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I keep giving ds a hard time about school work and I want to chill out - help me!

(11 Posts)
paleviewofhills Mon 08-Dec-14 21:48:10

Ds is 11 and at secondary school. It's an independent school and he is there on a large bursary which is partly dependent on maintaining good grades etc. He started there in year 6 so has been there for one academic year already.

He is very bright and capable, but is showing signs of copying his mother's academic laziness grin. All his teachers tell me that he is capable of a very high standard of work but it appears he just can't be arsed. When he tries, he gets top marks and merits, but most of the time he does the bare minimum, and his work is often messy and half-hearted. His last report was full of praise for his ability but his effort marks have slipped and slipped.

I find myself getting wound up about this, and I think I need to chill out. I'm not sure it's helping either of us, with me banging on about effort and so on. I know he's still very young and this school is a huge change from his little primary. But at the same time I get so frustrated when I know he is being slapdash and not doing himself justice.

He seems to really enjoy school, has plenty of friends and seems to be well liked by the teachers - I don't think there are any issues there. But sometimes I feel as if I'm banging my head against a brick wall and we seem to go over the same ground again and again - making an effort, being neater, getting organised, handing in homework etc. it causes angst between the two of us and there are arguments (not big ones but me getting frustrated and a bit shouty sometimes, him huffing and puffing and rolling his eyes etc)

Is this normal? Is anyone else feeling like this? Am I doing the right thing by keeping tabs on all of this, or should I just back off a bit and let him find his own way? I'm beginning to see what my own parents went through with me... I want him to do his best but I don't want to alienate him!

earlychristmas Mon 08-Dec-14 22:11:35

hm, yes I'm like that,especially as it's not cheap... but I'm trying hard not to be. For the older one I have now managed to not get too involved. In the end his results are still good, but I think also he is a bit more mature now to realise the importance of hard work (still plays more on his PS4 than homework but hey ho)

paleviewofhills Tue 09-Dec-14 09:02:24

Thanks smile - so how did you manage to step back? I find it so hard to know where the line is between 'interested' and 'over invested'!

earlychristmas Tue 09-Dec-14 10:48:23

well, we ended up with major arguments and shouting matches, so I then decided to just NOT interfere at all. I will look at his workbooks when he is not at home. sometimes I have even left a note saying, sorry, suggesting, he looks at this or that again.
I will praise any good marks but that's it. He is in year 9 so a bit more organised.

With dc2 who is only in year 7 I need to be a bit more pushing, as she will forget to do her homework, forget to hand it in etc. But at least we don't have the big "slamming door" fights.

mychildrenarebarmy Tue 09-Dec-14 11:14:02

I realised I was in danger of becoming a hideous, over-bearing parent after my DD started secondary school in September. It all came from a good place, I want her to do well and she wants to do well. It was hard for her to get to grips with organising herself because before that she had always been home educated. As a result it has always been "We need to get ready for.... We need to go out now. We need to pack our bags for..."

I decided to do the same as earlychristmas and not interfere at all. But before stepping back completely I helped her make some lists. She has one that reminds her what she needs to do in the morning and one that reminds her what she needs to check her bag for. I do sometimes prompt her to pack her bag in the evening if she's tired. She also has a printed sheet on the wall that has space on it for each day of the month. On there she writes down what homework is due in on each date. She has a box that all of her books, equipment etc that aren't needed every day go in so she knows where to find them.

I have a look at her books when she isn't around because if I do it when she is there it is tempting to make suggestions/comments. I have reminded her that if she wants me to help I will, I also told her that if she thinks I need to butt out she should tell me!

PastSellByDate Tue 09-Dec-14 12:32:53

Hi PaleView:

DD1 (age 12, Y7) came from a primary with no homework to speak of and is now at a senior school in a different catchment with many feeder schools giving regular homework & research projects. As a result - she's had a very steep learning curve this term.

How to use search engines
Avoiding just copying Wikipedia word for word
How to summarise - in your own words
How to prioritise (i.e. don't do what you find interesting first if it's due last)
How to plan ahead (especially for projects assigned over several weeks)
How to juggle school work and after school activities
etc....

So my solutions have basically revolved around 3 things:

1) do homework first - before tv/ relaxing

2) if it is a busy evening (clubs/ dance/ etc...) work out what urgently has to be done & when you can fit it in (i.e. after breakfast/ before school/ during break/ etc...)

3) Don't do the bare minimum - think about what has impressed the teacher/ what more you might do. So for example - DD1 was assigned to learn about an element and knew it was used in certain things and rattled off a list but when I asked oh really X is used for that - how does that work? She clealry didn't understand precisely how the element was used- so she looked that up and added that in.

I have to be honest - this hasn't always gone smoothly and DD1 has shown me work and I've literally looked at it and said Really? The huge underlying problem is DD1 spells phonetically and often misses out letters (because of minor hearing issue). So getting her to learn to stop herself and check spelling (especially of new terms) has been a bit of a battlefield.

Her writing especially is full of crossed out words/ changed ideas - and I have a real problem persuading her to write a draft or plan and then copy it into her workbook.

I don't think I have it perfectly balanced - and certainly I don't totally leave DD1 to do her homework on her own - but she's largely left to it these days, just tends to discuss things at the outset to get her plan of attack clear and I can see that gradually my input will decrease to virtually nil - although I fear it will always include my food services.

happygardening Tue 09-Dec-14 12:59:12

My MIL made my exceedingly bright DH's life an absolute misery when he was at school she never stopped nagging him. He left home as soon as he was able and for over 10 years they barely spoke, even now their relationship is not very close.
Please don't create thins kind of rift between you and your DS you will be the one that looses out in the long term.

TalkinPeace Tue 09-Dec-14 13:17:32

Another one who has taken a conscious decision to let my kids fall or rise on their own results.
I check that the work has been done (signing the planner)
and if I see it on the printer looking half arsed I make them go back and think a bit more
but I do not get involved in the content.

I've already got my O Levels, A Levels and degree.
It will not help them if I do their work

By letting him stumble a bit in year 7, by Year 9 he'll have his arse in gear and by 6th form be pulling well ahead of those who have been cajoled and prodded

BUT
Picking up on what happygardening rightly says : when he does well, be PROUD and make him realise that you value him when he works hard that's the bit I utterly missed out on

paleviewofhills Tue 09-Dec-14 14:13:27

Thanks so much, some brilliant advice. I agree in principle with letting them rise or fall on their own work but it's tougher to put that into practice! And I definitely know that feeling of looking at the work books and thinking 'Seriously?!' - but I'm looking at it from my 40-year-old tertiary education pov I guess, not a year 7...

happygardening, you are absolutely right and thankfully we are nowhere near that stage yet but it's not one I ever want to reach (hence the thread). I do struggle with balancing praise with criticism - although I do let him know when I'm proud of him and have always prioritised effort over pure achievement iyswim. But I know I get bogged down in nagging about 'underline that, write more neatly, check your work, use full sentences' etc etc. He has this habit of finishing his lesson work halfway through a sentence and then starting again when he gets home - in a different pen. Drives me bonkers.

My own parents paid very little attention to what I actually did at school (and then pronounced themselves disappointed when I failed) so maybe I'm over compensating... I will make an effort to step back and maybe just praise the good stuff?

You have all been really helpful though so thanks again smile

steppemum Tue 09-Dec-14 14:56:04

I think it is hard for you because of the need to keep up the grades. I have no experience of that I am afraid.

Ds has started year 7, with lots of homework for the first time. We have a few ground rules, so uniform out and bag packed the night before. Homework done at a certain time, screens away at certain time.

But with homework, we help him organise when he does it, provide space and make sure that what needs to be handed in tomorrow is done. But I don't have any input into the content. In fact I haven't seen most of what he has written.

On the other hand he seems to be doing OK, he had a report at half term and he is on track.

We spend a lot of time telling him how well he is doing and how well he has coped with the new school and change etc.

notquiteruralbliss Wed 10-Dec-14 04:42:00

I generally keep out of it unless asked and would certainly never allow homework etc to become a source of tension. My DCs have always been pretty shocking at organisation, getting work in on time etc in year 7 but usually much better by GCSE, by which time they have dropped subjects they have zero interest in. But they need to find their own working style and their own way of negotiating with school over rules, deadlines etc. I do wade in if things are going really wrong, but only if DCs want me to.

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