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wits end where to start

(24 Posts)
gillybeanz Fri 03-Mar-17 23:23:29

My dd had a good report and parents evening several teachers said her confidence was low. Apparently she walks in a class and is defeated before she starts.
Two in particular are excellent and have said respectively she needs a kick to complete homework and hand it in, and shown me a piece of outstanding work. Other teachers say similar and that they praise her all the time for her effort, all effort grades were good on report, except for one subject.

She was so upset and defeated tonight about her homework for the weekend.
Others spend 10 mins, she spends hours, they get good marks she gets a zero, so she says.

I try to boost her confidence, and said I would help her to understand what the teachers wanted from her work, not to help with content etc, but she said she didn't need me to, when it seems clear she does.
It is making her anxious and stressed and this isn't good for anyone, she doesn't cope well under these conditions.

If I can get her to let me help, where do I start, subjects she likes or the core subjects.
I have about about 4 or 5 hours with her per week. Although she could obviously be practising good techniques in the classroom.
I've tried just chipping away and not making a big deal about it, but I hate seeing her so upset and down.

Peaceandl0ve Fri 03-Mar-17 23:28:26

Personally i think would look at something to boost self-confidence, be that joinginh a club, or counselling rather than help at the subject level.

gillybeanz Fri 03-Mar-17 23:39:59

I totally agree Peace it just seems like a vicious circle.
The SENCO and pastoral person speak to teachers who then don't expect too much from her and ease off because she is stressed.
In turn dd doesn't improve in either confidence or school work as she's still struggling.
I don't know how to break the circle.
We think that CAMHS are going to close her file (sorry, forget the terminology used) as well soon.

Peaceandl0ve Fri 03-Mar-17 23:44:50

i have no experience, i hope someone comes along with more informed advice. But what are actual levels she is achieving? Is she a perfectionist who is not happy with anything but perfect marks, or a person trying to ne in the top x percentage of achievers where she is actually of an average grade.

gillybeanz Sat 04-Mar-17 00:14:59

Thank you Peace

It doesn't matter that you aren't experienced honestly, they say a problem shared, and I can't see the wood for trees atm.

She's below average in Maths, English and Science, good at History but won't believe it.
Excellent at P.E, and pretty average at everything else.
She is gifted musically and diagnosed by a retired ed psych as dyslexic.
It will cost to get a full diagnosis and didn't seem worth it as she gets extra support. We were looking at having one done for GCSE's as was told if we did it now we'd still have to have another one done for then, and we have to pay.
There are some very bright dc in her class, which doesn't always help, but teachers, parents, siblings, professionals have all encouraged her to try her best and be who she is. We aren't all the same and good at the same things etc. The average in test results for the class is alway pretty high, in all subjects.

babyunicornvomit Sat 04-Mar-17 00:30:07

I'd agree with the above about finding something to build her confidence - what is she like outside of school? Is she bubbly or an introvert? It always amazes me how some people are so clever but lack the confidence and their mind tells them they've failed before they've even started, it's so sad. She sounds like an intelligent girl and her teachers obviously think so. I'd keep reinforcing that you are proud of her but not pressuring her, and you'll give her any help you can but also the space to do things alone. Look into sports groups, girl guides, swimming, drama groups, creative writing classes, part time work (if she's old enough) all these things really boosted my confidence growing up. Good luck, I'm sure she'll do well smile

Clavinova Sat 04-Mar-17 10:30:27

Sounds like avoidance tactics to me. Does she 'spend hours' on her homework at home or stress and fuss for hours saying she can't do it and so doesn't try? I would just make sure she spends the allotted time on her homework, help her if she asks for help, then check it over and perhaps suggest one or two improvements without upsetting her.

gillybeanz Sat 04-Mar-17 10:46:53

Thank you for the great suggestions.
I know that a group would be good for her, but she's unable to commit to anything.
She is only at home weekends so can't join any groups, but she does lots of things at school.
She gives off an air of confidence you'd never believe she lacked it so much unless you knew her well, she masks it very well.
I don't get to see much homework as it's done at school, this weekend she has brought some home so I'm hoping to help her this afternoon.
I like the idea of leaving it to her and helping if she asks and I will offer some tips for improvement, whilst praising her a lot.
I think there could be some avoidance tactics in there and a less healthy attitude to learning, with a bit of laziness thrown in.

Lowdoorinthewal1 Sat 04-Mar-17 12:19:02

I take it she is weekly boarding? Do you think that is working for her? The boarding school environment builds confidence in some kids, but for others it can really crush them.

gillybeanz Sat 04-Mar-17 12:47:47

Hi Lowdoor

She has never been very confident in her ability, and does seem a bit worse since boarding, but she wants to be there and it works in most other ways.
She wouldn't be happy in any other school, there are times when I wished she wasn't there but then I see how happy she is generally and how it's normally a good fit.
It's just this attitude to work I wish we could help her see.

LooseAtTheSeams Sat 04-Mar-17 19:19:09

I can suggest some tactics for English because that's what I teach. I hope this might help and please excuse if it's not helpful.
First thing, I think your retired ed psych may be right about dyslexia. If that's the case I am sure she finds English exhausting. The other thing that leapt out is 'defeated' as soon as she walks in the classroom.
I don't think you can tackle this overnight and it sounds complex. I'm just approaching from one possible angle: does she feel like she has too many ideas and struggles to select them to get things written down or know where to start? If this is what's happening with weekend homework, this might just help a bit: start off just by talking about it and say ok so you know what to do.
For writing, break it down into 15 minute chunks. So check she knows what to write for the introduction, give her a chance to write it. After 15 minutes has she written it? If not, no stress - just say - 'oh but you had a great idea, it was X wasn't it? Just write/type that!' That should get her started and she will need some more prompts but the confidence will grow.
The downside is she has to do the writing where you can see her but it has to look as though you're not watching her all the time if you see what I mean? You sort of look by, see what's going on and make encouraging noises! Lots of praise on completion because it is a big effort, and maybe cookies...
This worked with DS1 who was full of brilliant ideas but paralysed by them at the same time!

gillybeanz Sat 04-Mar-17 19:35:32


That's it, nail on the head.

She started doing a piece today and ended up throwing it away 3 times because the sentence didn't make sense.
She had no plan and wouldn't listen when I suggested she made one.
Also had no idea what she was supposed to do, so will speak to school this week.
I'm sure she isn't writing down or bringing home the actual question/ scenario.
I get frustrated as she doesn't listen to reason.
I told her that x y and z who she thinks do their work in 10 mins will have planned, maybe read around the work a few times and have the full facts, knowing exactly what they were going to do in those 10 mins.
They also aren't her and excel in different areas to her.
It seems as though it goes in until the next time and we're back to square one again.
I will certainly be trying your recommendation, thank you. thanks
My main fear is that she won't reach her potential or gain high enough GCSE grades for her chosen college.
The college accept low academic results, but with stiff competition I'm not sure if they'd go for the better results over the lower ones.
I know we're a way off yet, but good habits should be starting now, surely?

toomuchtvandsocialmedia Sat 04-Mar-17 19:59:05

You don't say how old your DD is or give details of her in-school learning support. If she has dyslexia, it is likely that will continue to struggle unless she gets regular, targeted support. In a private school, I would expect her to be receiving regular learning support from a qualified teacher, preferably a specialist teacher.

LooseAtTheSeams Sat 04-Mar-17 20:32:53

I think I'm getting the picture - you do need to get the diagnosis done now even if it has to be done again for gcse (although that surprises me).
Try iwhat I suggested anyway, just to see how it goes - you won't build confidence immediately but you can say to her this is how it works for the other girls - they may not realise it but it's basically the same thing.
Make sure there are no musical distractions during the writing - my suspicion is that she thinks in music so she needs to be able to switch to other subjects.
Also, is she particularly good at jazz?

Blossomdeary Sat 04-Mar-17 20:46:10

I had a DD who was weekly boarding at a private school - it did not suit her - she lost confidence, as your DD has - we got the message. You need to rescue this poor little lass.

The wrong school can be hell on earth for a child. And not every child is suited to school.

gillybeanz Sat 04-Mar-17 23:10:51


Yes, its Jazz atm, but she also sings well too so likes classical as well. Definitely thinks of music constantly and used to relate most subjects to music when younger.
E.g she would/will study the life of Black American Jazz musicians when looking at slavery and Civil rights movement.
I used to try to link music wherever I could, just to spark an interest.

Removing her from the school wouldn't be the answer, it's only academically that she struggles and she would hate us forever if she was taken out.
She doesn't suit a normal day school and in every other way is thriving.
Academics come very much as a second ,which is what she likes.
The only problem is working out how to support her best so she reaches her potential.
She is very happy at her school and really wouldn't be happy in a local state high school in our area.
I hope I'm not coming across as expecting A* or grade 8/9's and certainly not pushy. I just find it sad when a child doesn't reach their full potential at school.

Meloncoley2 Sun 05-Mar-17 12:10:48

Do school break the task down into chunks/ steps to make it more manageable? If she has processing difficulties this will help her.

I wouldn't focus too much on her attitude to work at the moment, as it stands to reason if she finds it difficult she won't feel positive about it.

If you only have limited time with her at home, I would focus on stuff she enjoys and is good at, and I would push school to see how they are supporting her, including finding out where her specific difficulties are, and what they are specifically doing to help with these.

gillybeanz Sun 05-Mar-17 16:39:47

I don't think so Meloncoley that's probably another reason to go for the diagnosis, I think.

I didn't add but she does have comp ed once a week, with 1 to 1 help in Maths as this is the main weakness.
I know the SENCO has talked about strategies for organisation too.
Pastoral care is exemplary though and sometimes one can run into the other, like when she is upset due to not understanding a principle or particular topic.

The pp who asked about age, she is 13 in Y8.

gillybeanz Sun 05-Mar-17 16:46:34

How do I find a good Ed Psych. I don't know anybody who has gone private they usually go through council.
I don't think we can access this as dd is private school and another EA.
I know they are all different and offer different services, can anyone suggest what we might need?
Would it be somebody who assessed for everything, if such a person exists.

toomuchtvandsocialmedia Sun 05-Mar-17 18:24:45

It sound like dyslexia , go through PATOSS

Make sure the assessor has a current Assessment Practising Certificate

There are clear links between having dyslexia and low self esteem

JoJoSM2 Sun 05-Mar-17 19:51:57

I think it's important to get her assessed so that she can be supported appropriately. Also, are you sure you're being realistic about her potential? If she spends hours doing work that others complete easily in 10 mins and then she still doesn't get it , then clearly it's beyond her?

toomuchtvandsocialmedia Sun 05-Mar-17 20:09:02

JoJo one of the reasons that individuals with dyslexia get extra time in exams is that they take longer to complete tasks. It can be because of issues such as slow processing speed rather than a lack of ability.

Meloncoley2 Sun 05-Mar-17 21:22:56

I think Ed Psych assessment sounds a good idea. Try asking on SN board for suggestions?

JoJoSM2 Mon 06-Mar-17 11:10:18

toomuch, I know. However, they will need some extra time not 20 times as long to still get it wrong.

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