Massive wobble in Y8-maths related(14 Posts)
DS had a massive wobble about maths, with tears and saying that he is rubbish at it. He is in a selective school, CLS, in the middle set and got the 5th lowest (out of 15) in his latest assessment. IMO he cannot cope with being average when he was easily top of the class in primary school. But if you put all top of the class together in a selective school you end up average. This sounds like not a problem at all but he is really stressed about it. I spoke with a maths tutor and apparently they are a year ahead compared to the national curriculum so it is difficult, but some boys just whizz through it. Most kids will end up with As at GCSE even the lower set, so I am not worried. I am not sure how to handle this. A maths tutor comes to mind but wouldn't that increase stress and pressure?
I wouldn't encourage the idea that he's not good enough with a maths tutor. This is the time to work on emotional resiliency. No one is top at everything so keep reminding him of this and that he's still likely to get an A which is wonderful (as long as he doesn't stress himself out).
Then have a frank talk about the nature of selective schools and that this is one of the down sides.
Maths is a strange subject in lots of ways. My son lurches from top of the class to bottom of the class in tests. He has really good years and then a really bad year. He seems very sensitive to different teachers and their very different ways of teaching (i.e. some explain something in a different way, yet others just say the same thing again - a bit like talking more slowly and loudly to a local when you're abroad!). Some teachers give them lots of questions to really hammer in the technique but other teachers just do a few examples and assume the kids can do it. Some things are just obvious to some and yet others just can't see it (like simplifying or solving equations).
Has he properly gone through his answers to see exactly where he went wrong? Is it now clear to him what his mistakes were? If he sat the same questions again, would he get them right next time? That's the first thing to work through.
A tutor probably isn't necessary. I'd say he just needs a bit more practice.
There's loads of resources on the internet. If there are particular areas he's not confident in, he can watch a few youtube videos - Corbettmaths is good for the basics. I'd also suggest buying a maths question/exercise text book - there are some that are literally just pages full of short simple questions that will really drill the basics into him.
Maths isn't a spectator sport - the more you do, the more you learn how to do it. If the teacher isn't giving lots of questions to do for homework, you need to train your son to do it on his own back via youtube videos, online questions/exercises and if necessary, buy him a question/answer practice text book.
Does he have a Mymaths login? If he does, encourage him to look at the online lessons.
If he's used to being the top of the class then he's probably not used to having to work at his maths. I wouldn't get a tutor just yet as he doesn't actually need skilled intervention as such and tutors are expensive, but I would do as a PP suggested and get him doing extra work using the huge amount of online resources that are available. Hegartymaths, Corbettmaths, mymaths, YouTube videos, if he just tries some to find something that clicks then does some extra work each week to reinforce what is going on in lessons then he should start finding things much easier.
Poor lad - I suppose you've already told him, he's not bad at maths, just that nearly everyone in his school is also good at maths.
I'm a bit at him knowing that he's 5th from the bottom - I thought schools avoided this sort of public ranking nowadays? Afaik a teacher might eg say who'd aced a test but not 'shame' those lower in the set.
Another thing to bear in mind is that kids can have blips in their teens, maybe its when their brains are rewiring. My DD was middling (in a non-superselective GS) in yr 9. She got A* and A^ fm at gcse.
He needs to get used to it. The good news is that should he take a maths based subject at University he may then be pleasantly surprised about being better than he is. (This has happened to DS who is further up the year group in maths courses at a good University than he ever was at school. Whilst peers, used to being top at school, find it difficult to adjust to not being special. )
He may or may not be a natural mathematician. Aptitudes seem to change during the teenage years, with some finding their natural ceiling earlier than others, but this does not matter. A lot of school maths is a matter of practice, and they will be going at a good pace. He will be fine for GCSE, and probably for A level. But a desire to be at the top of the class in a selective school with some very clever children is setting himself up for failure.
Indeed, I agree with all of you, he is not used to work hard, and now he has to. Some of his friends work up to 2 hours at night, he is just doing the bare minimum, as he always did, but this in not good enough anymore. Lots of practice is what he needs, whether he will have the discipline to do it himself I am not sure. I almost regret this super selective school now, but the idea behind it was to avoid coasting and to keep him working to his potential. I didn't foresee the stress involved, I thought he would just raise to the challenge.
OP, he does not need to work two hours a night. He simply needs to pay attention in class, do the homework set and then revise properly before exams.
Yes there will be others who will have a lot of parental pressure at home and who will be working very hard indeed. And yes their results in Yr 8, and Yr 9 and possibly through to Yr 13 will be better. But if he does what the teachers's expect he will be fine. It is a marathon, and the more important things to learn will be that not everyone can be top, and that ability to take responsibility for your own ambitions and efforts become increasingly important.
Schools like CLS offer a lot more than grades, and as long as he puts in the effort expected, he would be better off engaging in the wider life of the school, whether debating, music or sport and taking full advantage of the wider education available.
Thanks Needmoresleep, and everyone who took time to submit their words of wisdom
I think a tutor would be a good idea, but with the proviso that the tutor is teaching your DC to understand and reason, not practice (or, worse still, help him with homework).
The very worst thing you can do for your DC's maths at this age is drill (practice) with no understanding of the concepts.
Well, his half term grade report was very good, he got a 4G, which means that he is doing more than expected, but I had booked an appointment with a tutor in the meantime that we went to see this afternoon. She was a bit confused about how to help him at first but soon realised it was about building his confidence and she will give him lots of extra homework to do so we will give it a go for a while. I think it is annoying that he cannot find within himself the resources to just do it by himself. I have also booked a kickboxing class as he needs to build up character lol!
show him last year's exam results
then show him your local schools
make him realise that as long as he "keeps up" then he will do just fine.
he needs to understand the cohort he is now in.
Your instincts that he will benefit from not being allowed to coast are good ones (speaking from my own experience!). I agree it sounds like he needs a bit of help shifting from coasting earlier to working steadiliy - but don't suggest he should be working hard 2 hours a night yet either. Hope that some extra maths will give him the confidence boost he needs and help him find that little bit of extra work discipline.
Join the discussion
Please login first.