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How can I persuade ds (12) that the little things matter?

(32 Posts)
schroeder Wed 22-Jun-11 11:59:49

ds is ridiculously lazy in his school work, he can't be bothered to underline his titles, use capital letters or to rough things out first. As a result his work looks sloppy and messy, no matter that the content is good, he is letting himself down.

He thinks I'm over fussy and it doesn't matter, I think he's losing marks that he could easily get just by checking his work and picking up a ruler etc.

He has been moved into lower sets at school in about 5 subjects already, I do not go on about his school work all the time, I don't want to end up in the position where I am standing over him every night, but maybe I need to get more involved?

What do you think?

It does not help that he is quite difficult to talk to right now having metamorphosed into a teenager already, he is grumpy, sensitive and selfish.

I know this sound very negative, but really he is a lovely bright boy whom I adore and it breaks my heart that he is struggling, because I know how well he can do. His creative writing especially is fantastic, I've been looking in his english book and it's beautiful, he also draws very well. This seems to make it worse for me-that his teachers might not see his potential hidden behind the slapdash presentation.

c0rn551Lk Wed 22-Jun-11 12:00:58

I feel his pain. Is he better when he word processes?

SarkySpanner Wed 22-Jun-11 12:01:57

I would speak to his teacher(s) to see if this really is the main issue to be tackling.

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jun-11 12:06:26

Sounds pretty typical for a 12 yo boy!

I would be very worried if he has been moved down because of presentation, but maybe he needs a bit more support to get his work looking better.

<<I am dreading when DS starts secondary, following in little Miss Perfect's footsteps>>

mummytime Wed 22-Jun-11 12:38:01

I would arrange a proper meeting with the school. It is not right if he is being moved into lower sets just for not underlining. However I would suspect the issues are probably greater, and you need to know exactly what is going on.

BTW I knew a boy be moved into the bottom set because of his attitude, as part of his attitude came from him finding the work easy, this did not help.

MRSJWRTWR Wed 22-Jun-11 12:44:04

I would also suggest talking to his teachers regarding slipping into lower sets.

DS1 turned 12 in May and this sounds just like him with regard to sloppy presentation and he is utterly astounded when I suggest tidying his work up, checking spellings, capital letters, underlining headings etc.

I was nervously awaiting the results of his end of year exams (was actually worried whether they'd be able to read his papers!) and on the whole he has done really well and also continues to get good marks for his homework. So the teachers are obviously looking beyond the state of his written work.

schroeder Wed 22-Jun-11 14:11:36

Well I have just talked to his form teacher (he is being monitored by him because of ds being 'below target' in a few subjects)

Anyway he sees ds's presentation issues as being all part of his dashing off the bare minimum every time, for his homework.

So I have decided to sit down with him every night, to do his homework and make sure he does his best.

He will hate it! he will shout and slam doors, but I cannot just let him drift along getting more and more behind.

mummytime Wed 22-Jun-11 14:36:13

Schroeder there is a limit for how long you can force him to do his work. Why don't you try to talk to him about: why he does the minimum, what he thinks his teachers are really looking for, and his long term aims. You can even try a spot of bribery, for specific targets (either the amount he needs to write or a specific improvement on grades).
Try to help him evaluate his own work, his teachers should be able to provide criteria they use to assess work to help him.

schroeder Wed 22-Jun-11 14:53:17

That sounds good advice, I will try to talk it through with him.

For example I'm not sure he appreciates what homework is for, he gets very emotional and takes everything so personally, I know it seems ridiculous, but he actually seems to think that homework is punishment of some sort hmm

I'm not sure weather I will be able to get through to him, he seems to regard everything I say as rubbish. I helped him with some fractions yesterday and when I could't answer one of the questions right away he said "hah see it's really hard even you can't do it!" he was pleased and also he doesn't seem to understand that some (if not most) things do require a little thought, if he doesn't get something straight away I think he just gives up, it's maddening for me.

I recognise myself in him a little; in that I sailed through primary school myself hardly having to try and I remember the shock of having to work at stuff a bit more at high school.hmm

FairyLightsForever Wed 22-Jun-11 15:35:29

My DS is 14 and we did have exactly this problem. I agree with mummytime to a point about not being able to stand over him forever, but maybe you need to for the first couple of times.

I looked at what DS had done on a history essay and told him that although what he had done was ok, there was plenty more that he could do. I didn't do the work for him by any means, but I looked at the info on the person he was writing about and suggested areas that he could expand on. Yes, there was moaning and stropping, but I asked him to try it my way, just this once and he did it.

A couple of weeks later, he got his essay mark- I think it was 18, or 19 out of 20 and his essay was displayed on the wall. The confidence boost was amazing and I was able to then say "See, it's worth the extra effort, isn't it?"

It hasn't been all plain sailing, but I look over all his essays and often point out that he's spent hours doing research and then hardly used any of it in the actual essay! If he moans now, i point out that it could be the difference between getting an ok mark, or a really good mark...

Good luck!

ExitPursuedByAKitten Wed 22-Jun-11 15:42:26

Do let me know how you get on. I have this with DD (Y6). She has lost all interest in school work in the last year or so. She gets good reports but when we went into School for Open Day I was shock at some of the work other girls had done - from a presentation point of view. A story about pirates had been written in special hand writing on tea stained paper cut out into island shapes (ffs!) and parchments rolled up with ribbon. DD just scrawls stuff untidly in her workbook. I am sure a lot of it is the parents (I am not creative and tend towards the scruffy) but it must affect how the staff view the pupils. I am hoping that when she gets to Secondary School she will be excited by the new surroundings and the subjects and will up her game. But I also worry that she will be like me and just do the bare minumum to get by. Can we really change our children's predispositions?

schroeder Wed 22-Jun-11 16:38:49

well I tried to talk to him, god he's so selfish and short sighted. He got so angry with me and reckons it's all my fault. He says me trying to help will only make him not want to try at all.

In the end I said I would not stand over him, but I did want to see his work before he handed it in each time, so I could point out any corrections and so on. He went upstairs to start his work, but said he couldn't do it. I tried to help him to explain that the questions were just a variation of what he had done before, he got so angry with me and wouldn't listen. I left the room to the passing shot from him "Boo hoo"

what have I done to him that he can treat me this way? he doesn't care about my feelings at all.sad

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jun-11 17:28:30

Oh dear - {{{}}} It's horrible being blamed for something that is so not your fault. And being shouted at when you haven't said / done anything wrong.

I presume he is in Y7? Is the level of homework much higher than in his Primary School?

schroeder Wed 22-Jun-11 17:58:51

I think they were a bit slack at primary tbh. As long as he'd reached his target for the end of year 6 they didn't bother too much. I think he'd managed that by year 4 hmm.

He has calmed down a bit now and has done some work, but with much grumbling, complaining and saying that he is thick.

I on the other hand am contemplating shooting off as soon as dh comes in, but I suppose I should stay and see it through be 'the grown up'.

I don't want to though it's too hard I just wanna run away

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jun-11 18:37:09

I would let DH take his turn smile

wordfactory Wed 22-Jun-11 18:46:52

This is one of the reasons I'm a supporter of small amount sof homework in primary school (something I know is unpopular here on MN).

Younger children who are still quite biddable get into good habits.

When year seven comes along tis just a seamless transition.

bellavita Wed 22-Jun-11 18:58:27

You standing over him will not help at all.

Yes you want them to do well, but really he has to take some responsibility himself.

And yes, I am the parent of a 14 year old boy, so I do know what it is like.

schroeder Wed 22-Jun-11 19:00:03

dh thinks I should leave him(ds) to it. I know on the other hand that I have to be the adult and try to help, despite the abuse, which is just a 12 year old temper tantrum at it's heart.

bellavita Wed 22-Jun-11 19:00:48

DH is right.

reup Wed 22-Jun-11 19:03:39

Not sure about the homework at primary school helping. My son is in y3. He had the odd bit if homework in y1, one lot a week in y2 and 2 lots now. There is always screaming shouting and crying involved. It's he'll. I can't imagine 3 more years of this will make him like it more at secondary!

No help to the op sorry. Am just dreading the next 8 years really as homework will just take longer and longer.

bigTillyMint Wed 22-Jun-11 19:03:56

Are there some things that he could make sure he does with a piece of work that he / you could check, eg Tiltle using capitals, underlined. Date on RHS, etc - obviously based on what his school want.

senua Wed 22-Jun-11 19:38:57

You and the teachers are worried about the state of his work. He isn't.
Is there something that he does worry about? If you purposefully mess that up then perhaps he will start to understand how annoying it is when someone doesn't come up to the required standard.
So, for example (and please excuse gender stereotyping), suppose he wants a clean shirt to go out in: you hand him a clean shirt but bundled into a creased, un-ironed ball. Put dinner on the table, but 'forget' salt'n'pepper or ketchup. You give him a lift into town but stop halfway. etc etc. He might eventually get the message.
I've always told mine that life is give and take: if they don't do what I ask then I won't do what they ask. <folds arms>

Kez100 Thu 23-Jun-11 06:06:59

I would speak to school about slipp

Kez100 Thu 23-Jun-11 06:12:19

Sorry, silly iPod! I would speak to school about slipping sets but don't believe for a minute it's due to presentation.

I would not stand over him or worry myself about the presentation, once you have mentioned it to him. It's for the school to advise and for him to take ownership of. I agree you noticed it and shouldn't ignore it - you didn't - but life will get much worse if you get involved too much.

He is going through blue brain (as we call it after that teenage brain programme on recently) and, with our daughter, the most we can ever do when she is in that zone, is recommend things and then step out of it completely. She's growing up and learning herself t be independent and that means taking responsibility for her own work.

senua Thu 23-Jun-11 08:09:47

Can you explain the blue brain, kez?

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