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Rather pathetically seeking reassurance about yr 8 DS's muddled-up-ness

(11 Posts)
mumalot Mon 13-Jun-11 10:55:16

just as the title says really.

I've just helped DS do revision for his Yr 8 exams. A couple of things I should say. He's bright (selective school), not overly conscientious ( homework all gets done but quickly rather than well) and at a recent parents evening we were told that he's doing absolutely fine - levels 6 and 7 whatever that means in the scheme of things.

But when I've gone through his work with him I've found that in many of the subjects i have actually had to go back to basics and teach him stuff. I'm not talking about drilling him on facts and figures in history etc which I really don't expect hm to remember from one day to the next, but in things like French he really couldn't remember how to say " I am" after 4 years of French. In fact he did a bit of French at primary school and I think it's actually got worse. Spanish is even worse. He seems to have got the two languages completely mixed up. He's in top maths set but I would say that he's almost certainly going to slide down a group This isn't a bad thing if that's the right place for him but what has shocked me is that once I'd gone though all the science, maths and MFL with him, he now understands it. But its taken me hours and hours! My DD isn't talking to me because I've spent so much time with him once I realised that revising a few formulae wasn't going to do it.

I don't believe in spoon feeding DC but it seems madness that he hasn't really absorbed or understood stuff when he was taught it first time. Is that just a bi- product of big classes in a big school?

My real point is this. He's a bright kid who should really get top grades at GCSE eventually I would have thought. At the moment it's as if everything is swimming around in his head without him actually understanding ,much of it. So I'm sure he's fine in lessons where he works quite hard. But as soon as he has to put it all together and learn it everything is one big muddle. Will it all suddenly just 'click' or do I need to reinforce it as we go along because I think it will kill me. I'm not talking about swotting for tests during the year. I know he must do that for himself. I'm talking about learning basic building blocks of subjects. Like how to conjugate the present tense before zooming on to the pass compose FFS!

Please tell me it's an age thing and he'll suddenly geddit and I don't have to swot up on the GCSE syllabuses.

imadgeine Mon 13-Jun-11 21:51:31

Doesn't sound like he is getting very impressive teaching does it. I do wonder if some "good" schools rely on parents (and private tutors) rather heavily to get their respectable exam results.
For learning to stick people need frequent repetition and they need to do something with the information, not just sit and listen. I had a great time revising Spanish prepositions with my year 8 nephew last week - we did lots of actions to make them stick.
Suggest use of computer based learning to save your sanity. BBC Learning section on their website a good place to start. Some schools have a VLE that students can log onto and do revision and homework online.

Yellowstone Mon 13-Jun-11 22:16:02

What kind of selective school is it OP?

QueenBodicea Mon 13-Jun-11 22:39:17

If its any consolation, my DS is also year 8 and having exams this week and I am feeling the same that he seems to be learning things from scratch for these exams rather than it being 'revision'. I felt a bit panicky when in the half term just gone he brought home a sheet telling him to revise French irregular verbs including etre and avoir and it was obvious that he didn't know any of them so we had to start from the beginning. It doesn't help that at the same time he is also being told to revise the same in German so there is a bit of muddling going on in his head. As all the exams are this week it has been quite a job going through all the different subjects with him. DS is not an academic child so we are not expecting miracles and he does need a lot of parental support but I agree the school does seem to rely on parents teaching fundamentals to our children which must be an impossiibility for some parents who have two children close in age. The tip from Imadgeine about using actions to help remember terms is a good one. I'll try and remember that!

mumalot Mon 13-Jun-11 23:09:06

It's a grammar school Yellow but certainly not a superselective one. I wouldn't really worry if the school turned out fab results at Yr 11 but they're sort of good compared to national average and about on a par with an averagely good comp. That's why I'm wondering whether the DCs who do well have saps like me for parents who vow to leave their DCs to struggle on under their own steam because it's character building but then cave in and start writing verb endings on White postcards. Arrgh. I really don't want to sit my GCSEs again indirectly thru DS but seems unfair to leave him to it when a few days help has already improved his knowledge. But I can't do that week in week out during year 9. Can I???

happygardening Tue 14-Jun-11 09:59:11

A friend of mine is a head at a top grammer school he say's that its an easy place to teach in because as soon as a boys struggles or falls behind his parents find a suitable private tutor!

Lancelottie Tue 14-Jun-11 11:28:29

We've just had to do the entire Maths GCSE syllabus from scratch (or it certainly felt like it) with brightish Year 10 DS. State comp, but allegedly outstanding one.

Sorry, that's not quite what you wanted to hear, is it?

PercyPigPie Tue 14-Jun-11 11:38:18

Im really the wrong person to advise as my children are all at primary school, but am wondering if you could afford extra tuition to a) free you up and put less strain on the rest of the family b) get someone with a teaching background putting a bit of structure in there for him.

Does he manage to organise and prioritise everything else in his life? just wondering if he intelligence is masking an organisational problem.

mole1 Tue 14-Jun-11 11:45:00

Well it's a good job we were all taught properly, otherwise we wouldn't be able to help. Have the same issues with dd1 (yr7), feel like we have to start from scratch (particularly in maths).

snailoon Tue 14-Jun-11 11:53:14

I have a year 8 at extremely competitive and selective private school (considers itself best in the country, if not the universe). My son sounds exactly like yours. He's just not interested. By the way, French teaching in this country is AWFUL in my experience. How do they do 6 years of French and never read a single book?
I'm quite sure mine will do well in the end, but maybe I just can't be bothered to worry about it at the moment.
I don't know, but you're not alone

mumalot Tue 14-Jun-11 13:21:45

well it's great to know I'm not alone. DH found his old exercise books from school the other day and it was page upon page of neatly written coherent notes! That's an ex GS converted to a comp in the mid 1980's. And he says his parents didn't ever ask him a thing about how school was going in 7 years!

I have decided that I will get DS a tutor for English because the GCSE exam appears really quite difficult to do well in as there seems to be a certain type of answer that they are looking for in order to do very well. However trying to find a tutor who is plugged into the current GCSE system seems impossible because presumably all the great English teachers who are up to date are working their butts off in schools! I really see no point in sending him off to someone who taught ten years ago and who is just going to run through a bit of grammar. I'm hoping a bit of English tuition will instil in him the ability to write coherent arguments for all his humanities subjects because at present his idea of an essay seems to be a partially thought out jumble of facts and a couple of hit and miss opinions!

Does anyone have any experience of how to find a good tutor ie is it the done thing to approach other schools. I can't think so but he is my oldest Dc so I am completely unplugged into secondary school teaching community!

That whole post is very badly worded but I've been revising all week so please forgive mewink

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