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Child who was always a high flyer now not doing as well - guilt

(9 Posts)
notagainnellie Thu 20-Oct-16 05:44:23

Ds is in Y5 and parents' evening was last night. He has always been considered highly able - had an excellent vocabulary from a young age, was a bit of a 'professor' type, loving documentaries, books that were for older children (non-fiction), and therefore seemed to be admired at school. I have been consistently told that he is exceeding expectations across the board and that there were no concerns about him. Teachers would also say they sometimes felt they weren't stretching him, but that he was happy to read if finished.

Last night his teacher told me that when he first came to her she questioned whether he really was 'secure plus' as he had some misconceptions regarding maths and his writing was sloppy, with basic spelling errors, missing words and poor handwriting. She even refused to mark a piece of his work , and then she showed me the next one and it was much better, though vocab and ideas were excellent in both. She concludes that he is very able but needs to focus on these issues. She said that he is clearly not used to being 'wrong' and not always the best (with some different dc this year in a mixed class) but assured me that he is not arrogant (always a fear of mine because he bloody well can be at home) because he has responded well to her approach.

I just feel I have let him down massively. His dad and I split up a couple of years ago and I feel I/we have taken our eyes off the ball and now he is not living up to the potential he had. I knew there were issues with his writing (English teacher) but his teachers always assured me he was 'fine', lovely' and 'so clever', and I told myself I was being harsh, judging him against secondary school standards. As he has always been reluctant to write at home, I never wanted to push it in case it put him off further.

A lot of the things he was interested in when very young (history, science etc) he is now far less interested in and now is obsessed with Wimpy Kid and sport. I do still read to him, but I don't feel I'm doing enough to nurture his intellect (sorry that sounds ridiculous, but I don't know how else to put it). We go to museums occasionally, but that's it, and I feel he is quite narrow now in what he takes an interest in, and that never used to be the case.

Any advice would be great. I feel I am alone in this as his dad didn't even turn up for the appointment, though he does see them often, so I don't know if he forget. I feel I am doing this all alone and messing it up. I have even wondered if I should go part time as my job is so demanding and doesn't leave me much time to focus on the dc and I know they spend a huge amount of time on screens at their dad's, though what we would live on if I did that I have no idea. Their dad makes less than £1K a month.

I do also wonder about his previous teachers who seem to have let all this slide. Should I have been a bit pushier in previous years? Ds2 now has the same teacher ds1 had last year. I feel he is a bit less able than ds1, but still pretty good (top table apparently) but with the same (or worse) appalling handwriting. Teacher was at it again last night, telling me how 'lovely' he is, and 'a mini ds1' - they are not alike in any way, really...

HorridHenrietta2 Thu 20-Oct-16 06:14:03

I think that you're over thinking this, he's a clever kid that's receiving a good education. He sounds like a "bigger picture" type of thinker who has little time for the details, there are all different types of intelligence and this shouldn't be seen as a problem. The year 5 teacher is, however, spot on to have noticed some gaps along the way and to address them, and he's responding to her which is also good. Encourage and praise him for making an effort to grasp those misconceptions, sounds like he's doing fine!

bojorojo Thu 20-Oct-16 06:56:23

Firstly, it is not acceptable for any teacher to get a child to read if they have finished their work. There is always further extension work that can be given. Also children can plateau. They do not learn at the same rate, year in year out.

The new curriculum requires good handwriting, spelling etc. What he could get away with previously, is now not good enough so the teacher is trying to fill in the gaps. Sats tests are very different from "blue sky thinking" and enthusiasm! Children can seem extra intelligent when they are like sponges and absorb everything, but now all of that has to be written about in an intelligible way with correct spelling and punctuation. It is a different type of learning.

I do think you are correct that exposure to lots of things makes for a more rounded child and I would not be happy about extended screen time either. However, being at home cannot be all work for him and he does need to enjoy himself. I think many mums work full time and you have to be creative with your family time so that it counter-balances the screen time. Try and find an activity you can do as a family when you have time available. What is on locally you can go to? Would he like to learn a musical instrument? Drama classes or scouts? This would widen his horizons!

Lastly, don't worry and do not beat yourself up because you work. Do ask the school what progress your children are making. This is key. If they have stalled, ask what they need to practice and where they need to improve and make sure they do any homework that is set. Ask to see their work books and the comments from the teacher so you know what they are doing and what they need to do to improve. I would get a bit more involved so you can help. Do paired reading so you can discuss the story in a book and the characters. Go to the library to look for a wider selection of books. I am sure he will flourish very soon!

Whattodosue Thu 20-Oct-16 09:49:31

flowers just wanted to say don't be so hard on yourself. Some kids are bright and into learning and knowledge, others are bright and into sports or other things. It is okay that his interests change too, it isn't because you have failed him!!!

If you want to encourage some of his old interests, try it gently and see if he is keen. But agree with the others, helping him focus on the bits he needs to work on, and helping him enjoy it and see it positively (if possible) - those are things you can try now, with no need at all to worry about should haves for the past.

jamdonut Fri 21-Oct-16 22:37:49

I wouldn't be too worried. You could have been talking about my youngest son.
You'll find that by the time he goes to secondary school, he'll start to pick up again, I'm sure. My son is doing Maths,further maths, Physics and Chemistry at A level now...his absolute passion.
His teacher sounds great. Let them get on with sorting him out.

neolara Fri 21-Oct-16 22:56:34

I think you should give you and your ds a break. You haven't let him down. It sounds like his teacher this year is a bit more on the ball than previous teachers and has picked up what he needs to do to get better. Which is all good.

Just let him enjoy wimpy kid books. Keep gently introducing him to lots of different things exactly as you are doing. Sounds like all will be fine.

TeacherBob Sat 22-Oct-16 11:08:09

This could be a growth mindset issue (your second paragraph alludes to it somewhat).

This is when children are constantly told they are intelligent or clever, and then stop putting the work in. And if they stop being told they are clever, they stop trying to.

Google Carol Dweck or growth mindset, its an amazing thing. It is about always praising the effort and not the 'cleverness'

Not saying this is the only problem but it could certainly go a long way to changing things.

notagainnellie Sat 22-Oct-16 15:04:17

Thank you for all the replies. I was afraid I was going to get flamed for being too hard on him or something!

He does go to cubs and is learning clarinet as well, though that's not going all that well atm as he keeps leaving it at school and then can't practise much.

It's just so hard to know where to draw the line with being involved and interested, and putting too much pressure on. He makes a ridiculous fuss about doing homework (doesn't get a lot anyway) so that by the time he is calm and doing it, I feel that if I get involved and start saying 'check your punctuation more carefully,' it will set him off again. I'm obviously speaking from experience. So, I leave him to it, but then I'm not taking the opportunity to help him address some of these issues that have become sloppy.

He also makes negative comments about learning being boring/reading being pointless etc, which upsets me as he was so full of enthusiasm before. He still can be in some ways, and clearly has a great memory - the amount of football/cricket statistics he can quote is boggling.

I do wonder if it is a psychological thing and that he is starting to find things difficult and instead of rising to the challenge, he is shying away. I am aware of the drawbacks of labelling him 'clever' and have always tried to give detailed praise and praise effort, but I'm not sure other family members, and even teachers, have done the same.

I want to see the head to try and avoid the same thing happening with ds2, not to complain (I really blame myself as much as anyone), but to see what I can do to address some of the similar issues ds2 is having. Or is that overkill?

Bitlost Sun 23-Oct-16 10:11:37

The good thing is that it's come to light now in year 5 and not later. Looks like you're going to have to follow him closely at home. It's amazing what a bit of one on one lessons can do.

I'm in the opposite situation to yours: DD was doing ok but not great. Teachers were a bit sneery, I thought. With lots of work at home, she's now top of the class. After 4 years at primary school, I'm a firm believer that most of the learning is done at home. Sad but true - in our case at least.

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