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Has anyone had a child who spent Year 7 socialising and being the class clown and then buckled down? Or is it all downhill from here?

(52 Posts)
sandyballs Tue 05-Feb-13 08:52:48

DD (nearly 12) is driving me to distraction. She's reasonably bright, left primary with all level 5 SATS. Her levels have now dropped, most are 4's. All her targets say things like "concentrate in class more", "listen in class more", "talk less". You get the drift. She has managed to acquire 12 detentions since starting this school in September, mostly for things like forgetting homework (she did it but left it at home), forgetting calculator for maths. However last night I noticed another one in her planner for "silly behaviour" in PE which is a completely different thing from homework and missing equipment. There was also a text to a friend saying what a laugh PE had been hmm.

I'm so disappointed in her and me and DH have had several chats with her, the latest being Sunday, so to see that detention yesterday means not a single thing went into that head of hers. She seems to treat school like a big social occasion to impress her mates and doesn't seem at all bothered by detentions, which worries me at this early stage of secondary education. I also have to inspect her on the way out the door as she's suddenly discovered blusher and mascara!

Should we be so worried or am I over-reacting to her behaviour due to her twin sister who is the model student. Has already acquired 150 merits and got a prize from the Head of Year, hasn't got a single detention and plans to be the first student to leave the school without any. Her levels are up from primary school and she takes great care and makes huge effort. She would be very upset to get a single detention, let alone 12!

Haven't had a parents evening yet, not one until April which seems ridiculous to me. I'm tempted to make an appointment to see someone before then to discuss her attitude and behaviour.

Cheer me up with tales of kids who were like this at the start of secondary and left with top marks and glowing reports grin.

Madmog Tue 05-Feb-13 11:38:27

My daughter is in Year 7 and like yours quite bright and has it all in front of her. It's slightly different, but we seem to be having a lot of friendship problems. She did have one girl being nasty to her (which she didn't bring on herself), and since then she has had a detention for her attitude towards two other girls and we know another local Mum is now angry and her daughter has reported ours. On top of this there have been a lot of fallouts between her immediate friends and it's very hard to stay neutral under pressure from the others. It's constant, we have up to 48 hours of it being quiet and something else flairs up. We've tried guiding her gently through the arguments between friends and had very strong words and punishments about things she's done wrong, but as there is a local Mum whose concerned about her obviously things are still going on. Except for one, all of these girls have been friends for about six years so I don't know why this has to happen now. Out of all of them she does appear to be making more new friends than them, so maybe as pointed out above it's about them all finding their niche, as well as refmale hormones kicking in!

I do have a friend whose son is in Year 9 and she says things are much better for him now. He was constantly getting detention for forgetting things, not doing homework, general behaviour with friends, in the first year or so. She obviously wasn't happy about it at the time, but now puts it down to finding his niche in the class.

It's not easy working through problems though is it?!

TotallyBS Tue 05-Feb-13 12:35:43

Well, to paraphrase the National Rifle Association, it's better to have a bagful of good GCSEs and not need them then to need them and to not have them.

In the current competive environment in which we find ourselves it is difficult to get a job without gcse English and Maths.

sandyballs Tue 05-Feb-13 12:45:02

Thanks all, interesting reading, I had no idea some schools choose options in year 8!!

DD is in top sets for maths and science at the moment, although thankfully not with her sister. It is a big school and they have two top sets. They aren't set for English until year 9 apparently, no idea why! I do worry that she won't stay in those top sets unless she applies herself a lot more and it's very difficult to claw your way back in. Frustrates me hugely that she's very capable but basically doing the minimum with lots of larking about inbetween.

Her whole attitude has changed since leaving primary and she is worried about being seen as a 'geek'. Fitting in with her friends is far more important and i can completely understand that, it is hard to fit in during a change and find your place.

I will chat to her and also praise her more, she is a lovely girl, very funny and kind, and I do come down hard on her with this school stuff. The last thing I shouted at her as she walked off up the drive this morning was that I would be looking at different schools that were stricter with her, with smaller classes blush. She sent me a text on the bus asking if I meant it and I replied that I was online looking!

Erebus Tue 05-Feb-13 13:08:27

Well, sandy- if it helps your DD to see how seriously you take her education and her current lack of application towards it, that ' threat' may not be such a bad thing! One thing you can also tell her is about the swan analogy- she may be thinking 'it's OK, all my mates muck about too/safety in numbers' but just might find that they're doing better than her, ie calm above water, paddling like crazy beneath- which may become apparent when the sets are rejigged around next time.

creamteas Tue 05-Feb-13 14:30:38

I don't subscribe to the theory that it is all or nothing at school. Probably because I lecture many mature students who have largely Ds & Es who still end up with 1st and 2:1s (and yes they do go into graduate level jobs).

Given that the age for leaving education is being raised, I should imagine lots more sixth forms who previously rejected students with less than their 5 Cs are going to start offering more for these students.

My DC's school certainly is. Students with their GCSE will still be taking A levels, but they now also welcome students onto level 2 BTECs and resit GCSEs as well.

Erebus Tue 05-Feb-13 15:36:17

creamteas- no, I don't think 6th form colleges, at least those who 'pride' themselves on traditional 6th form education (read: A levels) will be throwing their doors open to the >5 GCSE holders; but 'local colleges' that used to be called Techs certainly will! In fact, we will probably see more elitism in the same way we have 'RG' unis and 'ex-Polys'. Our very good local 6th form college will certainly have DC there who are resitting GCSEs etc, but all will have their core '5 GCSEs inc Eng and Maths'.

I think the point has already been made that it's usually considered far 'easier' to do your academic education when you're young, well-supported, surrounded by a similar peer-group and 'responsibility-free'.

Of course school isn't 'all or nothing' but if you're capable of 'a lot', if not 'all', it's highly advisable to achieve that whilst at school, is it not?! Especially as 'someone else' is paying!! Thus, imo, it is a good idea, as a parent, to strongly encourage your DC to do their best whilst in school rather than having to DIY (and pay for) their education later.

lljkk Tue 05-Feb-13 16:48:29

I dare say OP isn't worried about whether her DC will get a GCSE at all in English & maths, but rather whether they will get a "good" mark due to lack of application.

Of course we encourage & support, with a bit of cajoling thrown in, but ffs, a lot of the result should be down to the kid themselves.

According to the media the standards are so low that only a numpty or someone with super social deprived background can't at least pass GCSE E+Maths, anyway.

Erebus Tue 05-Feb-13 17:02:37

lljkk- um, not sure exactly what point you're making?

The OP is concerned that her able-enough DD seems to have lost focus. The OP recognises that it's pretty important to stay on track in secondary school.

She is evidently trying to encourage and support her DD. Part of that process is to sometimes spell out the consequences of non-application. It's not so much that 'the result should be down to the kid', it's that the result is ultimately entirely 'down to the kid'. The Kid needs to understand this.

Yes, it isn't terribly hard to get an 'E+' but everyone knows that result isn't worth the paper it's written on when it comes to 'opening further doors'. The same media bangs on about the very real phenomenon of grade inflation, where a 'C' at 'O' level, circa 1980 was considered to be a good, solid achievement for a DC who'd highly likely go on to 'A' levels and maybe uni. Now, anything less than an 'A' grade GCSE is considered very average.

Happymum22 Tue 05-Feb-13 17:18:18

My immediate thought is her sister is always given attention for being so perfect/getting merits etc so she is trying to mark her place and get attention via her friends looking up to her/ in the 'girl social hierarchy' she will be quite high and she gets attention from you for all the detentions and being on her case for the bad behavior. She probably knows she can't be/doesn't want to be the same as her sister and so thinks even trying to be like that will always mean she will be second place.
So is she just doing this to get attention and reinforcement in terms of thinking she is very cool and liked by her peers?? as well as getting a reaction equal in strength to that you give to her sister, even if it is negative.

I was always quiet, hard working, did quite well, never in trouble BUT never really got a lot of praise or encouragement- was just left as I was. At home I was very much second place to my older siblings who were top students. I remember when GCSEs came I really realised I could get the attention I saw others were getting from being either very very bright or very naughty/troublesome, and so played up to teachers; I would turn up late, say I didn't understand even if I did, not try that hard and generally wanted to be a 'cause for concern' pupil just because I liked being noticed, given extra praise when I did do things right and generally getting attention.

I don't have many words of help other than maybe try to look at things from your DDs perspective, really praise her for what she does do right rather than highlighting what she is doing wrong all the time. Talk to school as well.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Feb-13 03:21:43

I would be very inclined to let her continue to use the blusher and mascara as she may need to establish a separate identity from her twin and maintain an image with friends, and talk to her at the same time about doing herself justice academically, being true to her talents, not letting herself down. A positive pep talk, not a harangue.

Appearance is an easy way to differentiate herself. It is also pretty harmless. Tell her she looks great and you think she is becoming a stellar young lady (or whatever you think would sound convincing). Make sure she knows you accept her interest in dabbling in all things sophisticated. It's not the end of the world. Try to engage her in a tone of cheerful friendliness in conversations on topics she is studying.

At the same time, make other elements of her social life dependent on good grades. If she wants to be out with friends once a week or whatever, that depends on not getting a detention or demerit for any infraction. Don't be tempted to involve anything to do with her personal appearance in the dealmaking. Allowing a bit of autonomy wrt personal appearance can give a girl confidence that she looks acceptable. In a perfect world this wouldn't matter to a girl of 12 or 13 but we do not live in a perfect world.

Also, try to get her to pack her schoolbag the night before. Don't let her off to bed without checking everything is packed.

Encourage her to cook one meal a night for the family or to get good at one dessert or cake she could bake regularly (the other twin should also do this). This has the effect of getting girls a bit more home and family focused at a time when the attractiveness of the outside world and its values can all get a bit much.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Feb-13 03:23:10

And she feels the love from the family, realises that she is a valued member of the family and that her contribution is appreciated. Cooking is a fairly level playing field.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Feb-13 03:27:42

Cooking also provides her with a chance to learn organisation.

Gunznroses Wed 06-Feb-13 07:36:01

IIjkk - your post's have really wiped the sleep from my eyes this morning shock

lljkk Wed 06-Feb-13 09:18:22

And being average is so very terrible, I guess.

TotallyBS Wed 06-Feb-13 10:00:45

I wouldn't say that being average is 'terrible'. However, I would be extremely disappointed if my DCs were average.

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 11:22:31

cream teas, it's fantastic that people who didn't do well at school can return to HE and come away with great results. Not all pupils who fail at school are incapable - many are bright. But that doesn't mean it's OK to fail at school. I bet most of your mature students wish they'd worked harder at school, so they could have had those qualifications from their teens onward.

The OP's DD has dropped a level. She's uncomfortable being classed as a geek. That, to me, suggests survivor mentality. It's more important to her that she gets on with her peers than that she gets on with her work. A truly confident child does both.

If a child drops a whole level in Yr7, something's not right. That's nothing to do with being average, it's to do with making the best of your time at school. Erebus said it perfectly. It's about choice.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, can you instil in her the idea of personal best? She's not in competition with her twin. She's only ever up against her own previous best result. Does she want to maintain it? Increase it? Expand it? Develop it? Teens are narcissists. Make it all about her, no one else. And praise helps. I have a DS like this. Only saying positive things for a while works wonders on him.

annach Wed 06-Feb-13 11:25:42

mathsanxiety, I want you to be my mum!

Timetoask Wed 06-Feb-13 11:36:12

Would you contemplate the idea of changing her to a different school? It might achieve two things:
1- find a better peer group, as well as a place that is more strict on discipline
2- not in the shadow of her sister in the same school

Faxthatpam Wed 06-Feb-13 12:12:27

I've had all this with my now Y9 DS3. He is bright but decided he had to be the class clown in Y7 to gain a decent place in the social order. This continued into Y8 and we had to really scare him into thinking we were going to send him to a different school. I left pages up on the computer for him to find etc. We had a serious talk with him about the importance of doing well at school etc and luckily he improved enough to stay in the top sets. For this good behaviour we rewarded him regularly.

He still feels the need to be the funny one in some lessons, and says if he wasn't funny he wouldn't be popular! I understand this - it's all a fitting in issue. We didn't have this so much with his brothers as the hierarchy was just not such a big issue in their year groups/friendship groups... we did have "lazy boy doing the bare minimum" syndrome though which is another incredibly frustrating situation! He will always be like this I suspect, at least while he is finding his way in the world. But I am now pretty sure he WANTS to do well, go to Uni etc, and that is now beginning to drive him more than being popular or at least enough to make him realise he can do both, they are not mutually exclusive.

All you can do is keep driving home the importance of school and that it will give her choices in life and make things easier later on. She has to make the decisions herself in the end, all you can do is try and guide her towards the right ones. Mathsanxiety's strategies are very sensible ones and I would listen to her advice. Good luck!

sandyballs Wed 06-Feb-13 13:12:43

Many thanks for all your further replies, you all talk a lot of sense. Sometimes as a parent you can't see the wood for the trees so it's good to get a different perspective on things.

Since DD got home last night I have gone into praise overdrive! She came home on a high having achieved three merits and no detentions and I made a huge thing out of this. Emphasised how clever she was, how well she is doing, how she belongs in the top sets and it would be such a shame to be moved from those due to lack of application, rather than lack of ability, and she agreed saying she would be upset if that happened and needs to put more into it. All this seemd much more effective than nagging, threatening and removing phone, etc.

She had an orthodontist appointment this morning and instead of taking her straight back to school the two of us went to Starbucks for a hot chocolate and a cake and it was lovely, she was chatty about school and great company. Made me remember how I always used to take time to take my girls out individually and that hasn't happend for a long time sad. Also made me realise how demanding of my attention my other DD is!! She is very affectionate, more naturally so than the DD who is worrying me, so is always draped over me watching tv, wanting to chat etc. So I do need to keep this in mind and make sure DD2 gets equal time even though she doesn't seek it s much.

Phew another essay grin. Not sure I'm ready for this stage of parenting, makes potty training twins look easy! But I'm sure I'm looking back with rose tinted spes!

gabrielemerson Wed 06-Feb-13 13:32:05

Hi, just wanted to say that you could be describing my DD!

She would have burst out crying if she' d been told off at primary. Now she sees it as something to be proud of! She would frown at anyone messing around at primary, now in year 7 she thinks it's hilarious and joins in.

For the first time ever, she has been told she needs to concentrate more.

I'm hoping she'll get it out of her system and get back to being her "normal" self. I did ask her why she is behaving differently at seconday school and she says that she is "a little bit cool" now whereas at primary she was seen as a bit of a nerd!

creamteas Wed 06-Feb-13 17:27:20

I bet most of your mature students wish they'd worked harder at school, so they could have had those qualifications from their teens onwards

Actually no, may of them have no regrets. It is much more common for them to believe that if they had not had their lives to date, they would not either appreciate or benefit from the degree they are studying now.

mathanxiety Thu 07-Feb-13 04:39:59

Your trip to Starbucks reminds me of my own post dentist trips with my mum to the cafe in Switzers in Dublin where she would buy me an enormous, sugary meringue that always ended up getting stuck all over my braces.

smile <---- with mouth firmly shut

lljkk Fri 08-Feb-13 17:41:39

Terry Leahy describes spending most of his school years being the class clown. And somewhat unsupportive parents who couldn't understand why he didn't leave school at 16. He seems to have done alright.

BellaVita Fri 08-Feb-13 17:48:58

Sandy, I have a Ds2 in Yr8 that was class clown in primary and it has carried on into secondary. Silly behaviour and lack of homework is his signature dish...his whole world revolves around his social life.

I have Ds1 in Y11 who just gets on with things and has only ever had a couple of comments in his planner in the last 5 years for taking the wrong exercise book.

I feel your pain.

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