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G&T kids, early GCSEs and difference of opinion of best interests for the child involved

(41 Posts)
BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 20:46:49

<dons hard hat>

2 years ago you fobbed your dc's request about early GCSEs with you're a bit young lets talk about it in 2 years time. You forgot about it and now your DC has decided that this has to be reconsidered.

Your DC is 9yo, and you know them to be bright enough to undertake the work required in terms of concept understanding and focus. However, you have doubts as to whether this is in their best interests emotionally. Addition in the long term when the subject that they want to take is a compulsory subject and they will still have to undertake it during a significant portion of their school career. Your DC also hates being different to their peers but complains about constantly being bored at school. Their teacher has often joked that they should be teaching a section of class. Child also has a very broad knowledge that is surprisingly deep on a huge range of topics because they like to learn independantly to school and require a certain amount of brain challenge to be happy.

You have encouraged the child to focus on sports and other out of school activities to help develop aspects which the child finds more difficult, also to develop knowledge about topics that aren't covered by school syllabuses.

Child wants research done on how to got about studying subject to iGCSE level with the view to taking the exam in the next two years.
You are still not convinced that it is the child's best interests to permitt this.

Currently we are at stalemate and I kinda wanna scream just be a kid and stop trying to grow up too quick. But being the grown up I have taken a deep breath and am prepared to consider all view points. I have offered the compromise of educationally stimulating subjects that are extra-curricular to the school topics so that he can get his learning fix without the focus of exams.

What would you do and how would you include the DC in your decision whilst making sure that you are comfortable in the decision that is made is in the best interests of the child in the long run.

IceBeing Mon 18-Aug-14 20:57:55

I would let the kid study the material but not take the test. I think there is a danger of getting test focussed instead of learning for fun. If the kid is definitively learning for fun (because there is no shiney medal at the end) then I think it is better to let them follow their passion than not.

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 21:08:07

Even if following their interests means they are bored in school, they confuse their peers with their level of knowledge (and sometimes their teacher) and can become disruptive as a result? Also their current level of knowledge of the subject results in them being bullied?

senua Mon 18-Aug-14 21:11:58

Are we talking Maths?

ElephantsNeverForgive Mon 18-Aug-14 21:12:38

If it's maths they can take it early as their are additional and further maths, pure and statistics papers to do in later years. Lots of DCs do maths early, schools can cope.

Most other subjects are much harder and maturity leads to better grades

IceBeing Mon 18-Aug-14 21:15:38

Okay the other two issues are just that - other issues. Your DC needs to learn how to communicate with others...this doesn't really have anything to do with studying. Could your DC come out of classes that are too far behind?

The bullying is just that - bullying and I 100% don't think you should try to limit your child's ambition because of other peoples bad behaviour. Bullies will always bully - knowing more in a subject has not much to do with it. Speak to the school to address the bullying issue.

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 21:16:41

I want it kept broad rather than the insisted syllabus specific. Much harder in subjects like maths I will completely admit. Child is incredibly goal orientated and likes certificates to say has achieved things. Child is obsessive about learning, so can be worse than self motivating as it can be to the exclusion of normal stuff. Learning has to be monitored. It all makes my brain hurt.

senua Mon 18-Aug-14 21:19:32

Are you thinking of applying for a selective school for Secondary? If so, the focus should be on those exams.

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 21:20:39

Bullying issue has the police involved. It hasn't helped.
Communication and interaction with people are the skills that I have focused on in his development and are the reason why i am not to keen to allow him to focus on his targets of early exams. Also I am of the opinion he will not be emotionally developed enough to cope with the situation of exams of that level at 11yrs old. They are hard enough when you are a teenager.

Hakluyt Mon 18-Aug-14 21:20:42

Why are you writing about the child in that odd way?

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 21:32:00

as in totally factual, nothing personal or emotional?
Was trying to:

a. not identifying myself too much,
b. keep it completely gender neutral,
c. keep as much emotion out of it as possible.
d. because i was expecting a complete flaming as this is a topic that is usually where you will get one.
e. because i could.

any or all of the above blushgrin

To be quite frank i tried so hard to word this in a way that made sense and avoided a flamming that i am not entirely certain that i maintained the actual issue in a manner that was completely understandable. <shrug>

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 21:35:31

Senua - those exams he could do with his eyes shut without thinking. logic, reasoning, factual, literacy, numerical etc. they are of absolutely no interest because they are easy and boring.

Additionally i disagree with the learn to test culture. Education is not about passing an exam it is about learning and understanding and being able to explain and apply. Just because you can pass an exam does not mean that you know the subject. I have a completely useless GCSE in german that proves that point. I might have a grade but i have no usuable german.

senua Mon 18-Aug-14 21:38:56

Can you divert him sideways into other science-y GCSE, after explaining why accelerated learning is not a good thing.
For example geology, electronics, environmental science, computing (not ICT).

MiddleEarthBarbie Mon 18-Aug-14 21:39:52

I would not allow them to take GCSEs so early. Firstly, because they don't have the maturity to cope with it and secondly, because of the natural progression onto early A Levels. Not at 12/ 13.

- disruption in class: not on, needs to be tackled (not saying you aren't doing this, I'm sure you know that)
- bullying, ditto.

I would offer extra curricular activities. Have you tried any universities near you?

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 22:00:57

Actually I encouraged his interest in a sport which takes up most weekends and one night a week and hope it would help him forget my promise of reconsidering it grin

Not tried universities - can you explain what your thinking is behind this is exactly MiddleEarth? I am sure there is sound reason for the suggestion but I am not fully understanding it atm.

Senua - "For example geology, electronics, environmental science, computing (not ICT)." this is everything that i have done grin he is learning to soilder and wire up little electronics kits with my dad when he visits. I got him programming this summer so he has spent most of it writing little programs, there is potential for expanding this skill greatly.

I am happy to support his learning and will ever learn new stuff to help him but he is very hard to distract when he gets an idea in his head and i swear it is like trying to have a conversation with someone like plato to try to get him to accept a decision. You HAVE to be able to back it up with justifiable facts and reason. 2 yrs ago it took a careers advisor talking to him. Recent programs about child geniuses has not helped me as he has seen that there are other child who are allowed to go down this route. I am going to have to argue a very convincing case and provide good alternatives. Sometimes I think it would be easier to build a time machine to go get plato and similar to argue discuss things with him than trying to reason with him myself.

MiddleEarthBarbie Mon 18-Aug-14 22:05:49

Universities sometimes run summer school or half term courses for kids. Sorry, that wasn't very clear!

ElephantsNeverForgive Mon 18-Aug-14 22:11:33

It's really difficulty with CAs and practicals to do science early and not a good idea, because what next? There is no where else to go except A level. I don't know of any extension papers as their are for maths.

DD has extra sciency qualifications, but they are hobby related ones aimed at adults.

That said the present syllabus isn't very taxing because it has to be possible to fit three GCSEs into two time table slots.

Really good scientists do find it dull, DDs DF was forever being told to stay on the Physics sylabus and only give GCSE level answers.

There isn't an easy solution.

ElephantsNeverForgive Mon 18-Aug-14 22:12:14

There, sorry

MrsHathaway Mon 18-Aug-14 22:12:46

Most people watched that child genius programme in horror at why anyone would put their child through it.

I think programming is an excellent "angle" for a scientifically minded child. There aren't certificates per se but there are challenges one can set, and beat, and tick off.

I would not support taking any exams more than one or possibly two years early - and only then if basically guaranteed to get top grades, and to allow more time for the exams in other subjects in the correct year IYSWIM. I can be persuaded of no benefit to the child of doing so other than as some kind of party trick hmm and I am particularly unimpressed by children who get a B or so early, as it doesn't prove what they think it does.

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 22:29:28

Actually MrsHathaway if you know the right websites there are loads of free courses which will give you a little piece of paper to say you have learnt some stuff. grin Not an official certificate per say but then if you only want it for your own achievement it will do. Problem with the science ones on these sites is that the level is often so high it would not be accessible to someone who had not taken a levels.

Elephants <nods>

MiddleEarth i suspect that should they do courses ds would find the age appropriate ones limiting, but definitely worth looking into. We have made fabulous use of our local museums and the various exhibitions that have visited. He is a museum snob, it can be embarising sometimes, but i have some fabulous stories for when he becomes a teenager. wink

If you are near London have you looked at the royal institution? They do a lit of fab courses and lectures that will keep him occupied. I'd also really look at developing his maths interest to support his science.

MiddleEarthBarbie Mon 18-Aug-14 22:48:12

You might be pleasantly surprised, but yeah, H&S and insurance do limit what kids can do, especially lab-wise. Tis a pity.

If (s)he's a museum snob, would (s)he be tempted by promises to visit museums that aren't local? You could find out the cost of GCSE (resources, exam entry etc) and then spend that on a trip?

Another suggestion which may be a bit far out, but here goes: learning Latin. Excellent for scientific minds.

Does (s)he play chess?

BitchyVstheUFOs Mon 18-Aug-14 22:53:47

Unfortunately not near london. we are in the northwest. But will have a look because it is not impossible to day trip it for something special. Would just add to the excitement.

OYBBK - totally agree, science requires so much maths knowledge. It has been one of my concerns as his maths skills are not up to applying the principles that factually he can understand. Additionally he likes to play dumb about his maths skills at home. School tells me he is way above average and yet he swears blind he does not know what 4 + 4 is and will insist on asking constantly. Unless there is some joke/logic answer that is not 8 that I am not grasping hmm I do not believe he is as useless as he claims but there is no point pushing the issue. although i might subtly point out the really cool applications like knowing about angles when playing pool

Higheredserf Mon 18-Aug-14 22:58:18

I would encourage the sport and other extra curricular subjects.

I have worked with people in the past that are worlds greatest expert on x subject but some struggled socially. He would probably prefer to hang out with people that are older than him.

My child is not at the G&T level of your DS though he is very clever. I have encouraged his friendships and sport.

I wouldn't encourage really early exam taking. I don't get the brow beating from him, he may be far cleverer academically than you or have the potential to be but he is a child and you are the parent and this kind of decision is yours to make.

Eastpoint Mon 18-Aug-14 22:59:24

No point in doing GCSEs early as the universities which are harder to get into want to see a student can handle a heavy work laid & study a range of subjects at the same time.

There are lots of outreach programs & the junior & intermediate maths challenges to look into. Ring your local university & speak to their outreach department, these are much more accessible if your child goes to a state school.

Astronomy & geology could be useful sidelines. On the computer try space engineers and the Kerbel Space Program. Both need maths, design & planning for success.

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