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Only (shy) bright boy in group with bright girls ... how to help him cope ...

(15 Posts)
ghosty Sun 27-Jul-08 10:12:38

I wasn't sure where to put this but I need a few pointers on how to keep my DS's confidence up ....
He is above average bright in all areas at school - not G+T but possibly borderline and tbh I don't want him to go into that arena really [scared emoticon] ...
Anyway his school (we are in Australia) offer Extension programs in Maths and Literacy. For the first half of the year he was in the Maths program and was one of 2 boys in a group of 12. Now this second half of the year he is the only boy in a group of 10.
Although a fairly confident child in many ways, he is painfully shy of girls - except for a couple (his own best friend is a girl and he isn't shy with the daughters of my two best friends). He is horrified to be in this group and is asking me to ask the teacher if he can not be in the extension group at all ...
Obviously he needs to do it and obviously I want him to do it ... so how can I help him see that he needs to get over his shyness here?

ThatBigGermanPrison Sun 27-Jul-08 10:21:24

can you invite some of them for tea? I had the same problem to a much lesser extent last year, qas ds1 was only 4 and 5, that he was the only boy in the extension group, but it doesn't matter when they are young.

Invite some girls (one at a time) and their parents round for tea - and encourage your son into a sport so he does have some male friends, as it must be very isolating to be the only one of your ge3nder doing someting. Or something like chess club, if this would suit him better.

ScummyMummy Sun 27-Jul-08 10:28:12

Hi ghosty
Is he definitely shy of the actual girls or concerned about how his male friends will react to him going into an all girl class? I don't think mine would mind at all being with girls (though they would posture for effect) but they would be genuinely worried about being teased by the other kids for doing extra maths with girls... So I would be encouraging a talk to the hand attitude (to any potential teasers), offering rewards for bravery, reminding them of their clever maths brains (if they had them- they are practically innumerate or whatever the maths equivalent of illiterate is).

I think just encouraging him to give it a go, maybe? Could you do a "if you're miserable in a month I'll talk to teach" compromise? Or the other thing is, would it really hurt the school to shove a couple more boys into the group? I think one gender dominant top groups can be a bad plan really- difficult for kids in your son's situation and gives a bad message. A tactful word might not go amiss, imo.

ghosty Sun 27-Jul-08 10:32:27

Thank you for your reply BGP (interesting name ...)
I could definitely see if we can organise for some of them to come over - I hadn't thought of that ...
Re. the sport and chess - he already plays soccer and tennis and goes to chess club every tuesday ... lol smile so it is nice to see I am on the right track. He has lots of male pals but not a 'best mate' who is a boy. His best friend is a girl but she is a complete tomboy - the only girlie thing about her is her name ...
It's funny because she has an identical twin and if the twin is in the room he clams up and sits there blushing - but you can't tell them apart!
The daughters of my friends who he is friends with are very pink and girly and he enjoys playing with them either at our house or his house but no, the girls at school are a different matter ...

ghosty Sun 27-Jul-08 10:37:23

Oh crossed posts Scummy (how ARE you? Haven't 'seen' you in ages smile)
I think you may have hit the nail on the head there - he has a complete mortal DREAD of ever being teased or told off or ridiculed in public and so I think the teasing side of it is probably an issue.
I agree that it is not great to have this gender domination going on. I am wondering if it is across the board - are girls getting cleverer these days? Or is that unique to our school or maybe even Australia shock[eek]

juuule Sun 27-Jul-08 12:28:18

Why "Obviously he needs to do it"?

What would be the problem if he didn't do it?
Have you discussed how he feels about this with his teachers? What do they suggest?
Would it be possible for him to bring the work home if he really does have to do it?

ghosty Sun 27-Jul-08 12:53:20

Yes, I suppose he could do it at home ... that is an option. But he has homework already and I like him to relax at home rather than spend time working ...
Surely if he needs extending, and the school is going to provide that then it would be silly not to take them up on it, wouldn't it?

juuule Sun 27-Jul-08 14:18:52

I think it depends upon how upsetting he's finding it. Just because something is offered doesn't mean you have to take it or that it would be good for an individual.
If he feels better not being part of the extension class and he's doing well with everything else maybe he would be better opting out at this point. Surely he would get an opportunity later.
If it would be better for him overall to not be part of the group at this time then that's what I would do. He might feel more inclined to join extension classes at a later date.
Are the extension classes after school?
I'd speak to his teachers and get their view. If it was one of mine I'd be very tempted to let him opt out.

wheresthehamster Sun 27-Jul-08 14:33:17

And yet... and yet, it's only Maths. It's not like he's the only boy at a girls' boarding school. Don't you think it's good experience for when he goes to secondary school and a lot of the sets could be top heavy with girls?

(You're going to tell me he's going to an all-boys school aren't you?) grin

juuule Sun 27-Jul-08 14:35:30

Even if it was, I don't think it's a necessary experience at 8yo. Another 12m and he might have no problems at all with being the only boy in the class.

wheresthehamster Sun 27-Jul-08 14:37:39

Oh I thought he was older. Must read more thoroughly

roisin Sun 27-Jul-08 16:55:50

Hmm this is a tricky one [hmmm]

If this was ds1 he honestly wouldn't care less: rarely notices what is going on in the world around him/who's on his table, etc. Plus he'd be proud to be in this special group.

But ds2 is not like this. He would be teased by his mates both for being in this group, and for being in a group with all girls, he wouldn't like it and he would definitely ask to be removed from it.

This is not because ds2 is 'shy', but that his self-esteem depends more on the opinions of his peers. (Heaven help us when he's a teenager.) I think in your position I would have a chat with the teacher and explain ds2's feelings on the matter, but ultimately I think I would allow him to drop out of the group.

lljkk Sun 27-Jul-08 17:21:32

Recently DS was the only lad on his top literacy table (with 6 girls). Barely any boys for his maths, either.
I appealed to his competitive side, and the inherent "Look at me!" side of every lad. I encouraged him to show off and prove to those girls he was twice as clever and still boyish in showing those girls he was as smart as them.

While they wrote about High School Musical, he did an essay on LegoRacers.

Don't run away, show them who's top dog. He can tell the other lads not in the group the same thing, he's only in with the girls just to show them how they really aren't so clever, after all.

ghosty Mon 28-Jul-08 10:34:55

No, I don't think we will run away. I personally don't think that will send the right messages to him. I want him to be proud of his ability (but modest too obviously) and if he is teased we will deal with that seperately. I will go and talk to his teacher though, as I have found out that there are 2 extension groups for Literacy (I think my OP was confusing, this second half of the year they do Literacy Extension - last term it was Maths) and in the other group there is one boy (out of 12 children) too. I am not sure why they can't put the two boys together - could quite possibly be a timetabling issue.
Talking to DS today he really wants to do the program (he loved the Maths one) but his problem is the the 'only boy' thing. So I will see how we can help him get round this ...

HonoriaGlossop Mon 28-Jul-08 10:52:22

I'd talk to the teacher to get them to help with strategies for helping him cope with his feelings about being the only boy. After all, it's a school thing so it's very limited what you can do.

Also agree with juuule that if this is really hard for him then don't feel he HAS to do it. If he doesn't do this now I'm sure it won't mean he will never reach his potential in maths, there is plenty of time.

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