I'm not talking to him I'm very grown up

The xbox has been hidden and the cables for his computer have been removed since last night. I have been waiting for an apology since 8.30 yesterday morning, his response was "I'm not ready to apologise yet" (this was for a temper tantrum involving school - which included throwing recycling bins/house keys )

He's 15 hmm

Bonsoir Fri 15-Nov-13 08:32:06

wordfactory - I think you took exactly the right course of action with your DS. Obviously there are no guarantees. You took the course of action most likely to result in a favourable outcome.

wordfactory Fri 15-Nov-13 07:51:05

willem I agree that putting a clever DC in a superselective might not have the effect you want (laziness will out) but it seemed to me worth the shot.

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