How advanced is my son (4)? Perspective and opinions please!

(63 Posts)
Cat98 Mon 16-Jul-12 19:39:38

Ok, DS is only just 4 so is in the nursery class at school. Due to start reception in Sept (he will be one of the younger ones in his year).
At school they have said he is working at quite a high level with numbers. I have spoken this weekend to a family member with a 6 year old who is meeting all his targets at school (so not behind) and when I told her what my son is doing with regards to numbers she said it's incredibly high level for his age (more than her son is doing) and that we should "push the school" to make sure he is catered for.. I am very sceptical so I thought I'd get some honest (mn) opinions as to whether he is really THAT advanced.

He can count up to 1000 plus though not sure about 2000 onwards.
He can do simple multiplications (3x5 etc), can do addition up to 20 (9=5 etc), subtraction - same, can count backwards, can count in 2s, 5s and 10s up to at least 100, knows about halves and quarters, can divide even numbers up to 10 by 2. He can also work out the difference between, say, 47 and 52 by counting between the numbers though would struggle with something far apart like 47 and 76.
I think he is bright but not exceptional.
Reading - yes he is above average but can only read simple sentences (the cat sat on the mat etc) - would strugggle with more difficult words though would have a go if they made phonetic sense.

Has my SIL got a point or is it just a case of bringing him on at home (he loves numbers so it's all fun at the moment) and let schol do/think whatever?
SIL says that in reception they will be doing number recognition up to 20 and that would be a waste of time for him.

Thank you
Cat

Llareggub Fri 20-Jul-12 23:43:58

My son is pretty good wit numbers although not like yours. He has just finished reception and when he started used to like doing sums on my iPad before bed. He could do division and multiplication in his head and can tell the time. What has been frustrating is that he just won't do it in school, and spends all his time outside in the construction area, building stuff. So his school report doesn't reflect what I know he can do. So don't panic if he doesn't do any of this in reception, I think it is an important year for just learning how to learn and that sort of thing. My son has loved it.

RedHelenB Sat 21-Jul-12 18:52:41

I think there will be opportunities for him to continue on with his maths, I have done no maths work with my son beyond the worksheets sent home form school & listening to him tell me what he knows & discovered that he had place value to the thousands & could count in tens a long way!! If the interest is there then there will be opportunities to learn at his level & tbh quick number bonds to ten underpin so much mental maths work that it won't be detrimental if he does cover what he already knows with something like even to just quicken him up or help with the difference between 47 & 76 (should know it ends in 9)

Cat98 Sun 22-Jul-12 10:02:08

Thanks everyone. Floggingmolly - I know it doesn't sound like fun but when we are walking to school, my son sometimes wants to count! Just count. He loves it. So he knows certainly up to 1000 from that!
I think he will be like your son in school llareggrub - so many fun outdoorsy things to play with which I know he loves, and when they do maths things in small groups (how they like to teach at his school) - he will be too shy to speak up. I think I will mention it but like you all say there are other important skills he will be learning in reception.
Whoever mentioned fine motor skills - yes these could do with work, he can't do up his coat zip for example! Though his writing Is pretty good.

cornflakegirl Tue 07-Aug-12 13:58:10

I would agree that putting up a year is not particularly helpful. My DS1 had numeracy and literacy with older classes until recently (just finished Y2) and I don't think it's been good for him socially (hence stopping it).

Agree with RedHelen about getting secure in techniques. DS1 grasped mental calculations quickly, but didn't necessarily know what calculation he was doing, which makes it tricky to extend to harder calculations. (So, he could divide 20 by 4, but might not be able to divide 18 by 4, because he didn't just know it.) So stuff like number lines will help him extend what he can do innately.

There are lots of things you can do at home to keep him interested and stretched at maths. DS1 really loves the BBC Bitesize website - I'm good at maths but not necessarily good at teaching, so this is good for expanding his knowledge without me stretching him too far. He also sets himself maths puzzles to do. And we play board games, which help with problem solving and logic. Mainly we just encourage him in his love of numbers.

The one thing I do find, with him used to finding things easy at school, is that he's sometimes reluctant to try a problem that he doesn't immediately know how to solve, even if he does actually know all the techniques that he needs.

Cat98 Sun 16-Sep-12 10:25:02

Just wanted to thank everyone for the tips and advice, and provide a mini update for anyone who is interested!
He is a week and a half into reception and enjoying it. His teacher said to me as I picked him up on thurs that 'he's done really well with his maths today, brilliant!' when I asked him what he had done he said he had to 'stand on' numbers and he was asked what was 1 more than 6, and 1 less than 8 etc. he can do this no problem obviously. But I wonder do they know that he can actually answer qs like 'what is 3 less than 98' etc.. Probably not! But I guess they have noticed he's pretty good anyway. I certainly won't mention anything else at this stage, would you agree?

StillSquiffy Tue 18-Sep-12 10:20:59

I would mention it, and would use some of the really good websites with your son to practice on, but I see no reason whatsoever to 'push the school', unless your DS shows signs of being really bored, or not enjoying what he's doing.
DD is exceptionally bright and her teachers are all very aware of it, as it became apparent when she was still in nursery. Whilst they bring her along at a fair old clip, they are quite deliberately (and with my approval) not 'pushing' her, as neither they nor we see any real benefit. If she does start to get bored it will be a different matter, and we're waiting for that moment, but for now she skips to school, races through her homework in a heartbeat and goes out in the garden to play. We could race her through the maths and the reading levels, but see no point to this. I'm happy that she is only a level or two ahead of the class in ORT, rather than miles ahead - it'd do her no good and potentially a lot of harm for her friends or anyone else to 'differentiate' her.

will think differently of course, once scholarships are in the offing

CakeBump Tue 18-Sep-12 10:25:47

I'm a year 2 teacher and the times tables, numbers up to 1000, halves and quarters, division by 2 and 10 etc are the sorts of things we cover, and some of it would be extension work even then.

tbh I've had a fair few 7 yr olds who can't grasp this stuff, so I would say that yes, your 4 year old sounds very bright.

CakeBump Tue 18-Sep-12 10:26:48

Looking at your last post, I would speak to the teachers as unless he volunteers what he knows, reception teachers are unlikely to pick it up as they won't be looking for it.

purplehouse Tue 18-Sep-12 10:37:22

I think you should mention the maths, it sounds like he is extremely bright in this area and they may not spot this because they won't be looking at some of the things he can do.

For reading, it will be easier. Children have an appropriate book for their personal level so he will just get one that suits him.

It is a maths issue really, the reading is at a very good "normal" level and they can easily deal with it. It will be very easy for them to spot as well because there is writing everywhere and he will presumably read things that he sees.

BrainSurgeon Tue 18-Sep-12 10:38:25

Wow! that's pretty damn cool! My DS is 4 on 2 weeks and just started Reception, he can count to 100 and do additions/subtractions by 1 and I thought he was quite clever wink

Agree with CakeBump, speak to the teachers but personally I would say wait a bit longer - perhaps until half term - to see if they figure it out. You will be a lot more credible once they had some time to know your DS a bit better.

BrainSurgeon Tue 18-Sep-12 10:38:54

Sorry meant 4 AND 2 weeks not on

BrainSurgeon Tue 18-Sep-12 10:40:18

Oh and reading / writing already? sounds well advanced too. DS can only write the first 2 letters of his name and can't read words yet...

GobblersKnob Tue 18-Sep-12 10:44:52

He sounds very similar to ds at the same age. We chose to do nothing about it really in terms of school until he was in year three and started Junior school. Up until then we just supported him at home, fortuntely dp is extremely good at maths so it isn't a problem.

He is eight now and luckily the school he is at is rather good at maths teaching and has had a lot of pupils do well, he has 2 hours of one to one tuition a week within school as do a few other pupils.

They have had several children tke their GCSE before they are eleven. I don't know if ds will be at that level, he has a lot of other interests and we don't really push him in any particular direction.

Cat98 Tue 18-Sep-12 14:52:09

Thank you.
I think there's a parents evening at the end of this half term so I'll mention it then - how do you say something like that?! Seriously - how should we word it without sounding like a pushy parent?

We have also been doing some estimating lately as a friend who is a teacher asked how his estimation is and we didn't have a clue. He estimated that he has 100 cars (he has 92) and he estimated 20 quavers in a packet - sounds about right we thought (we didn't count them!) Have tried with a couple more groups of things and he is quite good at it I think. Though again, if friends hadn't said stuff and I hadn't asked on here I would still just assume top end of normal, a bit like the reading. Speaking to parents I am pretty certain there are at least two or three others at a similar reading stage, allbeit September/Oct birthdays, so I am not worried about that side of it really.

Cat98 Tue 18-Sep-12 14:53:00

Oh and brainsurgeon - when I say "writing" he can write his name and write CVC words, that's it, so not writing pages of prose or anything!

BrainSurgeon Tue 18-Sep-12 15:03:34

grin @ prose - give him a couple of months and he'll get there wink

To answer your question, I guess I would try and approach it from an "asking for advice" perspective? (sorry I'm not very good at giving examples but hope you get what I mean?)

Cat98 Tue 18-Sep-12 15:05:11

Thanks, yes I do know what you mean. Very helpful smile

ISeeThreadPeople Tue 18-Sep-12 15:05:43

My dd is a year older than your ds but started reception at the same age iyswim.

DD, like your ds, was and is a clever cookie. She could read and write before starting school and her maths was at a v similar level. It never occured to me to worry about school 'stretching' her, simply because we chose a school we loved. We liked the atmosphere, the teaching staff and the focus on each child as an individual. They don't bother with G&T (I don't think dd is g&t btw) but they do like to stretch sideways where necessary and every single child in the class, to my knowledge, was stretched at an appropriate level. And often without knowing about it.

DD ADORED reception. She did so many projects, made brilliant friends, played and played and played and her teacher stretched her academically in ways dd wasn't even aware of. She's in y1 now and reading chapter books, understands percentages and is obsessed with division, asks to do more complicated sums etc. She writes 'books' and illustrates them, writes poetry and songs, plays shops an awful lot (she likes the calculations), gets books out of the library every week, an even split between fact and fiction and she keeps a diary. We go along to museums and open days and anything really. Whatever might spark an interest.

I think the thing I've learnt is that a bright child is often very self-motivated if you give them the opportunity. I think personality plays a part, but dd very much likes to self-direct her learning. She is interested in birds atm for example so we made a bird feeder, read up about garden birds, took photos, drew pictures etc and did some planting of things which would attract more wildlife, all the time learning about associated stuff like photosynthesis and pollenation.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 19-Sep-12 16:53:07

I have found that being good at maths is nice in KS1, but it isn't really rated until KS2. The focus seems to mainly be on reading in KS1 and this is definately what other parents see and rate children by.
However, come KS2 the emphasis seems to shift to maths. DD whilst being described as a gifted mathematician at the end of year 1 has never seen herself as one of the clever ones until she arrived in KS2. Now she is able to see where she stands compared to older children and is able to appreciate that her Maths ability is more than something nice, but actually something really quite unique and special. She hasn't suffered from the lack of emphasis in fact I think she has benefited from nothing being made of it until she was really able to appreciate how special it is.
The observation I would make is that he should get a lot out of the measuring and 3D shape aspects of maths in KS1.
I don't speak of DDs achievements to anyone beyond my family and this is something I am very glad of. No other parent at school has any idea where DD is working and this again is a good thing as she gets no negative vibes about being good at maths - something I suffered from horribly.

Cat98 Wed 19-Sep-12 19:18:39

It certainly seems like ds is self motivated at the moment though I am not sure how long it will last! (it didn't with me...)
I certainly don't talk to many other people about what he can do, it's only really been close family members or friends with children of different ages when the subject has come up (I haven't blabbed about it to any of his peers' parents because I wouldn't want comparing or to sound smug!)

He told me tonight that his teacher asked him today "what is double one" and he said "I don't know"! Hmm. When I told him that "doubling meant "times by two" he got it straight away and we did doubles up to 100 taking it in turns. But his teachers will not realise what he can do - he just didn't know the term "double"!

Cat98 Sat 29-Sep-12 09:43:06

Another update - met with ds's teacher yesterday and have come away feeling reassured and very happy that he is in such a lovely school smile!they have noticed some of his abilities (though didn't know the full extent of the maths but I told her a couple of the things he's been doing at home) and she said she already differentiates - will give ds a different but similar task for example so stretching him sideways I guess.

She also told me some more about her teaching ethos and I am very happy and relieved, I'm sure he's in the right place! He happy too which is the main thing. She said 'it's a good class this year, but your ds especially stands out'. They do a lot of learning outside which ds loves and he is clearly confident with her as he was chatting away to her, which is a surprise as he can be very shy.
Thanks for all the advice!

Bunnyjo Sat 06-Oct-12 09:43:24

My DD sounds very much like your DS at the same age - she is now 5 and in Yr1. She's a late August born and, before starting school, she could count way beyond 1000, add and subtract 2 and 3 digit numbers, knew her 2, 5 and 10x tables and could do more abstract things like tell the time to the quarter hour. I knew she was bright, but didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. The school quickly noticed she was very bright, both with literacy and numeracy and she had a fantastic first year in school - they differentiated the work well and she made excellent progress.

Mid way through reception, she announced she knew what the biggest number in the world was; I expected her to say a million or suchlike, but she said 'It is infinity and it looks like a bow, or an eight on its side... But it isn't really a number, it's just bigger than any other number and means it goes on forever! I saw that Professor talking about it on the television.' She meant Professor Brian Cox!

She's now been streamed into the Yr2/3 class and she's thriving. She does, however, have 2 left feet and cannot do sporty things for toffee grin.

I am realistic, though; she is ahead of all her peers at the moment, but these things have a habit of levelling themselves out. As long as she continues to love school and make progress, then we will all be happy. Whether she is the brightest at the end of Yr6 (or Yr11/13 for that matter), does not matter.

Cat98 Tue 13-Nov-12 17:19:56

Wow bunnyjo that sounds great!
We had parents evening the other day and I was gobsmacked, as they not only "spotted" ds but noticed lots of things I hadn't even thought they might! They told me he is very advanced and that he is now working on the yr 2/3 maths targets. They also said they did a standard language comprehension test with him and he scored "in the 99.9th percentile for his age"? (does anyone know what that might have been?!
Like you I am staying realistic however, as I know it might level out, but I hope they continue to bring him on and not let him stagnate.

anitasmall Sat 17-Nov-12 16:32:19

Hi Cat98,

My daughter is a bit like yours. She is in Year 1 and is in HA group both from Maths and Reading. She is very tiny and the youngest in her class so for her going to year 2 is not a solution. I already accepted that the British education system is only free child care. I rather try to spend more time with her playing music (recorder, Kodaly method) or taking her to sport activities (music, fencing).

anitasmall Sat 17-Nov-12 17:01:13

Bunnyjo,

My daughter knows exactly the same things that yours. All the class was assessed and then they told me she is very advanced...

However! I am not convinced that she is G&T. In her class she is not the only child that knows how to add and take away 2 digit numbers and knows the 2,3,5,10 times table. We can not compare this generation with ours.

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