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Teachers - would you want to know if a child was losing enthusiasm for school?

(12 Posts)
Aranea Tue 27-Sep-11 21:29:28

I've just had a long chat with 6yo dd1 who is in year 2. She's a reasonably bright girl in general but is particularly advanced in literacy. She started the year feeling really excited about school and the new challenges of year 2. But this evening she was a bit tearful and saying that she doesn't like school and doesn't want to go.

She says it's because the work is too easy, they're repeating things they did in year 1, and she cannot imagine why anyone would want to do some of the work they're being set which is supposed to be fun. She says that in phonics, she's just pretending to write out the sounds on her whiteboard because it's so easy. And she says the maths is stuff they did last year and she is bored. She got quite cross about a little song they'd been taught to help them remember odd and even numbers, and when I said that it was to help the children remember which were odd and which were even, she looked at me as though I was completely mad and said, 'but there's a number table which shows odd and even numbers in different colours!' So I'm wondering whether her learning style may be a bit at odds with the (good and imaginative) teaching. Dd1 tends to respond best if she can see the point of the information she's being given, and I think she finds it hard to understand why people might learn better through silly songs etc.

I have suggested to her that she views the phonics lessons as handwriting practice and concentrate on her letter formations instead of thinking of it as phonics practice. I've also told her that it's normal for work to be easier at the start of the school year, and that I'm sure they will soon be doing new and challenging stuff, and that in the meantime she needs to prove how easy she finds it by actually working hard. I told her that there was no way the teacher would believe that the work was too easy for her if she wasn't the best in the class at everything.

I think her teacher is great, and I have a lot of confidence in the school. I imagine that everything will shake down as the school year progresses, but I am a bit worried that she is starting to dislike school and I wondered whether that was something that would be helpful to tell the teacher. Or would it just be pointless and counterproductive? I don't actually know what if anything I think should change, and I really don't want to be one of what I'm sure is a multitude of parents requesting harder reading books for their children etc.

So.... if there are any teachers out there, would you want to know if a child was feeling this way? Or would you just want them to sit tight and work hard?

mrsshears Tue 27-Sep-11 21:40:52

aranea are you me?
My own dd has just started y1 and i'm having exactly the same issues as yourself,will watch this thread with interest,sorry i can't be of help but hopefully someone will be along soon with some good advicesmile

Aranea Tue 27-Sep-11 22:08:22

Maybe all the teachers have gone to bed, exhausted by our ungrateful children!

mumtoone Tue 27-Sep-11 22:08:46

I have a similar situation with my ds in year 3. He's usually very enthusiastic about school but he's been less so this term. He's finding some of the work tedious and we've also told him to focus on this handwriting but I would like the enthusiasm to return. I'll be watching this thread too.

SaintBelle Tue 27-Sep-11 22:18:51

I would want to know, absolutely!! If teachers don't know, they cannot adapt lessons appropriately. If children are bored in class, and not trying, it is hard to spot whether any mistakes are genuine, therefore they could be revisiting work again, which would simply add to the problem. Most teachers would be grateful to be told this.

verybusyspider Tue 27-Sep-11 22:27:36

ds - year 1 - came home at weekend upset because he was in 'bottom group for everything' 'rubbish at reading' etc etc - he's not the brighest, we guess him to be somewhere in the middle but I was more worried about his self esteem (and that he has a great way of talking himself out of it and not trying)

I did go and see teacher, said I didn't need to know where he was in the class as I knew that she was still getting to know them but that he felt he was at the bottom and she needed to know that it might be a mental block to getting him to work. She was lovely, explained grouping system which I didn't know and said she'd look out for any signs that he was disengaging - that was only Monday so not sure if has worked! ds was with us for discussion - if you're worried have a quick chat to teacher, I'm not a teacher but I would have thought its easier to work out the child with some feedback, in ds's case I guess I wanted her to know that when he flatly refuses to do something sometimes its because he's worried about getting it wrong but it can look like he's being difficult

maybe dd just needs to know she'll be doing X till half term because <what ever reason> and then it'll change - like you say she likes to see the point

I'll wait for a teacher now to tell me thats wrong (if it is ds's teacher handled us very well and I left feeling much better grin)

Iamseeingstars Tue 27-Sep-11 22:30:34

I think it depends on the teacher and how your relationship is with them. Some teachers are happy to talk/listen, others build up a defence wall and assume you are criticising them and get very annoyed.

If my child was unhappy at school though I would definitely arrange to talk to the teacher, but arrange an appointment rather than trying to grab 5 minutes then get upset because you only got half a story out.

Each year is a repeat of the previous year, they just build up on prior knowledge and this is something your DD will encounter every year. I get/got the same with maths "its the same as last year" but in reality it was the next stage of the same topic. This improves their confidence because they feel they know it already and work on the next stage without even realising they are in fact doing something harder.

Unfortunately teachers do have to repeat lots of the same stuff over and over again and has to work to the class majority and there will be times she has to do the same class stuff as everyone else. That is just the way it is. But there will also be other sessions where the children are grouped and working at their ability level.

But an unhappy child will learn nothing, so talking to the teacher is a good idea IMO

Aranea Tue 27-Sep-11 22:37:35

Verybusyspider, it sounds as though you had a really productive conversation.

Thanks for responding, SaintBelle. That's encouraging, maybe I should speak to the teacher. I guess I'm worried about sounding pointlessly pushy. I know that dd1 is in the top groups and that the work is differentiated, which makes me wonder what else the teacher can do.

Aranea Tue 27-Sep-11 22:41:28

Seeingstars, yes, part of my nervousness is that I suspect dd1 may have failed to notice what they're actually doing which is new. She can be dreadfully arrogant and sometimes assumes she has understood something when she hasn't.

I don't really know the teacher yet but I have no reason to think she would be especially defensive. She seems nice.

magdalene Wed 28-Sep-11 10:13:37

I could have written this post too. Unfortunately I can't feel I can approach the teachers about my DD as they always manage to make me feel neurotic or that it's my fault. I've given up now.

SE13Mummy Wed 28-Sep-11 22:49:56

Yes please! I'd like to know if your child is in my class and, for whatever reason, is losing enthusiasm for school.

The start of a new school year can be tricky for children; they've probably changed teacher and will have someone who may have a different way of doing things, will be excited about what the new year brings whilst also worried that it will be different from the previous year, may be nervous of all the, "now you're in Year X" talk etc. etc.

I have a couple of children in my new class who are always telling me that something I've asked them to do is too easy. I always reply by saying that the best way of demonstrating to me that it is too easy is by doing the first 5 questions, setting them out accurately and getting them correct. If that is achieved then I give them something harder but, to be honest, that hasn't happened yet! What tends to happen for me is those very confident children are losing focus (perhaps because they are so adament that the work is too easy!?) and are so are making careless mistakes i.e. leaving cm off a measurement answer or missing the £ or p when working with money. I do try hard to explain why I'm being so picky and why details like that matter but there are some children for whom being 'top' becomes more important than what they are learning/consolidating.

As I don't seat children according to their attainment I have to start every year by reassuring parents that yes, I do realise that X is level 3 thousand in maths and no, s/he has not been mistakenly put on the 'bottom' table because there isn't one in my class.

If the teacher can explain to your DD that the phonics practise is phonics for some children but handwriting for others, and that rehearsing odds and evens is always worthwhile because <insert reason here> hopefully things will improve. So, please do arrange an appointment with your DD's teacher; no teacher wants to think that a child in their class is losing enthusiasm for learning!

Aranea Wed 28-Sep-11 23:56:07

Thank you SE13mummy, I think I will try to speak to the teacher next week then. It is difficult because I don't want to be perceived as one of the mothers who are insisting that their child is brilliant and needs to be at the top. I really do trust the teacher and the school to teach her well, and I don't think she is aware of which groups are top or bottom, so that isn't an issue. It's just worrying that she doesn't want to go any more. So I'll try to think of ways to phrase it so I don't come across as pointlessly pushy.

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