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Worried we made the wrong choice about grammar school

(93 Posts)
catweasel44 Mon 27-Nov-17 09:23:16

DS1 started the local grammar school in September.

He wasn't heavily tutored, although he did have one for half an hour a week in year 5 (with no extra homework). It shouldn't be relevant but I feel it is.

He is very bright, very capable but not very motivated. We worried about sending him more due to attitude than anything else but decided that the structure and expectations might make a difference.

His half term report was OK - not struggling with the work but organisation and effort need improvement.

However this weekend he's been miserable. He forgot he needed to read a book, he got a detention last week for forgetting his homework again (although he had done it).

He says he feels like he is letting himself down.

Is this normal? We are trying to be as supportive as we can and help him with organisation etc but I worry that we are expecting too much, and he would have been happier bobbling along at the other school.

I think I'm hoping you will come along and say everyone feels like this in their first term.

crazycrofter Mon 27-Nov-17 09:37:19

I think it's normal. Our son started at grammar in Sept (and had no tutoring). It's been a steep learning curve! He's had behaviour points for silliness/talking, he's lost stuff, he's done badly in a couple of tests because he forgot to revise, but he's also started to get on top of his workload and I can see he's being challenged.

He was also miserable this morning - very tired I think and the dark mornings don't help (he has to leave at 7!). I still think it's the right place for him. He's naturally lazy and disorganised, but does thrive on routine and structure so I think he'll do better in the long term having had a regular homework load from this age. My brother was lazy and immature and didn't get pushed at the comp - consequently he under achieved probably well into his mid 20s.

But I suppose we'll never know how happy or not they'd be elsewhere! But an ordinary level of occasional meltdowns is normal I think! My daughter is very happy at her selective school - but she will still sometimes have a moan or a weepy episode if she has a lot of homework/is feeling under the weather etc. And they do have to get used to not being too and competing with themselves rather than with others ...

crazycrofter Mon 27-Nov-17 09:38:26

*not being top

nightshade Mon 27-Nov-17 09:39:32

Mine started secondary school this year...they are still expected to have homework in on time and be organised...

Regard less of which school they go to..

Floottoot Mon 27-Nov-17 09:41:25

Not quite the same scenario, but my son started year 7 at a selective independent school in September and has some similar issues.
He was really excited to go, adamant that it was the right school for him etc, but at half term, he said, "You know what? It's just school at the end of the day." I think he meant that, when all's said and done, school is school; you have to sit in lessons, work and get given homework.
He got 3 'negatives' in the first month, for things like forgetting his reading book, which was a bit of a culture shock after the cosiness of his small village primary. He's tired and the novelty has worn off.
That said, I don't think another school would make any difference; he's an eleven year old boy who would rather sit on the PS4 than have to do homework.

MsHarveySpecter Mon 27-Nov-17 09:42:32

They all struggle in year 7 I think so I wouldn't assume it's gramnar school per se, it could be secondary he's struggling with - having to organise yourself etc is very different to primary. So I would give it some time.

moutonfou Mon 27-Nov-17 09:42:57

I went to a state grammar and it really wasn't as full of bright eager pupils as everyone would think. The boys particularly were still vulnerable to it being cool not to care, plus being generally disorganised as boys of that age are. There was rushed/forgotten work, detention, poor reports, classes were disruptive, just like a normal school.

The difference was that due to the generally higher level of academic intelligence, and the higher expectations, everybody in the year got at least 10 A*-C GCSEs. But it doesn't mean they loved every minute of it and weren't dragged through it at times, particularly the boys.

Seeline Mon 27-Nov-17 09:44:39

I think it is a huge step up for most kids, regardless of school type.

Organisation is a big thing- they haven't had to do much previously in terms of different lessons on different days in different rooms with different teachers expecting different things. As well as potentially longer days, travel issues and much more homework.

Support as much as you can. Go through what homework he has each night and help to organise. Pack his bag with him in the evening, and make sure that he has any homework needing to be handed in. Encourage him to write homework done, along with a due date, if it isn't on an app/website etc. Try and make sure he gets as much sleep as possible. this first terms at secondary is exhausting for parents and kids

Seeline Mon 27-Nov-17 09:46:15

write homework down not done....

Kit30 Mon 27-Nov-17 09:47:34

Totally normal as Crofter says. Does he have a personal/ pastoral tutor ? Speak to them or better still get ds to email them and just say that's he's finding it hard. He won't be criticised for asking for help and you'll probably find that he'll get some positive feedback for being mature enough to flag it up. Persevere because the first term is challenging and he won't be the first not one struggling to find his feet. Don't ignore it though as there's a fine line between waving and drowning - just gave a quiet word with his teacher and ask for strategies to help your DS. He'll get the reassurance he needs and can go in from there. Good luck

PetiteMarseillaise Mon 27-Nov-17 09:48:11

Have a look at the Detentions thread in this section. Lots of kids settling into secondary school and depending on the school, receiving detentions for various misdemeanours. It seems to be the norm.

It's a very long and tiring term, try to make sure he has lots of rest or down time in the weekend. He is not letting himself down, on the contrary he sounds like he's trying hard.

We're in yr 10 and I still do the "have you got your bag ready for tomorrow?" bit most evenings...

TeeBee Mon 27-Nov-17 09:58:01

The grammar school is not the problem. All schools expect kids to do a lot of homework. In fact, our state secondary purposely give them more homework in year 7 so that they get themselves into a good habit. They have a website that logs everything they need to do, and parents can access it. If they don't get their homework done, they are punished with a detention.

My DS2 used to be a lazy little git. Very bright, very capable...and so he could get away without doing much and still get top marks. At primary school, there was no punishment for not doing homework so, guess what, he didn't do it. When he started secondary, I said to him the school would punish his and if he got a detention for homework not being done, furthermore, he would have me to deal with and that a detention would be the least of his worries. Guess what, all homework has been done to date. Once you have shown him how to organise himself, there then needs to be some firm boundaries. Mine are aware that they lose a month's pocket money if homework is not done...this has not happened yet.

Soursprout Mon 27-Nov-17 10:04:24

Nothing you have written makes me think it’s anything to do with the grammar. He would not be allowed to ‘bob along’ at a state school either. Ds went to the same big standard state as Dd is at now. Ds couldn’t organise himself and struggled when he started there .. it’s a lot for some some 11 year olds to cope with .Dd can organise herself so is fine.

catweasel44 Mon 27-Nov-17 10:31:09

This has all made me feel MUCH better thank you. I think I have a tendency to thing Oh Lord it's all my fault.

But you are all right, he would be like this whatever school he was at.

Middleoftheroad Mon 27-Nov-17 17:53:09

OP it's a big leap. I have one twin at grammar and one at comp year 7.

There are lots of expectations and detentions at the comp are dished out like sweets (both DS managed to avoid them so far - though by the skin of our teeth at comp).

It's demanding at both schools in terms of remembering kit etc though stricter at the comp.

He may just need extra support and that confidence boost that it's completely normal. After all, they were only in primary a few months ago!

Rudi44 Tue 28-Nov-17 07:20:58

He sounds like a normal yr 7. My daughter has gone from a very liberal state primary to a selective girls school and the step up is huge. She can keep up with the work (although has never done a language before so struggles with Chinese) but her organisation is all over the place. I am helping her at the moment by packing her bag but it's been full on and we are all looking forward to Christmas.
I wouldn't assume he is struggling with that particular school, more the transition from primary to secondary

BarbarianMum Thu 30-Nov-17 09:49:38

Agree with above. Whether or not this is the right school for your ds, what you are describing is secondary transition stuff.

TractorTedTed Thu 30-Nov-17 09:57:37

Yep, as everyone has already said, totally normal at the start of secondary!

If he's a bit scatty/disorganised (even lazy?) then perhaps you could help him with some methods to improve his organisation so he doesn't get into any more trouble, e.g.:
Have a copy of his timetable clearly pinned up in his room.
Check his planner with him to see what homework he needs to do
Check he's packed his bag properly with the right equipment for the next day.

I know he's old enough to do all this for himself, but some children need help learning how to do it all.

And for what it's worth, grammar school definitely sounds the right place for him. He's less likely to 'coast'.

BubblesBuddy Thu 30-Nov-17 13:47:20

I do think a lot of children need a much better introduction to the expectations of secondary school. Small village schools tend to be the worst at this because they don’t always have high expectations on remembering “stuff”. At a bigger school we did find in Y6 that handing in homework on the due date was expected, not optional. Revising for a test was expected. Remembering sports kit and musical instrument was expected. Mum didn’t pop in with missing kit etc!

I think daily lists are the key (what to hand in and what to take) and the good habit of writing everything down in the day book or journal or whatever it’s called - Rough Book in my day! This needs practice and need to be reinforced with reminders. Must be very annoying for teachers to have this irritation all the time. I also don’t think it should be up to teachers to keep nannying y7 children. Forgetfulness won’t be much good at university or Work either so finding a way to remember is key.

BertrandRussell Thu 30-Nov-17 15:30:47

", and he would have been happier bobbling along at the other school."

Presumably he would have been top set at the "other school"- so why do you think he would have been "bobbling along"?

chronofix Thu 30-Nov-17 16:21:34

Exactly the same here, five detentions in the first half term all for homework forgotten at home and so on. I do wonder if mine would otherwise be flourishing at the top of the comp, but his organisational problems would still be causing detentions and he might equally not have been pushed. We had a real wibble at half term. But mine is really happy there, despite getting some poor marks for attitude to learning (he did have a particularly chatty primary), and he is proud of the school and sometimes of himself too. I have started giving much more organisational support - I thought I was already doing loads! Timetable taped down where he packs his bag, calendar at home with long-term homeworks written in, and daily discussion of behaviour in lessons. It's definitely getting better. School have also been helpful in giving some mentoring - don't hesitate to ask for support.

goodbyestranger Thu 30-Nov-17 18:31:08

OP it's completely unexceptional, don't worry about it. I've had eight DC incl four boys at a superselective grammar and DS2 was the proud possessor of the first detention to be handed out in his own Y7 but has graduated this year with an Oxford 1st, Captain of Rugby etc and is majorly chilled. It's fine, your DS will find his feet - just be relaxed about detentions, black marks etc until there's something really extreme (eg threat of expulsion).

mountford100 Thu 30-Nov-17 18:52:56

Nothing wrong with getting detentions, in-fact i would suggest it is about adapting to secondary school.

I would also say until you have had at least 2 after school detentions, you really have not lived !
All kids need to be 'cheeky' ,forget homework 'disrupt' the class, otherwise they don't learn about barriers .

The consequences of never pushing the boundaries at school , means the first time they do at University shit happens...

Lily2007 Thu 30-Nov-17 18:58:50

DD started grammar this September, similarly not much prep, very bright but not a massive crafter, quite social and she's struggling to adapt and is asking to go to the comp. I'm not sure comp have less detentions but they have a fraction of the homework by us in y7 which is causing some envy. I'm trying to get her to stick out the year but its a bit difficult.

mountford100 Thu 30-Nov-17 19:06:21

Lilly, the envy will be on the other foot when your DD gets her first choice University . This being when her 20 minute a night homework Comp friends are sweating over DDE grades at A level !

I know at 11 they don't get the theory of deferred gratification but that is what it is about !

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