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Criticism Over Helping DS With Homework...Views Please

(57 Posts)
GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 08:57:15

Parent's evening is coming up and I have to have an uncomfortable conversation with my DS's (Y7) Design Tech. teacher (new to me). Wondering the best way to go about it...

My DS is very bright and is easily clear of academic targets set in all other subjects. I am teacher-qualified and support when needed with homework (as I believe DS has problems with his working memory, concentration, processing of information and organizing longer tasks). I try to minimise my input where I can see he is 'on a roll'.

His tech. grade was two sub-levels below the Y7 minimum target. Assessment was based on a 'Sock Monkey' project over a number of weeks. During this time he came home with very little work to show after each session, little idea of what he had to do/purpose, poor quality samples and so forth. He struggled to talk about what he had learnt in class. I was asking questions about how much attention he was getting and if others were as far behind. There was no feedback from the teacher saying he was struggling.

Half term came and the kids were tasked with finishing their monkeys and also a booklet about the design process. He had so much work to do, but got on with it solidly for the whole week. I also gave him mini inputs along the way; but nothing extraordinary.

Because there was some input from me - his finished product was better than most of his class mates. The teacher sent home a verbal message (via DS - not directly to me) 'Thank you for helping - but your son has to do projects himself'. I sent in a note explaining exactly what I had done and what he had. I would estimate 6-7 eighths was him.

I anticipated that the finished product would have got a level 6. Instead; it got a 4b. I am not sure whether the teacher has marked him down for having support.

This was then followed up by the same teacher going into another class and saying that there was no need for most of the class to see her on parent's evening if they got o.k. marks but (J....) and (my son's name) would have to make an appointment for underachieving'. My son was humiliated.

So what would you say at Parent's evening if this was your DC?

isitsnowingyet Fri 28-Nov-14 09:03:05

Mmm - awkward. I'm rubbish at projects like that, often my DC are better, so for me it wouldn't be a problem as I wouldn't have done it in the first place. <not helpful>

Maybe the teacher feels your DS needs to pull his own socks up.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Fri 28-Nov-14 09:20:20

I'd complain. To the head, not to the teacher. No child should be humiliated like that. I'd also ask to speak to the SENCO, it sounds like your DS might have SpLDs, possibly dyspraxia (I'm dyspraxic as are both my DDs). If your DS is academic and above target in all his other subjects then DT doesn't matter one jot - he won't be doing DT GCSE. It's possible the teacher thinks he is a bright kid who doesn't care about the subject, I expect that happens a fair bit. It's also possible the teacher is an insensitive arse. But humiliating a child is never on.

GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 09:56:59

Can I ask Rabbit what makes you think it could possibly be dyspraxia? I have been doing my own homework (lol) lately to see if there is something that he might need assessing for. I think he has slipped through the gaps because he is very bright and making progress. He is progressing well because of the joint effort at school and at home. If it was just left to school I think he would struggle. He was on a school action programme a few years ago for his balance and coordination but I don't think they did any formal assessments.

Its difficult because he does not seem to fit the typical presentation for most learning challenges - but I also know that he thinks differently and processes information differently to his friends.

Seeline Fri 28-Nov-14 10:03:23

I think you need to start by asking if the teacher can explain the 4b grade, and how your DS can improve on that next time. If there are specific issues that come out of that, tehn you will need to see if there are ways your DS can be supported further.
The project itself may not have counted for much of the final mark, with more emphasis on the terms work. If your DS has been struggling with this, then the lower grade is explained.
How much time should he have spent on the project - what is the homework allocation? I would have allowed my Ds to do as much as he could in the time allowed, with perhaps a little extra to round things off and then sent in a note explaining this to the teacher.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Fri 28-Nov-14 10:09:17

Everything you've written, really! Being very very bright but having working memory issues, organisation problems, concentration (it's not so much the ability to concentrate per se but the easily being thrown off by additional stimuli that can be a dyspraxic trait, also getting flustered), balance and coordination issues are another classic thing.

GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 10:27:52

Thank you for those ideas Seeline. Yes I was going to start with her explanation of the grade given. If its justifiable after I have suggested what happened at home then fair enough! I am hoping that she is open what we also have to say. The project was all that they did over lessons during term. Basic skills in sessions then onto their creations. The project seemed either very open-ended - or we just did not receive info on the amount of time to allocate -just an end date to present product by and marking criteria (which is how I came up with the level 6).

Yes Rabbit that does sound a bit like DS. What support do you offer your DDs with homework? Would you say it is more intensive than that of their class mates?

PeaStalks Fri 28-Nov-14 10:39:42

My DS is very bright and is easily clear of academic targets set in all other subjects
Not all DC are creative or practical. Your DS is doing well in everything else and I think you should leave him alone in his one. Let him fail or habd in poorly completed work. You do him no favours in helping as you have discovered.
I have two very able DC, now much older. Both were terrible at Art / DT subjects. We just made it a family joke. I will never forget the sewing trauma of Y8

Hakluyt Fri 28-Nov-14 10:45:12

How soon can he drop DT?

Why does it matter so much to you that he does well in it? Sorry, that sounds snippy- I don't mean it to. But I well remember ds and Art. Not his subject, to say the least, but he struggled through- ending year 8 about 6 sub levels lower than in anything else. It has had no consequences for him at all.

basildonbond Fri 28-Nov-14 10:50:18

to be honest I'd leave him to it - explain to the teacher about his difficulties, maybe have a chat to the SENCO too so he/she is on board, but there is no point helping him at all with homework, other than providing time and space in which to do it (and a supportive snack if he's flagging wink)

ds2 is very dyspraxic - he's absolutely delighted now he's in Y10 as he's been able to drop DT, art and music - all of which were absolute torture for him - and the non-sporty children only have one PE lesson a week which is now fun as opposed to deadly serious

I'd be amazed if your ds took DT any further than he has to ... it's not worth getting upset about

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Fri 28-Nov-14 10:52:41

Actually, I don't offer them any support with homework at all. They have to devise their own coping strategies. But I've been very proactive with the various SENCOs at the school and their subject teachers to get them to understand dyspraxia and appreciate where the girls need support (eg partners for science experiments, large print graph paper, that sort of thing. Not taking the piss when they can't draw a line with a ruler). DD1 is in Y12, DD2 is in Y7. Neither of them ever had any trouble with DT because everyone knew/knows they were just there because they had/have to be. They did their best (both v 'good' girls) but it was always going to be a bit crap and nobody cared/cares so long as they weren't arsing about (they never did/do) and so long as they were kept safe (no tools etc - not just for their safety but everyone's safety). It wasn't like they were going to do DT GCSE. They are/were normally paired up with capable people so they could still have ideas etc (usually very good ones) but didn't have to then see them crumble through lack of ability to, you know, be handy.

I suggest you get your DS evaluated to see what the issues really are. This will help you and the school to help him and it will probably make him feel better about things.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Fri 28-Nov-14 10:54:41

Hak I agree with you, these subjects don't matter unless you want to do them at GCSE. But teachers shouldn't go round humiliating kids. So I can understand why the OP is upset about that. DT really is worthless unless you want to pursue it for a career (and even then...).

Chasingsquirrels Fri 28-Nov-14 10:55:36

I'm not sure how much you should be helping or whether the mark was justified but I think the teacher naming and effectively shaming them in class for their standard of their achievement is dreadful (I'd have no problem if it was for their effort or lack of attention. but specifically for achievement - no way).
Surely this type of communication could and should be done directly to yourself (presumably via email?), not least because the teacher shouldn't be relying on the child to pass on a message which might not reflect well on that child.

PiratePanda Fri 28-Nov-14 10:58:16

It's design tech! Who cares?

I was really shit at PE, home economics and what we called shop (aka woodwork and metalwork). Like failing level of shit. I also had to go to remedial class for my handwriting for a whole year.

I now have four degrees and am a university lecturer at one of the UK's best institutions. It really really does not matter if your child is bad at design tech. Stop doing his homework for him.

IDK Fri 28-Nov-14 11:20:22

It really really does not matter if your child is bad at design tech.

It does if it is indicative of other things!
OP you sound a little like me two years ago. I came on MN muttering about my cack-handed DS and what I could do about his awful handwriting. It snowballed into realising that the problem lay much deeper than that and we ended up getting a statement for SpLD (dyspraxia).
If I had realised earlier then I think that his GCSEs and ASs could all have been a grade higher. Thank goodness we got it sorted for A2s.

Itscoldouthere Fri 28-Nov-14 11:21:35

I agree with Panda, don't help him and if he's not suited/ not very good at DT let him fail, it may help him to appreciate that most people aren't brilliant at everything and make him feel good about what he is good at.

The teacher will be looking to see that he tries and doesn't just give up and get his mum to do it/help, there are always children who aren't good at art/DT/PE it's just part of life and I don't think you should be stressing about it, instead be thankful that he doesn't struggle in lots of subjects.

If he does have some type of difficulty you are concerned with then you really should speak to the SENCO.

TeenAndTween Fri 28-Nov-14 11:22:02

I believe DS has problems with his working memory, concentration, processing of information and organizing longer tasks

^^This can be one of the signs of dyspraxia. What are his general motor skills like? Also there is Executive Functioning Disorder? which seems to be a bit similar but maybe without the motor skills issues. Or he could be a y7 boy who's not very mature yet for things he's less interested in.

Can he structure essays?

If you believe your DS is trying his best then don't get too het up about DT levels, just support DS and the teacher, and say you felt he would learn more with some support from home than with none.

I am in the process of a dyspraxia assessment for my y11 DD. All tech subject homeworks needed help behind the scenes to produce anything looking better than Infant level. I still help a lot with discussing essay structures, helping revision, organising homework etc etc etc.

coppertop Fri 28-Nov-14 11:43:13

I think I would want to discuss what it was that made the difference to your DS' project. Was it because he had a clear plan of what he needed to do and when? Or was it help with the actual making of the sock monkey?

If it was the former then I would want to talk about the possibility of your ds receiving support with that for his next project. If it was the latter than I would leave him to get on with it.

Another point is that it may be the classroom environment that is making the difference. My ds (ASD and dyspraxic traits) often gets very good marks for his homework because he isn't distracted at home and can really concentrate. It probably looked suspicious that his homework scored 1-2 levels higher than his classwork but I hadn't helped him at all apart from nagging reminding him to get on with it.

GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 11:52:03

I realise that he may not be equally as good in all subjects - no issues there. But I received word from Primary school that he had a natural flair for the arts - which seems at odds with his current tech progress. We have decided to speak to another of his design teachers (resistant materials this time) to see whether he has had similar problems with that subject - before we see Sock Monkey Witch (lol).

Whilst I understand that he has to fail at some things (c'est la vie) it sits awkwardly with me. And I think that being a teacher compounds that.

Have sent e-mail to headteacher about the naming and shaming incident and awaiting response.

SunnyBaudelaire Fri 28-Nov-14 11:59:02

poor kid

GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 12:26:05

Yeah DS has a tendency to do better at home too Copper - with or without support. He talks about distractions in the classroom often - overlapping sounds, movement, behaviour from other children etc. He has a quiet room at home with minimal equipment in (he has a tendency to fidget/fiddle) which I help him start in; then I just visit at points to make sure he is still on task etc.

Hakluyt Fri 28-Nov-14 12:28:23

Natural flair for the arts is not even remotely relevant to the particular skills needed to be good at DT...........

GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 12:57:56

It is remotely relevant Hak - particularly when it comes to motivation for subject. But I also take your point that it also about how he learns and develops new physical skills. That could be a question I ask of the teacher specifically.

Hakluyt Fri 28-Nov-14 13:04:04

My ds has the artistic sensibilities of a teaspoon, but was very good indeed at DT- because he enjoyed the step by step to an end project type approach- it meant that for the first time in his life he could make something he was pleased with. It would have bored the pants of a properly arty person.

I honestly think you're over worrying. 4b is a more than OK grade for a new subject in year 7 - what is he getting in whatever MFL he's doing, for instance?

GirlInASwirl Fri 28-Nov-14 13:13:39

Just looking at his report now. Now this is very interesting. In MFL (German) he got a 4b too - but that is classified as the minimum target for him by the end of the year (his there now).

In Technology he also a 4b but is two sub levels behind the minimum target (5C and 4 behind his aspiration end of year target).

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