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"I'm dumb Mum"

(17 Posts)
cpbp Sat 03-Sep-11 07:52:57

Our 8yr old DS told me lst night that "he looks dumb and is dumb". Turned 8 in the summer and has just started year 4.

They went back to school on Thursday. He found the maths he had to do yesterday very hard.

We know that he isn't a mathematician and reminded him of what he is good at.

However, although he is very happy in the school and has plenty friends, I do worry about his self-esteem and confidence when he makes these type of remarks (he did this a bit in year 3). The school is a very nurturing place. I know he is happy there but he is also very competitive. The boy at the top of the class is extremely gifted and my rat wants to be him! This creates anxiety I think.

In all honesty, I have always been aware of the importance of making him feel good about himself but am stuck about what to do now beyond helping him with his maths and generally being positive about his strengths!

All and any tips/advice/ideas welcome!


MigratingCoconuts Sat 03-Sep-11 08:01:58

I know its very hard to deal with and feel sad for your son. I used to feel just the same. i think its a matter of pointing out his successes but also to always praises his efforts and any success that comes from hard work.

If you can help him to see that success that is not just handed to someone on a plate (like the friend) is actually worth much more. Students who understand that actually do end up doing better in the long run!

so I would focus on effort he puts into work and always praise specific detail 'I like the way you have...'

AnotherJaffaCake Sat 03-Sep-11 09:07:41

Would he be interested in doing any extra work at home to help him with his maths? There's quite a few workbooks out there you can get - eg CGP, or you could try a website eg BBC Schools which is free, or one you can take out a subscription to such as Mathletics, Maths Whizz, or Education City.

I wasn't very good at maths at school, and had to work at it to get through my exams.

goinggetstough Sat 03-Sep-11 09:36:03

My DS was exactly the same. It makes you feel so awful doesn't it when they say " I am dumb" in our case it was "I am stupid." We also had various special needs to add to his situation.
I would totally agree about praising strengths etc and being very specific as to what you are praising. Children are very aware of empty complements. I found my DH was the worst he would say well done, when even my DS knew it wasn't, so that just compounded the problem.
We also made a list of all the things he was good at and those that he wasn't good at and even he was amazed at how long the good list was. We did it together so he could see what things DH and I were good at and not so good at too. One tip is those have a think before you start at what you can write on your son's list to get the lists going just in case he doesn't contribute much at the beginning. It can be a list that is added to by both you and him.
Out of school activities too help with self esteem etc. Cubs etc or drama, karate, judo etc. We tried many.....
It does get better, but I know exactly how you feel. However, I now have a confident young man who is just about to start his last year at school and I am very proud of him. I certainly couldn't have imagined this when he was your DS's age......... Good luck!

justhe1 Sat 03-Sep-11 09:43:51

Ahh we have this too. My Ds isnt academic, struggles with maths terribly and nothing that we say will improve his confidence.

he starts back next Tuesday and so we have decided to let him settle in for the 1st term, then see the teacher. Depending on what the teacher says, we think we will get him some extra lessons to ensure he keeps up and to improve his confidence and hopefully help him find a love of numbers.

Every night at bedtime, i tell him 5 things that have made me smile that he has done that day, 5 things that have made me proud of him. he beems his little smile when i tell him these things..bless smile

aries12 Sat 03-Sep-11 11:03:10

Try and keep his confidenc up. I would not wait too long to speak nicely to the teacher. Make him/her aware of the situation and perhaps the teacher can help. There is a lot they can do in the classroom and the teacher may not be aware yet of any problems since it's the start of term.You could ask to see a guideline for the programme of Maths work for the year and try and do a little at home yourself. Children will improve if they get the extra support, then the confidence levels will increase.

Next you could pay a visit to the bookshop and buy a few Maths books targeting Year 3 if he is struggling with Y4 Maths...go back a year or two to see where there are gaps in his learning.
I have helped my own child and there has been a big improvement even though she still does not like Maths!
If you do an online search for Maths resources for Year 3/4 you will find a lot. There are some you can subscribe to like the ones mentioned here on the other posts..the only problem is he may need some teaching before he can do these...they are great for drill if the child knows the method.
Failing all that you could consider getting him exta tuition on a 1 to 1 with a tutor for a few months until he catches up. If you think that would not suit, try a tuition centre like Kip McGrath who specialise in Maths and English. They offer free assessments and design programmmes of work based on the assessment. It suits younger children sometimes as they are in small groups but still working individually.
My advice is try meeting the teacher first and see how comfortable you are with doing work yourself, then consider all other options.

TheMonster Sat 03-Sep-11 11:06:41

YOu call him a rat?

justhe1 Sat 03-Sep-11 11:09:05

ahh mines called pumpkin, chicken, and best of all BEASTIE, its all in love grin

MigratingCoconuts Sat 03-Sep-11 11:17:27

The really sad thing is that being bright or dumbe is all relative if he is judging himself against class mates.

In one school he might be top of the class and in another, near the bottom by virtue of who else is there.

The only judgment of merit at this young age is by how much progress he is making.

TheMonster Sat 03-Sep-11 11:27:24

It won't do his self esteem much good to call him a rat though, will it?

MigratingCoconuts Sat 03-Sep-11 11:33:36

i think that's being a bit over precious bodyofEeyore....any nick name is loving if it is conveyed with love!

mine get called monster, trouble, honey and sugar and they all mean the same thing!

PastSellByDate Sat 03-Sep-11 12:18:07

Hi cpbp

First of all your child isn't dumb. Like everybody he has strengths and weaknesses. Math, reading, drawing, rock climbing, etc.... don't always come easy. Some people have to really practice to get good. I think the first prioirty is to take every chance to praise your son. The next thing is to point out that the world has room for all sorts of people with all sorts of talents. Remind him what he is good at and keep encouraging him.

Now with the not good at maths thing - practice may be the solution. Does your child like video games? If so I can suggest two free games which will really get the practice in, but on the sly (if you know what I mean).

Tux of Math Command - - is free - and an open source downloadable maths game which is similar to the old atari video game asteroids. The child solves the math problems (you can select the type of problem and difficulty) and you blast the problems away as you solve them.

Timezattack - - is free (in simple format as basic game) & fairly expensive to add on other formats. But the free game gives plenty of practice frankly. There is a division version as well. You work your way through dungeons and castles and solve problems to defeat the scary ogre.

If you find that your child is still really struggling and that the basic building blocks just don't seem to be there (which was my situation with my eldest) I would recommend joining something like Mathsfactor My girls love this and their math has really improved.

My DD1 (now Y4) came home at the end of Y2 saying 'I'm no good at math' and when I said 'Why do you think that?', she said 'Mrs Teacher says so'. I was angry at the teacher and upset for my daughter. But the thing is there was some truth in it. We've spent the last 18 months really working on maths and making sure she had the basics (adding, subtracting and now multiplication). She's made huge progress and best of all she's realised that hard work pays off. If anything she's learned that if she works at it, it will get easier.

Hang in there, give some of these things a try & good luck to your son.

IndigoBell Sat 03-Sep-11 13:02:08

But do you know how he is doing in Maths? Do you know if he's average or below average? Do you know what his NC level is?

I think what I'd do would depend on whether he was above or below average........

Whether maths was the problem. Or competition. Or his friend. Or his confidence. Or what.......

TheMonster Sat 03-Sep-11 13:08:30

I just think rat is too negative.

Panzee Sat 03-Sep-11 14:32:50

Depends on your own impression of the word "rat". OP might have lots of cute pet ones.

cpbp Sat 03-Sep-11 15:44:07

Thanks so much- couldn't believe the number of responses. Going to reply properly later.

BTW, "rat" is, in our peculiar house, a term of affection for my DS. He is completely and utterly adored- as are all our mn kids.

He is also called cheeky frog (and other variations) and rat is only ever said in the same way as one would say monkey so don't read too much into it!

So appreciate the responses.

Talk later.

The rat's mum!!

sarahfreck Sat 03-Sep-11 23:16:56

With children I tutor who have lost confidence in maths, here's how I often respond to that kind of statement. "No you aren't dumb, it's just that some people need to take longer than others over learning things. You can do it, you just might need some more practice." That plus breaking down concepts into tiny bits and lots of hands on practical stuff seems to help loads.

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