If your DC was 'ahead' before attending school, what happened please?

(23 Posts)
sedgieloo Wed 01-May-13 13:25:39

Just to give you a bit of context. Dd is my first child. She has just had her 2.5 year check. It was acknowledged that she is quite advanced with things and it was suggested that I start looking at schools where the teacher:pupil ratio was such that she would get the attention she might need.

I have a young baby so I am struggling to find time to do the latter just yet. But it is playing on my mind that she may get bored at school. Additionally she is very very tall (99.6 centile) and on top of it she will be among the oldest in her class - will she become a bit of a misfit? Would they put her up a class?

I wonder if you may have any thoughts to share please as to what might happen or what I should do especially as I am giving thought to preschool. Also we do have two examples in my family (mother, brother) who were bored/hated school because of similar reasons, but perhaps (hopefully?) things today are different.

LightAFire Wed 01-May-13 15:04:17

What should happen is the school will cater for her needs and differentiate the work as in theory yes things are different now.

But there is still a big risk that she will be left to her own devices and get very bored a lot of the time. My DD is suffering the same. Sept baby, tall, and also very bright. They've stuck her on the Gifted & Talented register but in practice nothing has changed for her. (I am also a primary teacher and have been Gifted & Talented co-ordinator, where I spent a lot of time trying to convince colleagues to do more for the children!)

Sorry I am a bit cynical about correct differentiation - I do know of some fab places where the G&T children have truly been challenged, and also of some where children have gone up a year (sometimes in just one subject), but not many. I have also spoken to a great many parents of bright children whose main complaint has been lack of challenge/boredom.

The good thing is she does not need to be a misfit no - just make sure you teach her to be careful with others' feelings and to remember everyone is good at something, and we should value all skills not just academia. Also be prepared to do enrichment-type activities with her in case your school do not.

Hopefully though you will be able to find one of the better places - good luck!

pippop1 Wed 01-May-13 15:16:15

DS2 was a really good reader before he went to school and could add and take away including minus numbers in his head. I decided to let the teachers find out for themselves.

When he was seven I sent him to a tutor for one hour per week for one-to-one stuff and she was careful to give him extension stuff rather than pushing ahead so that he would be good at school.

I think he had a rather easy time of it and was able to get a scholarship for a good indie school as he had lots of time (and enjoyed) to do other work at home. He's just about to graduate and has a good job to start.

sedgieloo Wed 01-May-13 16:15:52

LightAfire - that's such a helpful reply thank you. There are three schools I want to call. Two of the three have outstanding ofsted reports the other 'good'. I just looked quickly at their websites. How much notice should I take of these ratings please? Also how would I discern how 'good' a school is at catering for children ready to learn at an accelerated pace. I don't actually know what g&t means in reality, I am guessing an extra class once a week. I remember I got taken out for such a class for 'logical thinkers' this was in the olden days.

Also great point about training her to consider others. She is not aware that she is in any way advanced but unfortunately at the moment she is not relating well with toddlers her own age, I think because they cannot converse. She mixes much better with 3 year olds and older.

sedgieloo Wed 01-May-13 16:20:47

...I mean to say, things should even out before school, certainly with verbal skills. I am keen for her to be able to relate to her peer group and not look down on anyone or become precocious!

LightAFire Wed 01-May-13 16:44:20

sedgieloo you are very welcome!

G&T is a register the school keeps, usually based on classroom obs/exams (ie teacher judgement) and is updated roughly every year. In many schools parents are not told their children are on it or even that it exists. In some schools there are extra activities, but for many it just means they have been acknowledged as having a skill/overall gifts and they are "catered for in the classroom". What this means is, more often than not it is up to the individual teacher, so you can have good/bad years.

Ofsted ratings don't necessarily correspond to how well a school does with bright children - they look at every element of a school including things like potential to improve. Look through the actual reports to see if they make any mention of how the bright children are handled. Also, when you speak to the schools, ask them about it and see what they say. Is it all just handled in class? What would being on the G&T register mean in practice for children? Do they have a separate co-ordinator or (as is more usual) is it just handled by the SENCO? (Who is often only part time.)

Re relating to others my DD had same trouble when younger - it's easier now (she is in Y2). But she can still get frustrated - hence I have insisted she does not say insensitive things like "it's easy" as it makes others feel crap! I also personally believe that many talents and skills are undervalued in education and more should be made of them - not everyone is an academic and that's a good thing!

pippop also makes a good point re trying not to get too "ahead" as it can lead to more boredom. Better to do stuff extending or separate from the curriculum where possible (later on I mean) - so for example, dinosaurs aren't covered in primary and lots of children are fascinated. Puzzles and problems always good too.

My other top tips are:
- expect school to mainly be a socialising environment for your DD. It is highly likely you will need to do extra bits yourself.
- make sure she isn't "pushed". Challenged is great, but don't run the risk of her going off education entirely. (Also once taught a child who used to get so stressed she would hit herself on the head when she didn't immediately understand!)
- when you feel frustrated (which you probably will at some point!) find other mums in the same boat and talk to them. Be careful of general forums - there will always be people whose children are having a horrible struggle and it can seem a bit insensitive to them at times as you can imagine.
- You could get a book like this for more general advice: www.amazon.co.uk/Parents-Carers-Guide-Talented-Children/dp/1855391287

If there's anything else you'd like to know, please do ask, happy to help!

badmumalert Wed 01-May-13 21:16:43

Well, your DD sounds very like mine. She is now in Year 1, has a 1st week of September birthday and is very tall. There was a party at the weekend and they all lined up for a photo and several mums commented on what a freak she is how tall she is.

DD is on the G&T register. They have done this because, in their words, 'Ofsted will like to see some children on the register'. The G&T Coordinator is the SENCO and as over 20% of the school have SENs and she is a form teacher, she has made it clear that we should be talking about DD's work with her form teacher who, in her words, doesn't "agree with that sort of thing".

She should benefit from differentiated work but a recent mishap with the homework showed that she was getting the same as everyone else (which her younger brother could do).

I wouldn't say boredom is a factor. You'll hear parents say that their child is such a genius that they are bored at school. I think that a bright student can find a way to entertain themselves, if not learn deeper e.g. my DD write and illustrates a story at school every day.

I am not sure what you can do to find the right school. Ideally you would need to speak to a parent of an older and bright child to get an idea of their experiences. Our school is Outstanding and makes all the right noises. I cannot think of a question I could have asked in advance to illicit a genuine response.

I'd love to know what he answer is myself!

Good luck, and be proud of your girl!

LightAFire Wed 01-May-13 22:56:34

badmumalert sadly boredom actually is often a factor - for all children not just the G&T ones! With them though it is usually not because the child is a genius, but simply because they are being asked to do either the same tasks over and over, or because when they finish the initial same-as-everyone work early they just get given more of the same. Some children may not mind this, but for a lot of them it is both demotivating and boring.

Also very often they are not given the option to write/illustrate/do other things/deeper learning which they would enjoy - they are set very prescribed activities which they are expected to complete. Especially as they go further up the school. Good differentiation makes all children happier - the ideal is for them all to feel challenged and interested and yet able to cope, but doesn't always happen. It just depends on the individual teacher really. Out of school though, I entirely agree there are always ways for them to entertain themselves.

What you describe re G&T is very familiar unfortunately. And yes, the schools can make the right noises and then not do things!

LightAFire Wed 01-May-13 22:58:19

oh and sedgieloo, badmum's suggestion re trying to find someone else who went to a school is a great idea. Maybe you could post something on the local area talk board, or under primary schools, see if anyone knows of any in your area?

sedgieloo Thu 02-May-13 14:14:43

LightAfire and badmumalert - thanks so much for the replies. Sorry to delay responding. I am a bit run ragged with my two just now but ... It's given me lots to think about. I feel in a much better position now as I look at schools. This mention of differentiating is also helpful, and I would not have known that g&t can sometimes just be a list.

I would like to know that a school would be ready and equipped to engage her should she need it because I fully expect that most of all she will love the social aspect of being in a class. She is a real extravert and very exuberant and sociable and I can just imagine this taking over if she does get bored.

One final question please, would you give much consideration to class size as was mentioned at her check? Thank you again smile

LightAFire Thu 02-May-13 14:50:16

A list they don't share with parents either! It really does vary from place to place - some have all sorts of extra stuff, others just "cater in class".
Incidentally my DD also chats away when not kept entertained! Part of her problem is her main ability is in logic, not imagination though.

Re class sizes - smaller always better irrespective of child's ability. Just means the teacher has more time to pay attention to individuals.

One other thought for you, just to slot away in there - sometimes, a child who appears very advanced at a young age does not quite continue the same progress throughout school. It depends on what their abilities are. The ones who tend to continue with rapid progress are those who can use and apply what they learn and extrapolate. Now in your case given a family history of obviously very bright people I wouldn't expect it to be the case, but I have seen some parents get very disappointed, particularly in KS2 as things change so I just thought I should mention it! (I myself still keep watching my DD and wondering how she will get on as she develops.)

Oh and another problem you may face - as badmum said you do get a lot of parents talking about their child being a genius and also therefore complaining to the school about lack of challenge. The problem being, when there is a genuinely really bright child, the teachers may not believe the parent! We told reception that DD could read and they totally ignored us (even though they knew I am also a teacher) and made her spend the whole year learning basic letter sounds that she knew from the age of 3, so a wasted year.

I'm sorry I sound so negative - I should also add that having a really bright child is a wonderful experience in many many ways. You will inevitably find some frustrations and problems, but it could be so much worse - there are parents who are having to battle every step of the way just to get the support their children are entitled to. Finding ways to extend a child at home is easy by comparison I always think!

Good luck with choosing a school - please do feel free to ask or PM me if you need anything else!

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Thu 02-May-13 15:09:27

Ds could was reading Roald Dahl books before starting school and could already add/subtract to 20, knew shapes etc. They wanted him to learn all of this again and he did misbehave (not listening, not sitting down). There was no point in him learning the letters again so he was very bored (although this isn't an excuse for poor behaviour). They tried to give him books to read after a couple of terms but he'd just whizz through them. They tried to get books for him from the junior school but he would just whizz through them as well. They ended up placing him with the year 1 class for literacy so that he could work on his writing but it was a nightmare to be honest. He was getting more and more miserable and he started to get a lot of tummy problems. I moved him into a private school at the end of the reception year and he was a lot happier.

I know people say a bright child will always find something to do, I disagree. They will only occupy themselves if they are given something to do and given the right support.

givemeaclue Thu 02-May-13 15:13:48

Hi op, who did the assessment and what did they say your dd is ahead at?

HamletsSister Thu 02-May-13 15:18:16

My son was like that. Came up to High School a year early as a result and, even then, found First Year really easy. However, he is flourishing now but it really can be a battle. He is studying Maths 3 years ahead of his peers and we have had to put him into exam classes to keep him busy (he is 12) and we have also arranged Latin online for him which he is enjoying. It would have been wonderful not to have to fight for everything but it does improve when they are older as they begin to fight back themselves!

LightAFire Thu 02-May-13 15:18:36

I know people say a bright child will always find something to do, I disagree. They will only occupy themselves if they are given something to do and given the right support.

Couldn't agree more LadyMary.

ubik Thu 02-May-13 15:22:23

Did the doctor/ HV say this to you? Or the nursery? Children progress at varying rates and the early years are all about socialisation. It seems an odd thing to say.

sedgieloo Thu 02-May-13 15:30:36

Thanks again for the info and wise words! Yes if it was not for my brother I may not be thinking this way, but she is so very like him! He was/is a quick learner with a great memory, very sociable and confident. As it turned out he had to put almost zero effort into school work to do a bit better than most and he became such a lazy toad!

I have no problem with her abilities evening out with time. I sort of hope it - that is to say what will be will be but brains is not synonymous with happiness and contentment. I'm not looking to drive her on and on. That said I want her to reach her potential. So long as she isn't bored and doesn't become demotivated. Thanks once again, most helpful! Sorry if this is garbled, I'm bf my baby here and trying to supervise dd!

BackforGood Thu 02-May-13 15:34:30

Bright and chatty as a toddler doesn't necessarily convert to academic at school.
Re schools - generally the number of places vs number of children applying means that few people have that much of a choice, as such - you can express a preference, but doesn't mean you can "choose" to attend a particular school and walk right in.
IME, being noted as being G&T on the school register has little impact on things - I think you are being very optimistic thinking there will be a special lesson once a week!
My advice is to engage your child with interests outside of the school - reading books from the library, talking with you, encouraging them to follow interests, as they get older giving them the opportunity to learn musical instruments, etc.

Ds1 is the youngest in his class (18 months between him and the eldest) and he's way ahead of most of them in ability. It hasn't been an issue so far, he's in a mixed room so apart from English, maths and Irish they do everything as a group, age range 6-10, so the teacher is used to catering for mixed abilities.

He's happy and progressing well.

I wouldn't worry too much yet... Some kids are advanced toddlers and level out as they get older... Dd did just that and is now fairly average.

givemeaclue Thu 02-May-13 15:45:20

Op, are not able to say what your child is advanced at and who assessed her?

LadyLech Thu 02-May-13 19:31:02

My DD was advanced at preschool. She is a bright kid who loves a challenge, and enjoys learning new things but I wouldn't call her gifted or anything (except in the school 10% sense). So for example, she started showing an interest in letters at 2, started learning to read at 3, and was reading Enid Blyton by the time she started school. She also taught herself to tell the time to the nearest hour at 2yrs 8 months. DH and I were shocked at a scan one day to see her pick up a tell the time book and just go 'one o'clock' etc...

She started school at 5, and her first school was fantastic. If DD gets bored with something, she just switches off and says she can't do it. She fooled the teacher with that for a couple of weeks, but once the teacher sussed her out, she had her own special book in reception that the teacher put extra challenges in for her, and things for her to do. She also went out and had lessons with the deputy head two or three times a week. This was with a couple of other children who were also ahead. She loved this school, and they really brought her on. She got straight 9s in all her early years profile, and I think the school really worked with her, and she loved the extra challenges that she had.

Then we moved house. That school didn't really push, her in fact they held her back. They put her back in her reading - yet when I questioned why, they never said it was to do with her abilities (and my teacher friends looked at her reading, and they thought she should not have been put back). But that school didn't push the children. Without a challenge, my daughter lost interest. She lost interest in school for a very long time, and I think underachieved. At the same time, she was chosen to compete in gymnastics and she threw her attention into that. I think she likes that because she has to work hard to learn a skill, and when she's learnt the skill she moves on to the next one. This challenges her and she thrives on the challenge. She is now in squad and trains 18 hours a week. But, the combination of enjoying gymnastics and finding school boring wasn't great. So now, she never bothers to learn any of her spellings (but usually gets most if not all of them right), refuses to do any extra work for school, optional homework or anything. Even getting her to complete the homework the night before it was due in was a hassle. I spoke to the teachers, but think because she was coasting so much, that they didn't push or think she needed pushing. In their eyes, she was just average I think. Then the school got a new head and she brought in regular assessments to the school. Suddenly, my daughter has been put on the Able register at school, and she now gets extra challenges in English to bring home and complete. For the first time in years, she now wants to do homework. She is now interested in school again, and she loves the extra homework that she gets. Even her teachers have said that she has 'started to get her sparkle back'. She's year 4 now. In some areas, I think other children have caught up and even overtaken her. But, what I find is that whilst she might not be the brightest, she does find that she can sail through school without working or trying hard. School does come easy for her and she puts in little effort. Although I do worry about the habits she is forming (I'm a teacher myself), I try not to stress about it too much. At the moment, she has a nice balance - she does the minimum at school and she very much enjoys going off to gymnastics which she does work hard at. This will have to change in due course (when she starts getting more work at secondary school etc), but as long as she doesn't fall too far behind, then I am happy.

Sorry that was very long. But the upshot of my daughter's experience has been that she has loved school / flown when she has felt challenged, but has switched off / done the absolute minimum when not pushed. I think getting a good school is very important. Certainly my daughter is not one to 'entertain herself' if the school does not push her.

sedgieloo Fri 03-May-13 14:45:21

Ladyleach thanks for your reply. This helps a great deal, not least because what you say about your dd as a toddler is familiar to me, similarly I am not coaching her at all (reading and writing) because I am so very busy with a baby, but she is doing it. It may or may not continue but I want to be prepared in case it should. Also things went similarly awry with my brother who had a schooling experience not unlike the one you describe.

Your comments really underscore the need for me to get things right with the school, which I will try to do. I do not have a desire to push her on with things, but I am keen to avoid laziness, boredom and the like. Thank you for sharing your experience.

AngelsWithSilverWings Fri 03-May-13 15:02:59

My DS was assessed as being at the level of an average 4-5 year old at his 2.5 year check. I was advised to do nothing special and let him enjoy being a toddler.I was also advised against teaching him to read before he starts school as the local school prefer to start from scratch.

We read to him everyday and encouraged him in increasing his vocabulary and learning all about the world around him. He was more than ready to start school when the time came.

He is also extremely tall ( tallest out of the whole 3 year groups of the infants school when he entered reception!) and is one of the oldest in the class too. He does struggle with the attention his height brings.

Now coming to end of year two. He is popular with the other children and has made lots of good friends . He is top set in maths ( sometimes top of the top set but he has two or three classmates at a similar level so there is good bit of competition to keep him on his toes!)

He can be a lazy whatsit but I don't push him too hard. He is on the highest reading level in the school and is generally working at year 4 level according to his teacher. There are a few others like him too so he doesn't stand out.

The main thing for me is that he is happy and enjoys school.

He goes to a local state primary which was rated outstanding and usually sends half of any year up to one of the local grammar schools. I have been really impressed with the school and the way they have worked with him.

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