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When your dc isn't doing well at school

(34 Posts)
allaboutthename Fri 07-Oct-11 21:17:10

How do you cope? My DS is in Yr1 and is progressing very, very slowly with reading and other areas. It feels as if it's one step forward and two back and he is still at the same reading level that he was on in Reception and is the only child in the class at this level. DH & I spend considerable time with Ds, helping with reading and other areas and I have invested in lots of resources (& research) but it has such a limited affect which is very disheartening. I have older dc's who do well in school and I know that it makes life so much easier when a child is able to cope with school. Parents evenings are also so much more enjoyable!

I am due to have a meeting with his teacher and from her comments I assume he will start assessments however I just wonder how parents cope with the emotional turmoil that it generates. I feel so sad and disappointed and can't really share it with people - friends & family try to be helpful but state the obvious - why don't you try reading to him often (like we don't!!) so I have stopped discussing it.

How do you cope?

IndigoBell Fri 07-Oct-11 21:48:16

It's really, really hard.

DD is now in Y4, with a diagnosis of 'dyslexia'.

But essentially she can't learn anything, despite being incredibly bright. She was put on the SEN register in Y1.

I found it very, very hard to talk about it in RL, because everyone always said the wrong thing. I managed to fall out with all of the school mums besides one whose DS was also on the SEN register sad

My family upset me, with loads of comments about how she'd be fine and I should stop worrying etc.

With hindsight I wish I'd started to worry earlier! Because I didn't actually start to do anything about my worry until Y2 blush

PM me if you want to talk more. There's a couple of us on the SN board really fighting this demon.

And I mean fighting it. It's a battle - and we're going to win. DD is significantly better now (although still doing very badly). But I will win. I will never accept that because she has dyslexia she can't learn. Never. It is curable and I will cure it.

WoodBetweenTheWorlds Fri 07-Oct-11 21:54:17

OP, no experience or advice but you hace my sympathy.

Indigo, just out of interest, what would be the "right" thing to say to parents who confide that they are concerned about their kids' progress. I mean, what would you have wanted people to say? (I do appreciate that sometimes just listening may be more helpful than saying anything at all.)

missmapp Fri 07-Oct-11 22:01:16

DS1 struggles at school and took a while to 'get' reading. It is hard, a friend of mine once said she was really worried as her son might be ( and she said this in hushed tones) SEN, but it was okay as he was fine. Well, ds is SEN and thats fine too!! However, we read every night and that has improved, he is now in Yr2 and reading at age appropriate levels, but his writing is poor and maths poor, parents evenings are hard as I sometimes feel the school dont see the bright chatty 6yr old I know, but he is making progress and your ds will too, it just might be slower progress than others and that is ok. Try to avoid comparing with others, he is your ds and noone elses!!!!

IndigoBell Fri 07-Oct-11 22:02:48

I'm not sure what the right thing to say is.

I guess you need to let them be worried, and not try and tell them it'll be ok, or you know someone else who is dyslexic and has a degree or whatever. For me that was really not helpful.

So just listen? Let them talk about their worries? Ask them questions?

And maybe appreciate that their child is getting a very different experience of school than yours. As in the school may be dreadful with SEN, but absolutely fine for your child.

WoodBetweenTheWorlds Fri 07-Oct-11 22:11:35

Thanks indigo. I can see how the well-meaning attempts to reassure parents can come across as denying genuine concerns - and ultimately, if you do have serious concerns, they aren't going to go away just because someone in the playground tells you it'll be ok.

I'm sure you're right, too, about the DCs' experience of school being different - what works fantastically for my dd may not work at all for another child.

BusterGut Fri 07-Oct-11 22:34:39

All children are different and hover around that magic average mark. I think we all have to remember that the magic average mark is a fantasy of some past government.

All children are different and develop cognitively and physically at different times. In the early years (to Y2) the development varies considerably and the child entering Y2 will often be unrecognisable to the same child entering Y3.

All children are different, and if you feel yours has specific needs, you must talk to the teacher to find out if any special measures are being taken to help his progress, and how you can support this at home.

jayyamela Sat 08-Oct-11 00:31:50

Hi, I think I know how you feel, My DS is in Year 2, he a bright child but cant sit still normal for 6.5 boy I guess??, every night we sit together doing either reading or writing between 30 - 45 mins, I am not at all pushy mum, but it seem like everyone else doing better, one mum told me, this class majority of the children are good or advance reader as she always come to help listen to the children read, I trying hard not to compare, as he is not the worst in the class. I recently bought LETTS FUN LEARNING packs, we do try to do a page or 2. On 1 occasion my child told me he only write 1 sentence in that writing class and other child write up to 2 pages, I was horrify and upset, I told him, I am upset because he could do much better but he did not try. Too many so called advice saying try to make learning fun, but it is not easy or may be I don’t know how.

The best I guess just keep carrying on doing what we do, a lot of praise when he doing well, it is a long term gold and we will reap the reward. Try not get toooo stress. Year 1,2 still early stage where we can easily help.

IndigoBell Sat 08-Oct-11 05:31:20

BusterGut- this is exactly the kind of comment I'm talking about. exactly the wrong thing to say

If a kid is not learning it's not at all helpful to say that all kids progress at different rates. They don't. Some kids don't progress. Some kids never learn to read. Or write.

Giving such a child a label of SN doesn't make anyone feel better! Everyone still wants their child to learn.

It's not about what you can do at home. If a child has learning difficulties nothing you do at home will work.

What the OP was looking for was sympathy or empathy. And you gave none.

It is incredibly hard and soul destroying to watch your kid fall further and further behind.

Iamnotminterested Sat 08-Oct-11 09:16:33

jayyamela tell the mum who helps with reading that she should not be passing on any kind of information to parents, however well meaning it may be.

teacherwith2kids Sat 08-Oct-11 09:45:12

I think part of the issue (as a listener, and also as the person who is - sometimes - ont the other side of the desk) that there is no one 'right' thing to say that is the 'right' thing to say to all parents - which is why listening is so much more important than saying anything!

Parents' responses to their children's learning difficulties are as varied as the children themselves - crusading zeal, anger, sorrow, disappointment, resignation, resignation, indifference, despair - and the ways those feelings are directed also vary - towards the school, towards the child, towards the child's other parent, towards 'the gods / fate', towards the medical establishment.

Listening, being there, but also perhaps keeping sight of the 'whole child' - not in a way that dismisses the difficulty or pretends that it is not there, but also that refuses to define a child only by the things they find hard to do (that sees Indigo's child as incredibly bright first, and dyslexic second - and acknowledges the huge frustration for all that comes from that combination, and as a teacher seeks tirelessly to find ways to bridge the gap).

Now I've probably offended someone, because that isn't the 'right' thing to say to some parental responses...

minko Sat 08-Oct-11 09:46:18

I can relate... My DD is in the bottom group for maths, below average for writing and about average for reading. She's in yr 4. For a long time I have suspected she might be dyslexic but the school just encourages us to plod on. She has never been assessed. So I have decided we have to accept she is as she is and we just do our best to help her - regular reading etc. Oh and encourage all her skills - she is quite sporty and arty. I think DH and I are just a bit disappointed - you can't help it, though I hate myself for saying it (and will probably get 'flamed' for saying it). We both did pretty well at school and went to Uni and all that.

Mokemum Sat 08-Oct-11 11:06:55

I agree Minko about feeling a little disappointed, especially difficult when both dh and I were very successful academically, although dh didn't start to blossom until he was at secondary, I harbour hopes of dcs being the same but mostly I have learned to accept the way they are.

I have learned not to be quite so annoyed at other parents when they boast over and over again about how fantastically brilliant their dcs are academically, you'd think they'd notice that I don't boast back, you'd think they'd feel saying it once would be enough but no just in case I forget they like to mention it over and over again.

allaboutthename Sat 08-Oct-11 11:27:49

Indigo, thank-you....It's clear you can completely relate to the feelings.Are we a very small club?

Wood, thank you for asking....it is difficult as most parents are at different stages on the SEN journey. I'm at the early stage of discovery and find it hard to talk about it...even telling family makes me very emotional. When I have spoken to a friend she has said "oh my dd can be like that" when the reality is that her dd is achieving at a very high level so a comment like that can feel dismissive and it closed my dialogues with her.I have older dc's so I know what typical development feels and looks like and my ds isn't on the typical path. He also struggles with co-ordination so sports are also challenging for him.

I think listening is the key - yes mums can worry unnecessarily (which is what I think Buster's comment refers to) but for a % of mums that worry is very real.Acknowledgement of that position is a positive start.

teacher, your post made me cry - the range of emotions are what I feel in a day (except indifference, I wish I could feel indifferent!).

One factor that is coming to clearer is that ds's learning isn't just confined to achievements in school as it affects our home life as well. We have to assist him more than we would for other children at a similar age, if he's at a friends house he can't fully join in a game which involves drawing, writing or simply reading and I've noticed friends have to help him (and in those situations he appears younger than his friends) despite being a very tall boy.

CecilyP Sat 08-Oct-11 12:43:50

I think one of the problems for outsiders is being able to distinguish between mums like you, whose children have very real difficulties, and those who think their children aren't doing as well as they should be (though they are, in fact, making average progress) - hence the platitudes. Though 'why don't you try reading to him', has got be one of the most stupid things that anyone can say.

Would it be helpful if people took an interest in the specifics of his actual difficulties, or would you feel that be too intrusive?

MigratingCoconuts Sat 08-Oct-11 15:16:28

even 'average progress' can be hard to process for a parent when, on MN every child seems to be free reading by the middle of reception and the class seems to be full of pupils doing better than the average. My DD was assessed as 'slightly below expectations' at the end of yr1 in reading. writing and maths. She is very artistic and creative but has found learning to read and write a real plod. The focus of school learning at present just isn't in her natural skills zone.

I get irriated when, on hearing DD's reading level, friends, without any invitation for an opinion, will tell me not to worry and that they all make their own progress. To be honest, I don't anymore but it surprises me that so many feel the need to try and make me feel better.

I have found the contributions of posters like Indigo a very big help to me in reminding me that school is not easy for a whole variety of pupils and that I can actively support my DD in the best way that suits her. Since realising this, I feel less useless and out of my deph

blackeyedsusan Sat 08-Oct-11 22:28:01

"she'll/he'll be fine, stop worrying!" is so dismissive isn't it? as if you could just stop worrying anyway.

there are a whole lot of people out there worrying because their child is not as literate/numerate/physically capable as classmates/is bright and not challenged/behaviour issues and the don't worry he'll be fine line is rolled out frequently. (sorry, I am not being very literate tonight)

it was a shock when something that the ot said made me realise that dd was going to be affected her whole life because I was so set on getting her help now, that I really hadn't contemplated further than that. again tonight, I have come across threads about children and teenagers with the same/similar condition, which is a reminder that things are not as they should be.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 07:58:09

OP, blackeyedsusan and others who are worried about their children with dyslexia, dyspraxia type symptoms - don't accept it and think your child will have to struggle all their life. It's not true.

You need to cure it yourself though. School can't. Here are a list of treatments that work which I've put together:

www.dyslexiaadvice.co.uk/treatments.html

While I have not yet finished helping my DD, she is vastly improved from where she was.

My DS in Y6 however is 'cured'. His dx was apergers and dyspraxia. And he is now cured. Head boy. Top of his class in almost every subject. Has friends. Even his handwriting has finally come right in the last few weeks.

Dyslexia and dyspraxia can be cured.

seeker Sun 09-Oct-11 08:06:21

IndigoBell, I'm sorry, but surely saying that you can cure these conditions is as unhelpful as saying "don't worry, all children progress at different speeds"?

I found your last post a little surprising - I even wondered if your user name had somehow been hijacked.......

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 08:52:31

No seeker. DDs dyslexia is about 40% cured, and DSs Aspergers is 95% cured.

It's not unhelpful to say it can be cured when I also give out a list of therapies that cure it confused

Dyslexia is the name given to the symptoms of struggling to learn to read and write. It is not the cause of the problem, only the symptom. The causes are physcial and can be fixed.

It does however take a lot of time, money and patience to cure it. It took me 2 - 3 years to cure DS, and I expect it to take the same amount of time to cure DD.

My problem was that I didn't start trying to cure it until she was in Y3. Before that I foolishly concentrated all my efforts on teaching her to read and on getting school to teach her to read.

So I am now trying to help other people to not make the same mistakes I did.

seeker Sun 09-Oct-11 09:10:40

I'll back off then- I don't know enough to comment further. I'm sure others who do will be along soon.

MigratingCoconuts Sun 09-Oct-11 09:43:37

This is exactly why I have found Indigo's posts so helpful. Supporting my DD is not about trying to find a label for her so that I can then breathe a sigh of relief, say 'oh that's ok, she's got dyslexia! that explains it..phew!'. I kind of think our society likes to pigeon hole people and then sit back and leave it like that's the end outcome.

I've realised that it doesn't matter if she is or she isn't. What matters is putting in the groundwork to support her the best I can. Any diagnosis that comes our way (and I am very doubtful it will tbh) is just the beginning of such support and not the end result.

Since coming to this realisation by reading MN posts, I have chilled out immensely, been much more pro-active in supporting my DD's reading (not just leaving it to the teachers) and much more confident about approaching the school with what I think.

And all this from a secondary school teacher who, quite frankly, should have known better grin

MigratingCoconuts Sun 09-Oct-11 09:49:14

more pro-active in supporting my DD's reading

just read back my own post and realsied how this reads. Before I get slated for not reading with my DD, can I just say that I always have read to her, with her and listened to her reading.

What's changed is how I go about this....

Cortina Sun 09-Oct-11 11:52:23

Indigo you show the traits of 'the gift of mastery' yourself smile and agree you do so much to help others here. I think dyslexia etc is widely misunderstood.

Quick question for you or others in the know is it possible for a child with dsylexic tendencies to score poorly cognitive tests like PIPS or CATS etc? Is it possible their potential to learn can be missed because they learn differently? (If that makes sense). Thanks.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 15:25:50

Firstly, I don't think dyslexic children learn differently. I think they have auditory and vision problems which stop them from learning. I think they think differently. Very, very visually. Able to design a rocket ship in their head type thinking.

Secondly, I don't know anything about PIPS or CATS, but tests which are designed to measure IQ, or cognitive ability, don't discriminate against dyslexia.

Dyslexics tend to score far far higher in non-verbal reasoning, than in verbal reasoning. But of course verbal reasoning also discriminates against EAL kids, and is not a good test of cognitive ability.

One of the counties 11+ test is only a verbal reasoning test. I'm sure that is to deliberately discriminate against both EAL kids and dyslexic kids.

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