Is it actually of any benefit for DC to be pushed at primary school?

(19 Posts)
velociraptor Mon 22-Feb-16 13:26:49

DS is naturally very good at maths. He just seems to understand, quite complex ideas, with very little explanation. I really really don't want to be a horribly pushy parent and annoy his teachers, but obviously I do want the best for him. We don't do any real learning at home, but I do answer his questions, with help from Google if I don't know, and encourage him to learn.

I have thought for a long time, that he is not being challenged at school. His school reports seem to show him as just ahead of where he should be, which is fine but really nowhere near where he could be.

He is in Y3 and yesterday as an experiment I tried him with some Y7 maths problems to see how he got on. He could do most of them with no problem.

I just can't decide if it is something I should raise with the school or not. I suspect if I do nothing he will carry on cruising along, a bit ahead and maybe that is good enough. If I raise it I risk upsetting his teachers and being seen as one of 'those' parents. It just seems a bit of a waste when he is capable of so much more. I am also aware that they are the experts, and I am very much not.

So is it worth raising? Is there likely to be any benefit to DS of being challenged a bit more, or should I just let the teachers get on with it?

JustRichmal Mon 22-Feb-16 13:41:44

If you are not teaching him at home and he can do year 7 maths when he is in year 3, the school must be doing a good job of teaching him.

Lurkedforever1 Mon 22-Feb-16 19:36:27

Depends what you mean by pushed. It's not good for any child to get the impression they don't need to try, it leaves them unprepared with how to deal with work that is challenging. If you mean pushed from the pov of what is the highest they can achieve in the nc just for the sake of achieving it, then I don't think they need it. (Exception being if you need proof your child isn't being adequately provided for).

irvine101 Mon 22-Feb-16 20:29:02

My ds is similar, Yr3 and can do YR7 work easily. But listening to maths teachers' advice on MN, we started to do more of problem solving, reasoning work.

These are good sites for it.

wild.maths.org/

nrich.maths.org/frontpage

I think it's worth mentioning to school, but like Justrichmal said, if you haven't done anything at home and he can do YR7 work, school seems to be doing a good job. My ds learned everything at home.

var123 Mon 22-Feb-16 22:17:37

I've often asked myself the same question in the subject - is there any benefit overall?

I think there is overall but it is finely balanced.
Being challenged:
PROS
Maths is fun
The child learns to work hard
The child learns resilience and perseverance

CONS
risk of becoming an outsider within the class
risk of getting big headed
harder work for the teacher
teacher may only a have a GCSE in maths and by year 5 or 6 may not be able to teach ahead
possibility of not being secure with the basics
running out of things to do before sitting the GCSEs age 15/16, or sitting them early

NOT BEING CHALLENGED
PROS
Easier for the teacher and for class planning
tons of time to develop mastery
learn to cope with boredom (useful life skill if this is the result)
school is easy

CONS
Stressful for child if people aren't straight with them about why they are being held back
Gnawing boredom
tendency towards perfectionism ("the teacher says I will get do something new when I can show her that I can get 100% three times in a row")
Resentment towards others who continually hold up the class

As to speaking to the teacher, IME you could try, and if you do try, do it with a smile. However, don't hold your breath. Chances are the teacher already knows and either can't or won't do anything about it. IME, if they want to do something, they'll already be doing it.

var123 Mon 22-Feb-16 22:18:53

One more con to being unchallenged - its the biggest one - the child loses their enthusiasm for the subject and thinks of it as on a level with watching paint dry.

iseenodust Tue 23-Feb-16 08:54:40

Out of VARs list, the key point for us with DS became risk of being an outsider. We didn't go and ask for a push but found out that he was having one-to-one maths with the deputy head when in yr4. We didn't do any maths at home at all and focussed on sport for challenge/socialising/dealing with not being top !

Now he's in yr7, there is no setting (and negligible differentiation) for maths until yr8 and complaining of extreme boredom. Even if you have a really positive conversation with this year's teacher there is no guarantee that next year's teacher will pick up the baton.

senua Tue 23-Feb-16 09:05:43

Regarding standard syllabus, don't push. Otherwise you end up with the DC having finished Further Maths A Level at age 10 and where do they go from there? (OK, I'm exaggerating. But you get the point).
Extend on stuff that is outside the syllabus. Go wider, not faster.

var123 Tue 23-Feb-16 10:23:15

Go wider, not faster.
Agreed, but with two caveats:
1. there is limited scope to go wider in the early years e.g. once a child has learned about hundreds, its obvious to mention thousands or one they can multiply two digit numbers, there is only so much playing with shapes before you start learning the names (and properties?) of the 3d ones.

2. It is even more difficult (almost impossible) to get the school to teach outside the curriculum, which is what go wider is. So, you'll have to do it outside school and take what ever a maths lesson consists of in class.

If its any consolation, secondary school is much the same. DS1 (year 9) -top set - complained this morning that they are doing coordinates and straight lines this week, something which he had mastered long before leaving primary school. Sweetly, he thinks that if he answers all the questions correctly every time, the teacher will maybe think he can do it and give him somethign else. I say sweetly but it did leave me wondering how he hasn't noticed that this does not work

SoupDragon Tue 23-Feb-16 10:35:37

DS wasn't challenged in primary school and his boredom showed in his behaviour. As he was able to complete everything with ease and little effort, he had plenty of spare capacity for being an idiot.

Obviously maturity helped, but when he went to an academically selective secondary and was competing with "intellectual peers" his behaviour improved.

I'm not sure challenging him in primary would have made much difference to where he is academically though.

Greenleave Tue 23-Feb-16 12:47:54

My main issue in not giving my daughter more challenging works is her over confidence thinking she is great at Maths while the fact is she is great at maths at her school level only and could be bottom among tops in other school. From my checks she isnt that good, the school isnt doing anything extra. I will then have to help her if I'd like her to be at the level she could be. Its a quite personal thing also I think. We went for a holiday and met quite few yr3 children abroad and their mentals maths are amazing, faster and more accurate. Their verbal reasonings are very good too, my daughter is only in a middle. If you are lucky and having your school supports then why not try to push further, many children loves learning and being challenged. Apparently after this mini competition during the holiday then my daughter now realises she isnt so good and there are so much else to learn and many yr3 out there are much better than her. She asked me to help her to improve

irvine101 Tue 23-Feb-16 13:14:18

That is so true, Greenleave. In my ds's school in a sleepy rural town, my ds might be best in his year group. But he may not even be in the middle in the competitive private school! ( But my ds isn't competitive at all, he doesn't get motivated by competition like your dd.)

velociraptor Thu 25-Feb-16 13:31:36

Lurked, I think that is my biggest concern, that at some point, things will get harder, and he won't be able to deal with it, so will give up, as he is used to finding things easy. I am not too worried about him getting bored a t the moment, as he seems to be enjoying school in general. He says its boring, but skips off there happily enough every day.

var123 Thu 25-Feb-16 14:07:05

Yes, that can happen. It helps if he has had experience of having to try really hard, or even fail and try again, in some area of his learning.

Otherwise the standard advice is learn to play an instrument as no one can just do that without putting in the effort to see progress. It makes sense but I didn't do this (and wish I had).

irvine101 Thu 25-Feb-16 14:29:49

Var, learning to play an instrument is really working for my ds. I think he finally found something that doesn't come easy but wants to achieve. The other day, he stormed off after trying to practice at home, saying this is to difficult. I didn't say anything, but he came back a minute later and started to practice again. I just hope he carries on.

Greenleave Thu 25-Feb-16 20:27:29

Irvine: great news on starting instrument, what instrument he is playing now?
Var: its never too late, why not try something easy for a self starter like guitar?

irvine101 Fri 26-Feb-16 06:44:46

Greenleave, he just stated learning piano. While ago, he wasn't interested at all, but he got hooked with one of you tube musician. I'm just glad he found something else, not computer. smile

JustRichmal Fri 26-Feb-16 09:53:12

Is he learning year 7 maths at home or at school? If he is learning it at home, is it from the computer with something like Khan Academy or are you teaching him? If he is just working it out for himself, he really is a genius, because if you gave a child in year 3 a list of numbers say: 1,3 5,7 and asked them what the nth term was, unless they had been taught, I doubt they would have a clue.
If he is learning successfully from a computer programme or from maths books you could perhaps point out to the school that this is what he is doing at home, that he will continue to do this as he has an interest in it and that you need to work with them to find the best way for his school lessons to progress.
I taught dd so that I was sure she was not skipping bits of the curriculum. She got far ahead very quickly. This is not something that was popular with school. They like all children to go roughly at the same pace.

Cuttheraisins Mon 29-Feb-16 18:11:25

What do teachers say at parents evening or meetings? Has anyone ever raised that he is good at maths? For my DS (and we are not pushy parents!) it was raised by the teacher in reception, but year 1 and 2 he was just slightly ahead of others in his class, not by miles. It's in year three that his teacher really noticed his ability to understand complex maths concepts, sequences, fractions, percentages, decimals, etc. So from year 3 onwards he has had more support from his teachers and more challenging work.

He does sometimes come home and says that he has learned nothing new today, but generally he is challenged and excited about school. You really need to work with the teachers, they do welcome input from parents. But also, many children will be able to perform really well in a home environment where there are no distractions, compared to a classroom where there are 29 other children!

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