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Ds1 is one of those children, destined to do "OK"

(36 Posts)
Bestseller Fri 07-Jun-13 17:28:15

IM(VH)O he's a bright boy. All his teachers consider him bright, as well as polite, friendly, well behaved etc. He's a bit on the quiet side, but also has "positive friendships". Academically, he's always been either at or very slightly above the national targets.

IMO the targets aren't that stretching for a bright boy with loads of support at home (i.e none of the disadvantages many children have to deal with) and I think he should do better. His junior school and now his secondary school (yr7) seem quite happy to let him coast. They say they know he could do better if he made more effort, but he's doing what they need him to do and he's not causing anyone any trouble, so they don't seem too bothered about pushing him. i.e they say he should work harder, but they don't seem to be doing anything to make that happen.

I lay down the law about quality of homework and his reports acknowledge that his homework is good, but that he needs to pay more attention in class and take more care over classwork. AIBU to think they need to do more than say it? I find it frustrating because I can support/nag at home, but it's hard for me to do that while he's in school.

speedology Fri 05-Jul-13 20:31:13

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

nothingnew Mon 24-Jun-13 09:57:30

Without working too hard and still doing ok then he is doing ok. He is in y7 now so just let him be. If I were in your shoes I would push him a little once in a while but not too often. Else he may stay away from you and not to let you know anything. Has he any idea what sort of career path he may like to take. Our nephew was always just doing ok and not that interested in school work. However all he wanted was to work with cameras. In the end he managed to find a very reasonable job with using cameras. He got into a very good career that cannot be based on school learning and exam results. The important thing is he is doing ok and HAPPY.

HabbaDabbaDoo Sat 22-Jun-13 23:15:51

umb - In Secondary there is a thread about low expectations and how it affects kids. I think that this was what the OP was talking about.

I mean you seem to be saying that your DD would be happier if she stopped working so hard and accepted that she is less than 'ok'.

umbrunion Tue 18-Jun-13 14:12:45

I have a dd who works so very hard to stay at 'ok' level and another Dd who is no doubt v bright but is happy not pushing herself too hard. The latter state is highly preferable for general mental health and wellbeing!

wordfactory Tue 11-Jun-13 10:50:47

The thing is though, teenagers can be awfully short sighted. They have difficulty seeing the consequences of their actions.

It's for this reason that we consider them not yet able to take proper care of themselves and accept that they still need protection (sometimes from themselves).

BirdintheWings Tue 11-Jun-13 10:19:55

Sometimes it takes more than just waiting for them to be motivated.

With DS1, he really didn't 'get' maths till last year. School weren't worried, as he was going to get the magic C grade. but we pushed (and pushed, and pushed) him at home on that one with practice papers and books until something clicked. He got an A* and is now doing maths and Physics A-levels as he'd wanted.

DS2 is a different kettle of fish - turns in any old junk for homework and looks at it with genuine pride. So when he did his major half-term science project last year by gluing a couple of pipecleaners to a scrappy bit of cardboard box and scrawling a couple of labels, I bit my tongue and let him hand it in like that -- even though our friend's daughter had done a beautiful 3D model with Powerpoint presentation.

Apparently his science teacher took one look and said 'You are joking aren't you?'

This term: he's done a five-minute animated Lego movie to illustrate chemical bonding. Lesson learnt.

QuintessentialOldDear Tue 11-Jun-13 10:12:07

I dont understand what you expect other people to do? Why not expect more of your son?

The children in my sons school who really succeed and do well, are really driven and passionate. The children who win chess tournaments, shine in national maths competition, play sport on borough level are passionate about what they do, and this is why they achieve way above and beyond both expectations and national targets and statistics. (Son is in Y6 and nearly half his class has won competitions and scholarships to highly ranked independents) None of these children excel because the teachers work so hard on them. They do it on their own accord.

HabbaDabbaDoo Tue 11-Jun-13 10:06:54

That is not to say that I disagree with everything that you are saying teacher.

In year 5 I took DS to the open day at various selectives. I gave him the choice. Would he rather go to the local comp with his primary school mates? If he chose a selective then he needed to accept the 11+ prep.

At secondary he decided he wanted to be a lawyer. I made it clear that a lot of lawyers end up doing wills and conveyancing at High St firms so if he wanted to be one of those lawyers jetting around the world, like his role model, then he needs to be a top student.

Like you suggested, I got DS to identify what his aims are. I then told him what he needed to do in order to achieve them. I then sat back and let him get on with it.

However, that is my DS. With a lot of kids they need to be pushed, cajoled, threatened and bribed. When to stop? I know it's an arbitrary cutoff but for me it's after GCSE

HabbaDabbaDoo Tue 11-Jun-13 09:47:30

When would I withdraw 'homework support'? I already have where mine are concerned. But then they aren't 'coasting'.

But if I was the OP I would keep the homework support going until GCSEs if that is required. I would not be prepared to see my DC finish secondary school with a poor/average slate of GCSEs. Going "now don't you wish that you listened to me and worked harder?" isn't an option as far as I am concerned.

teacherwith2kids Mon 10-Jun-13 20:02:39

I would also say that the 'withdrawing homework support' would be the first step in a longer process:
- Stop 'hiding' child's low performance by removing the 'crutch' for homework.
- Supporting school in all consequences for poor work
- Meeting school to discuss underlying reasons
- Confronting child with longer-term consequences
- Encouraging child to identify own longer term goals and steps to achieve them
etc etc, ramping up as child gets older

By creating a situation in which the child ONLY works with 1:1 support and constant nagging, meanwhile expecting school to 'do something' [from which I rather get the impression that the OP wants the school to do 1:1 support and nagging as well...rather than enabling longer trm more productive behaviours], none of the longer term benefits are possible.

teacherwith2kids Mon 10-Jun-13 19:40:52

No, I am not advicating that - I am advocating that the OP should ACTIVELY drop her child into it (by withdrawing the 'crutch' that she is currently giving him through raising the standard of his homework through artificaially high levels of support [Y7 homework is designed to be completed independently bu the child - so of course one done through joint effort will be of a higher standard) AND tell the school in order that they provide
a) consequences and
b) study skills support.

Otherwise, I would equally throw the question back at you - when would the OP dare to withdraw her 1:1 support and allow her child to work independently? After GCSEs? QWen leaving home for university??

HabbaDabbaDoo Mon 10-Jun-13 19:30:30

But where do you suggest that the OP start drawing the line, if at all? In later years when the school is deciding who does foundation papers or triple science. Maybe when he is doing his GCSEs? At that point, is the OP supposed to sit back and wait for her DS to 'want' to do well?

As I said in my post, I am not advocating that the OP goes all Tiger Mom on her DS but there has to be a middle ground between that and being passive while waiting for the DS to become self motivated.

teacherwith2kids Mon 10-Jun-13 18:48:20


I have read the thread again to find the posts from teachers who think that 'average' is job done - and have failed to find them?

I have found posts from teachers saying that SELF motivation is important, and that actually the need to develop that is possibly more important than providing EXTRINSIC pressure on him via the school or via you. That is not saying 'average is job done' - it is saying that for a child to succeed, to meet their potential and to do so SUSTAINABLY, the only way is for the child to provide at least some of the motivation themselves. To do that, oddly, the first step may be to 'allow / cause' him to taste failure now, in the relatively safe environment of Year 7, to avoid a much more damaging drop at a later point once support and extrinsic motivation is withdrawn.

As for children not having individual targets - for my DS, in a non-selective catchment comp, he has individual targets for every subject - both what he should achieve by the end of Year 9, and what that means he should achieve by the end of Year 7. Many of them are more than 'what is required' - so his English target for Year 9 is nearly 3 levels above his Y6 results, and as a result he has to achieve a ull level of progress in Year 7, For most other subjects it is similar, with many of hius targets being high 7s or 8s at the end of Year 9. We have reports 3x per year saying how he is doing against those targets. I am not quite sure what was meant above by 'children don't have individual targets unless SEB' - that is certainly not my experience.

wordfactory Mon 10-Jun-13 08:38:00

OP, it might be worth trying to work around the problem, rather than facing it head on.

Does your DS have plans and dreams? If so then nurture, nurture, nurture. If not, try to engage him. DC with plans tend to have focus and if those plans require a good academic track record (and many will) they can see good academics as part of the plan.

Try to get your DS to see the connection.

Also, lead fromthe front! Let him see you working hard, let him see you pursuing your dreams...

HabbaDabbaDoo Mon 10-Jun-13 08:10:41

A lot of non selectives take the attitude that it's job done if the child is 'average' as demonstrated by the posts from teachers here on this thread. So if you want something done then you will need to do it yourself.

There is a difference between being a Tiger Mom and pushing him to be top of the class and pushing him to work a bit harder.I see nothing wrong with the latter.

Habanera Mon 10-Jun-13 07:46:17

I second teacherwith2kids.

I would add that you could use your time that is freed up as a result to show him good/inspiring examples of the world that might await him as an adult-visit places like space centres, historic places, places connected with authors, music, universities activities they put on for kids, movies studios, different sports, anything. Things he's shown an interest in and importantly things he hasn't but you suspect he might like.

Also share your own interests with him.

Off to take own advice..:

teacherwith2kids Sun 09-Jun-13 19:10:49

How much help / support / nagging do you do for homework?

I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if it is lots, then stop. Homework is your child's responsibility at this stage.

Then look at what he ACTUALLY completes without that 1 to 1 help, support and nagging - that is what his 'true' level is at the moment, and by raising it higher through your input you may actually be disguising an issue that the school need to deal with IYSWIM. If ALL of his work including homework is poor, he is much more likely to see real consequences - in terms of low marks, detentions, etc - than if he is producing good homwork but less good classwork.

He needs to understand the feedback loop - poor work = getting told off, not getting the more interesting work, missing out on things because he is in detention. He is not going to learn that if you 'disguise' part of the issue through nagging at home.

Left to himself, he may very well find his own motivation in time. If you keep trying to 'give' him motivation through your effort, you will actually delay the point at which he acquires it for himself. You are also handicapping him - he is growing to NEED that degree of help to get him to produce decent work. It cannot be provided at school to the same level, and he should be learning independence at this stage rather than additional dependence.

So stop nagging at home and being his 'crutch'. Let his tutor / whoever is his pastoral support at school know that this is your strategy, and the reason for it, so they are prepared to deal with the inevitable initial fall in standards and are pro-active in stepping in with consequences and support in school,

cavell Sun 09-Jun-13 19:10:13

Not all schools are content to let children coast - although some (many?) are.
I've just moved dd1 from a (selective) school where she was bored and coasting to another (selective) where expectations are higher. She's much happier and I'm satisfied that she will do as well as she is capable.
Any chance your son could change schools? It's all very well saying "as long as he's happy", but if he ends up getting poorer results than he is capable of achieving, then he might well find future opportunities closed to him (e.g. not getting into such a good university/course).

lljkk Sun 09-Jun-13 18:27:44

I think he is way too young to put so much expectation on him.
Yr7 is a huge transition year and is about finding their way.
Yr8-9 is more of the same. Snail pace academic development in these years is normal. They have enough internal upheavals to deal with.
Y8 Parent Eve several teachers remarked that the big maturity jump comes between y9 & y10; it was like that for me, too.

Besides, being ordinary IS a respectable outcome. Even for people who are above average intelligence.

Oblomov Sun 09-Jun-13 11:02:40

I am a bit like this. Actually not quite a s bright as your ds. I plodded along.
I honestly don't think you can change this, can you?
Seriously, you worrying, you nagging, is going to have zero effect, long run, surely?

cory Sun 09-Jun-13 10:56:54

I have one exactly like that, except that it is only recently someone has suggested he might actually be quite bright; before they simply assumed he lacked ability. The school is quite pro-active in setting detentions for non-completed homework and putting him on report card if he is not paying attention in class. So they do give clear messages about what is expected. But at the end of the day, once they have told him that he needs to pull his socks up, the ball is in his court.

He is now in Yr 8 and I am beginning to see some slight flickers of growing maturity. It may be that next year, when his mates start thinking about careers and GCSE options, that will trigger something inside him.

Hamishbear Sun 09-Jun-13 09:58:56

Doesn't it depend on the ethos of school and peers? If it's cool to lark about and not take work seriously then guess what the Y6 boys will do (re: PP)? If, for example, a holiday camp atmosphere prevails and the children see no reason to put real effort in then surely they won't? They are still very young in Y6 and surely children of that age who are striving for the next goal and truly self motivated are unusual? In my experience it's just a matter of time before children - especially of that age - become exactly like the majority of their peers. They'll resent having to especially strive if they perceive the bulk don't bother.

exoticfruits Sun 09-Jun-13 08:10:29

Even if they are at a selective school they actually have to make the effort themselves.
I have done one to one tuition - I had 6 year 6 pupils for maths and it was very frustrating, five of them really used the opportunity and came on in leaps and bounds- having an hour's individual attention to go at their own pace, following their own needs and able to ask questions was so beneficial- but the most promising DC got nothing much out of it because he didn't want to be there and put nothing in.
Education isn't a passive process - you have to partake and put the effort in. There is only so much the teacher can do. You can take the horse to wanted but you can't...............

Clary Sat 08-Jun-13 22:37:29

So his teachers say he needs to pay attention in class and take more care with his work in class.

When he is at home with you looking after him and only him he works hard. In school, where the teacher has maybe 30 students in the room, they need to do more than say he should work harder???

I teach secondary and in a lesson I can realistically have a quick minute with maybe five or six students, perhaps ask 10 or a dozen (hopefully other ones) to contribute an answer to check their understanding, and do a quick visual check (maybe by getting them to show me as they leave the room) that most of them have done some semblance of the work. I am sure your son's teachers would like him to do better (or they wouldn't say so in his report) but there is sadly only so much they can do. I try to vary the students I work with in the lesson but even then, short of putting them in detention for lack of work (which I do sometimes do) I can't force them to try harder. The motivation needs to come from yr DS, especially at secondary level. Good teachers will offer an extension for the more able - yr DS needs to decide to try to do it.

TeenAndTween Sat 08-Jun-13 22:11:51

Oh, I'm disappointed. I thought this was about a child like my DD.

She works hard, but doesn't find it easy. She will do 'OK'.

It is frustrating to have a child who works hard but often doesn't see the rewards.

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