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Clever but not academic, where do we go from there?

(26 Posts)
Threeschools Sun 19-Mar-17 16:13:57

DD2 aged 8 in Y4 is ridiculously clever but has slow processing speed according to EP report. I thought she was dyslexic but no, just slow at performing what is asked from her both at school and at home. She is a lovely soul, funny, big heart, and continuously thinks hard about things and comes up with remarkable outside the box ideas but her self esteem is plummeting because she thinks she is not clever, as everybody is way faster than her in her class. My answer to that was to make her do extra work in English and Maths on Saturdays, but she is unsurprisingly nonplussed with this. It is clearly helping though, she finally cracked long divisions and gets on with her homework without too much of nagging from myself. I am not too sure what I am trying to achieve by posting this, probably seeking reassurance that I am doing the right thing and that she will thank me one day??

Pestilentialone Sun 19-Mar-17 16:21:09

She will thank you. Maths and English are the benchmarks she will be judged against and failed on. What you are doing is great.

If all parents did this, I would be out of a job. GCSE resits are not fun.

happy2bhomely Sun 19-Mar-17 16:26:38

I have a daughter like this. She's very bright (aren't they all though, in their own ways?) She is 9 and she is kind, responsible and caring. Articulate, imaginative and creative. But she is slow at grasping concepts and slow at completing work. Maths, in particular, was a sticking point.

We decided at the start of year 3 to home educate her because the constant comparisons to classmates was really knocking her confidence. She used to cry and say that she couldn't help being stupid. She needed more nurturing than school could give her.

We are a year and a bit into it and she is a changed girl. Bursting with confidence and flying ahead of national targets. She says she feels smart and like her brain is working things out better. She is so much happier.

I would focus on your dd's strengths and find ways to build her confidence outside of school Being a little slow in maths won't hold her back in life, but low self-esteem could have a huge effect.

Needmoresleep Sun 19-Mar-17 21:05:01

DD has really slow processing speeds. Luckily she is a natural mathematician, but from about the age of 7 to 13, it was really difficult.

She did a lot of sport which she was good at and which helped her retain her self esteem. And over time we discovered things that helped. For example until the age of 13 I revised with her. She was really good at remembering from class, but awful at revising from a book. Even if she got a rotten mark, she knew I knew she had learnt it. Having a friend who would allow her to copy notes. Having teachers aware. In sixth form she would be marked for tests on what she completed in class, and be allowed to do the rest later. Not being asked to read out loud. We probably should have got her extra help in English earlier, but did so before GCSE, and it helped. English and maths are core skills and missing the basics in either will bleed into other subjects, so make sure your DC stays on top of them.

There is probably more. By about 14 she was better able to manage issues herself. And by 16 had earned at place at Westminster sixth form. (Yah bo to the prep head who said she would never be able to cope in an academic secondary, and her only viable option was "country boarding".) There are still plenty of problems, but counterbalanced by the fact she is inventive, resilient and has an amazing aural memory. Her written English is still dreadful though, and she never reads for pleasure.

Good luck

JoJoSM2 Mon 20-Mar-17 00:05:49

Just make sure you provide her with opportunities to develop her talents and really shine at some things rather than just focusing on her shortcomings.

Threeschools Mon 20-Mar-17 07:21:28

yes, I agree with focusing on her talents. She is good at arts and sports, which helps. She gets quite a lot of impatient reminders by everyone for being ludicrously untidy and messy, forgetful and getting everyone late in the morning and at school as well, always the latest to get changed for swimming or ready to leave the class room at breaks and the end of the day...she is really fed up with this but it doesn't really get better.

JustRichmal Mon 20-Mar-17 08:15:26

The more maths and English you teach your child, the better she will get at it. You are right to teach her some at home.
Try to think of ways of making it more fun. If she likes computer learning there is Khan Academy. If she liked working from books there is the Letts series "Enchanted English" and "Mythical Maths"'.
You could try an award system; so she could collect stars to buy a small present or could win another Lego brick of a set, for every time she does some work.
Little and often is also the key. I used to do one sum from the times table every day on the way to and back from school.

Needmoresleep Mon 20-Mar-17 09:02:09

Also remember she is only eight.

Think hard about what you, yourself, consider success. If it is becoming a well adjusted adult, ready to play a constructive role in society, that is fine. Support her with weaknesses, but allow her to feel pride in things she is good at.

When looking at secondary schools, consider those where credit and status is given to both academic and non academic achievements. Consider co-ed, as more boys seem to have an uneven profile, so if she ends up bouncing along the bottom in English, she won't be alone.

The key thing is that it is fine for her to be clever but not academic, if that is what she is. There are plenty of people like that. DD recently described a friend who is skipping University to do an apprenticeship as "clever, but not school clever". And indeed with his range of social and emotional skills, it's more than possible that this boy will do better than many of his university educated peers.

That said support her, as you want to keep as many doors open as possible. Plus kids who don't fit standard profiles can get lost. We, and DD, were genuinely surprised when she suddenly took off academically at around 14. I think it was at the point when some of the diligent kids, who had previously come top of the year, were struggling with maths and science concepts. But even if she had not, it would not have mattered. She had a good range of non academic interests and talents she could have pursued.

I don't know what you do about the disorganisation. Its gets better over time, but DD still seems to need more support than her brother did at the same age.

IDK Mon 20-Mar-17 10:10:24

What you are describing is common although your DD seems to be an extreme case. Despite its prevalence teachers seem to be poor at spotting it and knowing what to do. Has anyone said the word Dyspraxia to you?

Speak to school and instruct ask them about what they need to do to help her. Have they tried different learning styles (sounds like she is an auditory learner, not a visual). Are they doing differentiation. It's good that you want to help her with tuition but please don't just do more of the same, try to find a tutor who has a different approach.

My DS sounds similar to those mentioned above. He used his brains to bluff his way through Secondary so teachers never noticed his problem. He knows that he is bright so I think that that kept him going though he spent a lot of time feeling frustrated. He also is good at sport so that, again, helped with confidence as his team-mates looked to him as a natural leader. He is good at Maths but jumps intuitively to the right answer - I could never get him to write down his workings-out (aka his processing. It's obvious, in hindsight).
His diagnosis, when it eventually came, helped him realise that he couldn't help being the way he was because it was down to his hard-wiring. Once he had some strategies and self-insight he flew: he got good A Levels, got into a decent University and got a good degree.
Your DD will probably come good, she just needs help to understand her problem so she can find coping strategies and not get overwhelmed by it all.

Threeschools Mon 20-Mar-17 12:34:51

Yes, I thought she was dyspraxic, and I even managed to convince the GP to refer her to OT as my description of her problems (also include buttons, packets, riding a bike) was typical apparently, but she did extremely well at the OT so got average at everything confused. She nows ride a bike, but is still struggling with buttons, packets, laces...
I also agree with co-ed school, she is at a girls primary at the moment, and her big sister just moved to a fantastic co-ed school, so fingers crossed she will be able to go there too.

IDK Mon 20-Mar-17 14:46:44

Mine never got the label 'dyspraxic'. He was described as having 'a range of SpLD consistent with a profile of Dyspraxia' which seemed to me to be very careful wording to imply without actually saying. I don't know why.

He can ride a bike but manages to destroy them within the space of a year. Nothing to do with him, you understand, he just seems to be unlucky.hmm

2014newme Mon 20-Mar-17 14:56:31

Could you be putting too much focus on being 'clever'? I'd be focusing on the other things she enjoys and worrying less that she is ridiculously clever, that she thinks others are cleverer than her etc.

Needmoresleep Mon 20-Mar-17 15:05:38

Ha ha. Mine could not be tested for dyspraxia because she had a large cast on her foot/leg. Or was it her wrist? Or was it one of the many other injuries. Again, not tested but probable. Interesting to see that these are all sporty children. Mine is ambidextrous, or rather left handed and right footed, neither particularly dominant, which is common with dyslexics, and useful in sport.

Allthebestnamesareused Mon 20-Mar-17 19:39:24

Friend's son now 15 has had extra time (25%) in exams due to slow processing issues.

happygardening Mon 20-Mar-17 22:10:17

DS1 has a high IQ well in excess of 140 (last EP report) but terrible processing bottom 2% and for working memory bottom 10% and dyscalculia . He has very poor self esteem despite the fact thats he's funny, kind hearted, very articulate, passionate about things he's interested in, imaginative, he's a brilliant mimic, popular with his friends and has a photographic memory when it comes to facts etc. He's also unfortunately so hypertensive to other peoples emotions so can almost mind read but he's easily very upset by people who are cross sad tired etc and is unable to filter out some noises. Needless to say he's underperformed all his school life despite the facts thats he's had tutors for English and math every since he was 6. Totally unable to fit any box only about two teachers in his whole school career have even seen beyond the obvious "he's weird/stupid/odd label" and seen what he can offer and with these he flew all the rest wrote him off. My head aches from banging it against a wall stuffed with couldn't care less teachers who either were unable/unwilling to read understand and implement the recommendations in any EP report and therefore understand/help DS1 (even if they commissioned it themselves) and this has been going on since he started school at 4. Good luck OP you and your DD are going to need it.

happygardening Mon 20-Mar-17 22:16:57

Sorry not very helpful I've no helpful suggestions Ive tried everything. DS does/did get extra time, can use a lap top etc etc because this requires little or no effort on the part of his teachers but this only slightly addresses any problems.

ellsybells Mon 20-Mar-17 23:19:19

Happy gardening I feel your frustration! I have a DS aged 7 with a very similar profile by the sounds of it. I wish I knew the best route to take for him.
OP - In terms of learning styles i've also heard this can really help. For example my little learned his 3 times table in one sitting with the Senco by throwing a ball to each other and taking in turns to ask the sum. He sees another dyslexia teacher privately once a week who always starts the lesson by getting him to lay out the alphabet in wooden letters (I think this is a standard 'tool'). It helps him to clear his head of other distractions and focus on the lesson. Works a treat! Have you considered getting. Dyslexia specialist to work with your daughter (in addition to the extra work your doing together)?

Threeschools Tue 21-Mar-17 10:24:35

I think frustration is the word here, both for the DC involved and for the parents/teachers/tutors etc. It is really unfortunate that what is valued so much by society and school is what they struggle most with. They just cannot meet most expectations. DD is my third DC, her big brother has extremely fast processing speed, a pure joy to do any work with, and her big sister is ruthlessly organised and tidy, and she unfortunately has to share a bedroom with her little sister who quite frankly explodes bombs wherever she goes. Big big sigh.

Threeschools Tue 21-Mar-17 11:01:10

Concerning extra time in exams, the EP said she would qualify, but the SENCO said no, she needed a score of 84 or more and she got 85. I think on that day I lost the will to live, fight and almost care. This is when I decided to enroll her in those tuition classes. Her tutor last Saturday finally had an encouraging word, apparently she was putting her hand up and answering questions...

IDK Tue 21-Mar-17 11:40:24

Frustration is, indeed, the word. Having said that, they need to accept their limitations and work within them. I know a fair few high-up bods who didn't get where they are today (to quote CJ grin ) by being exam-clever. They used their personality and cleverness their way and found employees to do the bits that they couldn't built a good team around themselves.

Needmoresleep Tue 21-Mar-17 12:01:27

Extra time is not always the answer. I would not worry about it. We deliberately did not push it at Primary. To be honest, in English, she would not have known what to do with it. Instead we wrote separately to the schools she applied to, explaining the problems, and saying if she were offered a place we would work with the SENCO to help ensure she turned up in September up to speed. Not least this helped filter out schools who were not interested in supporting her.

(She also applied to five schools, because she was almost certain to misread a question, or forget to turn a page, with the fall back of staying on at her 13+ prep.)

Extra time in secondary really helped, but by then she was managing problems better. However it can still be difficult. Kids with slow processing speeds really have to concentrate. If an exam is hard, most kids will be brain dead by the end of normal time, so being in there for longer does not convey much advantage. (The medical school aptitude test, which to some extent is a test of speed, was a good example.)

In primary don't worry about tests and marks, simply of building skills and confidence. It is education, knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge that really matter, not grades.

Threeschools Tue 21-Mar-17 12:13:31

In primary don't worry about tests and marks, simply of building skills and confidence

I agree with that 100% now, I want her to enjoy herself but in the same time to build up the foundation she needs to get through schooling.

dinkystinky Tue 21-Mar-17 12:23:05

Good advice from Needmoresleep.

DS1 is capable and bright but has slow processing speed and his school reports/parents evening each year consists of teachers saying hes a lovely boy and knows his stuff but never gets it down on paper. Accordingly to primary school SENCO DS1 wouldn't have qualified for extra time in 11+ exams as a result of it so we didn't bother applying for extra time - I ended up doing lots of work with DS over last year (especially the summer) to help him with the speed of getting stuff down on paper which is where he really struggles and he had a maths postgrad student tutor him to encourage his confidence in maths (which he has a natural affinity for).

What really helped his dad and I understand what he's going through was reading a book I got from Amazon called "Bright Kids who cant keep up" - it really helped us understand why DS1 struggles with multiple and/or conflicting instructions and finds it difficult to put things down on paper in a logical fashion and helped us help him formulate some coping mechanisms. The overriding message of the book is that you are your child's advocate.

11+ wasnt much fun for any of us - we applied to 5 very different schools, all of which cater for children with mild SEN, and ended up with offers from 4. The one we've ended up choosing offers 90 minute lessons which will hopefully enable him to get into depth in topics and enjoy learning by alleviating the pressure of having to get everything down in writing within a 30/45 minute period.

Threeschools Mon 27-Mar-17 08:19:43

DD was given a hard time at school for forgetting to do her homework and not trying hard enough apparently. I totally understand why the teacher is getting impatient with her BUT at the same time annoyed that she (the teacher) is clearly ignoring the EP report which mentions slow visual processing speed and has tons of recommendations. Is this a case of putting things in writing through a lengthy email copied to deputy head, head, SENCO? I am not even sure what I am hoping for, I think I would like the teacher to have a bit more understanding and to be less harsh on her. But as I said before she (DD) is really disorganized and forgetful, gets tired easily with school work, and one cannot decide if she is lazy or genuinely exhausted.

Alyosha Fri 31-Mar-17 16:08:29

I have a diagnosis of dyspraxia.

I will say this; I'm not sure how useful it is for anyone to cut your daughter some extra slack.

I am now 28 and working. No one at work will let me off missing deadlines, working slowly or leaving my laptop at home.

When I was 9 my mother actually had to do the opposite from what you suggest - she had to encourage my school to hold me to the same standards as everyone else.

Ultimately it is possible for your daughter to organise herself. It will take more effort, but it is possible. The sooner she learns to do this, the better it will be for her in the long run. There are loads of tactics I use - a checklist before she leaves the house for example, a list of tasks to complete & in what order, a reminder book of information she needs etc. etc. It might also be neccessary for her to take extra time at the end of the day to review her lessons.

Again it's not fun but it will help. I used to do additional maths homework every evening for hours to stay up, but I got an A at GCSE, which helped me to get my current job.

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