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English parents evening-boys

(16 Posts)
IamactuallytherealJeff Fri 04-Dec-15 14:35:30

A couple of weeks ago I had year 9 parents evening for my son and the English teacher told him directly that he is a bright boy was never going to be the best English student. This is having only known him since September. I emailed the teacher directly and asked if I could have some information so I could help him myself and she emailed back saying do not worry and she is going to teach him some strategies.

Without taking this personally, since this is (or was) my area of interest, I was concerned...particularly upset that she said he would be lucky to get the equivalent of a C but most concerned she's reinforced his own idea that he is rubbish at English.

The rest of his subjects he is predicted As or Bs, he is a good, conscientious boy and I really do not want him to fail English.

How can I help him PLEASE. I have a combined English degree to start with so I should know how to help him sad sad

What are his strengths and weaknesses in English? Does he enjoy reading? Does he struggle with getting meaning from text? (I would assume if he doing OK in history then this wouldn't be a major weakness)
Is it the more creative tasks he struggles with?

IamactuallytherealJeff Fri 04-Dec-15 16:30:05

He doesn't enjoy reading and reads well but slowly, and struggles with comprehension, and yes the more creative tasks where you have to look for deeper meaning, he just can't get it . I don't know if he just isn't interested! He would never see the point of reading for pleasure.

Maths, Geography are his favourites. History he loves.

Can he hold an interesting conversation with you? If you were to ask him to tell you a story or summarise what you said could he do it? Can he do the same in writing i.e. write a story or summarise a piece of text?

If there is a noticiable difference between his verbal skills and reading/writing skills then it may be something more than him not being good at English. Have the school assessed him for a Specific Learning Difficulty?

If he is reading slowly, then he may be losing some of the meaning because the physical act of reading is taking a lot of effort and getting in the way of comprehension. (A bit like when you start driving and trying to manage all the controls and watch the road is really difficult)

Both of my DC have SpLD (Dyslexia / Dysgraphia).
Here are few things that have helped:-
Audiobooks (there are some on YouTube too) to widen exposure to fiction

Using the 5 W questions (Who, What, Why, Where, When) - it gives them a way in to analysing e.g. who is saying this? why are they saying it?

Practicing writing essay plans for random titles I give them

If they are tired I will read or even scribe for them.

Hopefully, some others will have ideas too.

IamactuallytherealJeff Fri 04-Dec-15 17:25:34

Thank you so much for the advice, I really do appreciate it!

You have made me realise I need to pull my finger out when it comes to helping him. I just want him to pass English as it is so important.

I don't think it is a specific learning need...his conversation is limited, I could drive for an hour with him and he would not speak, if I ask him what he is thinking about it is 'nothing'...give him statistics, graphs, models of atoms, he is outstanding.

I feel like I have failed him sad without wanting to sound dramatic. He has got to age 14 and he isn't balanced. And then on the other hand I think why should I try and make him into me...my Dh is the same, I can read things instantly and quickly but if I show him something is seems to take HOURS shock

At 14 "nothing" might mean "nothing I want to share with my mum" wink

A lot of people aren't balanced in their skills and you haven't failed him. Perhaps get him reading things about topics he is interested in. DS1 loves planes and will happily read the Haynes Manual for a 747. Would he read about scientists or explorers? Maybe science fiction?

AgnesDiPesto Fri 04-Dec-15 23:21:42

I have one academic but shy DS who doesn't talk much but is good at english - and one autistic DS - so i now know loads about all kinds of SEN issues I didn't before

It would be worth ruling out if he has problems with higher language skills / reading

many kids with asperger traits are very good at maths / rote learning / topics of interest but struggle with more complex language skills like inference, comprehension, imagination

Often their IQ is really high but this is just a weakness

getting a private speech therapist to assess his language / reasoning / inference skills etc is not expensive (be about £120-150) and can show up if there is a big difference between skill areas. Or you could ask the school to get an ed psych to do some tests - these can show up a big difference between for e.g. non verbal and verbal IQ scores. You can pay a private EP too

Depends how worried you are

Is he very literal? Does he get jokes? These may show up if language issues.

Few children are all rounders though

PerspicaciaTick Fri 04-Dec-15 23:27:18

Does he enjoy reading about History, Geography or Maths (or more particularly the history of geography and maths). Does he read things like Bill Bryson's A Brief History of Everything? Or books like Longitude by Dava Sobel.

I'm just wondering if he can find books, any books, which engage his passions then he might develop reading skills, stamina, appreciation and enjoyment which he can transfer to fiction and his own writing.

IguanaTail Sat 05-Dec-15 01:30:36

Just because you have a love and natural aptitude for English does not mean either that he will or that it will be something that hinders him. Most kids have a leaning towards something. He's lucky he's outstanding in other areas.

For reluctant readers, Robert Muchamore has said fantastic series of books that I managed to hook some 14 year olds into ('The Recruit' etc)

Another thing you could perhaps get him to do is to plot tension on a graph for different chapters and write the page number where it shows the evidence.

IguanaTail Sat 05-Dec-15 01:30:55

*has a

BackforGood Sat 05-Dec-15 22:39:12

What did the teachers of other 'essay based' and 'getting information from a text' subjects say - such as history or RE ?

Seems odd to struggle so much with English yet be doing so very well in either of those.

popuptent Sun 06-Dec-15 06:58:06

I have a dyslexic reluctant reader who loves reading manga and graphic novels. He has even read manga novels that don't have pictures.

Scarydinosaurs Sun 06-Dec-15 07:07:23

Will he read historical novels? Or non-fiction on areas of history he finds interesting?

IndridCold Sun 06-Dec-15 16:56:03

I know it's not the same, but DS really, really struggled with maths. DH and I are both good at maths, and tried really hard to help, but he had his teachers in despair because they didn't know how to convey stuff to him in a way he could understand, and homework sessions usually ended up with all of us as nervous wrecks.
A few years of good teaching and he now has an A* maths GCSE!

In your OP the teacher has said that she has some strategems to help him, I would ask her how best you can back these up at home, and just keep gently plugging away.

IamactuallytherealJeff Sun 06-Dec-15 18:05:59

Thank you so much to everyone that has taken time to reply!

In answer to questions, he just doesn't enjoy reading so wouldn't choose to read at home. He has the best sense of humour and 'gets' the most subtle of jokes.

When he does talk, he is pretty articulate.

I think the above poster had hit the nail in the head, he needs good teaching and a little extra help or some incentives...I think his confidence is zero so when it comes to tests he panics. He IS literate but he just doesn't see the logic in the English tests.

I need to email the teacher and ask for help him jump through the correct hoops. I think the teachers are confused at the moment with the changes to the curriculum and how assessment is made up...

Scarydinosaurs Mon 07-Dec-15 19:20:21

No one said above that he needs good teaching?

It is very patronising of you to suggest the teachers are just confused about the new system- what on earth has that got to do with your son struggling to do well on the existing set of tests that they're using to test his ability?

It isn't enough to say 'he won't read at home'. If you want to succeed in English (as in, get above a C) then there is an expectation that you read for pleasure and read a range of literature.

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