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School stuff

(11 Posts)
tldr Wed 01-Feb-17 14:47:38

DD is Y2. Her behaviour at school is fine.

Her reading is brilliant, she has a sharp sense of humour and on the whole seems to be fairly clever. However, her handwriting, maths, spelling are really poor, and whilst she's making progress it feels like she's falling further and further behind.

We spend a lot of time working on these at home, but the end result is usually wasted time and short tempers (for all of us...) Part of me wants to just let her be a kid and play when she's at home, another part of me feels like that would be letting her down.

She gets a lot of 121 at school (paid for by pp) but on the whole, they have categorised her as 'getting there'. I fear she isn't and because she's so clever in other ways, I've decided it's adoption-related.

What can we do? (School are generally supportive.)

UnderTheNameOfSanders Wed 01-Feb-17 20:44:54

It may be adoption related.
And/or she may have a mismatch in abilities (i.e. specific learning difficulties). See my thread today 'upset for DD2' who also has difficulties with handwriting, spelling and some maths. DD2 was placed age 2.5 and is now 12 and y7.
I never really got her primary to recognise her difficulties beyond getting a bit of targeted support every now and then.

tldr Wed 01-Feb-17 21:09:09

Thanks Sanders, it was your thread that prompted me to post! I recognised a lot of my DD in your description of yours.

A mismatch in abilities sounds exactly right - she'll happily write messages/emails on my ipad where she doesn't have to worry about forming letters, but writing those same messages with a pen would be near impossible. And then I find it hard that she's judged on the written output when that is the thing she struggles most with.

How did you get them to take it seriously at secondary?

PoppyStellar Wed 01-Feb-17 21:15:12

I'm not sure, but I read your post and having a DD same age who sounds quite similar (except for the being brilliant at reading) I just wanted to say I hear you and I empathise - not that that is much help I know.

In practical terms I don't know what else you can do. It sounds like school have got support and targeted interventions in place? If not then that's worth asking for. If she's having trouble with maths for example are they taking her out and giving her some specific tailored maths support.

If they are doing that then I'm not sure what else to suggest asking school for, sorry. Conscious that doesn't help at all though.

In terms of stuff at home, homework for us is regularly fraught, particularly anything that involves writing sentences. It would end up with her upset, me frustrated and both of us completely wound up. I've learnt to break it into absolutely tiny sections (sometimes just one question at a time) and offer a 'reward' after each section is done (a sweet, a jump on the trampoline, a 30 second dance to favourite pop song etc). This seems to help but does of course mean homework can take an age. For DD the stress seems to come from having to concentrate on something she finds difficult and taxing. If she only has to do a little bit at a time it feels manageable.

We get spellings weekly and they're a bloody nightmare. DD had a total full on meltdown about spellings a couple of months ago. She was absolutely distraught. It wasn't so much the spellings rather just all the pressure they seem to be under in Year 2, combined with the pressure of keeping it all in at school because she wants to behave had just completely overwhelmed her and she lay down sobbing. At that point I decided that it really didn't matter if she never learnt spellings again in year 2. My reasoning was that a) her mental health and well being were far more important than learning random words and b) she would have plenty of time to catch up as she goes through school.

I think what I am trying to say is to not sweat doing extra stuff at home. You aren't failing her by not making her sit down and do extra study. If school are supportive and have interventions in place then trust in them to be the best way of supporting your DD academically. I am trying to minimise the 'formal' learning we have to do at home such as homework and try and sneak in some fun maths, fun spellings etc IF the opportunity arises and in such a way that DD isn't aware she's learning. Quite often it's at quite simplistic levels but that then gives DD some satisfaction and confidence in her abilities.

Also worth remembering that the new curriculum and age related expectations are ridiculously hard. For example, last year's year 6 reading paper had a reading age of about 15 I think. It was totally ridiculous, more suited to GCSE than end of Primary school. All this means that if she's 'getting there' she's doing okay, and if she had been born a couple of years previously she'd have been assessed completely differently and probably been assessed as being right on track.

And the final thing - sorry this has turned into an epic post - if she's good at reading and enjoys it focus on this. Reading is one of the best ways to extend vocabulary and improve spelling.

PoppyStellar Wed 01-Feb-17 21:16:09

Sorry X posted as took an age to type

tethersend Wed 01-Feb-17 22:40:12

It sounds as if an Educational Psychology assessment might be useful. The school
could use some of her PPP to pay if there is a long delay/funding issues through their usual channels.

conserveisposhforjam Wed 01-Feb-17 22:41:23

I agree with everything poppystellar says.

My oldest is the same age and a bit similar (though not the adopted one). But I don't really think they are assessing on the right things in the curriculum. So I'm happy to ask good questions in everyday conversation that stimulate her thinking skills (have you heard of thunks? ) and encourage the reading and do a bit of 'why do you think the character is like that? How has the author made you feel that? ' for good measure. Which I reckon is also good for their emotional intelligence and their overview understanding of narrative (which is what writing is going to be about later).

And I let school get on with the other stuff. Because they are actually better at it than me. And I sometimes rebel a bit if I think the homework is going to cause too much fallout for fuck all benefit and we don't do it.

Y'know me though tldr - bolshy. grin

I think you need permission to back off and let her not be any good at some stuff while you work on the important stuff.

Consider it granted. wink

Someone incredibly wise once told me that 'the soft stuff is the hard stuff'. Both hard in the sense of difficult to get right and hard as in it's the stuff that matters. You are doing really well on the soft stuff. Spelling and maths are definitely not that.

PoppyStellar Wed 01-Feb-17 23:01:08

Mutual appreciation society here, I agree with conserve smile, especially about saying fuck it to homework with fuck all benefit. She's also spot on about giving yourself permission.

Be kind to yourself, you are doing all the right things.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Thu 02-Feb-17 11:40:03

With secondary I spoke with the SENCO and listed some of the issues and asked for an assessment. Might help that SENCO knows family history with DD1's dyspraxia too.

I think the older they get, the bigger gaps appear, so it becomes easier for schools to judge between someone who is just a bit behind, and someone who has specific barriers to their learning. Also mismatches between skills become more obvious. Secondaries probably have bigger SEN departments and more knowledge/funds.

DD2 completely failed to learn spellings all the way to year 6. It was only then that time spent learning spellings seemed to have any benefit in spelling tests. This term she got her first ever full marks in a spelling test!

The amount of time I have spent on times tables and other maths over the years - but DD2 continues to struggle. She still can't reliably say if 9 is an odd or even number.

I agree it is really hard knowing when to push and when to let go. But if pushing makes you all unhappy and doesn't work anyway, I'd let it go for now.

As to whether this stuff is adoption related. Who knows? For DD2 it could be genetic, or because she was prem, or because she was neglected, or just because. I think you can go round in circles with this, I know I did with DD1. Ultimately you have to go with what's in front of you.

Try looking up auditory processing disorder.

tldr Fri 03-Feb-17 16:44:29

Thanks so much for all your responses.

Poppy, that all sounds horribly familiar. Almost exactly what you've said is true here. School are doing targeted interventions, both as what they'd provide to anyone who needed it, plus additional pp funded 121.

I probably do need to give myself permission to quit pushing because I'm such a bloody rule follower, but one of the reasons I've persevered is that she was starting to say things about herself being stupid. She's beginning to notice other kids can do stuff she can't.

tethers, thanks for the assessment suggestion, I'll do some reading. (And for your help ages ago that helped me knock school into shape in the first place!)

sanders, thanks for info. Have looked at auditory processing, from initial reading it doesn't sound right but I'll pay more attention in case.

In any case, it's nice to know I'm not alone. It's all so bloody hard.

conserve, you know I'm already in your fan club. 😘

Is it Friday evening yet? <hopeful>

PoppyStellar Fri 03-Feb-17 17:51:12

I hear ya. I've realised I'm a bit of a rule follower too when it comes to all things education. It goes against every grain in my body to let homework slide but I know at the moment it really shouldn't be something we worry about. We've got comprehension homework this weekend. I already have the fear!

I reckon it's definitely wine o'clock (except I don't even drink anymore!!)

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