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Help for Yr 9 DS

(7 Posts)
artyjools Tue 23-Nov-10 22:01:32

Are there any other mums of Year 9 boys who feel like tearing their hair out?

We pulled DS1 out of a failing state school a few years ago in the hope that he might do better at private school. He loves it where he is, and he is a great kid in so many ways, but he just doesn't seem to be doing very well academically. We are worried for him.

The teachers say he works hard in class, contributes well and seems to understand what is going on, but he bombs out when it comes to exams. He appears to be totally useless at maths, in spite of DH spending hours and hours with him, we can't get him to read, and he doesn't have any analytical skills at all. TBH, I think the major problem is laziness. The only thing he seems to be interested in is the X-box. We are limiting the amount of time he spends on it but DH is talking about taking it away altogether.

I'm more than prepared to blame ourselves for his shortcomings, but our other children, who are in a state school, are doing very well. I know everyone can't be brainy and I don't need him to be top dog or go to university for my own sake, but we think that someone without at least English and maths GCSE will really struggle to find work in the current climate.

The thing is that the school don't seem to be that concerned. So possibly this is the norm for boys this age? Or perhaps subjects have been dumbed down to such an extent we are worrying unnecessarily. DH says he would do better if he went to state school and had private tuition.

Any thoughts please?

webwiz Tue 23-Nov-10 22:24:05

DS is in year 9 and I recognise the xbox problem but it can be a useful carrot especially if there is some laziness going on!

A few thoughts on the other things:
Do you have any idea what sort of levels he's working at? That would give some idea of what sort of track he was on.

If he is bombing out in exams then its maybe a technique thing rather than an ability thing - better to find this out now rather than later.

Does he have a gap somewhere in his Maths that is making it hard to build new stuff onto it? DD1 somehow lost something on the way in Maths and by the start of year 11 she was hopeless, she just kept forgetting everything new because she didn't quite understand it and she had lost her confidence in the subject. I went right through a revision book with her over about 6 months and she got an A at GCSE in the end.

I would start out with trying to get a picture of where he actually is now.

artyjools Wed 24-Nov-10 19:52:34

Thank you, webwiz. Ohhh yes, the power of the xbox as a carrot is awesome.

His teachers say he is an average student, although his effort marks are always high. We are wondering whether private schools do this to keep parents in line. But I am going to try to get hold of some GCSE papers to see if our understanding of the level expected is out of date.

As for maths, he has totally lost confidence in the subject and I completely understand how he feels as I detested maths when I was at school. I managed to pass my O level with a good grade due to the patience of one kind maths teacher, after a string of clever, spiteful, nasty, yelling teachers who took my confidence away. Unfortunately, DH, who find maths easy, has difficulty understanding this and feels it is possible to make him into a grade A student if we work him hard enough. Deep sigh. Maybe I am being too soft on him, I really don't know. DH did take him right back to basics, but there seems to be a disparity between where we think he is and where the school thinks he is.

freerangeeggs Wed 24-Nov-10 19:55:33

He sounds like the definition of an ordinary Y9 boy! I know, I teach about forty of them

In my own, albeit somewhat limited, experience there isn't much you can do - just carry on pushing to make sure he keeps up with his classmates. You sound like you're doing everything right.

My own brother didn't read a book until he was 17; now he eats up books about politics and the military, because he's interested in the subjects. Loads of kids are reluctant readers until they find something that they like. Just keep suggesting books to him, and leave them lying about (in the bathroom, maybe? :P ) in the hope that he'll pick them up! Have you tried graphic novels? There are loads of good quality graphic novels around at the moment. How about short stories? Ray Bradbury, for example - more readable than an entire novel, perhaps, but still challenging and the kids love him. You could try getting two copies of the same book and reading them simultaneously - maybe he and his dad could make a trip to the bookshop to find one they both fancy (or one that your son fancies that your DH can pretend to like!) and they could discuss it together as they read it.

'Animal Farm' is a good one for Y9 boys, I find, and not too daunting since it's a novella. 'Holes' is good too and Anthony Horowitz has lots of good short stories too, as does Paul Jennings.

As for his Xbox - I wouldn't get rid of it because then I'd have nothing to bribe him with!! Also, for a Y9 boy, having no Xbox will RUIN his LIFE!!1! All his friends will talk about and be generally obsessed with Xbox - it seems pretty harsh to take it from him. Definitely limit it though - it could be a really powerful reward/motivator if you use it positively rather than negatively.

He sounds like he has wonderful parents, anyway - I wish all my kids had parents like you and your DH.

webwiz Wed 24-Nov-10 20:15:10

artyjools the situation in your house sounds exactly like why I helped DD1 with Maths (Math O level) and DH didn't(Maths degree)grin

It might be more useful to look at a Key stage three Maths book and that would show what he needs to know before the end of year 9. Maybe think about some tutoring at some point but not necessarily right now.

I agree with freerangeggs about the books - DS will read things that DH has read but he likes non fiction as well. So long as he's reading something I don't mind what it is.

artyjools Thu 25-Nov-10 22:17:33

Freerangeeggs - thank you so much for this "virtual hug"! It really does help knowing that he is following the normal course for a teenage boy. I like the idea of reading something with him and Animal Farm is a great recommendation. I loved it when I was his age (but I was a reader). We have been buying him football magazines, which he does read - so perhaps all is not lost.

Webwiz - it would be utterly pointless me helping him with maths - the blind leading the blind, I'm afraid. Getting the Key stage 3 maths book is another good idea though...... maybe I could work through it with him hmm.

You have made me feel more optimistic - so thanks again.

cat64 Thu 25-Nov-10 22:34:36

Message withdrawn

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