Ask Joanne: My Son Is Bright But Won't Do His School Work

26/05/2009 10:57 | Updated 22 May 2015

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Alison writes:

My son is just finishing Year 7 at Grammar School. He claims to be happy there socially but is struggling because he does very little work. This does not appear to be because he finds the work too difficult but to check this, I've had him tested, which showed him to be very bright but entirely right-brained.

This means that he does not relate well to traditional teaching methods, as most teachers and pupils in a grammar school environment would be left-brained. He is also totally unmotivated. He resents doing homework, which almost always causes arguments. He rarely admits to having tests, so I only find out about them after the fact and his scores are pretty low. The work in his books is so patchy that I have to look up topics on the web in order for him to revise for those tests which he tells me about.

His termly reports give grades which are pretty poor for his age, added to which they are not progressing as quickly as they should be. I have also noticed that some of his exercise books haven't been marked for months which disappoints me. He has been put on daily report for 2 weeks at the end of both terms so far, and this does seem to help, but after that finishes he seems to slip back into his old ways and no one pulls him up until the next (sub-standard) report.

I am actively considering a smaller, private school where I believe they would drive him harder. He is not keen (he does not like change and wants to be with his friends) and I'm worried that moving him might stoke up his resentment. But I do not feel I can let a bright child flounder and drift.

He pays lip-service to my lectures but I am sick of delivering them and I know they're not working, but I don't have anything else in my armoury.

Here's life coach Joanne's reply

Dear Alison

I can feel your frustration in all this! And it must be enormously stressful, if you can see that your child has potential but they're squandering it. Be careful that the stress you feel doesn't lead to battles, since ultimately you are on your son's side.

And this must also be pretty frustrating for him. Right brained thinkers tend to be intuitive, creative types, as opposed the left brain thinkers who are more analytical, objective and logical. One option could be to help him develop his left-braininess. There are many games available such as this which will help him do this.

What is your son passionate about? What does he like to do in his spare time? Who are his heroes? Can you use their stories to inspire him?

If the teaching methods used in the school aren't hitting the spot, what does the school plan to do about it?

If the smaller school is a viable option, then maybe it's worth looking at it and taking your son along to see what he thinks of the place. If, as you say, he is well adapted socially at his current school, maybe this will show him that it might be better to do a bit of work now, rather than move and leave behind all his friends.

From what you say, this goes deeper than just a boy who can't be bothered. The school is speaking a whole other language to him. Are they will to adapt to help him, and children like him, make progress? If not, then it may serve you both better to look elsewhere.

Check out this book which is aimed at parents like you.

All the best


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