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Help! How do you motivate your DC to do their best at school?

(11 Posts)
mussyhillmum Mon 12-Oct-09 10:36:56

My DS (7.5) is in year 3. Since he has started school he has underperformed. He does well in tests which he enjoys, but struggles with completing and focusing on the day to day stuff in class. He is clearly capable of doing the work - achieved level 3s in everything and a level 4 in reading at the end of year 2. However, the work he does in class is seldom completed and often illegible. It is as if he is only engaging 10% of his brain.

DS admits that he doesn't pay attention and says this is because he is "distracted" and that it is "boring". He is never very clear as to what it is that is distracting him or why school is boring. DS says he "knows the answer in my head. I just get distracted and forget to write it down". He also seems to forget how to spell, how to space words, punctuation, capital letters, etc.!

On the other hand, he is very conscientious about his home work and makes a huge effort to ensure that it is correct, legible and complete. What can I do to encourage him to approach his school work in the same way?

Any help would be greatly appreciated - I'm tearing my hair out with frustration!

singersgirl Mon 12-Oct-09 10:43:07

If you find out, let me know. Similar issues with DS2, 8 in August and now in Y4. DS2 is, apparently, mostly just 'thinking about things', but does well in stuff like timed tables tests. The teacher and I were trying to think of incentives as he still seems to have the attitude that if he knows it, why should he have to bother to show it?

mussyhillmum Mon 12-Oct-09 10:49:37

Thank goodness DS isn't the only one! Do you think it is a male testosterone thing - can only be bothered if it's a competition?

JeffVadar Mon 12-Oct-09 11:45:04

If this is happening in the classroom, then the teacher is the best person to deal with it; there is a limit to what you can do from home.

My DS was exactly the same, and it wasn't sorted out until he had a wonderful teacher who tackled the issue head on. She had a talk with him about why his behaviour in class was a problem, and she offered him three different strategies to help him change and improve, he was able to choose the one he thought would work best for him.

I would definitely have a word with your DS's teacher about it, if you haven't already.

I also found Phil Beadle's book 'Could Do Better' very useful; it is about how to determine your DCs learning preferences, and how to help them learn better.

madamearcati Mon 12-Oct-09 11:58:44

I think probably he really can't concentrate at school with the background noise ,people fidgeting about etc.
I would just praise him to the hilt for the work he does at home.

mussyhillmum Mon 12-Oct-09 12:01:49

Thanks JeffVader. I will definately have a look at Phil Beadle's book. I am desperate to turn my son back on to learning. I have spoken to DS's teachers in the past as this has been an ongoing problem. They tell me they think he is very bright but he has to learn how to show them. I have asked them for guidance in the past and they say that apart from making him complete work in golden time, there is nothing else they can do. His year 3 teacher is supposed to be the best in the school, so I am hoping she will have some ideas.

mussyhillmum Mon 12-Oct-09 12:22:41

Hi madamearcati - I think you are probably right. I know he is likely to be much more interested in what the people beside him are whispering about rather than the worksheet of sums in front of him. I just wish he would block it out and get on with his work like everyone else seems to. He just doesn't seem to be able to pay attention to anything at school. I accompanied his class on a "Black History" outing on Friday. Whilst all the other year 3 children were sitting relatively still appearing to pay attention and answering questions about slavery and apartheid, my DS was rocking back and forth trying to touch his head on the ground, rolling about etc. This is a subject in which DS actually has an interest and some knowledge. I'm not expecting him to be the class swot answering all the questions, but why can't he keep still? Or am I expecting too much from him?

pugsandseals Mon 12-Oct-09 12:56:28

Definately not limited to the boys DD age 7/year 3 has exactly the same problem even though we have just managed to get her into one of the best schools etc.
We got her beginning of year assessment on Friday and couldn't help but notice something which should have been obvious before-
Her favourite subjects are also those which she does worst in! We think we have worked out that the excitement & engagement in these subjects somehow makes her forget to write it down/be neat etc.
Over the moon that we have worked this out at last, but I'm afraid we still don't have any answers as to how to deal with it! Time???

mussyhillmum Mon 12-Oct-09 14:37:44

Pugs and Seals. That's interesting her "worst" subjects are her favorite. Do you think it's a question of brain working faster than fingers? Was there any reason why you moved schools? I am assuming she has just started at a private school. Do you think the smaller class size is making any difference to her ability to concentrate? I often wonder whether DS would be able to focus more if he were one of 16 rather than one of 30. Interested to hear your thoughts.

pugsandseals Mon 12-Oct-09 19:39:23

Focus is definately better with just 14 in a class!
She has always struggled with handwriting as she is a lefty & they are starting to deal with that. But I definately think it's a case of brain working faster than fingers! Also, general excitement taking over.
Our main reasons for taking her out of her state school was boredom & lack of discipline (especially amongst a group of boys in her class). And the socialisation aspect of the private school was the main reason for the change. We certainly like the competitive aspect missed in some state schools. It is just taking her some time to realise that this is it now & she won't be going back to what she saw as chaos at her old school!
Hope this helps...

mussyhillmum Mon 12-Oct-09 20:50:07

That sounds somewhat familiar. We are fortunate that there are no discipline problems in DS's class, but he often complains that he is bored. He says his mind drifts when the teacher is talking because "he knows it already". I am assuming he means the whole class element of teaching which could be pitched at too low a level for him. Alternatively, he could be making excuses for being a lazy so and so! Fortunately, his homework has been very open-ended this year and he has really enjoyed this. Like your DD though, he prefers tests and competition to worksheets and discussion in the classroom. Good news that her new school is working out for her!

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