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Anyone else have a clever, but lazy child?

(29 Posts)
Mumfedup Fri 05-Oct-12 20:16:30

DD1 is 9.5, and she's at an excellent, small primary school with several Outstanding Ofsteds, in a row.

She scored all Level 3s at the end of Yr 2, and is safely on target to score all Level 5s at the end of Yr 6. Infact, she scored a Level 4c in Reading at the end of Yr4, so she might even go beyond a Level 5 in Reading before Yr 6?

So, the thing is I know she is pretty bright. But she's just so lazy. She's not that bothered about doing her homework, and doesn't seem perturbed if she only half finishes it. She's not that bothered about learning her spellings, and doesn't seem to care if she gets a few wrong.

She will only read if I tell her to, and left to her own devices she'd never read for pleasure. I have tried her with all sorts of books, but she's just not that bothered. I just found out today, that's she's dropped out of the top reading group, again. This happened this time last year, so I really worked hard with her for several months, got her reading a lot more to me, and she went back up in June. Since then I eased off again, thinking she'd be okay on her own, but obviously she's flagged again.

She enjoys school, has a lot of friends and no one ever has a bad word to say about her. But she's really quite dreamy, and doesn't seem to feel the need to ensure her homework is done, and she'll often rush it, just to get it over and done with.

I had a talk with her tonight, about 'how she is clever, but 'sometimes' has a lazy brain, and she got upset, which was horrible, but I felt something had to be said.

adeucalione Fri 05-Oct-12 21:47:04

I think that self motivation is the key to academic success really, so you are right to want to encourage this in your DD, although it may just click as she matures and begins to make the connection between effort and reward.

In the meantime I would avoid criticism and just praise like mad every time she demonstrates real effort, focus on effort rather than achievement and highlight these traits in other people - whether this is a friend who worked hard to make the school orchestra or watching sportspeople on TV.

adeucalione Fri 05-Oct-12 21:50:17

And just to answer your question about levels - children are supposed to move up one level every two years, so a 4c at the end of Y4 should translate into a 5c at the end of Y6. I have to say that this would not put her in the top group at our school, so do just be careful that you aren't expecting too much or applying too much pressure.

maillotjaune Fri 05-Oct-12 23:03:33

Yes my DS1 is very lazy! He knows it, and even quotes Michael Morpurgo (SP?) who he heard saying that years of day dreaming and looking out of the window at school was great preparation for being an author.grin

I can't get him to do anything but read without encouragement. He loves school though, and I accept he is not me and I can't change his whole outlook. I was quite lazy too, but always rushed through work so it was done, then sat back and drifted off. My aim is to persuade him, ever so gently, that this is a more successful approach to school.

smellsabit Fri 05-Oct-12 23:27:34

not wanting to dampen the mood ..
clever ds (now y 10)
no motivation
almost prides himself in being cleverer than everyone else.
never does homework
never revises
despises most teachers
argues (he sees it as debating) constantly
is hard hard work for teachers and at home
always top of class unfortunately as it is reinforcing lack of work ethic.
annoys some teachers is liked by others.
dh always says he will either end up on the streets or in prison or stinking rich or an academic genius!

LadyPlainJane Fri 05-Oct-12 23:40:13

What about the following viewpoint? confused. It's, sort of, what I did with my bright but lazy middle DC. He is now matured into a bright and NOT lazy 18 year old.

Personally, I would be wary of telling a DC that they are clever but lazy. I would address the actual standard of their work and what they can do to improve it. I don't think it is good to give a DC a 'label' as they can take it too literally and use it as a reason why they can't change their behaviour. I've known teenage boys wear the 'bright but lazy' label with pride.

Your DD still has plenty of time to get her act together. Being dreamy, careless and forgetful is very normal at that age. I would leave her to work it out for herself with just a little nudging or nagging support. Have some faith in the school, they will be gradually increasing their expectations of her and will be slowly esculating the consequences of sloppy work or forgotten homework. Resist bailing her out and try not to bang heads with her about it. Hopefully, it will all come together in time for GCSE's.

LynetteScavo Fri 05-Oct-12 23:41:44

smellsabit, sounds familiar!

Apparently he's already reached his end of year target in maths. DH said "well done". I said "Maybe the target wasn't set high enough."

DS isn't top of the year. Apparently there are three stellar pupils, then a few that work really hard, then him, who is in the top ten with no effort. <smurk from DS>>

As he said last weekend "The trouble with being as clever as me is that other people seem really stupid"

I had to hold back from saying "The trouble with being a teenage boy is that you can sound really arrogant at times".

When he gets to uni (if he actually bothers to turn up for any GCSE or A level exams) I think he might have a bit of a shock.

OP, chill. DS survived primary school without ever completing any homework. I'm just glad my less academic DC are willing to put some effort in. If she is popular, then that is brilliant. smile

smellsabit Fri 05-Oct-12 23:58:54

can so relate!
op my clever ds not popular
(but hanging round with wierd crowd atm where i am not sure if he is liked or tolerated)
primary - dd who is clever and nice didn't do home work for a while bt primary but the wanting to fit in and please the teacher mentality kicked in later on and she did really well. actually had a brilliant old man primary teacher who rebelled and never set homework saying bt that age (year 3) was for playing bt home not homework and she thrived in that atmosphere. !

smellsabit Sat 06-Oct-12 00:00:39

our annoying and frustrating boys are another thread!
wanna start one?

WilfSell Sat 06-Oct-12 00:04:17

You, and possibly they (though I can't get my lazy but bright DS to read them grin), should take a look at Mindset by Carol Dweck, Bounce by Matthew Syed and there's another similar one by Geoff someone...

These books all make the point that being clever is never enough, nor is it inherent. Dweck in particular reinforces the notion of having a flexible mindset to recognise that cleverness is not innate but the result of work, even in those to whom it seems to come naturally. And so the 'I don't need to work' ethos is setting them up for a lifetime of fearing failure and lack of valuing effort. God, I wish I'd read it when I was a teenager! The Syed one is also good as it sniffs a bit at the idea of 'genius', which we all like to flatter ourselves and our kids with, but the point is, unless you're stretching yourself and getting practice in, you're never really meeting your potential.

I'm still working on my DS and trying to get him to think beyond his 'cleverness' and work on things like 'commitment', 'ethics', 'compassion', 'empathy' and 'effort'... We reward him materially when he gets good effort grades on his reports, while still being proud of his raw results. I am also a big fan of team sports for kids like this - they need to know they can't expect to do everything in life by themselves. Delighted DS has got his act together to join a school sports programme.

I see this as giving him self-management skills - being smart alone is never enough. I supervise countless students who are so bright, their expectations and perfectionism lead them to fail because they can't cope with it at higher levels. When it is easy to learn facts and be good at maths at school it is very seductive; when they're older and need higher level skills, such as craft, dedication, attention to detail, synthesis, teamwork, editing/revision skills, analysis, creativity, they sometimes struggle because it doesn't come 'easy'.

So I think as parents we also have to be careful: if we're all glittery eyed about our mini-geniuses (and I am/was too...) we risk missing the damage this story can do to them. We sometimes collude with the idea that they have some inherent property that is just 'in' them, rather than seeing them as developing, responding creatures - so when we say 'oh you're so clever!' we're reinforcing this somewhat... So praising them for their efforts, work, changes they have made, their openness, co-operation, capacity to take advice (according to Dweck) is more helpful than praising something that is seen as their unchanging personal capacity.

LynetteScavo Sat 06-Oct-12 00:06:29

Haha, DS had one of those old school teachers in Y4 "school is for work, home is for riding your bike and playing with friends" so no homework was set. (Just as well as he would have point blank refused to do it)

My DS also isn't very popular. Apparently he is well liked, but he doesn't have many friends. hmm

I find it much easier to have a middle of the class, very popular child.

QuintessentialShadows Sat 06-Oct-12 00:11:50

1/3 of my sons Y6 class is working towards Level 6 in numeracy and literacy.
My son is reasonably bright. He spent 3 years in Norway away from English and the UK curriculum, started primary school again at Reception level after leaving UK and Y1 behind, and scored a 4A in numeracy at the end of Y5. So in essence, he left Norway at Y3 level, and joined his uk class in Y5. And at the end of the year was reading and writing and spelling at Level 5. (having been overseas with no proper English and English literacy education for three years)

If your girl has spent her entire schooling in the uk, and has just now started Y5 (judging by her age) I would say she is ok, but dont harass her about her brightness just yet. She is English, and learnt to read English many many moons ago, so hold yer horses.

smellsabit Sat 06-Oct-12 00:12:50

i agree
i would love ds to 'get' this
hates team stuff
won't join in bt school
empathy is his biggest failing area.
i Dont praise his cleverness - he does that enough himself
will get the book you recommend and 'leave it lying round' though!
if i suggest something it would fall on deaf ears.

smellsabit Sat 06-Oct-12 00:13:59

previous to wilfsell!
slow on keyboard!

SundaeGirl Sat 06-Oct-12 00:21:54

I agree with Wilf and LPJ. I think it is a very bad idea to label a child 'clever but lazy' - it is setting them up for some serious disappointment ahead.

The world judges us by actions and results. If our actions (efforts) score a D and our results score a C, the fact our mum thinks we've got an A brain is just setting us up for resentment and misery. Whhhhyyyyy is no one recognising our amazing potential and rewarding us on thhhaaat? Because it doesn't work like that.

If you want to help your DD start accepting that her results reflect her capabilities at the moment. Until she is more motivated she isn't capable of getting anything higher. She can change and her results will improve.

Definitely read Bounce by Matthew Syed. I think it should be required reading for parents.

LynetteScavo Sat 06-Oct-12 00:25:41

I offered DS an Ipod touch if he improved his engagement scores. I didn't need to buy him one.

Will google the mentioned books.

defineme Sat 06-Oct-12 00:37:07

Lynette why did you hold back from the arrogant question?
I have an asd ds1 who struggles in all areas.
I have ds2 who is clever academically(got all 3s last year in yr2 but so did a lot of kids in his class and he's no genius), a bit slapdash, but enjoys working in a competitive environment and that's what drives him.
DD (his twin) is middle of road academically, very emotionally intelligent ('gets' her asd brother more than I do sometimes) and motivated by interest alone-competition stresses her out.
My point being that they all have different qualities and learning styles.
She's literate, she reads, some people are just not into reading for pleasure and she may just have not come across the books that inspire her yet..
I think lazy is a stupid word for this situation. I have met lazy feckless people in my life, but I can't think of a 9yrold I'd apply it to..
If I'd worked harder I may have achieved different things in life (exam results reflected a distinct lack of revision and a lot of skiving), but I love my job and my laid back approach to life makes me very good at dealing with the stress of an asd child.
'No one has a bad word to say about her' will get her a lot further in life than pure academic success.
I think you're putting a lot of pressure on her.She's a young child and she's dreamy. How lovely.
I know you want her to achive her potential because you love her, but I think you need to give her a break.I really hope you big up her excellent qualities.

Mumfedup Sat 06-Oct-12 09:11:53

Thank you for everyone's input, it's given me some food for thought.

DD's plus points are that she is very sociable, and very popular at school, with loads of friends. All her teachers have always said she is sunny natured, easy to teach and sensible at school.

I do always praise her for her nice nature, kindness and generally sunny disposition.

I guess that when I look at the class dynamic, I feel frustrated that if she really put the work in she would stay be in the top group. All through school she has flirted with the top reading group, and been in it more often, than not. She goes into it for a few months, then drops down again, all the time.

So, I know that when I crack the whip at home she can produce the results. But, then I feel guilty for cracking the whip sad

avivabeaver Sat 06-Oct-12 09:21:36

instrinsic motivation you cannot change. She might change at secondary school. she is only 9.

my oldest dd is bright but hated school. did no revision and got the results she deserved- ie a lot of grade ds at GCSE but got the needed 7 at c and above to go to sixth form. She is interested in what she is studying and is now likely to get ABC at A level. She is taking a gap year and will apply to Uni based on her actual results at A level.

All i am saying is that its a long game- and berating her for not being in the top reading group is unlikely to help. as long as she can read well, does it matter?

50smellsofshite Sat 06-Oct-12 09:36:59

It's frustrating isn't it?

My DS was lazy at 9 and is even more lazy at 15, it looks like he will fail his GCSEs. Despite being quite bright enough to get As he will get Ds because he WILL NOT spend any time doing school work.
Despite every kind of sanction/lecture/motivation he will not change. I have even offered quite considerable financial reward for studying but he just can't be bothered.

He is and always has been, the laziest person I have ever met.

But when he wants to do something HE wants to do there are no lengths he won't go to to achieve it. He is the next Alan Sugar or will end up in prison. I'm not sure there is a middle ground.

He is incredible charming, good-looking and self-sufficient.

None of the normal rules apply to my son smile

exoticfruits Sat 06-Oct-12 09:45:55

I should think that half the population are the same. In the days that teachers could write a short comment the usual 'could do better' summed it up. Frustrating, but they are the only ones who can make the real change.

coldcupoftea Sat 06-Oct-12 09:51:32

Tbh it sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on her to be in the top reading group. If she isn't bothered about it, and the teachers say she is doing well, what does it matter?!

In our class the reading groups are pretty fluid- kids go up and down, it's normal.

SundaeGirl Sat 06-Oct-12 09:56:11

'Despite being quite bright enough to get As he will get Ds because he WILL NOT spend any time doing school work.'

'when I crack the whip at home she can produce the results.'

These statements don't show a child is bright/clever - they show that they are like the vast, vast majority of pupils. If they work hard, they will do well. Application is a fundamental part of intelligence and these are children who don't feel they have to work because the world is handing them 'clever' plaudits without the results.

They might also now have an element of fear: what if I work and I don't produce the results? Will everyone then think I'm not bright? Better not to try..

LadyPlainJane Sat 06-Oct-12 10:05:13

My DS is in the 2nd year of A'level's, he has a bright but lazy friend. He is a lovely boy, chatty and polite but did poorly at his GCSE's and AS's
My DS says his friend is embarrassed about it but does nothing to change the situation and still believes he is much brighter than he actually is.

LynetteScavo Sat 06-Oct-12 10:20:46

I think it's frustrating for parents to see their child could be good at something, but the child is reluctant to apply themselves.

DS2 has a gorgeous singing voice, but doesn't want to sing in front of other people. Which is a shame, but as he's not at a choir school, it doesn't really matter.

We all want the best for our children, and we can point them in the right direction, but at the end of the day, they will do their own thing.

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