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How do I support ds and teacher?

(19 Posts)
inthename Sat 08-Feb-14 08:07:36

Posted before - yr 7 ds in prep school moved down a set in maths.
Ds unhappy, bored, work too easy etc. Book full of praise, ticks and merits, no problem with work, teacher extending with higher level textbook which ds talks about and loves, hates the intial boring stuff.

I asked for an update

HOD wants to put him on a 'report', says hes unfocused, doesn't produce sufficient work, borderline disruptive. Things this report will make him work harder.

It doesn't seem to add up with the evidence on paper.

I have a meeting next week, concerned that what they think will motivate ds will make it worse but don't know how to communicate this without sounding like I'm not supporting them.
Ds still adament work too easy, pace way too slow, bored.

LadyMuck Sat 08-Feb-14 08:46:38

What has been happening in his other lessons? Any signs of him being unfocused or disruptive in those? Is he on track with making his CE offer?

WeAreDetective Sat 08-Feb-14 09:11:32

Perhaps if he could be persuaded that by completing all the work, getting it right and showing the teacher, whilst behaving perfectly, is the best way of getting him moved back up?

Also, you could try convincing him that the report can be used to show how well he can do this maths? A positive evidence thing.

senua Sat 08-Feb-14 09:26:58

I had a friend whose DS was very bright at Maths (ended up at Cambridge) and he used to complain about boredom in his lessons. His mum gave him short shrift. In a nutshell, she said that since the boredom was his emotion, he was the only one who could sort the problem. If the teacher/lesson was boring then he should use his brain to amuse himself. Invent some mathematical mind-games.

what they think will motivate ds will make it worse
Tough. They are in charge, it's their school, they make the rules. It's part of growing up to realise this.

Teenagers need to learn about actions and consequences. They find the concept very difficult to grasp. Talk to DS: ask him what outcome he would like then ask him what does he think he needs to do to get there. Drill it in to him: Actions -> Consequences.

balia Sat 08-Feb-14 09:47:05

Why was he moved down in the first place, if the work is so easy for him? confused

inthename Sun 09-Feb-14 11:09:01

Ladymuck - nope, no sign in other lessons, unfortunately no conditional offer yet (school registered for have 'entrance test' in January 2015) but on track for CE (apart from maths!)

Weare - will try, hes a bit caught up in a 'this lesson is boring' cycle as the teacher does a lot of explaining (its the second
set of 2 so much slower pace)

Senua - thanks, will try this, teacher believes he has to take responsibility for his own focus etc, so that would also support her.

Balia - he was moved down as set one of the two seemed to be moving too fast, however set two is moving too slow, but hes switching off rather than using that as an incentive to get back up to the other group.

Thanks for all your advice

happygardening Sun 09-Feb-14 13:11:16

Unfortately the last two years of a 13+ prep are often taken up with preparation for CE. So there is going to be a lot of repitition and covering old ground to ensure that the children are adequately PREPared. This ultimately is what parents are paying for. For children who are struggling in any subject this if obviously going to be intensified.
Your DS must also feel a bit demoralised he hasn't got a "conditional offer" and probably lots of his peers have, he's been moved down a set and I understand from another thread that you said he failed the pre test for Reeds. Would you be skipping into school if you were him?
Children go through bad patches it's normal, he and you need to persevere support the school and the idea of being on "report" tell him frankly that he needs to up his game and then he too will get an offer, achieve the required mark in their entrance exam and even be moved back up in math The next four terms go very fast, before you know it he'll be sitting CE or what ever, your DS can't afford to muck around.

LadyMuck Sun 09-Feb-14 18:48:08

So is he in set 1 for other subjects but just not for maths? If he doesn't have an offer yet is there a risk that he won't in fact be sitting CE?

A meeting with the school sounds hopeful. It is definitely worth putting the child and the lessons under the spotlight for a few weeks, so I can't see that there is any harm with what the school proposes provided there is a subsequent meeting 2 or 3 weeks later (definitely this term, because you only have 2 more terms before the entrance tests). Are they recommending the school that he will now be sitting for? And is there a back-up?

Is he doing the Galore Park Maths Book 2? And getting it all correct, including the extension at the end of each chapter?

summerends Sun 09-Feb-14 19:16:13

I agree with HG that his pride must have taken a bit of a dent and that possibly he may be messing around in class to show his classmates that he finds the work too easy for him. This could well turn into a positive turning point for him, allowing him to realise that upping his effort and taking responsibility for his learning will allow him eventually to reach his potential.
I expect you and the school will reinforce that he has the ability to do the harder work and that you and the teachers believe he can but it requires some focused effort in class and at home and not expecting the teacher to spoon feed him.
With the right textbooks and attitude he can progress and practise through tougher material at home than he is covering in class and discover earlier than most what he can achieve with self directed learning.

inthename Mon 10-Feb-14 00:27:08

Thanks again, teacher is speaking to him tomorrow.
Ladymuck - hes in set 1 for all subjects apart from maths and classed as an accelerated learner. He was moved down in maths at the beginning of this term and was hoping to move back up after half term.
Teacher has said hes not messing about, but appears to be switching off and not getting the quantity of work done that they want in class. Bit bemused by this as he choses to do extra for homework as she sets him extension work for that. Its just trying to make him see that he has to plough through the easy stuff even when the teacher for example gives him 10 questions which he gets all correct and then gives him 10 more of the same before she will let him on to the extensionstuff. Currently he's day dreaming after the first 10 and starts doodling in his book, which I fully appreciate he can't do. I think its a shame that they've told him that they intend to use a report system thats normally reserved for pupils who are extremely disruptive in class as that gives it a lot of negative connotations, but I have told him hes going to have to get his backsidein gear if he wants the results.

inthename Mon 10-Feb-14 00:32:14

Lady - they are using So you want to do maths prep book 2 for homework, but book 1 in class, though she gave him book 2 last week after realising book 1 was too easy.

LadyMuck Mon 10-Feb-14 00:44:08

Book 2 is what they should be doing in year 7, book 1 is typically year 6. that might indicate that there is an enormous gap between set 1 and set 2 in this particular school.

Did you get to the bottom of why he didn't pass Reeds pre test? It was Reeds and RGS that he went for, wasn't it? I would have expected Reeds to be a safe enough backup for an RGS candidate to be honest. So there may well be an issue with his maths that doesn't need to be worked on.

inthename Mon 10-Feb-14 00:52:28

I'm still waiting for feedback on the Reeds one (current school very much focusing on their year 8's at the moment)
There is a huge difference between set 1 and set 2, with set 2 effectively being the middle and bottom sets combined. Teacher did split ds and 3 other boys off at one point which worked really well, but not sure they have the resources to do this all of the time. Think I'll order book 3 in that series and get him working through it.

LadyMuck Mon 10-Feb-14 09:03:41

I'm sorry but I think right now you need to step back and look at the big picture: your ds sat for RGS (aspirational) and Reeds (less selective, though still obviously selective) with your prep school supporting and got neither? I'm sorry but you don't sit and get fobbed off with "we're busy with year 8", you go and sit in the headmaster's study until he has made his phonecalls and you get an idea as to what went on. You should be sitting with scores by now, not this level of uncertainty, because as of now you have stepped outside of the state system and have no certainty of staying in the independent system... Is ds just sitting for one school next year, and do you know how competitive entry is at that level (I'm afraid that where I am the non pretest 13+ entry is still pretty competitive)?

Clearly there seems to be an issue with maths, if his book is giving all the evidence that the work is too easy (and if he is still doing year 6 work then it is). I certainly wouldn't push him onto book 3 though, not yet anyway as you may just confuse him more. But I think you need to start with being clear as to what went wrong in the pretest before trying to fix a different problem.

summerends Mon 10-Feb-14 14:44:40

If he is getting switched off by doing another set of 10 questions, suggest to him that he should try doing the second lot much faster (but obviously checking before he hands them in) as though he was pressed for time in an exam situation, that may make it a bit more interesting for him. Book 1 is quite basic but there is nothing wrong in getting his basics really strong so that they don't let him down in stressed exam situations when he may not be thinking so clearly. He can extend himself through book 2 with extra work at home. Has he revised the topics that let him down in the last school exam yet?

inthename Mon 10-Feb-14 15:18:57

They've only just started on the topics he failed previously, so hes passing it all as its at a very easy level compared to what he actually failed. Total catch 22, they won't move him back up without passing the easy stuff but hes completely demotivated and convincing himself they have no intention of moving him back up. All he keeps saying is lessons are boring as they are currently doing things hes already done to a higher level in the other group. He said yesterday that if he asks current teacher a question her reply is that he should already know it. Hes admitted that hes often too embarassed to ask questions.
He also seems to think that asking her if he can carry on working whilst she is explaining something to others again will be considered rude and she has threatened detentions for this.
He's really digging his heels in about doing work at home, hates work books, hates mymaths, can't see why he needs to do them. Very hung up on being moved down when another boy who is constantly disruptive and gets low marks (which the other teacher always read out to the whole class) got to stay in the top group.
Some of it is 'preteen' type talk, other bitsseem to be frustration at not being able to talk to the teacher (the usual 'theres no point, she won't listen anyway' excuse for not doing something!)
I'm close to giving up. I've told him to write everything down so that at least I might have an idea what blocks he's making himself and try and get the teacher/student relationship back on track, not by them doing what he wants but by giving him a clear plan of actions and what their expectations are because hes just winding himself in knots.

LadyMuck Mon 10-Feb-14 16:44:39

There are 2 different aspects here:-

a) will he cover all the maths he needs to know in time for the major exams he has next year (13+ then CE). You and he need to have comfort from the school and teacher that regardless of which set he is in, the work required will be covered.

b) whether or not you or your son agree with the setting decision, I cannot imagine any school will back down whilst your ds is throwing a strop. There is a hint in all of this that your ds believes that he is in the "wrong set", and whilst he lets that show I suspect the school will place more emphasis on training his character than actually worrying about his actual progression in maths. Once a child with potential has the right attitude towards learning they can catch up pretty quickly, but a decent school will try to stamp on poor attitude pretty quickly.

At the very least you are going to need to get a positive reference for your son from the prep school, so you have no choice but to play the role of "parent who fully supports school decisions" even if the teacher is obviously incompetent or unfair (and I'm not saying that you think they are), and the decision was the wrong one.

So I would go into a meeting with a fairly factual approach: what syllabus does he need to cover for his 13+ exams (I think somewhere such as Whitgift actually have a syllabus on their website for their 13+ which may or may not reflect what he'll face at the schools you're looking at), and how will he cover that. The GP books are good, but Book 1 is clearly not going to be at the level of 13+. I would then take in his exercise books and ask to see examples of what he should be producing. The amount of work and obvious care taken in homework can vary hugely across a group of boys, and it may well do your ds some good to see what the "competition" looks like. My own ds1 is bright but sloppy in presentation. He couldn't understand why his grades were worse than his friends even though his exam marks were better. A quick glance at exercise books was enough to show the differences!

I also wouldn't be making your ds's aim to be to move up a set. He really needs to show that he can be a positive addition to this class whilst he is in it. He's been in the other set and it didn't work out for him. It is far easier to ensure that the basics are covered well now, before he moves to senior schools, than finding in his GCSE years that he has significant issues in some areas.

happygardening Mon 10-Feb-14 17:02:32

My DS risks failing to get a clean sweep of A*'s in his GCSE's because he finds one subject "boring" so he does the bear minimum. I pointed out that we find going to work to pay the fees "boring" but we still do it, and that some aspects of my job are "boring" but as we need to eat, put a roof over our heads etc so I just get on with it. Your DS needs to grow up this is after the reality of life.

summerends Mon 10-Feb-14 20:01:59

Sounds as though he is adopting that typical teenager stance of dwelling on injustice but not wanting to put the effort in to change things around or take any responsibility. The school and teaching may not be the best but if you don't have any other option at this stage I agree with everybody else, you have to back them or their attempt to turn him round will have no chance. Hang on in there.

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