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Dd Yr 5 is 3C for Maths...& her English paper was also awful :-( What can I do to help ?

(36 Posts)
Willowisp Thu 21-Mar-13 00:06:33

We've just had parents evening & shocked to find how low DD1 is.

She'd been recognized as being behind & had extra work & I suppose, because she does her homework each week (with attitude, so hard to help) I thought she was OK. I've had no extra work for her & not been called in to discuss her lack of progress.

She's also completed an English paper which dh & I were given & her answers are just ridiculous sad It pains me to read her answers, I don't have the test she's read from, but her answers are badly written, spelling is dreadful, no understanding or skill at checking the answers. Looking at the paper, she's scrapped 9/20.

She's a young yr 5 but her (also young for year) 6 yr old sister is 3 points from being a 2A for Maths.

I have bought numerous work book for her to do, but, & this sounds like a big excuse, she hates doing them & creates such a terrible atmosphere in the home when doing them, it seems counter productive.

She does 3 activities during the week & is dropping down to 1 for the summer term, so I'd like to get her in the habit & be less afraid of doing extra work over the Easter hols.

I've just re-read her English paper & seriously feel there is something misfiring in her brain <<shakes head>> sad

mrsruffallo Thu 21-Mar-13 00:24:12

sounds like you need to go back to basics. get her to write a short story at home and make a note of the bad spellings, buy some bond books for help wiyh comprehension and do some times tables and mental maths with her. its annoying that the school havent informed you how behind she is. ask them what they can put in action to help her. dont worry, she has lots of time to catch up

ReallyTired Thu 21-Mar-13 08:46:26

Are you able to afford some tutoring? If you can find a good tutor then it can make a world of difference to a child's confidence. The best way to find a tutor is personal recommendation. Its important to make sure that the tutor is a qualified teacher with up to date knowledge of British primary schools.

Sometimes its easier for someone outside the family to get your daughter to work. A tutor would go back to the basics and work at the level she is at rather than where she should be. I am not sure that workbooks are the answer. It sounds like your daughter needs some actual teaching.

I think that outside activites are important as they really help boost confidence in a child who is struggling academically.

FriendlyLadybird Thu 21-Mar-13 09:57:13

Do you have time to be able to have some intensive one-on-one mummy time with her each day? An hour or so?
Can you make this really nice, with a drink, a biscuit, even snuggled up on the sofa -- and go through some of the workbook exercises TOGETHER? At the start, it may even be you doing them all, but thinking out loud as you do so, so that she gets the thought processes that you are going through? Then gradually you can ask for her help, still perhaps doing the actual writing yourself, working up to her doing it all with you watching.
I think that being set to do a workbook at the table smacks too much of punishment, which is probably why she resists it.
I did something like this with my DS when he was being completely awful about doing his piano practice. I hadn't realised how hard he was finding it. The moment I sat next to him and we tried to work out solutions together, it all got so much easier.

Seeline Thu 21-Mar-13 10:03:06

What have the school said? They've obviously recognised an issue if they have given her extra work, but has she progressed since that started? Is hte extra work at school or sent home to do? Does she get additional support at school to help her withthe extra work? Have they been able to pin point an actual problem? I would be wanting another chat with her teacher and asking for additional help and support.

learnandsay Thu 21-Mar-13 10:16:47

Can you afford a tutor?

Periwinkle007 Thu 21-Mar-13 10:35:51

can you explain to her that you want to help her so that she will find her school work easier? the attitude is probably because she knows she is finding it hard but it sounds like it is skills that she can learn rather than concerns she wouldn't be able to do it if that makes sense.

comprehension is something I struggled with terribly as a child, I read quickly, skim read I suppose and I didn't know which bits of information were important. Could you perhaps look at text and highlight the important bits, saying why they were important and how to know they are important. I always had problems with maths problems, not maths as in x+y= but ones like 'the train travelled at 20km/hr and blah blah blah' as a result of my problems with comprehension so that crosses subjects. Handwriting is practice, could you make it fun by getting her to write something interesting, or treat it more like she is learning how to do fancy writing or something like calligraphy, show her how you have to take care over the presentation or the teacher won't be able to read her excellent ideas.

also is it worth having her eyes tested? There may be an underlying problem either with eye sight or some sight processing problem (we are investigating this with my eldest at the moment) which can make it harder and more confusing so it isn't just sloppiness or not having learned how to do something.

Teachercreature Thu 21-Mar-13 12:39:12

Poor girl! Sorry to hear school didn't make clear that she was struggling earlier.
Agree with earlier posts - a good tutor can really help plus is more detached so less trouble with emotional involvement.
The cuddling/learn approach also sounds really nice if tutor not possible.
I'd say the key is to work out where she is going wrong - without speaking to her it's hard to say, but it sounds a bit to me as though she is misunderstanding words. This often leads to issues both in Maths and comprehension, which you mentioned. If you're working with her yourself maybe check definitions? Especially Maths terminology as it can get very confusing - difference between, greater than, etc.
And with comprehension - get her to find the key words from the question in the text and read the bit before and after. Get her to think about whether it's a "straightforward" answer they want, e.g. who did what. Or is it a "read between the lines" answer, ie. not spelled out in text and something she has to work out? Have also found that writing the question out in the answer helps them to clarify thinking - old-fashioned but it works! (e.g. "The man who picked up the umbrella was called Bob.")
Really hope she feels better about her learning soon - very best of luck!

Willowisp Thu 21-Mar-13 13:11:38

Thanks for advice, I feel a bit teary because it all sounds doable.

I hadn't really considered the work books being a punishment before & I really think doing them together would help her.

She had a private tutor for 10 sessions end of last year & although she identified big gaps & tried to fill them, the tutor suggested her memory wasn't very good. IMO her memory is ok...but because she wasn't understanding maths 'stuff' she couldn't retain it.

I feel the whole parents evening responses were very wishy washy & not constructive but do have a meeting with her maths teacher next week to discuss in more detail....

I do worry that there is something else going on, but maybe just practice at concentration & being calmer/kinder/we're a team will do the trick

Teachercreature Thu 21-Mar-13 13:28:21

It's tough as Mum! You love your kids and you want them to do well - it can be really hard knowing how best to help. (As I have learned myself!)
Memory can be a problem, but you're 100% right that if they don't understand they won't retain.
I'd say see how these approaches all go first - maybe the school combined with your help will indeed do the trick. If you feel it isn't working after say six weeks or so, then you can consider other ideas with the school. If it's any consolation over the years I have seen many many children hit a blip and then recover - try not to worry, having a supportive parent like you makes all the difference!

adeucalione Thu 21-Mar-13 13:44:13

Was it a reading comprehension test willowisp? If so, I think you could make huge improvements by reading with her every day, and talking to her about what she has read. If necessary, you read the book, or take it in turns, and then ask her some questions that are similar to the reading comprehension questions she would get in a test, but ask as if you are genuinely interested in her thoughts and ideas, so it's just a nice conversation rather than a test iyswim.

Addressing writing at home is trickier I think, because forcing a child to sit down and write a story or something can easily put them off even more. If writing is the issue then I would still try to address this through the reading - point out words and sentences that paint a vivid picture, or add to the atmosphere of the story; find a great descriptive word and look up what it means in the dictionary; say the author has done a rubbish job of this bit, bet we could think of a better way to explain it; talk about the importance of writing clearly so that the reader understands what's going on etc.

Maths - ask her whether she would like to get better at maths and, if so, whether she'd be willing to do 10mins work at home every day, so that she is self motivated, and then get her to work through a workbook, little and often, with lots of praise and encouragement for how much effort she is putting into improving. Sit with her while she is working so that you can see where she is struggling, and can if necessary set the book aside and spend the 10mins helping her to do column addition (or whatever). Don't plough on through the book if certain topics are still shaky, and make it a nice time that you spend together. She's so lucky to have a lovely mum who cares, and you are right to be addressing it now rather than having her start secondary school and floundering.

jazzandh Thu 21-Mar-13 15:15:44

I have found that the maths whizz website has really boosted my DS's maths skills. It is fun, can be done in small chunks and has picked up on his weak areas. He loves doing it and I sit and peer over his shoulder while he does it and can see where he needs a little more help or practice. Good if they are visual I think - my DS seems to have a poor factual memory for numbers - so I test him on tables and number bonds for a few minutes each day and that too has made a difference.

The trouble is remembering to do these things and finding the time for them - but it can be done.

Good luck - your DD will be fine with you looking out for her.

alanyoung Thu 21-Mar-13 16:02:00

Have you tried pageadaymaths? It's just one sheet a day, but its strength is that the topics are constantly repeated in different forms so that they don't have a chance to forget very much before up it comes again. This constant reinforcement can help enormously.

Willowisp Thu 21-Mar-13 18:01:02

Well, we have been sitting at the table, dd2 rejoiced at doing a workbook, then went to play.

Dd1 called...snarled, growled, spat the question out, rolled her eyes & groaned.
I asked why we're doing this & she cant really understand it's to help her. Anyway, read 1q, said it didn't make sense (schofield sims book - comprehension) so we read it about 4-5 times. It took almost 20 mins to answer 3 questions badly, then the buzzer went off & I said ok, finish & interestingly she carried on, corrected the mistakes she made & finished all 9 questions. confused
I've yet to mark them...but at least she's made an effort smile

Willowisp Thu 21-Mar-13 18:02:38

I've just noticed the book we are using is for yr 3 children....

ELR Thu 21-Mar-13 18:08:31

Have you had her eyes tested? Dd wears glasses but hates them it is amazing how much better and quicker she can read with them on.
Like others have said doing things together can help.
Try some fun cooking in half term as you have to read recipe and do maths to work out ingredients ect, then get her to make some recipe cards or menus to make it more fun.

ELR Thu 21-Mar-13 18:13:48

Also my dd hates workbooks but loves reading the paper especially if there is an interesting story about something gruesome(I proof read before to make sure it's not too bad) you can then check her understanding of the story ect just so it gets he used to reading and understanding and able to answer simple questions i found this really helped dd to be more detailed when writing at school

Willowisp Thu 21-Mar-13 18:41:18

She's had her eyes tested a few years ago & doesn't appear to have any problems.

I'm very worried, dh has marked her work & she scored 7/12 for Yr 3 work.

Teachercreature Thu 21-Mar-13 19:31:26

The rolling eyes and groaning definitely sounds like a child who is worried about her work in some way. I'd suggest:
1) You say she doesn't seem to understand this is to help. Sorry if this is just repeating what you've already tried, but have you had the whole "point of education" chat? Discussing jobs she may want as an adult, things she might like to do later on? I ask as I have found a lot of children have no idea why they go to school! Also they often seem to think we're just being "mean" by making them go and they don't realise that we understand parts can be boring but it's necessary!
2) At this point, if she's scoring like that in a Y3 test, I'd back away from workbooks for a while. The scores may worry her more, esp if she notices it's Y3 herself. Read nice books together. Chat about what happened. Ask her opinion. Basically sometimes you need to go back a couple of steps in order to go forwards - it unpicks problems and builds confidence.
3) Once she has relaxed a bit more, you could start checking how many of the words she really does understand - typically a problem in comprehension is as simple as a problem with the words. Can she define them? Use correctly in a sentence? If she can't, start to build her own "Mini dictionary" with lots and lots of praise.
4) Leave the Maths until you have clarified the reading a bit more - the majority of a Y5 test paper will involve a lot of reading, so that has to come first, and it's best not to overload a child who is getting anxious. Once she is starting to feel more confident with reading and understanding, and is happy to participate, then you can go back to more formal comprehension and also the Maths.
5) Talk to the school and see what they can suggest in terms of support and also where they think the key issues are. Be aware though that they may miss things that you as a parent will spot.
6) If you're finding that she still is getting stressed working with you (they often do with parents as they are more secure with you), see if you can get a tutor, but go for one who is recommended.
7) Check that there is nothing else on her mind/upsetting her - I have seen children's work suffer suddenly because of playground/friendship issues, so it's always worth making sure that's not it!
8) I know this one is really hard, but do your best not to show her that you're worried. Throw away the buzzer you mentioned (just keep half an eye on the clock instead). Make it all as light-hearted and enjoyable as possible - they do pick up on anxiety scarily well, my own daughter seems to practically read my mind at times!
I really hope that helps a bit. This sounds like it's all come as quite a shock to you - I know that's very hard, but in a funny way it's probably a good sign, as it implies this is a blip rather than a continual state of affairs. With help she'll get there - hang in there!

Willowisp Fri 22-Mar-13 00:06:08

Thanks, the buzzer is just the kitchen timer & I think she was surprised at how quickly the time went, but can do without next time.

Interesting about giving the maths a miss, it's almost like thinking is the hard her brain has rusted up.

She doesn't know her scores, I didn't want to wound her unnecessarily... although I did get cross with her constant bad attitude.

She does know about schools, the local grammer school, shop jobs, although she does say she wants to be a mummy like me ! I think I might have to work on getting through importance education.

Yes, up for some baking. We've been doing a little bit lately, but I can see following instructions would be helpful.

Thanks - I'm very grateful for advice & will be bookmarking the sites mentioned, she is very visual, so once (hopefully!) we've got the brain cranking over, we can try the maths. Will take advantage of a quiet Easter hols & try to build up some brain stamina.

RaisinBoys Fri 22-Mar-13 08:43:57

Perhaps not doing the workbooks with her (seemingly perfect and very bright) sister is not helping.

Just a thought...

She may also be worried about schools, future SATS etc. Loads of talk in my DS's class about schools, etc, and this obsession schools have with notifying children of levels and promoting competition between them doesn't help.

LIZS Fri 22-Mar-13 08:51:22

If her memory may be an issue ( and working memory differs to what you may think of as memory) she could have a processing difficulty. Can she remember lists and recite them back to you , in reverse for example. Does she find numbers easier to remember than words, verbal instructions better or worse than written etc. Can she remember instructions to do a several step task without prompting or becoming distracted ? Have school suggested she be assessed by an Ed Psych ? Doing more of the same may not achieve very much if there is an underlying problem which could be addressed first.

Teachercreature Fri 22-Mar-13 10:05:00

Agree with LIZS that an EdPsych can be very helpful, but the waiting list in state schools is something like 18 months I believe and a private one is around £500. If this is a relatively new problem (which it sounds like?) then the school probably won't advise one at this stage since there might be some relatively simple support they (and you) can give. If it continues, then an EdPsych would be the way forward.

RaisinBoys is also right that she might be worried about future schools/competition. (BTW schools tend to inform children of levels because a) OFSTED expect to see the children self-assessing and being aware of their own targets for improvement b) the teachers themselves are under a great deal of pressure to raise children's levels, all the more so since they've started linking performance to pay in some cases. I totally, 100% agree this can be counter productive and stressful for some children, but until the government stop the emphasis on targets and levels and focus more on bringing the best out of each individual in each subject - including areas like art and design - that's sadly what schools have to do!)

Willowisp no harm at all in her wanting to be a mummy :-) and it's lovely that she wants to be like you! Bad attitude is very tough to deal with when you're trying to help - but she is only reacting like that because she finds it difficult or upsetting (for some reason), not because of you. Again this sounds a relatively new problem, which would definitely make me suspect she has gone past something she doesn't quite understand. This will then lead to a drop in confidence and a vicious circle of her not being able to move forwards if the foundations (of understanding each word she reads, or in Maths place value and terms) are a bit shaky and would produce the "rusty brain" effect you describe. If you think about it, if someone started explaining things to you with words in a foreign language thrown in, how easily would you be able to follow the explanation? You'd get the gist but you wouldn't fully understand, and eventually you'd get very confused as more and more misunderstandings built up - this is why vocabulary is absolutely crucial. The good news is it can be fixed with support, and a nice quiet Easter of helping to gently unpick what's gone amiss through fun activities sounds a lovely start!

BUT if this has been going on longer though, then LIZS suggestions would be spot on as it's more likely to be an underlying problem like processing, and I'd definitely convey your concerns to the school and request more support from them too. (They should be providing this support anyway...) And as others have said - you do have plenty of time for her to catch up, and with a clearly caring and supportive family she will get there. Good luck! :-)

Willowisp Fri 22-Mar-13 10:40:08

The girls did their workbook (what a terrible word) separately although they do do their homework together.

The deeper you dig, the more information you get ! Dd1 has always had this problem, I've looked up autistic websites, aspergers, dyslexia & the Maths version, ADHD, ASD. I am convinced she is on a spectrum of some sort. I've taken her to the dr & I've seen her teachers.

She has a good diet - i consider myself on the ball with food & I try hard to Mae sure her blood sugar isn't affected. She dies suffer from blood sugar drops especially after she comes out of school.

Ref following instructions - this is very difficult for her & she struggle with things like hanging her clothes on coat hangers (!)

Just got to answer the door...will be back !

Teachercreature Fri 22-Mar-13 10:53:39

Ah! If it's been going on for a while then I agree sounds like she may be somewhere on some form of spectrum. Could be all manner of things - dyslexia would be my first thought given spelling/reading trouble. It's often hard to spot earlier. But the trouble with hanging things up and following instructions could be a touch of dyspraxia too (often go hand in hand), or the processing trouble suggested by LIZS. Any of these could lead to problems and also to the reluctance you've been describing. Can you afford a private Ed Psych? If not I believe there are charities which can offer grants and so on - if you wait for a state one they may not even get to her before end of primary, and given you've already seen doctors and teachers that is most definitely where I'd try next. A good one will diagnose both her strengths and weaknesses, plus offering support steps for you and the school to help her. Also will be invaluable for secondary school going forwards.

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