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How do I encourage DS (Y3) to work harder at school?

(12 Posts)
Blatherskite Wed 28-Jan-15 11:00:24

DS is 7 (8 in March) and in year 3 at school.

He came home yesterday with an invitation to join the school's "Reading Club" which runs for 15 minutes before school on a Thursday and Friday. There weren't very many details on the letter so when I dropped him off this morning, I had a quick word with his teacher as I wondered if it was to give extra help with his reading and I was worried that he was falling back as he's always been ahead with his reading - we do loads at home, I love books and seem to have passed this on, currently we're reading the first Harry Potter book together. He loves to read and constantly surprises me with how well he's doing. She said no, that the club was usually only for year 4s but that some spaces had become free so they had offered them to the better readers from year 3. Wonderful....

Except while we were talking, she said wanted a chat about DS's work in general. She said that while his reading and comprehension were really good and he was in the top set for Literacy, getting him to show this by putting work down on paper was a huge struggle. She said she'd been trying all sorts of things to get him to show work at the level she knew he could do but nothing was working. He'll still be struggling to get one piece of work done while the rest of the class are well into their second piece and a few days ago, took an hour to complete one comprehension question!

She said moving him to the top set had helped for a while and that now he was working at a better level for him, he had been interacting more but that this stopped working after a few weeks and he's back to daydreaming and not getting the work done. She said that he'd been kept in from playtime to complete work in 'Homework club' but that this didn't seem to have made a difference either. He just didn't seem bothered. Nothing else she has tried has worked either.

Obviously it's time that we got more involved from home to back up the school but I'm not sure what to do. We already talk very positively with him about school - easy for me as I was a complete swat and this has obviously rubbed off on 5yo DD as she loves school, we read a lot together, we encourage and help with homework, we encourage his interest in science with kits at home, we visit museums and DS attends Explore Learning tutoring for 2 hours a week as he was quite behind with his Maths to the point where he wouldn't even try to do the work as he found it too hard and had been convinced by a particularly bad teacher that he was thick. He works really well here and is almost back to where he should be and I wonder if that's because all the work is done on computers. DH is similar to DS (apart from the reading) and amazingly clever when it comes to Mainframes but uninterested in anything paper based.

I'm going to suggest that she talks to his year 1/2 teacher (his school works in double year groups so Reception, then 1/2 mixed, 3/4 mixed and 5/6 mixed) as she seemed to really 'get' him and could get him working - I know she would reward him for hard work with his favourite Lego in 'Golden Time' but I'm not sure if they do so much of that in Year 3. The rewards system they use at Explore Learning seems to help (he collects cards which can be exchanged for a reward of his choice) so I'll suggest something similar either collecting points/stickers to be either put towards a present or treat or towards time on the Xbox (only allowed at weekends at the moment) maybe but after that I'm stuck.

I know to some extent it will be just down to what gets him interested and obviously that's not pens and paper but he's going to have to get it done at some point otherwise he's going to waste his potential by not being able to pass an exam. I also know he's still very little but I feel like we need to start turning this around now otherwise he's going to really struggle in secondary school like DH did.

Apologies for the essay length brain dump. I'm sure at least someone will tell me that I'm over-reacting or pushing DS too hard but the school are asking me to help and I've tried everything I can think of so I'm hoping to get some advice on other things to try too.

Thanks for reading.

spiderlight Wed 28-Jan-15 11:10:31

Following with interest as he sounds exactly like my Ds (who's also 8 in March) and spookily my DH also had a word with his teacher yesterday and asked him to have a chat with the Y2 teacher who really 'got' DS and was able to motivate him. Mine, basically, is bored to tears at school, has been moved into a different class from his friends to encourage better concentration and as a consequence hates the whole idea of school, so I'll be watching with interest for tips to get him motivated.

Blatherskite Wed 28-Jan-15 11:17:58

That is spooky spiderlight! At least we're not alone.

Blatherskite Wed 28-Jan-15 11:24:28

I've had an idea based on what he does at Explore Learning. There he earns lizard cards (playing card sized cards with picture of lizards on them) at every session (up to 3 a time for effort, concentration and asking for help) which he can save up and exchange for rewards from a special cupboard in the centre. Things like cars, games and lego.

I'm going to make him a chart. For every day DS works to a decent level at school, his teacher gives him a sticker (she's not always there when I pick up so this will help on those days) When he gets home, he can put this sticker on the chart. He needs to get at least 3 or 4 stickers in a week to be able to play on the Xbox at the weekend (I don't want to make it 5 as if he has a bad day on Monday, that removes the incentive to try for the rest of the week as he's already lost his Xbox privilege. He needs to be able to earn it back) and we let him save up stickers like lizard cards to be put towards other treats - maybe 5 gets a chocolate bar, 10 gets a small lego thing, 20 gets a trip to an activity he likes that we wouldn't normally do like Bowling or Trampolining etc... If he's had a really, really good day, maybe she could give him 2 stickers as an extra incentive to do his absolute best?

This way what he does at school is celebrated at home and he can see that one bad day isn't the end of the world but that he needs to try hard again the next day.

Sound good?

sunnydayinmay Wed 28-Jan-15 13:37:00

My Year 3 son sounds similar, but luckily we have struck gold with his teacher this year. Although he is a bit marmite so far as the children are concerned, my ds loves him and seems inspired.

In his case, he has actually moved "down" a table (although keeping the same level of work as his old table), to mix up his friendship groups a bit, and is very happily working away and is producing great writing. He was "Star Writer" a couple of weeks ago, and I can see the change in his homework too.

Again, he is a strong reader, and also never had a problem with maths as that is his real strength (another computer nerd in the making...), but it just took this teacher to motivate the writing.

I also wondered if it was something to do with his age? He's a couple of months older than your ds.

KnittedJimmyChoos Wed 28-Jan-15 14:28:40

we have same issue teacher knows there is good in there its getting it out!

Blatherskite Wed 28-Jan-15 14:42:54

I think last year's teacher was our 'gold' teacher sunny. She seemed to be able to get the best from him. This year (and next year) his teacher is a bit less experienced and is struggling with him. It does seem to be a fairly common complaint from/to Y3 boys Mums though.

That's exactly it knitted. His teacher says that she knows that he's bright, it's just getting him to show it. He's in the top set for literacy because they can see from his verbal stuff and the bits of work he does when he's inspired that prove it but day to day, he's just not doing the work to demonstrate what he can do which is going to be a problem when it comes to things like SATs.

Ferguson Wed 28-Jan-15 19:59:08

Reluctant 'writers' I worked with as a TA, I would get to DICTATE their ideas and text to me, and I would type it on the computer. They liked seeing their words come up on the screen, and once they were freed from the 'chore' of handwriting, plenty of good ideas could flow.

So if you have a tape recorder, or a phone that records, see if he can dictate his ideas. He can then listen to them back, amending if necessary, and write it or type it up at a later stage.

And I'm sorry, but I can't see Yr3 as 'very little' (and I'm sure he doesn't, either!) It is, after all, over half way through Primary, and I don't want to scare you, but you will be horrified to find just how quickly GCSEs, A Levels, and 'Uni' comes round.

Does he have hobbies, clubs, sport, or music activities? Getting 'stuck in' to other things besides academic work may stimulate him.

[WOW!!!! I just seen all your CAKES! Totally fantastic, I must say! Lucky children!]

Blatherskite Wed 28-Jan-15 21:43:33

Thanks Ferguson. I'll try that when we do homework as we struggle then too.

The meeting with his teacher went well earlier. She was very positive about how much potential he has and obviously wants to help him which was good to see. DS got a bit emotional which in a way is good as we seem to have finally made an impression on him when he's not seemed bothered before. We're going to go with the reward chart idea for now as he really seemed to be interested in it so hopefully that will help.

He has swimming lessons which he's currently doing really well in and he loves running which I'm trying to encourage too. He loves Lego and we have tonnes and apart from homework, I try to keep weekends as laid back as possible so it's all about playing and just being together.

As yes, I guess he's not so very little any more.

olguis Wed 28-Jan-15 22:46:10

I might suggest an unpopular option, but I think you should get him a tutor to train him to write quicker, to write timed compositions and comprehension questions. What struck me in your essay smile that you had to put some work into his maths outside of school to have his confidence improved. I think you should do the same with English. It's not the ability of your child, it's just that something is not working btw him and current class/teacher environment and instead of dwelling on it (you can't improve it - you're not with him in the class, and a lot of experience shared here on mumsnet indicates that talking to teachers only gets you that far) just act. He'll be fine in a few months.

Blatherskite Thu 29-Jan-15 10:50:16

Thanks olguis. He does 3 mini sessions within his hour at Explore Learning, 2 of which are Maths and one is English. Obviously it's skewed so that he does more Maths as that's what we felt he needed the most help with but he does do English too. I think maybe the issue is that he's struggling to stay attentive for the whole hour sessions at school and that probably has a lot to do with his age. He seems to cope really well with the 15-20 minute sessions at Explore Learning and shows some really good scores.

I do think some of the problem is the relationship he has with his teacher. She was keen to impress on him that she does in fact like him a lot when we had our meeting yesterday because, as she said herself and he agreed, it probably feels like she doesn't when she's constantly nagging him and getting frustrated that he seemingly just won't work. He seemed really excited about the new reward chart this morning and she seemed a lot more relaxed when I spoke to her so hopefully, we'll have a few good days and things will start to turn around.

Blatherskite Tue 03-Feb-15 14:38:15

The reward chart and stickers from school seems to be working so far. I hope he doesn't lose interest

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