It’s not often I’m surprised by N saying something negative. When I ask about school it’s always ‘it’s fine’ or good, and then I get more information at bedtime about what he’s done and how things have gone. He has a few moans, but generally is positive about everything at school. But last night he wasn’t happy.
I don’t think it was helped by his dad continuing to take the micky out of him for liking New Holland tractors instead of John Deere’s. But N got really upset. He kept saying
‘I’m terrible at maths’
‘I’m terrible at everything’
‘I’m rubbish at art’
‘I’m terrible at writing’
Not what you want to hear from any child, but especially as nothing had been indicating any of that was true. He only won a poster competition at school last week so his art and writing can’t be that bad. And while he’s not the most adventurous at creating writing, he gives it a go and his story for the 500 words competition was fine. Quite a serious story, but it made sense and he decided it all. He’s certainly not terrible.
Maths is usually his favourite subject. He enjoys maths and usually finds it easy, so I was on a mission to find out what was going wrong.
The activities they were doing in maths should have been something he could do easily, but he was saying he was finding it hard compared to last time they’d done it. ‘I’m going backwards, it’s too hard now’.
He said he was getting things wrong. And when I asked about the challenge grid they do for times tables, he said that was now too hard for him too. I don’t think they’ve done the grid for a while, so I suggested we can practice that outside of school, or play the timetables app on my phone if he wants. I’m sure he’ll get back up to normal speed soon enough.
He has been saying for ages that he struggles to concentrate in class when others chat or ask for help. He just doesn’t seem able to focus and ignore everything peripheral around him. But he was struggling with being interrupted and then was worrying he can’t get enough work of his own done in the time.
No-one had said anything to him, putting his work down, so it was a mystery where it had come from.
I just couldn’t get him to see a positive, and he wouldn’t agree how much he’s improved in his ability since the start of year 3. It really wasn’t the kind of conversation we usually have, and he was getting quite upset about it.
We agreed I’d have a chat with his teacher to see if he’d noticed anything and see if there were any other reasons cropping up in class N hadn’t told me about.
His teacher was surprised N was saying he was bad at maths but explained it might have been confusing as they were taught a different method in class that day. There were also going to be some seating changes, so I was hopeful N might be able to concentrate more.
After school, N still wasn’t that excited. He said he was going to have a little maths session at some point to go over work and set his mind at rest. Hopefully that will do the job. He had no problem with his homework although said that the class work was more confusing.
He’s not convinced about the new seating set up and is worried that’s going to be worse than before. He wants to ignore everyone asking questions of him, and to say that he can’t help. So I’ve given him some things he can say, still agreeing to help but after doing so many questions of his own work. I’m not sure he’ll feel assertive enough to say that but it might give him a bit more confidence that he can get on with his own work.
So I’m not sure N’s over his maths crisis of confidence, but I’m hoping it’s just a blip. Reassuringly, it does just seem to be maths and he’s fine with his literacy and reading.
Have your children gone through the same? How did you help them over it?