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Tell me about your bright, able but can't be arsed DC's

(61 Posts)
sandyballs Tue 12-Nov-13 11:52:52

I've posted on here before about 12 year old DD (Year 8). Thankfully her behaviour has improved since those posts but she still is still under performing in most lessons.

Feedback from teachers say that she's bright and able and when she sets her mind to it she can create some fantastic work ..... but she can't be bothered most of the time.

I've tried calm chats about the future, about how she will be doing exams in just three years, which prob sounds a life time away for her, but it really isn't. I've tried being cross and punishing. She just doesn't care.

She's a lovely girl, funny, kind, lots of friends, is involved with guides and lots of sport, but how can I get her to buckle down at school. It's the same with homework - at the weekend she had to do a PSCHE article on the history of alcohol, when I eventually managed to get her to sit down and do it she spent about two minutes cutting and pasting from google, producing a piece of work which very obviously wasn't her own.

When I look back at primary school she had a great thirst for knowledge and loved reading, homework, learning ........... I'm sad this has vanished and I'm worried about her future. If she was struggling at school but did her best I'd find it far easier than being capable but not bothering.

Any ideas/experience?

Bonsoir Wed 13-Nov-13 14:47:47

I think that striking the balance between showing convincing belief in your DC's ability and encouraging them to work hard to achieve their full potential is a hard act. There is, IMO, no recipe as different DC have different buttons.

lljkk Wed 13-Nov-13 19:21:02

<Slipping in thru the side door to take a seat in the back row.>

wordfactory Wed 13-Nov-13 20:53:26

talkin that's one of the reasons I really wanted DS to attend a super selective school.

I wanted him to be somewhere where he's not seen as terribly clever. Just one of many. There will be no pat on the back for an A* because everyone will get an A*.

Instead the work handed out is routinely challenging. No one is expected to find it easy or be able to do it all. Effort is required and celebrated.

Talkinpeace Wed 13-Nov-13 21:04:08

But DD has achieved what you wanted in her comp.

I sat at parents evening scanning the predicted grades (an old left hander auditor trick - reading through face down paper) and the whole of her sets are targeted A / A* in all 11 subjects

the real praise will come when they get A* in their weakest, non A level subjects

and then when they excel at the 6th form college up against 1700 other pupils, many of whom have come from selective private schools

and then when they get unconditionals to the uni of their choice.

What has mahoosively changed since I was a kid is that schools (even my local manky comp) value bright kids so do not tolerate bullying of them

on the other hand, schools are now better at picking out "coasters"

remember that I went to a posh crammer in London to retake my As with representatives of every single high profile school in the country (and some from abroad like Geelong) and we'd all been predicted good grades when we should not.

wordfactory Wed 13-Nov-13 21:29:29

DD does very well at her non selective (ish).

But she is just averagely bright. To get a good raft of A*s she will need to work hard anyway. If she coasts she might not. So she won't.

DS is brighter than that. GCSEs just aren't enough of a challenge so in a different environment he could easily coast and like everyone says, come very unstuck having never developed a taste for hard work.

Where he is, he aint all that grin. He's not unusual in any way. He's not allowed to coast.

notagiraffe Wed 13-Nov-13 23:33:18

Talkinpeace, your local comp can't be that manky if your DC is sitting 11 GCSEs and predicted 11 As or A*. Many schools don't even sit that many. That's demanding super-selective levels of commitment from both pupils and teachers. Pretty impressive (if daunting).

Willemdefoeismine Thu 14-Nov-13 11:43:14

Wordfactory just to say that attending a super-selective won't necessarily make a difference to your DS! Mine is at one and he's still lazylaidback...

I find it very frustrating because I'm naturally less clever but worked really really hard....It is incredibly difficult to know quite how to motivate a child.....

Alexandrite Thu 14-Nov-13 11:47:12

I was the same at school. I managed to wing it with O levels and got good grades, but it didn't work so well for A levels. Did pull my socks up for my degree

Catsrus Thu 14-Nov-13 17:03:52

Let them fail. Seriously. No exam they take now is the end of the story. They might end up being a few yrs behind their peers in going to Uni etc but if they choose to work and get there it will be their achievement.

It's not like it used to be, they don't have to be on the academic treadmill and have one clear career trajectory. Failure - particularly for a bright teenager, can be very motivating grin in the end we can't do it for them - just provide the opportunities.

out2lunch Thu 14-Nov-13 17:19:22

i could have written most of these posts.
all you can do is support,chat,nag whatever until they realise it themselves and sort it.with different children it will be different ages.ds coasted all through juniors and secondary.did ok at gcses ok at a levels (maybe a last minute surge of something...?) and is now studying at uni but picked imo a fairly easy option at a non demanding uni.but hey ho he is happy.the turning point for him which has happened fairly recently is meeting a lovely girl who is extremely motivated and has sorted him out with a part time job.

Talkinpeace Thu 14-Nov-13 17:56:22

notagiraffe My kids are not at the local comp, they are at the leafier one just up the road that gets lots of kids into good universities.

That is true. The DD of a friend had to drop out of college for medical reasons. She's decided to do modelling for a couple of years and then go back and do her A levels when she feels like it and her health is secure.

wordfactory Fri 15-Nov-13 07:51:05

willem I agree that putting a clever DC in a superselective might not have the effect you want (laziness will out) but it seemed to me worth the shot.

Bonsoir Fri 15-Nov-13 08:32:06

wordfactory - I think you took exactly the right course of action with your DS. Obviously there are no guarantees. You took the course of action most likely to result in a favourable outcome.

Panadbois Fri 15-Nov-13 08:45:34

I could murder my bright DS this week. It started when he refused to come with me to the parents evening tuesday and it has escalated. Now I'm not talking to him I'm very grown up

The xbox has been hidden and the cables for his computer have been removed since last night. I have been waiting for an apology since 8.30 yesterday morning, his response was "I'm not ready to apologise yet" (this was for a temper tantrum involving school - which included throwing recycling bins/house keys )

He's 15 hmm

BerstieSpotts Fri 15-Nov-13 08:52:07

I had this problem at school. I never really sorted it out and still struggle with motivation, self discipline, organisation etc.

I agree that it's the case that being "bright" can be a disadvantage later because they get used to coasting and then when you actually have to put some work in, it's a massive shock.

I'm sorry I can't tell you how to fix it, though. If you find out, please tell me grin

lainiekazan Fri 15-Nov-13 12:59:48

Glove punch of solidarity to Panadbois grin

Ds is doing his GCSEs. Last night he spent two hours playing the guitar. He just doesn't get it. He has always been top through primary school and secondary school but seems confused by the concept of trying .

Actually he is a chip off the old block. I went to a superselective grammar school (well, they weren't called that in t'olden days) and was in the top sets for all subjects and came top in most exams in the first couple of years. I did not distinguish myself after that. For a start I believed people when they said, "Oh, I didn't do a stroke of revision." (It was cool to not try.) And also I remember feeling that it was "cheating" to make an effort, as if you weren't really any good at a subject if you actually knuckled down and rote learned things.

To this day I feel weighed down by my inner sense of superiority concealed by an outer layer of failure confused .

Talkinpeace Fri 15-Nov-13 13:25:13

you have my total mental support too.

DD doing her first GCSE mock today.
I think DS is suddenly realising that he might have to start working next year (fingers crossed)

notagiraffe Fri 15-Nov-13 17:06:59

To this day I feel weighed down by my inner sense of superiority concealed by an outer layer of failure

This made me laugh. I know exactly what you mean!

SirChenjin Fri 15-Nov-13 17:15:32

I have one - he's currently upstairs not revising for his Highers, but tomorrow I will make him with the threat of no night out with his pals if he doesn't.

He has been the epitome of bright-but-lazy over the years, but it did seem to change in the lead up to his Standard Grades (as my friend who is a teacher promised me it would) and he seems to be much more focused on getting into university. Some of them seem to need the looming exams to actually get their fingers out and work - some of them will remain lazy buggers all their lives, of course, and some will never be academic or want to go down the academic route, but there does come a point when you have to say "it's your life, I cannot make you study*. They have to want to do it for themselves.

Panadbois Fri 15-Nov-13 18:03:11

I appreciate the support smile

I have had my apology. He is now waiting for my acceptance of that apology grin

I told the teachers at the parents evening 'You can take a horse to water...'
He has support and encouragement. He has love and kisses (when wanted never) He has good food, clean clothes, safe place to live and sleep. Quiet place to work and study. the rest as you say is up to him.

I worry about his future hmm

sandyballs Sat 16-Nov-13 11:24:41

Really interesting to read your posts and it has made me realised that there is only so much we can do for her. Something has to click with her and make her want to study. So frustrating though. We got her 'assessment of student progress' scores yesterday and she's under achieving in almost everything. And Lots of 3s and 4s for effort - 3 meaning requires improvement and 4 is poor. What a waste sad.

Maths she got a 5a, she left primary school with that level so she's achieved nothing in 18 months. Same with English, 5b and science 5a. Her end of year target for English is 7c, maths 6a and science 6a.

BerstieSpotts Sat 16-Nov-13 13:56:23

The only thing I can think of is this, and it might or might not be helpful (bit of a stream of consciousness) so I'm just going to throw it out there. Coming from a person who was like this at school, and has struggled with further education and (at times) everyday life but now has a job, which I love, and put a lot of effort into, even though I can at times get away with not putting the effort in.

Okay, firstly, there must be something, somewhere in her life that she enjoys and puts effort into. Maybe it's not traditionally academic, maybe it's not academic at all, or perhaps it's something that seems very trivial and a waste of time, for example a computer game. It might help if you can quietly encourage this interest, so that she can experience that sense of what you can get out of something when you put time and energy into it. If it's something you can link to school, like a sport or art/drama/music/writing etc that she could join a club for, then that might help her form a more positive impression of some of her teachers or a new appreciation for a subject. It might also make her feel like there is more value in school work if she can link it to something she enjoys or is interested in. Obviously don't encourage it SO much that she doesn't end up with any time for homework, though.

Secondly, I think part of my "can't be bothered" is a huge tendency to get distracted and generally not focus. Even as an adult, I have to compartmentalise massively or I don't get anything done. I can't work at home (never have been able to) and work I do at home is not as good as work I do elsewhere, mainly because I will spend hours procrastinating before I even start. confused When I was at college/uni I used to go and work in the college library, and now I have a job that I need to spend extra time preparing for, I do this by going to my place of work and doing it there. If I do have to do it at home then I go into a totally different room than the one I usually relax/spend time in. (and still I end up on mumsnet/facebook for about an hour before I make a start) So for this reason I wonder if it would help to look at a homework club at school for her to help her separate out work time and home time?

Labro Sat 16-Nov-13 17:18:37

Ds is one. Coasted through primary age range, now yr 7, got a massive kick up the backside recently as maths has suddenly become 'difficult' Am seriously considering booking him into prep club on the evening he has maths to do!

breadandbutterfly Sun 17-Nov-13 00:18:52

I was a bit like this in that everything was v easy up to O Level - no need to work at all. At A Level it was harder but I coped. It was at uni where I came unstuck my first year and ended up with a third - a v helpful tutor rescued me by explaining that getting a good degree was just about putting in the hours, like in a job - he said if I put in 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, like a (not very demanding) job, I'd get a 2:1. And he was right. (Oxbridge)

I had previously imagined that working hard meant working really HARD, all the time, so procrastinated lots. Actually, kids need to be told early on it's not about exhausting yourself, it's just about keeping on top of things, with regular, organised work. Not last-minute, exhausting panics.

Wish someone had taught me that when I was much younger - would have saved me lots of stress.

It's the message I try to get across to my dcs now. No need to knacker yourself or stress. Just stay on top of things. Much nicer way to live.

breadandbutterfly Sun 17-Nov-13 00:20:40

And stay on top of stuff from the start - it's always much, much harder to catch up once you've got behind.

This is where parents can help, by ensuring dcs don't drop behind initially in subjects they find harder.

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