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 Post subject: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:13 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:46 am
Posts: 17
Dear all,
I am here for some support and advice please.

My daughter is in Year3 at a ofsted outstanding primary school. I had a chance to be in their maths class yesterday. I am very disappointed and angry and I don't know what to do. My daughter is quiet and keeps to herself most times. She never does things that draw attention to herself. As a result, I know she may not be actively participating in the class, raising her hand etc when she knows answers. She is in the top set for both Maths and English.

I do planned regular work with her at home. She is quite sharp and is a quick learner. At the class I attended, the teacher was covering simple 2 digit subtractions and my daughter just sat there dumb. They had white sheets to do their working. She basically sat there dumb and scribbling something on her sheet. Zero participation in the class. She wasn't even doing it on her sheet!! She knows 2 digit subtractions pretty well. She can do them verbally too. I don't understand whats going on. This perhaps explains the disconnect between my assessment and her schools assessment.

She was sitting on the last table by the window. Her position was sideways (you know what I mean? ) and there was a tall girl sitting next to her. My daughter was happy to hide behind this tall girl and be invisible in class.

I don't know what to do and I am extremely worried. Anyone here faced a similar problem with their children? I have a friend whose daughter cleared 11 plus last year. She always told her daughter that school was her play time (!!! ) and her serious education happens at home. Should I be taking this approach?

Should I just ignore this and continue work at home more seriously Is this the way it always is in state schools? Should I be speaking to her teacher? I attend parent evening and the picture is always rosy there.


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:54 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:30 pm
Posts: 97
It sounds like you have a very bright child, not unlike many on this forum. My son also is invisible, with his previous years teacher proclaiming that his test results do not correlate to his participation in class, in other words she was surprised at his high results. My son perhaps like your dd is bored in class, is not being stretched etc.. so they just switch off. Yes I have taken your friends stance that school is for socialising and home is where the real work starts. But 6 hours doing basic stuff is a complete waste of time, and I have pondered with the idea of home schooling, but this would not work for my ds as he really enjoys the social side and extra curricular stuff, so we carry on with this situation. Its very frustrating esp when your child is capable of so much more. I have been to see teachers before asking for more stretching work to be told that they are unable to cater for children so far advance in maths ie secondary school stuff as is the case for my ds. My ds is also at a highly regarded state school, but this means nothing.

So whats the answer, well step up her homework at home, change schools, consider private if you can afford it, speak to the teacher being diplomatic but assertive. Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
Posts: 2818
I would arrange to speak to the teacher and explain your predicament. Personally I would broach it under terms that you know that whilst your daughter is clearly capable, her challenge is that she needs to be more assertive in class, speak up more, engage more and interact more with the teacher and class mates, and fight against this invisibility. Ask the teacher to work with you on addressing this challenge that you have set your daughter....

This way you are bringing your concerns to the teacher, without outright criticism, are offering a solution and (importantly) acknowledging your daughters development need - (teachers don't like it when parents think their kids are perfect!) - and offering to work together on it. As an outstanding school, they should recognise what they need to do.


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 6691
Location: Herts
It is very straightforward for a teacher to provide worksheets to challenge a student in class.

I know of a student who took GCSE Maths in Y4 and got an A star.

He was working on A level maths quietly within his classroom and his parents and the school worked together to provide him with challenging work.

The same can be done in English.

But your student needs to take some ownership for her learning and be asking for extra work and not sitting there doing nothing.

My dd1 went from being set in Maths from Y2 in primary school to a mixed ability class in Y7 and was very unhappy in the Maths class where she was not being stretched.

I expressed my concern and she was provided with extra worksheets and asked who she wanted to sit next to. She named the top two boys in her class and went off to sit with them and things were fine for the rest of the year. From Y8 onwards they were streamed in Maths so the classroom work then became challenging enough for her.

I fought another battle for dd2 in both Maths and English that only ended when her KS1 results forced them to put her on top table.

Teachers are busy with 30 students in the class, you know your child best and should fight her corner if necessary but do not let her get away with doing nothing otherwise she will fall behind and not be able to catch up. DG


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:58 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:04 pm
Posts: 720
Is there an attitude within the class that makes people feel they shouldn't stand out or be right? Do people get teased if they are constantly right or always putting their hands up?

For what it's worth, both my children have been at a state primary (ds still there) and there is a very definite kudos to being able, to answering questions and to coming top (as well as very good special needs work). I think parents of more average children in our school would be complaining that their child is invisible. My children therefore have developed a huge confidence and are perfectly happy to stand out at the top of a class (which has stood dd in good stead for secondary school).

Maybe the problem is that your dd is too shy to stand up and be noticed? Have you talked to her about why she is acting like that?


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:46 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
Posts: 8228
So hard to know what's going on here - and there are a lot of possibilities.

One thing is true though. A good teacher does not just let a child sit there doing nothing all lesson. You were observing - even more reason to have tried to engage your child unless the teacher knew that your child was embarrassed because you were there and this was not the time to do it.


You will see from her books if she's getting much wok done or not.
The trouble with primary school is having the same teracher all day every day and that some (unprofessionally in my view) seem to engage a lot more with some children than others.

Secondary school is much better. I have a child who could be far more invisible than yours --- think for some teachers she could put her hand up all day and no-one would ask her the question, not hand in homework for a year and no-one noticed etc etc. She seems to engage well at a superselective though.

The thing to watch out for is that she is not given simpler work by a teacher who is fooled by all of this into thinking that she can't do very much. If your school is secretive, this can be difficult to spot and the child might not even realise this is what is happening either.

I hope that you are able to have a constructive discussion with the teacher. If you are not, then think how your daughter feels all day ever day! You can replace this kind of lack out of school. Also, I have noticed that the children who were the apples of teachers' eyes at primary school tend to get a bit knocked back at secondary school when they are part of a much bigger crowd and the teachers less inclined to make those little pets that they like to have a primary school.

In it's own way, viewed in the right way, it's a good learning experience.


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11940
Can you be sure she did not act differently because you were in the lesson?

Check how much she does in her book each day and match it with the NC.


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:46 am
Posts: 17
Thanks everyone for your responses. My DD is very shy. She tries not to draw attention to herself. She has always been like that. I am not sure why. I accepted it as her own unique personality.

I will ask to speak to the teacher and as some of you suggested, I will ask her to work with me to get my DDs confidence up.

Quote:
For what it's worth, both my children have been at a state primary (ds still there) and there is a very definite kudos to being able, to answering questions and to coming top (as well as very good special needs work). I think parents of more average children in our school would be complaining that their child is invisible. My children therefore have developed a huge confidence and are perfectly happy to stand out at the top of a class (which has stood dd in good stead for secondary school).

I don't understand the point you are trying to make! Are you seriously saying average children are the only ones that are invisible?? What does that have to do with YOUR children developing confidence to stand out ?


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
Posts: 4020
Location: Reading
My DD is also shy. Please don't confuse this with lack of confidence in their own ability though. DD has a lot of confidence in her ability and has no real self esteem issues most of the time. Shyness is more a fear issue than a confidence one. Too many people don't realise the difference.

Shyness is a big issue at school though if you have a teacher who doesn't notice. It does happen, it's happened to DD, especially early in in primary. If you have a child who is not struggling, but not putting up their hand etc, in a class full of children it's easy to see why it happens.

You do need to talk to the teacher with your concerns. Ask the teacher to keep note of when she puts up her hand. Or ask her for an answer even if she hasn't. The shyness will not go away overnight, actually from my own experience it never does, you just learn to handle it better. But it will improve with time if helped. You'll probably need to talk to a new teacher every year. DDs best year was when she had a teacher she had the year before for maths. It made a big impact.

It gets better with help and practise. DD is still shy, but understands she needs to deal with it. We give her encouragement and support. You need to tackle it in general not just in school. Get her to ask for stuff in shops. We used to make DD ask for a cake she wanted in the supermarket. She wanted it enough to overcome the fear of actually talking to someone. At primary school DD was encouraged to talk about things in Show and tell for instance, having a friend with her if she wanted. Something to talk to the teacher about, encourage but don't push too far.

Once at secondary, there's less places to hide. They have to do presentations, book talks etc. She has improved a great deal as a result. One thing we noticed was that DD uses us as a sort of crutch, if we are there she wants us to do the talking for her. So we back off.

Just last night at the supermarket we were talking to the girl on the checkout. She recognises us and often talks about her school and applying to uni. DD actually answered her and she remarked it was the first time she had heard her speak.


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 Post subject: Re: My invisible child
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:59 am
Posts: 3579
The shyness can be worked on, repeatedly every time you go out together you can ask your daughter to do little jobs, give her 50p at the supermarket and make her buy something, go through the til a few along from yours and be audibly polite . Don't ever let her off the hook by answering for her when she is asked questions by adults in a social setting, she will simply stay silent until you do the work. Don't force her to speak but make her realise that until she does she will be squirming, even an acknowledging nod counts as communicating to begin with. Make her tell you the eye colour of the person who she is talking too, looking at the floor, or away from the face is classic. She will probably always be shy, but she needs help to get along.
Remember children who say "I can't, I am shy." To an adult are far removed from shy, they are actually confronting an adult with refusal, shy kids are often complicit as they can't abide drawing attention.

The worrying part of your story is the blank sheet of sums, this suggests her shyness has gone one step further, where she will not engage with the teacher in any way but is blocking out the teachers existence in her space. My son briefly did this, he would sit with empty paper, invisible to all, particularly if he missed an instruction, no matter how insignificant, it would throw him off course and he quite literally could not ask for help. He had one great teacher who pulled him out of himself, gently gently.

He is at grammar now, finally this year at parents evening a teacher said, "I guess if he hasn't been keen to put his hand up, or involve himself in debates for the last ten years we are not going to change him now, but when he does,talk it's always interesting and intelligent." Or words v similar. We all breathed a sigh of relief as "should be more involved in class" is repeated on report slips year after year. He is happy to chat to people now, can ask for help after lesson (not in lesson with a big hand in the air gesture) and will raise his hand to answer questions occasionally and can now answer when picked without falling to pieces. However this did not come easily, naturally or without upset, you absolutely have to persevere.
At school ask if she can hand out or collect books, pens etc. She will have to pass something to the teacher so has silent but essential communication with her.
Do not force her to speak though and make sure her teachers don't, the more she is forced, the more often a question is repeated at her the smaller inside she will become and the more likely she is to avoid all contact.
Good luck, it's hard to watch your child being last in every queue, have questions answered for them by other often arrogant kids and get overlooked by teachers, but you can help her. Academic assistance alone is not the answer but will help her results of course, but lots of communication anxiety homework should help her hugely in class.


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