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AIBU to be really annoyed with DS for just doing O.K at school?

(105 Posts)
moodymum8 Fri 15-Mar-13 08:26:50

I am a regular but have n/c for this as most of my posts are a bit more upbeat and I can't decide if I am being a complete cow or now:

DS is in Year 7 and a bright kid. Every parents' evening in the past have always been a breeze: bright, well behaved, gets good grades, no complaints...

He is now in Year 7 and this week we've had the first parents' evening at his new school and I find myself feeling really annoyed with him. Basically he is coasting - I think that's the message.

For example one teacher told me that the class had sat an exam that they were supposed to have revised for. DS did zero revision - didn't even tell me there was a test coming up. He got the second highest mark in the class and is delighted - crowing about how brilliantly he's done.
He started the year with really high levels in maths and English. He's made zero progress (gone backwards in fact in one) and does the absolute bare minimum for homework, never volunteers for the extension tasks etc but because he started on high levels, he's still near top and gets good marks and again is crowing about how good he is.

I am really furious if I’m honest. The AIBU part is AIBU to think that is not a good enough to get good marks with a crap attitude and no effort? And AIBU to wish he'd got all level 4's and a good telling off? And AIBU to let him know I am disappointed?
He knows I am I think because he lectured me that in MFL for example he has got the highest level they award for Year 7 so what’s my problem?
DH thinks we should be pleased DS gets good grades and is well behaved at school. He says many parents would be delighted just with that but I’m not. I think having a crap / lazy attitude is going to hold DS back much more in life than getting slightly lower grades. So AIBU and if not what do I do about it?

exoticfruits Fri 15-Mar-13 08:32:54

YANBU but you will probably have to wait until his grades start slipping for him to realise. I am surprised he hasn't got more competition- is he in a school where the top are creamed off?

VanitasVanitatum Fri 15-Mar-13 08:34:29

You're not BU. I was exactly like this in school and it took me years to build up a work ethic when I hit the real world after gcse..

GirlOutNumbered Fri 15-Mar-13 08:35:26

I see this a lot in class. Children come in and are used to being the best in class. They coast and get distracted as they believe its easy and then start to fail. They are not used to failing and so don't know how to cope and start dong less. Etc etc

exoticfruits Fri 15-Mar-13 08:35:29

I went to a secondary modern and could coast along and stay near the top- at that age your reasoning is that if you can come within the top 5 in the class with little work then why do it to be top? Sorry- I realise it isn't much help.

DesiderataHollow Fri 15-Mar-13 08:45:58

What motivation does he have to strive?

I was that child too, never did any homework, did the bare minimum in class, spent non-homework detentions every evening in the library (they misunderstood my motivation so badly that they thought that was a punishment) .

I was always in the top three of the (grammar) stream and left school with 10 good O levels and an offer of an assisted place for 6th form at a private school. I had no inclination to further study. I have no idea what anyone could have done to make me feel that there was any point to exerting myself when I was outstripping everyone else with the minimum of effort.

I had a couple of bashes at A levels later on, but to be honest couldn't see the point, and finally went to university to do a History degree as a mature student (with no A levels) because I had finally found something that gripped me and made me want to study.

So, he has to want to do it. He has to be able to see something that will encourage him now. Not some intangible in the future.

livinginwonderland Fri 15-Mar-13 08:46:30

i was like this. i found it very easy to get good grades with very little effort up until my gcse's. i didn't see the point in trying when i could just as easily do the bare minimum and get the same results at the end. i know that's not what you want to hear, though!

be grateful you have a smart kid with a natural intelligence - he'll learn eventually that he needs to do more and more work as he grows older. it might take a half term of "bad" grades to make him realise - that's what kicked me into gear, but it will happen smile

moodymum8 Fri 15-Mar-13 08:48:48

The school is a comp where the highest ability group is called a grammar stream even though there's no selection test to get in.
DS is bright but not so bright that he can do nothing for the next 5 years! They did tests at the start of the year for setting and he got level 6's in all core subjects so even though he has slipped a bit in one, this is still considered really good and gets him praise, high marks etc.

Due to his SATS and setting exams, his Year 7 and Year 9 targets are sky high and I do (when I am feeling charitable) wonder if this scares him and puts him off. He has already been told that he's expected to nail several A* grades - that's a lot of pressure for an 11 year old maybe. In fact the early focus on Year 9 and GCSE results seems very odd to me - it is all a long time away.
In my more realistic moments I think he just sees it as a cushion. If staying on track will give him A*s then he can afford to do very little and get all B's and C's which is fine.

They have end of year exams and I doubt he will reach his target levels in all subjects given that some are very high.
When this happens do I rely on his natural remorse or do I step in and punish him in some way?
I just don't know how to handle it. He thinks I am totally unreasonable to feel anything other than delighted
How do I make him put in a proper amount of effort? Is this where I start confiscating things and setting times for homework or will that make him worse?

seeker Fri 15-Mar-13 08:48:57

"He knows I am I think because he lectured me that in MFL for example he has got the highest level they award for Year 7 so what’s my problem?"

There shouldn't be a cap on what level they can get-what did he get, by the way?

DiseasesOfTheSheep Fri 15-Mar-13 08:53:37

If it's any consolation, I was like this until year 9 as I didn't see the point (exams didn't mean anything anyway) so coasted along in the top half of a very selective grammar school. I wanted decent GCSEs/A Levels/degree so I worked harder from yr 10 and got them. Many of the kids who worked very hard in years 7-9 seemed to rebel around GCSE time and didn't do as well as they might have if they had saved some effort from their ridiculously extensive yr7 projects grin

That said, I agree, it's very frustrating and he does need to snap out of it before the real work comes along.

seeker Fri 15-Mar-13 08:54:08

I would just let him get on with it, to be honest.

Does he do anything outside school? I have a year 7 who is having a bit of an easy ride academically at the moment, so I am giving him reading challenges, and he's also booked in for a music exam. Very exposing, music exams- if you don't practice at least a bit you fall flat on your face!

mrsjay Fri 15-Mar-13 08:57:42

YANBU but you will probably have to wait until his grades start slipping for him to realise. I am surprised he hasn't got more competition- is he in a school where the top are creamed off?

^ ^ this I had a coaster ( a girl) and it used to drive me up the wall she got good marks was well behaved but I knew she could do better, I ended up having to let it go the nagging wasn't working, she got good exam results but she could have got better iyswim, she is nearly 20 now and doing a degree in music production and engineering, she wanted to do physics but couldnt be arsed to study hmm , she is happy and very good at what she does,

moodymum8 Fri 15-Mar-13 09:27:23

seeker: Apparently they haven't yet covered the vocabulary and other bits needed to get the higher levels like listening to speech at normal speed by a native speaker or using future tenses. That's the reason there is a sort of cap on what they can get each year in KS3.

DS does nothing outside school and has no desire to. He reads a lot of books at home I suppose (all sci-fi or action books) but point blank refuses to join any clubs. I think he might faint if I suggested an instrument. He has absolutely no interest or talent for any creative pursuits at all.

I am glad to hear others have been through this themselves or with their children and it has all turned out O.K. but basically you’re saying I cannot force / punish / coerce him to work?
It seems the general consensus that I’ll have to wait until something captures his interest and motivates him to do well or wait until his grades slip, hope this is sooner rather than later and let him see that his current master plan isn’t such a great one.

I am glad I am not being totally unreasonable but I do wish there was a cure to this as, reasonable or not, I find it is really frustrating the hell out of me!

mrsjay Fri 15-Mar-13 09:31:13

I just couldnt think of anything that would motivate dd to do better I tried shouting coercing bribery even nothing seemed to work her passion was music though so I think she was focused on tha I know I sound ungrateful as she did quite well in school but It is frustrating

seeker Fri 15-Mar-13 09:36:41

So is he at least a level 4c in MFL?

Had you thought about getting him to read more widely? An hour of a book chosen by you before any sci-fi, or screen stuff?

YouTheCat Fri 15-Mar-13 09:38:50

He's 11/12 and he has his whole life ahead of him to get stressed out by exams and work.

Let him enjoy coasting a bit. He will have to work hard when it comes down to GCSEs in a few years and even harder for A levels. Year 7 can be a bit of a shock for some kids.

Then it'll be off to uni for more work and exams and before you know it he'll be doing the 9-5 drudge like the rest of us.

noblegiraffe Fri 15-Mar-13 09:43:34

I've found with high achieving boys, competition between them can be an excellent motivator. Second highest? So who came top then? Can you encourage friendly rivalry? 'if you're so clever, how come Johnny beat you??'

Unfortunately, some boys aren't competitive and just don't give a shit. They are very hard to deal with.

cocobongo Fri 15-Mar-13 09:43:50

I think the problem is often that there is often a rebasing of standards when moving to a secondary school. I remember when I moved to secondary, the things I was initially doing in maths were things I had covered 2/3 years before. I guess it was to allow others to catch up. However, it had the potential to make people switch off and coast. Is it possible this is what is happening to your son? Is what he is covering not challenging enough?

BlahBlahBlahhh Fri 15-Mar-13 09:47:15

You've just described my year 8 son....we are using the carrot and stick approach...he is very materialistic...wants cool car, exotic holidays, nice house, designer clothes when he gets a job...we just point out to him that if that's what he wants the way to get it is to knuckle down. He knows what career path he wants to follow so Im doing my best to guide him. I've worked backwards....this is what you want and to get it you'll need this do this degree you need to have these A levels, to get these A levels you'd probably need to have got a good GCSE grade at these subjects etc etc. Nobody guided me and Im plodding along in a job I tolerate but don't enjoy. For me to change that I would need to retake certain GCSEs prior to doing another degree. Have explained to DS the cost involved if you have to retake as an adult and how lucky you are prior to 18 getting to take exams for free. Reading this back I sound so serious...Im not at all, In fact Im very easygoing but I speak as someone who also coasted along and did ok but with a bit of effort could have gone far !

hackmum Fri 15-Mar-13 09:51:21

Children tend to go backwards in year 7 for a while - it's a difficult transition.

I don't blame him for coasting. In my view, it's a natural human tendency. Who wants to put in a load of extra effort when you're 12 years old? The problem, perhaps, is that the school is letting him coast and not stretching him enough.

seeker Fri 15-Mar-13 09:53:18

Noblegiraffe- sadly the thing that motivates my ds is the simple fact that the one person likely to beat him is a girl!

Not proud of that- but it does make him put a bit of effort in! blush

nokidshere Fri 15-Mar-13 09:53:18

You cannot make them do it.

All you can do is instill and talk about the importance of education and the pitfalls of coasting along.

I've learned to step back and leave my boys to it. They wont have me sitting next to them in the exam room after all. I get that you are frustrated but nagging won't help unfortunately.

Startail Fri 15-Mar-13 09:56:05

You won't get any where, very few people are inclined to put in more effort than they can see any reward for.

DH does complicated technical stuff above and beyond work for fun.

He can't get that the rest of us like to chill having done what we need to.

I think if you nag DS now, you risk him saying bugger off when there is important revision to do.

Yes a work ethic is a wonderful thing to have, but you can't force someone to have one, they have to find something they love.

For DH it's absolutely anything technical, for DD1 it's singing, DD2 and me are still looking.

moodymum8 Fri 15-Mar-13 10:09:56

Seeker: I don't know his sub level in MFL but he is a 4. I am guessing a 4c would be right. He has taken to it very well - possibly because he has a good memory - but again there's no enthusiasm or spark really. He does the bare minimum and it is just the tests that show he is capable.
The reading thing is a good idea. I go to the library every weekend with other DC but DS won’t come with us. I will however get him some books outside his usual choices tomorrow and ask him to do 30 minutes (rising to an hour) in the evenings. I don't think he'd mind doing that.

YouTheCat: see sometimes I think that as well and think I am a mean old cow who is going to drive him into unhappiness and failing all his exams with my unreasonable expectations and inability to hide my crossness from him. Then other times I think the world is a competitive place, it’s not long until they decide their GCSE options and if he keeps up these bad habits, when it actually comes to striving for his exams, he won’t have the skills or resilience to do it.

Noble: unfortunately DS is not overly competitive in wanting to come top – especially not if it involves any effort on his part. If anything he thinks coming second in a test he didn’t revise for is somehow much more of an achievement than coming first with a bit of work! The reason I feel a cow is that it is his smugness that annoys me. For example the school chooses students for triple science based on getting a level 6 in Year 9. DS is already a comfortable level 6 and has gloated that he is as good as the Year 9's (not within their earshot I assume!). He won't be told that this is not the case - the downside of having expressed as levels.

Cocobongo: He is in the top stream so I think the work is as hard as it gets for Year 7’s. He is definitely not so clever that he’s bored. In fact he gets quite cross if he ever does get anything that challenges him or that takes him more than a few minutes to zip through. He certainly doesn’t relish more difficult work and moans and groans about any homework that is hard to do or takes time to complete.

BlahBlahBlahhh: Snap! DS is completely mercenary as well. He wants a luxury lifestyle, flash car and generally nicer things than we have but has no career plan beyond getting someone to pay him a lot of money for doing sod all! Maybe that’s the key – to get him to work backwards a bit to see the steps he needs to get all this cash he wants!

seeker Fri 15-Mar-13 10:18:48

Please don't take this the wrong way- but when you say "I don't think he's mind that" what do you mean? The seems to be a lot of "he just won't" " he refuses" in your posts- I know it's easy for me to say, but it does sound a bit as though he rules the roost a bit. Am I wrong?

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