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9 Year Old Struggling!

(29 Posts)
Redleatheryellowleather Sun 01-Oct-17 17:16:56

My 9 year old ds is at the lowest end of his class (they are on ability tables) and his confidence is dwindling. His new teacher seems very approachable, but I am still really concerned. Some background:- he is a late summer (prem) baby (may have some impact), is otherwise well behaved, quiet, kind and helpful, and his positives at school are that he is well liked, is a good reader and good at spelling.

He is struggling with the English grammar and punctuation they are teaching and the maths, as the pace and difficulty increases. We do tables practise after school, as well as reading and spellings. I was thinking of CGP workbooks (or similar), but don't want to put too much pressure on him as he also does several after school clubs.

I have spoken to his teacher already for some advice and she has said that we should not concern ourselves with where he is within the class, that every child's journey is different and that my ds should just concentrate on himself. This may be good advice, but is proving difficult to follow.

My ds is well aware of his class place, and he already feels a failure. as it is obvious to him how far ahead some of the class are. Importantly, he does want to do well, but sometimes day dreams in class when the work is particularly challenging or boring, which obviously isn't helping the situation.

Any ideas how to best support him would be very appreciated as he is now dreading going to school. Thanks in advance!

ineedamoreadultieradult Sun 01-Oct-17 17:21:21

If he is well aware of his class position then the school isn't doing something right. My DS's school differentiate, for some lessons kids join other year groups either up or down and for some they sit with different groups and wither with the teacher or a TA depending on ability but the kids (well DS and his friends) have no idea if they are top, middle or bottom.

MerryMarigold Sun 01-Oct-17 17:28:15

I think they are always well aware of where they are in the class. My ds was at 3 different primaries and always aware, sadly. Some kids don't notice/ don't care. He wasn't one of them. His confidence has suffered hugely. I just try and say that everyone has different talents. He is artistic and that's maybe where it will lie in the future (he is Y7) or maybe he will be fabulous at caring for people, or just be a brilliant Dad. I don't mind really. Academic ability isn't the be-all and end-all, but really it is up to us as parents to help that sink in. I would not do stuff at home, as it will just reinforce to him that it is Very Important to you and even if he managed to lug himself to the middle of the class, the likelihood is that he will never make the top table in primary school. I think secondary helps as there's such a range of subjects and other things on offer (sport, music, drama etc.). Just try and encourage him in other areas (I found karate good for my ds's confidence).

Ricekrispie22 Sun 01-Oct-17 17:29:57

Some children just aren't academic. Try to increase his confidence in other areas such as art, DT, humanities, science and sport.
However, I would ask the teacher if she wouldn't mind giving mixed ability tables a go. Seating children by ability is done less and less these days and certainly not at my school.

Redleatheryellowleather Sun 01-Oct-17 17:33:56

I have very gently raised this subject with the school, but the tables still seem to be rather static and the staff tend to thank you for your input, but it continues as it always has. He has been "stuck" in this position for some time, but with some respite last year when a kindly teacher moved him to a more mixed ability table and his confidence soared. Unfortunately, this year seems to be back to square one again. My ds has commented that he's going backwards.

Redleatheryellowleather Sun 01-Oct-17 17:37:35

Thanks Ricekrispie for that idea. He is very good at swimming and he does other after school clubs. The school does have a "rewards system" but again, it appears that usually it is the very high quality work which is rewarded and the same high achieving pupils are always top of the leader table. This doesn't help!

irvineoneohone Sun 01-Oct-17 17:44:14

If he is good at reading and spelling, he shouldn't be feeling too low.
If he is struggling at grammar and maths, can't you do some work at home to help? I think those two subjects can make improvements with daily practice, starting from basics.

Ricekrispie22 Sun 01-Oct-17 18:05:36

It sounds like it's not the school for him. I would rather send my children to a school which rewards effort, imagination, creativity and kindness over academic achievement. Trust me, there are some out there.

ineedamoreadultieradult Sun 01-Oct-17 18:13:13

If it's getting to the stage it's putting him off going to school I would be asking questions about what provision they have in place for helping those who are struggling and what incentives/rewards there are for hard work and improvement as well as the actual outcome of the work.

Redleatheryellowleather Sun 01-Oct-17 18:16:52

Thanks for the responses. Yes, I am pleased he is good at reading, although even that he is having the enjoyment sucked out of him by being asked for constant reviews on everything he reads. I have spent the summer searching for books to inspire him again. The spellings we work on every day, so maybe we need to spend five or ten minutes on maths and grammar.

I agree that this may not be the school for him, but am reluctant to change schools at this late stage when he has his friendship group, and the upheaval it will cause. Obviously, if it gets very bad then we shall have to consider it.

Unfortunately, this school, although it is a "good" school, does reward those who are high achievers over those who try very hard. The class displays are usually only the very best, and he is not the only child who struggles with this. The main cause of his anxiety is the teacher calling out test results to the whole class, and sometimes displaying them on the interactive white board. Those who do very badly are obviously very distressed. I have discussed this too, but have been told that this is the way it is done.

MerryMarigold Mon 02-Oct-17 02:50:53

Oh my goodness, that's terrible. I agree it's v hard to move now. Sounds like a Catholic school!

glitterlips1 Mon 02-Oct-17 13:14:26

Do the school offer before school/after school booster sessions? Our school offers these for pupils and they are very successful in boosting the child in confidence and academically.

Redleatheryellowleather Mon 02-Oct-17 14:42:17

Glitter:- No, unfortunately no booster sessions offered, which is a shame because that would really help. It's really starting to affect his confidence in after school activities now, so we really need to address this.

Redleatheryellowleather Mon 02-Oct-17 14:43:11

Merry:- No, it isn't a Catholic school.

MerryMarigold Mon 02-Oct-17 14:49:18

To be honest, if you have tried speaking to Head and teachers, I think it is a governors matter. I would write to the chair of the governors saying how you feel the school has contributed to your son's self esteem/ confidence detailing specific things eg. reading out the scores, perhaps the table numbering (in ds1's school it was 1-5, 1 being the best quite obviously) and in this one it is Harry Potter (top) vs. Nemo (bottom) hmm. It doesn't take a genius child or parent to work those ones out. I'd make it as specific as possible, quotes from your child about how certain things have made him feel etc. It has to change.

irvineoneohone Mon 02-Oct-17 14:52:35

I think calling test results to whole class is totally unnecessary.
You say you have already talked to teacher and she won't consider anything different? Is this a whole school policy or just this particular teacher? If latter, I think I would consider speaking to HT.

irvineoneohone Mon 02-Oct-17 14:53:48

Oh, cross posted. So you have spoken to the head already. Sounds like a horrible school policy.

lou1221 Sat 07-Oct-17 18:14:13

Is ds year 4 or 5? I work in yr 5, boosters should be daily to get the children who are on the cusp of understanding to give them a boost so they do have full understanding, this may not be for every session or subject. Intervention sessions (in my school take out children who need deeper understanding) these could be sen children or children who may have a block in a particular subject. Sadly the work whizzes by quickly, and it is down to the adults Teacher/ta to realise if the child has understood concepts, etc. Cgp books are very good, easy to read and understand. Although the children shouldn't know what level they and others are, if a child knows what to look for, it's not too hard to figure out.

lou1221 Sat 07-Oct-17 18:24:33

Having rtht very sad to hear test results are shown/said to whole class, that is not on at all. I for one wouldn't want my test results on show for everyone to see.

I work in a Catholic school, they're not all bad...

Redleatheryellowleather Mon 09-Oct-17 21:36:04

Thanks to all who have responded. He is in year 5, but the youngest. I had a meeting with the teacher and explained what is causing him the most stress, such as advertising test scores. I was told she would look into it, but making no promises!

I am doing my best to boost his confidence out of school, and will perhaps give the CGP books a go; maybe ten minutes a day (I don't want to stress him further).

There just seems to be so much pressure on schools to achieve, and that pressure ultimately is passed to the kids and their parents (well our school anyway). For those kids who find it easy - all is fine, but for those who struggle, they are left feeling failures, at such a young age. It is such a pity.

BubblesBuddy Mon 09-Oct-17 23:41:20

I am a governor of a primary school and we don't do what you are describing in order for children to make good progress. We do not routinely humiliate children. We always have a few Send children and slower learners and we would never read out their results or indeed any results.

I would see the Head and ask why they have policies that humiliate children. I would also ask why the work of all children is not displayed, why all children are not valued and hard work not recognised in some way. I would want to know why my child is not allowed to work with a variety of children. I would also want to know what progress he is making and what they intend to do to to boost his self esteem that they are busy destroying. Honestly - schools do not have to be like this. You have a rotten one!

Grant1986 Tue 10-Oct-17 08:09:24

I've been teaching Year 3 for the last 5 years, so the year below your child.

Differentiating and table groups are part and parcel of the primary classroom but they shouldn't be static. A good teacher will have fluid groups which vary depending on topic, subject matter and lesson type.

You say your child's class teacher seems approachable, I'd consider discussing grouping around topic based subjects too? If your son is more artistic let him sit with some of his other peers for those lessons, same with computing, history/geography, science etc.

Some of the lowest attaining writers/mathematicians I've had have been incredible artists or naturally see coding during computing. Encourage his interests, if he does something brilliant at home then get him to take it into school to show the teacher, make a song and dance about it.

I remember one of my most reluctant writers came into school one day, without a word he sidled up to my desk and dropped a piece of scrappy paper onto it before running off. On it he'd written a story about his favourite pig... He'd begun to take an interest in writing! Inspiration comes at any given opportunity! (I've actually written a blogpost about this and encouraging learning at home at

Starlight2345 Tue 10-Oct-17 12:08:52

Lots of good advice already..Can I add with my DS he plays lots of timestable games.. is one site, but lots have games which means he practices basic maths but it practicing.. I have never done times table tests at home..

My son is also one of those children who compares himself to everyone else.I agree without streaming they do already generally know where they sit in the class.. My DS has dysgraphia so always gets below age expected.. I have to tell him you have to remember you start from a different starting point. I also tell him so long as he tries his hardest I am very proud no matter what his score..

These are the things I do at home

Msqueen33 Tue 10-Oct-17 12:19:14

I have three dc. Years 4,3 and just started. The younger two both have Sen. They are within their own rights amazing children. None are academic (neither was I. I had to work incredibly hard as it never came naturally). But I want them to realise life is about more than being academic. We praise for all different things at home. I understand if your child is aware it's horrible. My middle child is very hard on herself and finds school very difficult but we try not to focus on that and where her wonderful talents lie.

AJPTaylor Tue 10-Oct-17 12:26:21

my dd is firmly bottom table.
in year 3 she had a teacher referred to forever as "the blessed Mrs Wright."
She had all mixed ability tables firmly stating that every child brought something to the table. for example the less academic child with a brilliant imagination or who role modelled sticking to a task. all work had 3 levels the children chose.
my child was a different child after a year in her care. her only target that dd was told about was to become an independent learner. And she did. She is and always will be dyslexic and have a poor working memory but she also knows that she is hard working and can hold her own verbally with her peers.
and now if someone tries to do her down she just says to herself "what would Mrs Wright say?"

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