Advice needed...what next after Harry Potter AND is school too easy?

(96 Posts)
WhattodoSue Fri 12-Feb-16 10:25:05

I have two questions/problems which I've been hesitating asking because I don't want to sound like a pushy/boastful parent. But, I'm hoping it will be okay to ask them here because whilst I know my DD is bright, I also know she doesn't have an extraordinary academic ability like many of your DCs.

She is 6 in Y2, she is an avid reader. I let her read Harry Potter last year, and she read them all and loved them. She then saw the first film on Christmas Eve, and was thrilled, and read them all again. Since she finished the re-read (early January), she has basically just been reading them over and over. She reads the bits she likes most, jumps around, but I'm really struggling to get her into anything else. We tried one series - Tamora Pierce (at the recommendation of her piano teacher), but I'm actually rather relieved to say she decided she didn't want to read all of the second one or third one (having given them to her, I did some research and realised they were probably not at all appropriate for a six year old). I want to help her find another series which she can get engrossed in, but it is really hard finding things that are interesting AND suitable.

My second question/issue is about her school, and whether she is being challenged enough, and if it matters if she isn't. On a reading front, things are fine. Her school use ORT up to level 15, and she is on level 14 (which in old SAT money is working towards/within Lv4). She reads much more complex texts outside school, but the school work on explicit explanation etc. so I'm sure that is all fine. It is more about Maths. The school use a Maths Mastery programme, which is about depth of understanding, and so their way of stretching her is to have her work with a child who is working on a slightly lower level, so that she has to explain how things work to the other child. I do see the logic in that, but she tells me that the Maths work is very easy. She isn't too bothered, but I wondered if I should ask them how they extend their more able children. At the same time, I'm worried that they will look at me like I'm some insane pushy mum. I don't really know what she can do because she doesn't really get Maths homework. We had Alfie online tests to do last year, and in Y1 she could quite happily do the y2 tests. Should I talk to them or should I just trust that they know what they are doing? Her teacher is a maths specialist and has previously commented that DD has a good memory/mental arithmetic ability. The short summary of my long question is - is it best to push the school a little, or to let her coast a little (given she is only in infants school)?

If you got this far - thank you for reading!!

IAmAPaleontologist Fri 12-Feb-16 10:28:40

Little house books?
Other classics eg the secret garde, little princess, Peter Pan, charlottes web.........
Funny stuff like mr gum, the David Williamson books, fizzlebert stump.
The worst witch?

IAmAPaleontologist Fri 12-Feb-16 10:30:41

Wrt school I wouldn't worry, you can always talk to the teacher and ask about how they plan to work to her ability, I think that is a reasonable question but if your dd is happy then don't sweat, she is little, it is far more important to foster enjoyment is learning and enjoyment is working with numbers.

cuntinghomicidalcardigan Fri 12-Feb-16 10:40:14

Wrt to school I would have said the same as Paleontologist although keep an eye out and if she starts to get bored or disengages I would be straight into school.

For books, I am currently reading Famous Five books with my 3.5 yo and she loves them. How about something like anne of green gables or the chalet school? Or the Magic Faraway Tree/Wishing Chair book by Enid Blyton? Do you have a local library? If you could spend a little while down there browsing the shelves together I'm sure you could find something 😊

ReallyTired Fri 12-Feb-16 10:40:33

"She is 6 in Y2, she is an avid reader. I let her read Harry Potter last year, and she read them all and loved them."

Really.... even if a six year old can read harry potter, she is unlikely to have the emotional maturity to enjoy or understand them. I would let my daughter read the philopher's stone, but not the the Deathly Hallows. There is no way that the later Harry Potter books are suitable for a six year old however bright they are. The themes are too adult and there is a fair amount of violence.

There are lots of lovely books a six year old can access. My daughter has enjoyed Horrid Henry, The Faraway Tree and the Wishing chair by Enid Blyton. She has also enjoyed "My naughty little sister", "Mrs Pepperpot", "The Worst Witch" and some Roald Dahl books.

What is her writing ablity like? My daughter has had fun writing a story for the 500 words competition.

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/50pnqLfDywb9CFxjNvth5l0/about-500-words

WhattodoSue Fri 12-Feb-16 10:40:35

Thanks IAmAPaleontologist, for school, that is kind of what I have been thinking. There is a big advantage to her thinking Maths is easy, and if she is not complaining of being bored, then there are worse things than easy. At the same time, she loves to be challenged. For the books, I'm kind of regretting giving her HP because now, the classics all seem really slow to her. I have been trying to get her into a book called Masha by Mara Kay (which I loved as a child), and we have Anne of Green gables to try. But the problem is HP has such a pace to it, and an addictive quality, and currently nothing else compares for her. I wondered about Philip Pullman, although I must admit I didn't like the Dark Materials (but loved Harry Potter). Or Susan Cooper The Dark is Rising - but I'm not sure if they are too scary? I read one as a teenager, but not the rest.

ReallyTired Fri 12-Feb-16 10:48:17

Reading is not a race. Its not about who can read the fattest book going. I think you need to go back a few steps. Maybe the classic books are simply too hard for her. The Harry Potter books don't have a particularly high reading age which is why they are easy to get into. Does she like the blood thirsty nature of Harry Potter? Maybe she would like some books by Dick King-Smith or Michael Morporgo.

There are other books just as addictive as Harry Potter. When she is older (ie. eleven) she could read the Hunger Games. Its even more violent than the Deathly Hallows. However I strongly recommend you read the Hunger Games before letting your daughter near them. They are pretty blood thirsty.

WhattodoSue Fri 12-Feb-16 10:52:09

Really Tired my mum read Jane Eyre at 8. She was abroad and her teacher sent it to her. She almost certainly didn't fully understand it, but she certainly enjoyed it. I honestly did hesitate to give DD all of the HP books. We started them thinking she could have the first few now, and the others later. But she didn't find them scary, and the withholding was making them seem even more appealing. There are older themes in Harry Potter, but they are also very exciting stories. Even if my DD doesn't get some of the underlying themes and context, she LOVES these books. There is also violence in little red riding hood, Tom and Jerry, and loads of children's cartoons. My DD hated Awful Auntie because the Auntie is sitting there telling the little girl about the death of her parents, and the little girl is hearing about it for the first time, via a mean and horrible relation. But I think in Harry Potter, the fantasy world, and the fact that HP's parents death happens before the story really starts, means that she is able to quite easily understand this is fiction. DD is actually pretty good at self-censoring when she does find something upsetting. My view is that the reason the HP books are so popular is essentially because they are very well paced stories with good characters (I know not everyone will agree smile.

And irrespective, she has already ready them. She has also read all of the Enid Blyton school books (those were her obsession before HP). She was never that into the Faraway Tree, and I really tried to get her into the Famous Five, but she wasn't interested. She tried the Chalet School books, and read a couple, but unfortunately the pace doesn't compare to HP. She has read all of the Worst Witch books. We did try the library, but when she was younger, but she always picked up rubbish books that she didn't ever actually want to read (she selected based on pretty front covers generally). Maybe she would do better now she is a little older.

WhattodoSue Fri 12-Feb-16 11:00:05

*ReallyTired" I wouldn't dream of letting her read the Hunger Games. Having read the books and seen the films, I just don't think they would appeal to her now. They have no really child-friendly themes in my view (all YA). In terms of reading being a race - that is a comment to a parent not a child. Whatever your view on the HP books, my DD has read them and LOVES them. The question isn't whether she should have read them, the question is what I can tempt her with next which might have the same level of excitement. She has a tendency to fall in love with books/characters, and gets totally immersed and engrossed. I just need to find her something else to get immersed into smile.

cuntinghomicidalcardigan Fri 12-Feb-16 11:08:32

Just a quick search and I've found this link, are there any here which appeal to you?

www.goodreads.com/list/show/11097.If_You_Like_Harry_Potter_You_Might_Like_

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 11:12:06

Maths, you can try these sites:

www.khanacademy.org/

nrich.maths.org/frontpage

wild.maths.org/

ReallyTired Fri 12-Feb-16 11:15:22

Given that the later Harry Potter films are all rated 12 or 12A gives you an idea of what the content of the books are like. Even if a child can read the The Deathly Hallows at the age of six does not mean that they should. A twelve year old would enjoy those books far more. I don't think it's the height of brilliant parenting to allow an eight year old to read Jane Eyre either.

A child has the right to be protected from emotional harm however "gifted" they might be. A six year old should not be expected to self censor their reading matter. That is ridiculous. Yes, it means getting off mumsnet and reading some of these books before you let your daughter loose one them.

WhattodoSue Fri 12-Feb-16 11:24:48

ReallyTired things in a book and things in a film are not the same thing. How you imagine what is going on when you are reading is very different to the graphic portrayal in a film.

Children's stories or 'fairy-tales' have always been brutal because they have for centuries been seen as a way to help teach children about right and wrong. When my mother was sent that book, in the early 1950's, children were given classics to read all the time. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are violent. Children's cartoons are violent. In my opinion, there is more violence in those. Children don't necessarily understand things in the same way as adults do because their context is (thankfully) different. I read somewhere that many younger children are less upset by the idea of the dementors because they do not have a context within which they can understand them.

But given my question wasn't whether or not people approve of her having read Harry Potter, the fact that you don't is a little irrelevant to me. As is your opinion that I am a bad parent because I made a choice that is different to your own.

WhattodoSue Fri 12-Feb-16 11:31:01

Cardigan thanks for that. Looking at the list, my niece has been reading the Percy Jackson books. We have the Narnia books. I was wondering about trying those.

Wardrobespierre Fri 12-Feb-16 11:53:37

DD read Philosopher's Stone in reception. I let her read the others over time. Not because I didn't think she could but because I wanted her to appreciate them, not conquer them. She's nearly 9 and has only just read the final book.

She loved the classics. Tom Sawyer, Narnia, Alice, Stig, Black Beauty, Treasure Island, Willows, Tom's Midnight Garden, The Secret Garden, Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio, The Hobbit, Little House and on and on. She also liked Walliams, Horowitz and Stanton and recently devoured Skulduggery Pleasant and Artemis Fowl. She is reading Pratchett atm.

She is getting a lot out of helping other children with maths. She is taken out of class weekly to do more advanced maths and spends time helping teach the others. Both things really help.

TheWanderingUterus Fri 12-Feb-16 12:02:05

DS is 6 (Yr1) and the same with reading and maths. His sister was the same at his age. Both of them have Amazon lists they are not aware of. I spend an hour or so every now and again looking for age appropriate books that I think they will enjoy. The 'recommendations' and 'other customers bought' sections are quite useful for this. Both of them like exciting, dramatic and funny books and it hasn't been very hard to cater to their tastes. DD liked Igraine the Brave, Lizzie Dripping, Clover Twig, Ronia the Robber's Daughter, The Farthest Away Mountain at that age. DS is devouring Minecraft/Star Wars crossovers (yes they are as bad as they sound) and Termoonators/Astrosaurs, Mr Stink, Mammoth Academy etc.

I am very hands off with the primary school, DC are bright and interested in learning and thats all thats important at this point. You will find as she goes up the school then she will start being challenged a bit more. DD's school do enrichment activities from year 5 for the more able, stream for maths and in Year 6 they send the brightest mathematicians to the local secondary. The fact your DD is already on such a high ORT level for her age reflects the fact that the school is already responsive to her. A lot of schools wouldn't allow her to reach this stage until Yr 3 at least.

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 12:19:32

If you talk about age appropriate, I would be the worst mother.
My ds was allowed to play 12+ games, read 9+ books at 4, and allowed to watch 12+ films at 7! Obviously I checked first. But maybe maturity level can differ according to each child?

Mistigri Fri 12-Feb-16 12:54:21

Children understand books on different levels depending on their age. They can always reread them later! As a very young child DD who is bilingual used to watch a French children's programme called "les malheurs de Sophie" (the misfortunes of Sophie) which are loosely based on a series of 19th century novels about an adopted child who suffers actual child abuse (the TV shows mostly skate over this bit). At 4, DD read the books. God knows what she got out of them - they are written in a dense, old fashioned, flowery french that isn't easy for modern children to understand. But she enjoyed them and that's good enough for me. She read the Narnia books around the same age and I'm sure much of the symbolism went straight over her head. Who cares? The books don't go away and if they enjoy them they will come back to them, as the OP's daughter has been doing.

OP, have your daughter try books by Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia C Wrede, these were big hits with my dd around age 6.

Mistigri Fri 12-Feb-16 13:02:04

PS - specific recommendations

The enchanted forest chronicles - Patricia C Wrede
Power of Three/ Chrestomanci series (JK Rowling borrowed from these)/ the Ogre Downstairs/ Dog Star - Diana Wynne Jones - all completely suitable for a child who has read HP, and both authors are good at strong female characters.

Power of Three is my DD's favourite book ever (which warms my heart, because it was my favourite too). We now have two completely trashed copies that have been read to destruction, one hers and one mine.

Minniemagoo Fri 12-Feb-16 13:10:05

You might be on the right track with Perry Jackson, DD read them around aged 8 and loved them and Rick Riordan also has other series. The fact they are fantasy might work. DS (7) currently loves Skullduggery Pleasent by Derek Land (Zombie detective series) and Eoin Colfer 's Artemis Fowl series, another boy wizard.

Minniemagoo Fri 12-Feb-16 13:11:24

Cressida Cowell 's series how to train your Dragon is good too.

irvine101 Fri 12-Feb-16 13:12:34

Mistigri, Do you have any recommendation for boy who loves monsters, dragons, heroes, sword, etc?

howabouthisone Fri 12-Feb-16 13:17:12

I wouldnt worry about the re reading my dd re read Harry Potter endlessly and still loves it, she did read Twilight and jaquiline wilson and a few other teen books in between. It didnt do her any harm, she loves reading which is handy now she is at med school, as she has to plough through piles of text books at speed.

Mistigri Fri 12-Feb-16 13:23:22

How old irvine?

You can't go wrong with the classics - has he read Narnia, the Hobbit, the Earthsea trilogy? I'd say the first Earthsea book would be OK from 8 for a child who isn't too sensitive. The second book is more young adult not in its scariness but in terms of protagonists and subject matter.

My DS wasn't a big fantasy reader so I'm not so clued up on what might appeal to boys. DD was a big fan of a French author called Pierre Bottero who gets read a lot here by boys and girls alike (it's more Earthsea than Harry Potter) - but I don't know if they have ever been translated. If they have, then perfect for pre-teens - DD read them at around 8/9.

DingbatsFur Fri 12-Feb-16 13:26:38

Noel Streadfield and the classics!
Beverly Cleary
E. L konigsburg
Cressida Cowell
Reading is definitely not a race! It's a pack of biscuits to be savored.

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