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My son is invisible - what can I do?

(18 Posts)
JemTheAngel Fri 23-Sep-16 11:12:50

Not literally, obviously.

DS is 8 and just started year 4. He's bright but he's very small for his age and he's in a big class - 32 children of whom at least 20 are boys and 4 have special needs.

Increasingly over the last year or so, I feel like he doesn't get noticed or get any attention in class. I'm not pushy so I find it hard to speak up too - but I'm now really worried about it. His teacher and TA are both new to the school this year and we also have a new head share arrangement so I feel kind of lost about how to help him or who to speak to. He's following a bright, high achieving big sister and while he is equally able, he doesn't believe in himself because he never gets noticed or praised in class. I'm worried that if they continue to ignore what he can do, he'll stop trying and become naughty/disruptive.

Is it worth having a chat with the teacher or will I just look like a pushy parent? And would you be worried about the dynamics of such a big, boy biased class?


FlouncingIntoAutumn Fri 23-Sep-16 11:22:29

Do talk to the teacher. Just say what you've said here. You're concerned for your son's self esteem. You would like to know what you can do to help him shine in class, so that he gets recognised and rewarded as this doesn't appear to have been happening. If you don't know what it is ask about the class rewards scheme and then you can help direct your son in what's needed.

Do they have class jobs he could get involved in like being water bottle monitor or in charge of registers? Sometimes these little responsibility tasks can really help give confidence and encourage a child to interact with different adults around the school and hence get noticed.

My younger DC's school has family assemblies and the children can bring in things from home, achievements, to show to the school. My DD loves doing this. We did a national trust orienteering activity and she had a certificate so she took that in and stood at the front and showed everyone. DS got a blue peter badge and so took that in. It helps build their confidence talking to the others about this sort of stuff and makes them feel noticed.

youcannoteatconkers Fri 23-Sep-16 11:33:09

I have been were you are. By the time they got to year seven they were beaten down by it and completely low on self esteem. Mine does have sen but is quiet and just got on with it

Dc didn't get star of the week or day or whatever for two years and then way less merits in year seven and it hurts to a kid.

Dc got to the point of 'why bother trying, no one cares'

Do speak to the teacher.

Flouncings advice is brilliant. Definitely allow him to take stuff in he has done extra curricular if they have assemblies.

And again flouncings idea of special jobs is a good one.

Ginmummy1 Fri 23-Sep-16 11:39:29

I agree with the others, and like Flouncing's suggestions. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to try something to get the teacher to notice him a bit more at this stage. I don’t think a general ‘don’t forget my child’ type of interaction is quite appropriate though!

Is there something specific that’s bothering you, eg you feel he’s not being stretched enough with his writing/maths – you could day to the teacher "did you know he can actually do X or Y?" If you can raise one specific concern, it might be enough to prompt a bit more attention for your son, and it even might open a dialogue with the teacher which will allow you to mention a general feeling of him being a bit lost in his class.

I agree it’s a delicate one and you don’t want to be ‘that’ parent, but it sounds like you’re far from it at the moment, and it’d be better to try an approach with the teacher now, rather than wait until a problem arises later on.

Andbabymakesthree Fri 23-Sep-16 11:40:28

If you find it hard could you email secretary to pass on to teacher. That way you can get what you need to say out and then have a meeting with them scheduled?

bruffin Fri 23-Sep-16 11:47:39

My ds was like this in primary, but got to yr7 and it was completely opposite.He got subject awards (only 2 given per subject per year he was made a lower school house captain. He really thrived in secondary
his photo was all over the scool

JemTheAngel Fri 23-Sep-16 12:04:16

Thanks everyone, that's all really helpful. Andbaby that's exactly what I just did - sent an email which I hope is low key and just asked for a chat but set out what I was worried about in advance because I know I never quite manage to say it when I'm face to face.

The trigger today is maths. He's a little maths geek but he's been put down a group and apparently told to "prove himself". DH thinks it is because he doesn't concentrate, which is true, but he's far worse when he's bored so giving him easier work won't address that in his cases, it will make it worse. Hopefully, chatting it through will help - its hard for the children and teacher I think, when the teacher is new and there's no continuity. She has 32 children to work out strategies for and I know DS won't be the priority because he's doing "okay" and other children have more pressing problems. But I want him to be doing better than "okay" and I want him to be happy, so I need to take responsibility for that.

Class jobs is a good idea, I'll raise that too.

It's so tough to balance pushy with really wanting to support him. What conkers says about being beaten down by it is what worries me. He takes it so to heart, but because he's chatty and a bit eccentric, people don't think he's sensitive. He's the kind of child who is NEVER star of the week, or gets it last when everyone else has had a go. And he's bright enough to see right through that.

TinklyLittleLaugh Fri 23-Sep-16 12:10:56

Perhaps it would help if he got some praise and attention from other sources; drama groups, sports teams, Cubs, church groups can all be great for giving kids a chance to shine and are normally led by very encouraging adults. My DH is a cub leader and they always try and give award to good kids who are otherwise overlooked.

bruffin Fri 23-Sep-16 12:17:11

The same happened for ds at scouts , never got to take mascot home or carry banner at parade ( even though he was the only cub to turn up to every parade). I did have a word in the end and they sorted that out. He did end up scout of the year a few years later.

Comiconce Fri 23-Sep-16 12:43:02

I've got two of those, girls in my case, in yr 2 and yr 5. We had a discussion the other day because they complained that they are never star of the week, never get certificates for anything etc. They found it very unfair that the 'naughty' children kept getting awards the minute they were less disruptive, as an incentive I guess. It is unfair. Mine are quiet, friendly, compliant, doing okay, and are totally under the radar. With my younger one I am at the same stage as you OP and I feel she is losing the will to do well at school because there is zero feedback from the teaching staff. At the moment I'm just observing but I'll bring it up at the parent evening in October.

blueskyinmarch Fri 23-Sep-16 12:52:03

My DD2 was exactly like this. She did her work, never got into bother and was completely invisible in a large class. The disruptive ones and the outspoken ones got all the attention and all the awards. She seemed able enough but not over clever.

At age 10 we moved house and put her into a private school with smaller class sizes and she was given the opportunity to shine.She was awarded an Art scholarship and she was really pushed, but in a gentle non threatening way academically. She did exceptionally well in her GCSE’s and then went on to do the International Baccalaureate. She is now 18 and off to uni over 300 miles away with so much confidence which i don’t think she would have got in her state school.

I know not everyone can send their child to private school but my experience has shown me that the biddable, quiet children who are sitting in the middle academically can really shine if given the chance.I think you are right OP to broach this now with the school and they can start to praise him and encourage him before he is put off learning and achieving.

Eroica Fri 23-Sep-16 12:55:10

I have one of these.
He's spent too long trying not to be noticed (in infants) that he's blended into the background.
Again, his older sister is one of the most prominent figures in school.
He's actually more able than she is, but no-one notices him. He's very diminutive, and there are quite a number of 'larger than life' characters in his year, which is again boy heavy.
He's a quiet, serious, good little boy, who loves learning.
I do feel for him.

Autumnsky Fri 23-Sep-16 13:02:21

I think if you can find the chance to talk to the teacher more oftern, it will certainly draw the teacher's attention to the child a bit more. I won't just say the general feeling of being not noticed, but speak about the particular problem. Like his math group, your opionion of his math ability, like he is willing to do more to get the star of the week, what should he do etc. In our school, the teacher is quite happy to talk to parents a few minutes after the school.
Also, a bright big sister may have impact on him as well. My DS2 oftern feel DS1 can do everything, but himself is not that brilliant. I oftern have to point out that he can do it once he is the same age, also find what he is good at , the difference between him and DS1.

JemTheAngel Fri 23-Sep-16 15:06:09

Seems like we are not alone. All these poor children who aren't being encouraged. It's such a shame. Perhaps that's what happens when teachers get put under so much pressure with stupid exam curriculums.

After I wrote the last post, I was thinking and realised that DS is like me at school. I was bright but quiet and small, I remember a teacher being amazed when I came top in GCSE mock exam and telling my parents so. I'd been top of class all the way through but he'd never noticed me. DS is the same and I feel really sad for him. One on one, he's a brilliant, funny little boy with so much to say, but he can't seem to get it across in big groups.

I think the class size thing is interesting. DD was at the same, village school but her year was small (25 at most, at times less than 20). She was always noticed and always picked out as being top, yet I know his academic results have been consistently the same as hers all the way through. She's just got into a grammar school, and he's no less bright but he just doesn't get noticed. I was thinking about private as an option, but it would have to be desperate as we'd need to make a lot of financial changes and I'm not sure its really feasible. But if this carries on throughout this year, I would think about it for years 5 and 6.

The problem with his class is that the boys are either sporty or difficult, with not much in the middle. There are a few others like him and I suspect they are just as overlooked.

Agree that beavers was great and cubs is ok too I think, although being one of the youngest at the moment, I notice it less. Out of school sports are more problematic because he's one of the less able and the other boys are quick to be mean about it to him. DH wants him to carry on because if he stops it will be even worse, but i think that is knocking his confidence too.So hard to know what to do for the best!

Andbabymakesthree Fri 23-Sep-16 18:11:06

I hope the email is a starting point for you. My son has been overlooked so much for anything other than behaviour.
Tbh behaviour pat on backs are annoying me because he's currently being assessed for ADHD and his behaviour is something he can't control at times.
The times he puts effort into doing homework and in class his school work are largely overlooked. He never gets selected for teams, parts in productions etc.

However two things have happened - both on a Friday. Last week swim tutor came up and asked if he can be part of school swim squad if he behaves this half term. I nearly cried. I don't think she understood that a milestone that is. Recognition and being good enough to be selected.
Secondly he got a headteachers award certificate in assembly- he's never had that before! Nor worker of the week , name in newsletter etc is always someone else - often the same child. I actually pointed it out at our last meeting with everyone and explained the effect on his motivation and self esteem. His teacher genuinely hadn't realised.

JemTheAngel Fri 23-Sep-16 18:44:50

DS"s teacher came and spoke to me after school in response to my email. She's new to the school but very experienced and so far I have been really impressed with her, excellent communication and despite my worries, I do think she really seems to have the measure of DS, in terms of confidence, ability and concentration issues. She did reassure me so hopefully I've done enough to get him slightly higher on the radar.

I feel so much better, but I am still going to keep an eye on things, mainly I think just because of the size of the class and DS's personality. It's been a good lesson though and I do feel that his teacher will listen and help if there are concerns, which is great.

a7mints Fri 23-Sep-16 19:34:43

In the kindest way possible, there are 32 children in the class.They all want individual attention - how much attention do you think each can get?

Longlost10 Fri 23-Sep-16 19:41:14

In the kindest way possible, there are 32 children in the class.They all want individual attention - how much attention do you think each can get? This is true, and teachers do their best to interact with and encourage every single individual. Nethertheless, as a teacher, I would rather it was brought to my attention that a child may be feeling left out, It my be that the parents perception of the situation is right, or wrong, or partially right, but it would merit a little check up, and ether reassure the parent, or adjust something for the pupil.

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