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DD not achieving her best/pushed too hard?

(39 Posts)
dontcry Thu 27-Feb-14 10:52:50

DD3 is 8 nearly 9 and in Y4. she told me that she sometimes cries at school because the work is too hard.Last week I went into speak to her teacher about this.She says that dd cries if she can't understand her work or gets it wrong.She thinks DD is not achieving as well as she could and thinks she is sometimes too tired at school.
She is a competitive gymnast and usually trains 10-12 hours a week -twice in the week and twice at the weekend for 2.5 to 3 hours each time, and then the gym is 30-40 minutes away.So by the time she has finshed, got changed and got home it is 9.15 on a school night, then it takes her a little while to wind down and get to sleep.But on the other hand she does not need to get up til about 8.15 to get to school on time
She is not strictly behind with her work, but is not showing the required 2 sublevels progress and the teacher wants me to work with her at home to get her to 4Bs by Easter.She made me fell like a bad mother :-(
DD has being doing gym for 5 years , she lives it and breathes it.But she loves school.She also does Brownies another evening so doesn't have a lot of spare time-neither do I
I don't know whether I really want to tutor her at home too.She wants time to play and relax.If she was significantly behind the others , then it would be different, but I think she is marginally ahead and in any case children develop in fits and starts not in a linear fashion.

PastSellByDate Thu 27-Feb-14 11:06:25

Hi don't cry:

First off how good is your DD at gymnastics? I ask this because DD1's best friend is fantastic at a sport (not gymnastics) and on a national junior team for that sport and I helped her mother fight the school for G&T status for the child.

This allowed the child to be absent for training. To get missed work sent home (which the school refused to do for any other form of absence, including illness). And meant that the school would work with her in areas she was falling behind in - i.e. extra work with fractions (she missed most of the introduction to adding/ subtracting fractions in Y5 because of a competition).

Second - Your DD is in Y4 - achieving 4b by Easter is fantastic - but the national benchmark for end Y6 is 4b or 4a (there's been debate here about that - but NC L4 at KS2 SATs certainly) (e.g.: - scroll down & see 2nd table.

Third- can you make time at the weekend. Maybe 30-45 minutes each day - for some extra work? You could read each day for 30 minutes - with you DD reading to you, discussing word meanings, what the author is hinting at by saying this or that, what characters are feeling, etc... and then maybe 30 minutes of maths games (especially if the issue is learning times tables right now)?

Fourth: I'd talk to the teacher about where the issue is? Your time is limited - and you want to foster this talent for gymnastics for your daughter. Perhaps the solution with the school is for you to focus work at home on the weakest areas - and leave the rest to the school.

The school aren't wrong - although the sport achievements are wonderful - it is sensible to ensure that your DC's education doesn't suffer adversely. If the school feel she's falling behind, appears tired in class, isn't learning as well as before - they are right to raise it.

I'm sure there is a solution - but I suspect it will take some give and take on both your side and the schools.


BellBottomBlues Thu 27-Feb-14 12:25:55

Tough love here:

I guess by saying she doesn't get in until 9:15 and takes a while to wind down, you mean she isn't going to bed until 10pm twice a week - and that the reason she isn't going to bed is that she has been doing strenuous exercise for 2.5 to 3 hours.

She must be cream-crackered.

She's getting 8 to 8.5 hrs sleep twice a week when typically an 8 year old needs 10 to 11, and that's if they haven't been doing gymnastics for 3 hours.

I think the teacher has a point.

PastSellByDate Thu 27-Feb-14 12:44:44


DD1 does gymnastics (in a very small way - more for keeping fit) - but here too sessions are late in the evening.

Her session starts at 6 p.m. and finishes at 7:30. More able & Team gymnasts stay on for another hour until 8:30. Now for us this is no problem - the session is Friday and part of a relaxed slide into the weekend. But for team gymnasts they also have a 2 hour practice from 6 - 8 mid-week. From what I understand this is pretty typical time tabling for gymnastics.

I agree that the issue may be that 2 days a week OP's (don'tcry's) DD is going to be late - but the OP said quite clearly she's letting her DD sleep in until 8:15 on those days. So presuming 10 p.m. bed time - that is 10 hrs 15 minutes of sleep.

I don't think the child is sleep deprived - but I suspect part of a busy family where parent work, there are other siblings and there is this DC with a passion for gymnastics + school + brownies/ activities with friends. I fear this is the busy juggle of many kids these days.

I also suspect Beth Tweddle's Mum didn't sweat the late practices either. link: [[]]

BellBottomBlues Thu 27-Feb-14 13:34:11

If Beth Tweddle's mum had asked why Beth seemed to find school more difficult n she used to way back when, I'd have told her that Beth was doing too much gymnastics too.

It's up to the child to decide (with guidance from parents) what they value the most I suppose - but I'd suggest performing optimally at school and doing 12 hours of gymnastics a week are not compatible.

dontcry Thu 27-Feb-14 13:54:57

well she isn't going to be an Olympian,but she is good enough and has been in the county squad.she is getting some experiences and skills (focus, performing under pressurre, attention to detail, confidence , persistence, the lessons or winning and losing) and most of all is passionate about it.

BellBottomBlues Thu 27-Feb-14 14:08:56

That's fine if you and her are happy with it - but it will be having an effect on her school work.

PastSellByDate Thu 27-Feb-14 14:27:02


Yes it may be having an affect on her school work - it's a juggling act I'm sure -


SHE'S YEAR 4 and already a 4c and the teacher is pressuring the mother about getting this child to 4b by end Y4.

Now sure - maybe you personally feel 4b is a very low standard and no self-respecting parent of a Year 4 pupil should entertain allowing their child to leave Year 4 below NC L4a - but that may not be this parent


Education is important - don't get me wrong - and sure it has to be a priority at this age

but the DC of the OP is by no means struggling - she's performing 1 full NC level above expected end of year progress for YEAR 4 of NC Level 3b (source Mumsnet progress through NC Levels: - scroll down to 2nd table).

Genuinely - there are other talents besides academic - and parents have to make difficult decisions: encouraging swimming (although lots of early practices) or not, encouraging music (although lots of rehearsals/ extra lessons), encouraging drama (will they really be a television star?), encouraging dance (are they truly the next Darcy Bussel?).

Don't Cry- have a look at this - I hope it cheer you up:

I don't believe he hasn't done too badly:

Yes, yes it's slim chances to achieve that kind of success - but right now (with all due respect Bell) - this child adores gymnastics - she is a bit tired but that may pass in a few years/ she is progressing more slowly (but can we definitely say that's due to gymnastics - children do plateau & the OP is asking for help/ ideas and talking with the school) -

So my advice OP remains - support your child's interest and try and strike a balance. At 12/13 - a 10 p.m. bedtime won't seem that late - and the health benefits, the pleasure and potentially the success she achieves through gymnastics may ultimately be a very good thing in her life.

She may not end up a top gymnast - but that doesn't mean these skills can't be applied in other ways (?diving/ ?trampolining/ ?cheer leading/ modern dance/ etc...)

RueDeWakening Thu 27-Feb-14 14:53:05

Can you use the travel time to eg listen to her read (if she doesn't get car sick), learn times tables, practise spellings etc. You could work on comprehension by listening to an audio book if she can't read in the car. Do lots of mental maths.

BellBottomBlues Thu 27-Feb-14 15:02:12


I've not made anyone do anything.

I've pointed out that a child's energy and time is finite, just like anyone else's. And given that a child has to do a lot of growing as well, a child cannot - in my opinion - have two late nights a week, do lots of exercise and achieve to their full potential at school.

It's up to the individuals to decide what is best for them - I cannot do that, and have not claimed to do that. I've just pointed out that something has to give.

It's not the exercise per se. I used to play in the street (cricket or riding my bike normally) for two hours a night or so after school - so 10 hours a week - but I started when I got home and stopped at tea time, so I was still in bed at a decent hour. It's the late bed times I think.

But I don't know the OPs DD. My own DD has never needed as much sleep as the experts say - who knows how much she will need when she is the same age, or how much the OPs DD needs.

If everyone concerned is happy with the current compromise, it's not my place to say otherwise. I was just pointing out that it is a compromise - but our whole lives are.

pointythings Thu 27-Feb-14 18:42:25

I think the time management and and gymnastics are a red herring here. The big problem is that the teacher thinks a 4c by Easter in Yr 3 isn't good enough - and that is ridiculous. It is a full level above expectations. This girl can afford to take her foot off the academic accelerator a bit and be allowed to unwind, she is making excellent progress.

The school should not be allowed to use her for their own glorification. There is also the fact that all this pressure and criticism is likely to be completely counterproductive in terms of improving academic performance - Yr3 is a tough year and it's easy to lose confidence. Teachers need to be aware of this and act accordingly.

cingolimama Thu 27-Feb-14 19:50:54

I'd dump the Brownies and give her some down time.

Acinonyx Thu 27-Feb-14 22:19:06

Is this only happening this year? Does your dd understand about asking another child for help, then asking the teacher? Last year, dd had problems where she sometimes just didn't understand what she was supposed to do. If she's really unclear there is a general system for getting help - is she using it? Could be a teacher-child mismatch.

Sounds like she's doing well though. I worry about dd being tired at school - she rarely sleeps before 10 and gets up at 7 ( I suspect she's still awake now but I'm afraid to look hmm). Do you think she's getting enough sleep - because kids vary so much in need you cant generalize?

PastSellByDate Fri 28-Feb-14 13:07:27


Fair Cop - you aren't making OP (dontcry) force her daughter to quit gymnastics - but you've been

1) very unsympathetic

2) utterly unable to add (10 p.m. bed time (allowing 1 hour to wind down from 9 p.m.) - 8:15 wake up is 10 hrs 15 minutes of sleep - which is within the recommended rest for children.

I note BellBottom that you are a former teacher (

So I do rather wonder if you weren't lurking here to parent bash....

especially as OP was clear

DD was 9 years old

DD was getting 10 hrs sleep (although late nights to accommodate scheduled gymnastic practice - and let's be real here - you need a gymn with uneven parallel bars, mats, balance beams, vaults, etc... - and often children have to be fitted around other users - certainly our gymnastics group use a University facility which is in use until 6 p.m. by University squads/ exercise groups).

DD is passionate about gymnastics (enjoys it, likes to attend, etc...)

So other than being a bit worried about your maths (although to be fair we all read posts too quickly, type too fast and get the wrong end of the stick now and then)....

I do have to question why you, as a former teacher, were so negative to a Mum worried about whether in Y4 a child already performing at 4c is progressing slowly.

Soveryupset Fri 28-Feb-14 13:31:38

That's unfortunately the result of a target driven approach. It ends up on children being put under pressure, and in most cases parents having to pick up any issues at home.

I noticed a huge difference in teaching approach of the same teacher, when the phonics test was introduced in Y1. I had one child going through before and two after. This last year the teacher has gone mental, sending home phonic sheets every day, personal notes as to how much to memorize, write down, rehearse, we have had whiteboards, different coloured sheets and all sorts sent home, every day there is something new to rehearse.

When DD1 had the same teacher a few years ago, it was all very laid back. There was never a worksheet or any phonics coming home and I was in fact told that it didn't matter if children couldn't spell at this stage, and nobody was pushed. I think to be honest they've gone from one extreme to another.

Biscuitsneeded Fri 28-Feb-14 13:34:17

It all comes down to how much you and your DD value the gymnastics. The teacher may be right that with a bit more sleep and a bit less time spent on gym, your DD could be a sub-level further ahead.

However, in whose interest would this really be? Teachers are under enormous pressure from Heads, and by extension, Ofsted, to show those two sub-levels of progress in each year. Your DD is clearly a bright girl (Level 4s in Year 4 are above the expected level), and maybe teacher is concerned that having done so well at the end of Y3, she won't be able to reach the 2 sub-levels of progress in Y4 without an added push. But ultimately your DD will be just fine if she only makes 1 level of progress. Maybe she'll make 3 next year! Unfortunately schools are being turned into sausage factories and the children themselves don't matter any more - just their attainment levels. Poor teacher, and poor DD.

If she really is tired all the time, that's a different matter, and maybe needs addressing, but if it's just that she isn't whizzing through the levels quite as fast as it would suit the school for her to, I wouldn't worry too much. Sounds as if she's a talented gymnast, and gym is something she loves. I think I'd be inclined to thank the teacher for her confidence in your daughter's innate academic ability, and reiterate that the gymnastics is really important to your DD and that for now, you're happy with the balance.

Biscuitsneeded Fri 28-Feb-14 13:43:03

By the way, I have a Y4 boy who is bright but lazy. Doing very well in maths and science, less so in English because he can't be bothered to write much, and doesn't see a need for punctuation etc! Teacher said if he didn't pull his socks up she would get him removed from drama club (he does a lot of performing in and out of school). I see what she was getting at; it must be very frustrating for her to see him underperform, but honestly if we stopped all the drama, music and cubs he wouldn't work any harder. He'd just lie around at home playing Minecraft and accusing me of being mean every time I stopped him! So I prefer him to be busy, happy, fulfilled and if occasionally it means some late nights and some slightly scrappy work, it's not the end of the world. I know he's a clever boy but I don't need him to have 4a in everything this year, even if that's what the school would like for him!

HavantGuard Fri 28-Feb-14 13:47:59

I'd be much more worried about your DD crying because she can't do something or gets it wrong than anything about levels or gym hours. Talk to her. Ask her what is upsetting her. Make sure she knows that it's ok to get things wrong and to get stuck - that's how we learn.

cansu Fri 28-Feb-14 17:52:02

I think you should look at the fact that the teacher thinks your dd is tired and gets upset easily at school. She may be right that your dd needs more rest. I would not be concerned about the levels but I would be worried she is finding the schedule too demanding at the moment.

ladygracie Fri 28-Feb-14 19:14:16

The getting upset and being tired at school are tricky and something that needs dealing with but, as others (& you) have pointed out, she is actually well ahead already.
I wouldn't do any extra work with her in order to get her to a 4b by Easter but if there is anything that your dd finds tricky then maybe help her with that.

lljkk Fri 28-Feb-14 19:22:24

4Bs by Easter of year 4? Why is this essential, pray tell? confused

lechers Sat 01-Mar-14 03:13:39

You have my sympathies, because my DD has had similar. She's 10, does gym and trains 20 hours a week. She told me today, the teacher was grilling her about the amount of hours she trains.

I think teachers / others can be quick to blame everything on the gym, but they've never seen the child without doing the gym, so how can they judge? I know lots of people often comment about the hours my DDs train (DD2 does almost 8 hours, she's just 7), and automatically blame the training. However it's not necessarily that. My DD trains 3 x school days, so she has late nights, but she's always up ready for school the next morning. She just does have a lot more energy than the average child. Last year, she had several months out due to broken bones, but she didn't suddenly get more energy. I think sometimes this can be a bit of a red herring.

Regarding your child crying a lot, has your daughter always done this? If its new, and her hours have increased recently, then maybe it is down to tiredness, but it could also just be her personality. What did her previous teachers say she was like? Has your daughter said why she gets upset? I think a lot of gymnasts can be perfectionist types (from observation). I know my DD hates getting anything wrong, because at gym they train and train until something is perfect. But, that's not because of gym, it's always been her personality. Personally, I would try and work on the crying, that would be a concern for me.

Unfortunately, the hours spent in the gym will have an affect on her schoolwork. I can see it does on my DD. I think you have to accept that. My friends whose DDs have given up gym have all said about how their schoolwork has immediately improved. But, at the same time your DD is not behind. I know my DD would probably be so much better if she didn't have gym, but she's not behind, so I try not to worry. They get so much other stuff out of the gym: self discipline, organisation, maturity, team work, friends.... That I think it more than compensates for what they lose. I personally wouldn't worry about the extra work. So long as she is doing fine. Is your DD at a pushy school? My DD does the bare minimum of homework, but I'm a teacher, and I've read all the research which shows homework has little effect on improving performance, so I don't believe all that crap grin.

Finally, some practical things that may help. On gym nights, my DDs pack their onesies and get changed straight into them after gym. They wear them home. This cuts down on faff time at home. I also prepare hot food before I pick them up from school, and leave it in food flasks, so they eat their supper in the car on the way home. This means they're not going to bed on a full stomach (we have a half hour drive home) and it lets the food digest a bit. When DD gets home, she goes straight to bed, but is allowed to read in bed for a bit if she needs to help her unwind and relax. To minimise the impact, I think you need to make the time after gym as efficient as possible. We are also very strict about early nights on non gym nights - for DD it's still 7:30pm. Most of her friends stay up to 8:30pm now.

I hope some of that makes sense. It is tough, and I know people can be very quick to judge (especially those out of the gym world), because they don't understand the hours upon hours of training that needs to go into learning how to do a giant on bars, or how to do a flick on beam. All my gym mum friends say the same. I'd be concerned about the crying, but if she's otherwise happy, I wouldn't be worried at all.


lechers Sat 01-Mar-14 03:16:03

A) sorry that was long and B) I am shocked at myself - it should be effect, not affect! Sorry grin.

dontcry Sun 02-Mar-14 18:00:08

Hi thank you so much for all the replies and also lechers insight and experience
On questioning her more, it is more a silent tear comes to eye out of frustration if she gets a question wrong than bursting into tears.Yes I think she is a perfectionist, but I have talked to her about this.If she always got everything right then it would mean the work were too easy.
I do get a bit annoyed where you have a football mad boy, who kicks a ball about every opportunity he gets and lea
ves and breathes footie and no one bats an eyelid, yeta girl's obsesssion and hours spent doing gymnastics as somehow unhealthy borderline child abuse!

pointythings Sun 02-Mar-14 21:12:44

I think you might need to address the perfectionism if you think it is destructive - my DD1 suffered with this in Yr3. She would be set a piece of work, would freeze in a panic of 'I'm going to make mistakes, oh no!' and sit there staring at it. Then she'd panic even more and dash something off, having wasted half the time, and still do a lot better than average - but it wasn't her best.

Her class teacher picked up on it and between us we did a lot of work around boosting confidence and self esteem, and helped her realise that you learn more from mistakes than from perfect work. She's never looked back.

Your DD's teacher should be helping your DD with this, not nit-picking about gym and NC levels.

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