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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.

exoticfruits Fri 07-Jun-13 19:17:20

Probably he is quite happy doing 'OK'. It won't change unless he wants to do more than 'OK'.

spanieleyes Fri 07-Jun-13 21:28:50

They can't make him pay more attention, nor take more care. They can nag and remind-and very probably do both. But the only one who can actually put in the extra effort is your DS.

Hassled Fri 07-Jun-13 21:31:52

I think you're being slightly unrealistic here - you can bring a horse to water, etc. What your DS probably needs is maturity, and only the passage of time will give him that. Or sooner or later something will really spark an interest and he'll find the motivation to learn more/do better. But that won't be in your control, or that of the school.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Fri 07-Jun-13 21:34:48

I don't know how to say this really, but why is ok not ok? If he does fairly well, isn't in trouble, ends up with a sensible job and a happy home life, is that a failure? If he changes and later wants to do more, then great, if he is happy as he is, then great.

I don't know why everyone has to do the maximum all the time. Maybe he hasn't found his passion yet. Maybe he finds school boring. Maybe he is busy growing up.

elastamum Fri 07-Jun-13 21:44:34

Count yourself lucky he is happy and destined to do OK. Then take a deep breath, chill out and let him grow up in his own time.

Pushing him wont make him happy and he will just get to resent you.
Also, it is unlikely to make much difference to his academic performance long term.

Unless you are happy with his life being made a misery, they cant actually force him to work if he doenst want to - and neither can you.

Having had DC with MH issues not helped by school induced stress, I would settle for happy slightly lazy children any day.

evelynj Fri 07-Jun-13 22:00:45

I second chill out, ok is good. It's so much better than stressing and trying to achieve maximum when he's not naturally extremely bright.

I was really clever at primary school but when I went to grammar school there were proportionately more 'clever' people there. I thought 'oh well, never mind'. I didn't put in as much effort as I wasn't going to be the winner or top of the class. It never did me any harm-, I didnt do great in GCSEs & A levels but after uni I got a good job & worked hard, made decent money and am now mid 30s with family & happy as can be. I'm well rounded & have had a good balanced life so far.

A lot of people I know that were 'pushed' to do more either aren't that happy or have gone through resentful phases with the pushy parents. Focus on the less academic stuff if he's not that interested. Common sense is way more important in life than grades-my bro didn't even do his gcses-went to work on a farm & was careful with money. Bought his own little house outright at age 18 & has rented it out since. Then bought another to rent out-he still lives with my parents & is better off all round than a lot of people at the job centre with good degrees.

tiggytape Fri 07-Jun-13 23:26:01

At home you have the advantage of 1:1 attention. No school can match that in terms of keeping him focused and on task.

Perhaps a good way to look at it is that he has been blessed with the academic ability to counter a currently less ambitious personality trait so the net result is that he will still do well. That is a good thing.

Often different qualities develop at different ages - a lot of people don't push themselves until they find a goal worth aiming at much later in life.
Also there is no rule that says that just because he is clever, he should be more inclined to try harder than everyone else. A lot of naturally clever people never have an ambitious streak to match their intellect. The two don't always go together - in fact they often don't and that's not something you can force either - well not easily.

housework Fri 07-Jun-13 23:39:13

Secondary schools aren't going to set targets for individuals unless they have special needs. If you want him stretched you will either have to pay for a very academic school where he'd have to work hard to keep up or to home educate.

wheresthebeach Fri 07-Jun-13 23:58:39

I feel your pain! DD similar I think. Called bright, seems bright and curios but not getting the sort of marks you'd hope for, homework def higher quality due to the one to one attention and a quieter atmosphere.
Frustrating when you feel they could so so much better - but at what cost? I keep reminding myself that the kids who did well at my primary haven't gone on to do anything particularly spectacular
It's a long game... Try to enjoy the journey .

musicalfamily Sat 08-Jun-13 09:13:49

I too get upset with my DD sometimes as she seems to lack drive and ambition to succeed, as opposed to the middle two boys who are exactly the opposite. They all go to the same school...

I often think that my DD1 would benefit from a school where she is pushed and where there is a lot of rigour and high academic expectations. This wouldn't give her an inner drive to succeed, but it certainly would make her do more and fulfil her potential.

We are planning to send her to a selective secondary as I firmly believe it will make her work harder. I feel for you as it is frustrating to have a bright child who doesn't seem that interested in putting the effort in. I find it particularly hard as I can't relate to it (was always a very driven child/individual, so I find it hard to understand 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.

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.

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...............

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.

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.

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?

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.

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).

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,

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..:

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.

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...

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.

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.

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