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DS2 (just 7) came home in tears because he is 'stupid', 'slow' etc

(25 Posts)
NormaSnorks Tue 15-Sep-09 17:09:41


DS2. Just 7. August born boy. All the usual problems - developmentally immature relative to his peers. Late developing motor skills (i.e. poor handwriting). Slow to pick up reading.

Has just gone into Year 3, which I always knew would be hard.

He came home and promptly burst into tears because he has been put in the 'slow group' (his words) for English/ Spellings. His main friends are in the other group.

We've had a long chat about it not being the 'slow' group per se, and that it means he will get a chance to do the work that's right for him, and the fact that some of the children are almost a year older than him, have had longer to learn stuff etc etc.

I'm not sure he hears/ wants to believe any of this stuff. He is distraught, and just keeps saying he is 'too stupid'.

I've already had a chat with his teacher about how we're hoping to really try to build his confidence this year, and try to reward and recognise the good things/ achievements etc.

But shit - parenting is so hard sometimes.My heart is breaking to see him like this.


AtheneNoctua Tue 15-Sep-09 17:28:21

I can't believe they divide kids so young in this country. Can you sign him up for a tutor so he can excel? I know the problem is the system and not your child, but perhaps if he was given a boost he would feel better.

Slow table?

He is 7!

This is dreadful.

elmofan Tue 15-Sep-09 17:50:21

hi norma , am sad for your lo , he definitely needs you to build up his confidence , i think the school is out of order putting children in a " slow group" that's terrible no wonder your son is upset , in my ds school if children are struggling they are taken into a different class for an hour each day & given 1 to 1 with a teacher to help them along , now i understand that not all schools can facilitate this but there has to something better they can do than a " slow group"

NormaSnorks Tue 15-Sep-09 18:10:27

Sorry, I didn't explain properly. The school don't call it a 'slow group'! It's just that in Year 3 they divide the year into 2 groups - one of which is clearly working faster than the other (has more spellings, and slightly more challenging work).
I'm not against the 'streaming' at all, because I had the opposite problem with DS1 who was eldest/v. academic and the frustrations of being bored.

I don't even think anyone has made any reference to lower/ stupid/ slower or anything like that. But my son is bright, and is working all this out for himself - that he's not as fast as some of his peers, and is being 'grouped' as a result of this.

Although there are some children in the lower group with SNs, mostly it is just the children (often youngest in the year) who haven't yet established as solid a foundation as the older ones.

I know all the research, I've heard all the anecdotes about summer-borns flourishing at th end of junior school etc etc.

It's just when your 'baby' looks at you point blank and says "I KNOW I'm in the slower group" your heart just sinks sad.

I already find it really hard to keep buoying him up all the time - I just wonder how long I can keep going, and if it's even ever going to work sad.

NormaSnorks Tue 15-Sep-09 18:14:55

Athene - I really don't think extra tutoring is what he needs at this age to be honest, he just needs time to grow up.

He is doing absolutely fine against the 'average' for his school year, which, given how young he is, means he's doing 'well' as far as I'm concerned. He's reading at Stage 12, which I think is above average for Year 3, but of course he just looks at his friends who are on Stage 13/14.

It's just like pushing custard uphill (?) trying to tell him/ convince him of all this though...

Takver Tue 15-Sep-09 18:15:34

Have you tried pointing out to him that he is a year younger than many of the other children in the class?
DD gets very upset about not being able to do things that two of her friends can do - she found it very consoling when I pointed out that they are both born right at the start of September, and therefore over half a year older than her.
We've also talked of course about how some people are good at somethings and others at different things - Nanny can't spell (dd's particular bugbear) even though she is nearly 70, but it doesn't stop her being good at lots of things - that also seemed to help (especially helped by the fact that Nanny is patently happy and successful in life) !

Takver Tue 15-Sep-09 18:18:00

(should point out here that Nanny is my Mum, just what dd calls her, I haven't recently acquired a glamorous city job & childcare grin )

Goblinchild Tue 15-Sep-09 18:20:16

I once asked one of the real strugglers in my class what they could teach X ( very clever and knew it)
She thought for a moment and said 'Neat handwriting' And she was right.
Everyone has areas of weakness and strength, the trick is to enable them to see their talents as well as the bits they find hard.
So what does your son do well?
One of my littlies is renown for her conflict resolution in the playground, the fact she's on
ORT5 and is eight is not important as a measure of her worth to any of her classmates.
He needs lots of appropriate praise in and out of class.

NormaSnorks Tue 15-Sep-09 21:01:47

Yes - I'm always looking for things that he's 'good' at. Sometimes you have to 'see' well beyond the usual school/academic stuff though don't you?

cory Wed 16-Sep-09 08:18:07

My ds was in precisely the same position. But once he was put in a group that worked on his level he started learning and gained confidence. The truth is, it wasn't about any artificial dividing of children, he simply couldn't do what his very clever friends were doing and keeping them together just made him feel a failure all the time.

He is now in Yr 5, has moved up one step (they have 5 groups) and will probably move up more. But more to the point, he is working confidently at his own level and getting help where he needs it. Can't complain really smile

NormaSnorks Wed 16-Sep-09 08:30:46

Thanks Cory - that's really heartening to hear, and I'm hoping it will be the same with DS2.

When I look back at my eldest (now Year 5) some of his best friends are two of the youngest children in the class who struggled earlier in school life. They are now all in the top set together.

I really hope it all just 'clicks' over the next couple of years, and as you say, working at the right level gives him confidence.

It's very hard to keep his spirits up all the time though....

Buda Wed 16-Sep-09 08:32:15

Well you can tell him from me that his reading is fab! My DS is also August but is 8 and has just gone into year 4 and he has just gone onto stage 12 books.

My DS has the same issues with fine motor skills and is in the lower group for maths too. Am not entirely sure about spellings yet this term - they are doing Ancient Egyptians for topic so one of his spellings was 'sarcophagus'!

I am going to look into extra tutoring for DS in maths as he is now at the stage that even in the lower group he is standing out at needing a push as the teacher put it. But if you don't want to do that I understand completely.

When my DS moans about being stupid or whatever I point out that one of his friends is only 3 weeks younger than him and is in Year 3 and does he think that he would be ok in the lower year. He then understands that he is not stupid. He is just almost a year younger than some of the other children. His confidence is still not great - which is why I am considering the extra tuiton. I am worried he has gaps in the basics in maths and feel that he won't feel confident until he has mastered that.

I think all you can do is bolster is confidence in other areas as you are already doing and maybe ask him if he wants to do some extra work with you in those subjects that he is worried about. (I wouldn't say to him that it is subjects he is not good at - I did that to my DS inadvertently - not good!)

NikkiH Wed 16-Sep-09 09:33:23

My DS2 is about to turn 8 and has just started Yr 3 - he is on stage 9 ORT books although a steady and competent reader. He has just been moved from the 2nd of 4 groups to group 3 and is currently saying the work is easy so we'll see how he gets on.

The point I really wanted to make is that in his class the diversity in abilities is immense. You have those children (mainly girls) at the top end of the class who are capable of the year above's work and then a small handful of youngsters at the other end who could really do with going back a few years. The rest are comfortably in the middle. Children need to be able to work at their own level without pressure to be the best all the time.

NormaSnorks Wed 16-Sep-09 09:40:26

I really appreciate these thoughts and comments, and I guess I rationally know all this stuff.

My big dilemma is HOW to get young children to understand, believe and accept this?

Is it just a case of constant reinforcement i.e. "but you're so young compared to you friends"
and pointing out the positives "but look how good you are at building Lego models meant for 9-14 year olds..." smile

My DS just doesn't seem to beleive me, and just says "yes, but you WOULD say that, 'cos you're my Mum..."

The school have an 'achievement' session each week, but he won't let me send in any of his e.g. swimming certificates, as he says the other children have 'swum much further'.

I just wish he would stop worrying about the 'best' children, and see that he is doing very well, and gain some confidence in his abilites sad

whattheheckdoIdonow Wed 16-Sep-09 09:57:40

my ds has also just gone into yr 3 and I noticed the children are more aware than previously who is in what sort of group ~ but the popular boys are across all the groups,defined more by how fun they are and social skills than their abilities.

My dd was end of august birthday and I found she got to her true position in the class by yr 5/6.

Could you say to him ~everyone needs time to learn the work in their own time and he may well be in the top group in a year or two's time because the groups will change every half term.

Ask him if he would like to do a short amount of homework with you from a literacy/maths workbook if it would help him to feel he could progress more quickly ~ give him that choice?

Sometimes taking action is the best antidote for the worries,rather than reassurance.

whattheheckdoIdonow Wed 16-Sep-09 10:50:03

He sounds very intuitive and bright ~ you could tell him he is very bright but to learn the extra spelling/writing skills and or maths skills he could practice them.

Sometimes it seems school life is very achievement orientated and it is worth separating out in his mind intelligence from skills learned.

How did he get on in his yr 2 sat assessments?

NormaSnorks Wed 16-Sep-09 10:58:27

It's an independent school, so they don't formally do SATs. However they do informal SAT-based tests for the purpose of teachers measuring progress etc. They don't give us a 'score' as such, but at parents evening his teaching told us he was at the expected level for the year group, and had done really well in Maths - far better than she had expected.

They will also be streamed for Maths too, and I've yet to find out which 'group' he may be in for that. At the moment it seems to be the physical writing of answers that slows him down - I can see him working stuff out quickly in his head.

OrmIrian Wed 16-Sep-09 11:03:04

athene - the school won't refer to it as the slow table. It will be orange group or squirrel group or some such. But the DC will know sad

It is better to teach children who are at a similar ability level together - he'd feel much more 'stupid' if all the children around him were racing ahead of him and he was always unable to ever finish a piece of work and always the last. DD is there atm for Maths - she's in the top group and IMO she needs a confidence boost and should be moved down.

DS#2 is on the 'slow' table for literacy and maths - but he doesn't care atm. I do but that's my problem not his hmm

whattheheckdoIdonow Wed 16-Sep-09 11:11:04

I see ~ is it a small class?
It is the same in state schools in key stage 1 ~ it is done by teacher assessments and some small tests.
It sounds as if he may have been level 2 in literacy and level 3 in maths which is great.

cory Wed 16-Sep-09 14:15:02

NormaSnorks Wed 16-Sep-09 09:40:26 Add a message | Report post | Contact poster

"My big dilemma is HOW to get young children to understand, believe and accept this?"

Oh it is hard, isn't it?

I do find this difficult with my ds. Not only does he struggle academically, while his big sister and his friend are both g&t, but he has also got a mild physical disability which means that he isn't really very good at sports either

I have recently found that he has a certain talent for drawing, so I'm trying to encourage that

AtheneNoctua Wed 16-Sep-09 17:08:49

Oh jeez. DD sits in animal groups at school. I wonder what they mean? I suppoe this is probably the beginning of streaming. shock

And they wonder why parents get all competitive when they are splitting up the kids at age 6.

NormaSnorks Fri 18-Sep-09 19:52:15

Hey - it's turned into a good week after all grin.

I have decided that I LOOOOOOVE his new teacher. After I spoke to her last week, asking for her help in building his confidence she seems to have been COMPLETELY on the ball with this all this week.

He got 15/15 for spellings smile
He got 13/13 for times tables.
He got 3 house points for various things.
He came home beaming because Mrs X had told him he'd done a great piece of work on something.

And, she's let him bring a piece of unfinished work home to complete over the w/e (it's just some colouring) rather than keep him in at break or lunchtime to do it (which is the usual way).


Long may it continue....

whattheheckdoIdonow Fri 18-Sep-09 22:05:59

That's nice am pleased for you and your ds.

We also have a lovely teacher this yr[3] she is so positive and caring it's amazing!

becaroo Sat 19-Sep-09 10:13:01

Norma - thats great! His teacher sounds fab...wish my ds1's teacher was like that sad

Buda Tue 22-Sep-09 05:58:01

Just spotted your update. That sounds great. Teachers like that are worth their weight in gold aren't they?

I am really happy as yesterday I managed to organise extra maths tuition for DS with a teacher who was recommended by a few friends. I spoke to her and initially she said she was full but then when we were talking and she realised who DS was she said "Oh yes I know M - nice boy - needs his confidence building up". (She teaches him swimming and PE too) and she found a 30 min slot straight after school on Mondays. So I am very hopeful.

DS of course is not so happy about the extra maths!

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