Grandson failing at school. What to do?

My grandson is 6 and will be going to CP this year. He's been seeing the orthophoniste for a year as he's had problems with learning numbers and the alphabet. To be honest, when I've seen him with other children it's obvious he's not as quick to understand. His father is very dyslexic which might also be a factor.

My question is, apart from the orthophoniste (who is wonderful), what support/structure exists in France for children who are not as bright as the average child? And what can we do to help him?

He spends a lot of time with us.

I'd be glad to hear either through email or the forum from anyone who's encountered a similar problem.

Many thanks. Angela

Hi Shelby,

yes that sounds interesting. My grandson eats quite badly, mostly meat and carbs. He won't go near fruit except apples. I'll send you an email....

Thank you.

I do agree with you that enterprise is worlds apart between the anglo and french models. Insistence on diplomas is all very well and one should encourage learning and commitment. Here you cannot just start up a business on a brilliant idea. You have to join a Chamber of Commerce and take courses and exams to do virtually anything and the current government seems intent on making it harder rather than easier. Not the best way to get the economy moving and all the French I know seem to agree but still vote socialist. It's at the foundations a very socialist country. As such you would think they would be more open to helping those with special needs but the history of communism and national socialism tells us otherwise.

With you to a point, but only because some doors must always stay open and everywhere has strengths and weaknesses. We have the dilemma of a special needs child who is getting nothing like the help she needs here but our other daughter is the opposite extreme and does not get the standard of teaching she requires. The question there is whether that would be any better anywhere else. Here it is the more able children who are favoured but at the same time any child whose parents has dared to challenge what is being taught, including when it is actually wrong, tends to be dumped. In France a child can do well despite the system by simply passing exams. Get Bac, etc and progress nicely, actual school performance does not matter. What is lacking here is the 'second chance' (which it often is not really) where people study a little later than others and prove to be highly intelligent and creative individuals and also there is little space in the public mind for those clever innovators and inventors who never achieve academic qualifications, are sometimes dyslexic or of that type of disadvantage. Such people succeed in many countries, here there is no spirit of enterprise to encourage them. It is, thus, something more than education but (my view) the overemphasis on the need for qualification to be able to do almost anything at all.

Dear David

As much as I agree with your views and see that your son did well DESPITE the system, he didn't go through the Education system in France! It is SO different to that of UK. I have had children go through both systems - two kids currently in the French system. I can't speak about children with special needs in France or Britain, but I can say that the mainstream education system seems to only favour those who are more academically inclined or able. All the others fall by the wayside with little hope of regaining confidence or attaining higher education (even later in life when they often find their educational direction and acumen)

And to make it worse they HAVE to go through this long drawn out confidence sapper and ritual humiliation by law. Call me frosty and bitter - BUT when you watch your child being disregarded and humiliated it gives you a very black view. I have appealed to teachers here but they just don't get what I am saying. We are worlds apart.


As a school governor I volunteered to have a word with a parent whose son was arriving at school with bruises on the side of his brow. The father told me his son was far to much of a little girl and needed toughening up. Our chair of governors at that time was a six foot ten tall, bass voiced guy. I offered to bring our chair round to see what it felt like to have somebody bigger giving such help.

At the next meeting I told them. I got a few tuts but unofficially it was taken as being in the same spirit as your kind offer ;-) youngest had a PE teacher who was a bully, this was when my son was around 13 years old....took my son nearly 2 years to share some of the nasty comments made by this young man.....I checked with Pete's friends and they confirmed...he used to call the boys things like 'big girls' and 'pansies' he would make fun of them and was basically a nasty piece of work.....we met at the parent evening...I was very charming....and just as I left I whispered in his ever bully my boy again...I will remove your testicles.....with some garden implements...shook his hand and left the building....never had any more problems. Probably shouldnt have to do that...but always worked for my dad...and frankly, I think by the time someone has trained as a teacher, if they are still bullying...then a little direct action is called for.

Teeheehee. Carol, she has never hit her, the word had reached her about these parents before our daughter got there. The teacher from the year before who is a friend, himself slapped a boy once and found himself presented with an article by a French expert on what is wrong with corporal punishment. He passed it around and whilst this teacher has kept out of our hair as far as possible, the school director who is the teacher she gets next year asked us both some questions about the topic. She is actually against and doesn't strike children. So with a few days for one and only next year the other I think we'll probably scrape through that nicely.

Being a person who has probably never been very even, in terms of patience and temper..I would be inclinced to pop in to your daughters school and advise the teacher that the next time she slaps your will be around to return the favour! I am so glad I dont have kids still in I dont doubt I would be arrested in France! I dont like bullies...and she sounds like a bully Brian.

It is perhaps too close to the point Carol. Saatchi was having a 'little strangle', that's alright then so I'll pop into the other room and physically attack my OH - just to make a point. I am appalled by the French attitude toward children. My daughter's teacher gives little slaps fairly often, apparently because she appears to be in a bad mood to begin with and a child makes a mistake - which may not be a behaviour thing which is after all the usual justification... No justification of one human being hitting another is acceptable but as a power issue we should all know better. There is no proper public debate about talking to each other first here. It shocks me. That Albania has signed up to the charter and France not does not surprise me. However, the UK is a total disparate mess. In England it is more or less outlawed except that there are it seems a couple of expensive private boys schools where it is still allowed because the parents OK it! The same parents who ship their sons off to public school instead of raising them themselves. Say no more. In Wales and Scotland it is not allowed, end of... N Ireland I don't know, but prosecutions of parents are more common than in far larger England, so assumptions can be made.

Whatever and wherever, France is among the few countries that tolerates it, until recently dyslexia, ADHD, autism, dyspraxia and so on that were said not to exist often saw children physically punished and children with special educational needs and a bit more likely to be still. At the same time everything that deviates from the norm is rather psychiatrised. So people like Jean-Pierre Rosenczveig, who is a juvenile judge in his case, are campaigning against political will and an 'expertise' that is often lagging well behind that of other nations. Albania abolishes, France is still trying to find out about children...

Hi Angela

My son who is now 15 is slightly dyslexic and has had school difficulties for years. Years of orthophonie until she said she had done all she could for him. When I started to work with nutrition, I did not expect this to change his learning problems but with in a year, he was doing better, getting better grades, and had the capacity to remember things and study. He still has his struggles when he doesn't like a teacher or a subject but we keep working with him.

I have since worked with other children and have colleagues who have had more experience than I have even. If you would like, we can connect and chat further.

Just looked at the article Brian...I think in terms of what the parents who approve of 'little slaps' were saying was they needed, at a certain point in time to give a little slap, then discuss with the child afterwards why they just had to do that. In context then, the little tiff Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson had, where he needed to put his hands around her throat, pinch her nose and on another occasion in public put his hand firmly across her mouth are also make a point. Assume if parents consider slapping thier children ok...then they are also happy to accept its a reasonable way for adults to behave towards eachother....or is it only ok to abuse kids? I cant believe Albania has signed up to a charter to abolish child smacking and France hasnt!

try it seemsto be what the page i said changes to in the web address bar as it loads.

Thanks for the information. I can't get the page to load, though....

hi everyone, a friend of ours son is also in a similar boat. He goes to an international school which doesnt seem to make any difference. He has had contant battles with the teachers as have his parents.

A few months ago I found an interesting article relating to a newly created font for use on mobile smart phones, pcs etc etc to aid people with dyslexia in reading an writing. When I read the comments on the article people were saying they couldnt believe how all of a sudden they could read and write completely. Apparently the new font changes the way it is seen and allows the brain to understand.

the website offering the font for free was

I am delighted Angela! Itt sounds like you have really got things organised. You may find that as he gets older he learns coping stratergies very quickly, do keep us up to date;hugs to you both. Annie

Thank you all so much for replying and sharing your experiences which have helped me enormously. I've looked at the APEDYS site and will join up and the orthophoniste is going to give us the addresses of local groups. We've seen the orthoptiste recommended by the medecin scolaire; no problem there. My daughter's been working with him doing word recognition exercises which has helped too.

One good thing that happened recently is that I ran into his last teacher in Maternelle who has since retired. On chatting I discovered that her son is dyslexic and that she gives private lessons so she's going to take my grandson twice a week to help with the reading. I'm so relieved about that; she was a superb teacher and genuinely interested in children. While none of these things is a "fix" it's good to be able to tackle the issue and to know where to look for advice and help.

I'll try to update this thread with any new information I may have so that it might prove useful to others.

I know you are asking about what provisions are available in France and I can’t answer that but as a former SEN lecturer in the UK I felt the need to add that provision for dyslexics is patchy in the UK too. Dyslexia cuts across all intelligence levels there are/were some quite brilliant ones Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, the list is enormous and includes actors, engineers, architects, scientists, artists, writers, sports people etc. I came to the conclusion that the main difference between those who get on in life and those who don’t was the level of self-esteem and confidence they had and that is why their family is so important. Strategies for dealing with an individuals difficulties are key, as is finding out an individuals strengths and building on those. Firstly checking eyesight and hearing is a must but not as easy as it sounds because the eye test requires a particular specialist. A family who cares and encourages the child will overcome any difficulty and whilst it is time consuming and frustrating it pays huge dividends with time. If it were me I would start with gaining knowledge on the subject myself from English language sources, The British Dyslexia Association is one example, then the French one which is for English speaking dyslexics in France. If I can be of any further assistance contact me.

Take a look in here folk, time to stop the smacking...