How can I help ds (year 8) improve his motivation/engagemen
t at school?
Ds is driving me bonkers wrt homework etc and I need some help/understanding/wise words!
He is in year 8 at an independent school (has been there since year 6). He did well enough in the entrance exams to have been awarded a large bursary (partly due to my low income but also awarded on basis of exam performance and 'potential'.)
The first year was ok but the last 12-18 months he seems to have lost all commitment and motivation. He has frequent detentions for homework not done and nothing I say seems to make any difference. His reports are getting steadily worse - the last one (whilst it did say that in many ways he was a model pupil!) was very clear that he was not anywhere near meeting expectations academically.
We had a long talk after that report, he seemed to take it all on board, but within the last week he has had two more detentions ('higher level' ones) because he's just not bothering. He lies to me about the homework he has, or does it badly, or does it and doesn't hand it in! His books are full of comments from his teachers 'where is your homework, see me' etc.
He's not unhappy at school - I have been very aware of this possibility but he goes off happily every morning, has plenty of friends, is involved in clubs and sports and drama etc. I work full time, long hours, and try to keep on top of it all, asking him every evening about work etc, asking to see his books and so on but I would like to be able to trust him to get on with it!
I have always been very clear with him that I don't expect him to be top of the class but I do absolutely expect him to do the work he is set to the best of his ability and on time! But he just doesn't seem to be able to do it, and I am increasingly frustrated and worried. I know he is only year 8 but I feel he is getting into such bad habits that will be harder and harder to break and that he will get to GCSEs and it will be too late.
(He is on a bursary and part of me is also worrying that the school will remove that and he will have to leave, which I really don't think would help the situation. I think this is very rare but it's in the back of my mind.)
I want him to enjoy school but I also want him to make a bit of bloody effort and not waste his chances. How do I help him?
You haven't mentioned any sanctions at home. School teachers can only issue detentions and some kids really don't care about them. Parents can do stuff that kids actually mind about like confiscate their Xbox or phone if they keep getting into trouble.
I would suggest that you back up the school with sanctions of your own. He isn't doing his school work and he is lying to you, both unacceptable.
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