How are bright children stretched in Year 1?

(174 Posts)
noseynoonoo Thu 06-Dec-12 23:04:20

My daughter is relatively bright. Her teacher tells me that she is the most able in the class by some distance. However, she doesn't tell me what is being done to stretch her other than encouraging her to tidy up her handwriting. I have witnessed the teacher telling DD not to participate in some work because others will copy her rather than work it out for themselves. This is great for everyone except her. A few ways to stretch her were suggested by previous teacher but current teacher doesn't 'believe' in these ideas.

I appreciate that she can't teach DD parts of the syllabus in advance but can she be stretched in a sideways direction? I'm a bit intimidated by the teacher, I don't want to sound like a pushy parent but I don't understand how DD is reaching her full potential as things stand.

The school is making a point of making efforts to help children with special needs and on the G&T register but I haven't been told how this applies to DD.

What should I expect to happen?
How can I ensure that DD is stretched (whilst not looking like a pushy-mum)?

LeBFG Sun 09-Dec-12 16:33:02

leanandsay, to adress you other points, you suggest providing work ahead of her year (A-level) which I've answered - this brings it's own set of problems. You say she could have continued conversations with the physics teacher - she only met him during a cover lesson. Even in this case, the teacher devoted 10 minutes or so to her uniquely as rest of class was engaged in book work. This is clearly not usual in most classes and suggesting teachers devote such time to an individual seems unfair to me.

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 16:37:39

You may indeed have wanted to illustrate that. But in the end I'm not sure that that is really what you wanted because the main thrust of your argument seems to be: Don't give the super bright girl (or other super bright children) project work and books give them access to qualified teachers at the level the child aspires to.

Well fine. If such teachers exist, like they seemed to in your example, there didn't seem to be much of a problem there.

But where such teachers don't exist what's to be done then? Your answer seems to be send them to a specialist school? How is this specialist education to be funded? What if the specialist school is nowhere near the pupils home? What if the pupil is gifted in more than one area? Is a specialist school even appropriate or necessary? And what's wrong with books anyway, for heaven's sake!!!

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 16:41:25

You're right. If the girl is discussing nuclear fusion with the teacher in her Y7 general science class on a regular basis of course it's unfair. But it's not difficult to transfer the child to an A level group. (She doesn't have to actually sit the A level at that point.)

LeBFG Sun 09-Dec-12 17:35:15

I can see your confusion learnandsay - in part because of the cross posting I should think and in part because I'm going off on a few points. I'm suggesting that there is very little teachers can do for very bright children other than providing the usual range for the more able. There will be times where obvious extention/breadth work can be given - workshops even during term time.

People are complaining their super-bright kids are being failed by state schools. It's this I'm variously trying to address. I'm dispute the idea that advancement is neccessarily a good idea and I'm challenging whether it really is the role of schools to develop the full potential of all their pupils. For parents where this is a problem, I feel they should sort out the issue to their liking - private school/tuition...but my natural bent is to encourage them to not think of it as a problem and simply provide enrichment opportunities outside school. What do you think of that? smile.

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 18:20:56

On the whole I'm inclined to agree with you on some points but not others. Personally I do believe (as I think I've stated in this thread somewhere,) that if a child is working above expectations for her age then it's her parents who should take responsibility for stretching her (in whatever fashion they can or would like to.) If the school can and will do it for them that's ideal. But in reality life is rarely ideal.

As far as can teachers stretch pupils? (In theory?) In theory of course they can! They can provide materials. They can collaborate with colleagues to mark and supervise the child's work. They can contact institutions on the child's behalf. In theory there is lots that a teacher can do if she wants to. It's not as though education was only invented yesterday. Does anyone expect the average teacher to actually go to any of these lengths? Probably not. But I'd expect the parent of any genuinely super-bright child to try their best to do some of these things. And if the child is really that bright she has probably worked these things out for herself and much more besides.

onesandwichshort Sun 09-Dec-12 19:11:05

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 19:22:33

onesandwichshort is that reading and spelling ages 4-5 years above her chronological age or working year groups ahead?

TwoHats Sun 09-Dec-12 21:14:10

My parents had very high hopes for me when my IQ was tested as top 1%, I coasted through school and got very good GCSEs without doing any work or putting in any effort. I then narrowly avoided being kicked out of college, my attendance was low enough to warrant it but, while my other pub going friends were actually expelled, I was given a strong warning but told my mock exam results were too high for them to consider actually getting rid of me. Seventeen year old me took this as authorisation to spend even more time at the pub, with my friends who, very handily for me, didn't have to worry about lectures anymore. I ended up dropping out and going to work in a supermarket. I did not have any self motivation or ability to work at learning the things which didn't come easily. Fortunately several years of utterly dead end work gave me some motivation and I managed to achieve something a bit better, I've certainly never fulfilled my early potential though. Being bright isn't enough on it's own to guarantee success, self-motivation and hard work will get most people further in the long run.

DS1 started reception able to read fluently, not sounding out, with good expression and comprehension, we haven't coached him, this is something he's pretty much picked up on his own. Which is great, but his teacher has already noticed he is less willing to try the things he isn't so good at, like handwriting. I don't think being able to write this early in reception matters that much, but being willing to try and keep trying, when it isn't going well, is important. I don't have any real answers but I don't want DS1 to follow the same path I have done. For now, it seems more important to play and enjoy life like a 4 yo should, I don't want to spend our time doing workbooks and making life miserable, but I do want him to learn that effort and hard work are important.

monkey42 Sun 09-Dec-12 23:23:26

i've been off this thread for 24 hours.

As i have said before though, other then dropping our a la twohats (which is quite extreme) there are not that many disadvanatges to being ahead, so long as the school are not actively bitchy. My own experience of being 'ahead' - first moved up a class, then skipped a whole year, then became the scholarship girl, then oxbridge etc , was only once of being got at by a teacher. Everyone else was helpful, but I didn't get bored or feel the need to be stretched, by school or anyone else. Generally at home I spent many an hour larking about with my best buddies ( who remain so to this day), taking full advantage of the fact i had finished homewoek in class etc, rather than reading extra quantum physics.

But the issues for me were never of reaching academic potential, i am still doing that now aged 42, hence not really understanding why everyone wants their 5 and 6 year olds to be in mensa or years ahead in reading, but of balancing that strange brain with developing in all the other ways , as alluded to by others....so important to stamp out neuroses, encourage knuckling down to things that don't come so easy, and to make friends not enemies despite the academic success......there is way more to life

LeBFG Mon 10-Dec-12 07:03:03

onesandwich - I was about to compose a reply, but I think monkey had said all I want to say really. Think about what she's just written, esp the last paragraph.

Your worries seem to stem from your own experiences that you don't want your DD to repeat....but I've witnessed people who've experienced simililar to you and were bright/not-so-bright/stretched/not-stretched. It's down to personality. And your DD is unique. She isn't you or your DH. You don't know how she will turn out. Hope that didn't sound patronising - not intended to smile.

onesandwichshort Mon 10-Dec-12 08:07:15

Sigh. There's a teacher at school who think that because DD reads well and early that she must therefore have no friends and no fun and do nothing but be locked in a dark room being force fed knowledge. It's not like that - but the other aspects of her life are, generally, fine so I don't need to discuss them on here.

learnandsay Mon 10-Dec-12 08:20:34

To a certain extent home-educating school children is a self-fulfilling prophesy. That's why certain people make a point of stating on mumsnet that they don't do it. Because they don't want to shift their children (though probably able) too far ahead of their cohort. Because by so doing they will create a rod for their own back and their daughter's back in that she will be stuck out in front of her cohort, perhaps with no support from her teachers, and may be bored to tears in class. I guess if one's child is naturally gifted and teaches herself, then there's not much that anyone can do about it. The child will simply learn whether the parents or teachers like it or not.

I can't bring myself to believe that educating one's child is a bad thing, cohorts or not, ahead or not, supportive teachers or not. And I think any teacher who refuses to support and advanced child or is obstructive to an advanced child, whether naturally advanced, or home-educated, is a fool (and probably shouldn't be a teacher.)

LeBFG Mon 10-Dec-12 09:19:52

But working within the realms of what's feasible on a day-to-day scale at a state school, it may well not be possible to support a really advanced child to their full potential. I'm not sure if you are with me on that or not actually learnandsay. Clearly obstructing a child's progress is outrageous, but do teachers really do this??? Seems bizarre to me.

When I suggest supporting outside school, I'm thinking of allowing and supporting the interest in hobbies that are naturally attractive to the child, be that reading, ballet, music, astronomy...not specialist tutoring! There is nothing odd in this - I'm sure you're already doing it onesandwich. Have faith that this is all your child needs to develop at their pace. She'll (probably) just enjoy school for what it is - an easy ride, lots of friends, stimulating social interactions etc.

learnandsay Mon 10-Dec-12 09:33:04

A super bright child to her full potential? Technically it probably is always possible given that fathers can tutor their children to A level maths and beyond at home with no school resources at all, it probably is always technically possible. Yes. Whether or not any teachers are willing to do it is another question.

Obstructing a child, yes. I'm afraid it does happen. A complaint that I've heard more than once is that a Y1 boy has completed all of the Y2 syllabus. A parent asks for more extended work and is told that in Y2 her son will have to repeat Y2 maths because the teacher has no intention of giving him Y3 maths. In one such case the parents moved their son to another school. In fact if that happened to me I'd simply supply my child with the Y3 syllabus myself. But I'd make it absolutely clear that my child would do this work and not Y2 all over again. No parent can force a school to give her child extra resources. But a parent can object to her child being given unsuitable work. I would hate to fight a school in that way. But, my god, I would if I had to.

Tgger Mon 10-Dec-12 09:48:51

I like monkey's post. A lot. Thanks monkey for putting it so eloquently smile.

LeBFG Mon 10-Dec-12 10:04:45

In the example you give, leanandsay, I'm not sure that constitutes obstruction, it really just illustrates to me the problem of advancement - i.e. giving work to a child that will come along again in future years. You would end up with (at the extreme end) the Y7 teacher saying - but I can't just give her the A-level maths questions, I don't even know the answers myself. And what will she do at school next year... Extention work isn't neccessarily work from future years, as I'm sure you know. And I'm sure you know I was talking about developing potential at state schools, not in the ideal.

learnandsay Mon 10-Dec-12 10:42:15

I would indeed consider it obstruction for lots of reasons that I typed earlier. If a teacher said I can't give her A level questions because I don't know the answers myself then I'd think the woman a fool. She can give the questions and ask a colleague or someone who does know the answers to check them. Or she can find a resource which supplies both the questions and the answers. But if she just said no, that would indeed be obstructive. I agree that extension work doesn't have to be of any particular kind. Yes, true. But to tell a child to redo work already done is obstructive and unimaginative. And I would tell a teacher that she was being so. And then I would supply the child with the work myself.

LeBFG Mon 10-Dec-12 10:52:54

Ah, I didn't say redo work - that would be obstructive, unneccessary, lazy on behalf of the teacher and terrible for the morale/confidence of the child. I find it hard to believe teachers exist who do that.

I can only talk from my personal experience. Although I did A-level physics, I would never teach it. I would feel extremely uncomfortable giving work at this level to any age but particularly those that aren't even doing A-level lessons. Teaching and learning is more than answering some closed-questions and ticking off the answers. There should be an engagement on both sides - pupil and teacher.

learnandsay Mon 10-Dec-12 11:12:50

But in my examples the teacher isn't teaching the child any more than the invigilators in an exam room are teaching the pupils for whom they lay down papers. What she is doing is supplying the texts (which presumably are clearly labelled,) or supplying the questions. She has asked someone else who ^does^ feel qualified to do so to engage with the child about the subject matter itself. All that's being asked of her is that she goes to the effort of (a) finding materials labelled as previously described. (b) locating a relevantly qualified teacher who is willing to discuss the content of the pupil's work.

ie. the teacher just needs to put in some effort, (maybe quite a lot of effort) in tracking these things down. Would I expect this?No, of course I wouldn't. But then I wouldn't expect obstruction either. If the teacher wasn't ideal (as I've described) then the least I would expect was that she didn't try to obstruct my efforts to provide material for my daughter.

And if she did I'd rip a hole in her.

Tgger Mon 10-Dec-12 11:23:19

I tend to agree with learnandsay on this. It's "enablement" is it not, rather than "not obstructing". Good teachers enable their bright pupils and go the extra mile for them (rather like in a different thread is it about Finnish teachers doing whatever is necessary). So, for example, my sister was excellent at composing music for her GCSE/A level music. Her compositions were far above the requirements of the course. Her music teacher recognized this but wanted her to improve further. He didn't feel qualified to help so she set up a meeting for her with a local conductor/musician who has a lot of published compositions. Said person took an interest in her and helped her on further. Her music teacher then got her to compose a carol for the school carol concert and got two of the schools' most talented singers to perform it. Did the teacher have to do any of this? No. But it was good for my sister and others that he did.

Tgger Mon 10-Dec-12 11:24:01

Sorry a few she/he's mixed up there!

LeBFG Mon 10-Dec-12 12:06:24

Well, you see, I don't disagree with your example Tgger! Your example of enablement (which did go above and beyond what would be expected) is exactly spot on - the teacher didn't feel it neccessary to bring in work of another year. There are lots of examples of this, particularly in the more open ended subjects like english and the arts. Where a subject is traditionally more closed and teacher-led, like maths and science, this is a bit harder to engineer but still possible without bringing in work from years above.

Anyway, I think I'm repeating and repeating myself without making myself understood. So I shall call it a day smile.

learnandsay Wed 12-Dec-12 07:45:46

Well, lebfg,

according to this report you are absolutely right about not rushing children through the syllabi/curriculum, for some surprising reasons.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20678353

Although, the article doesn't seem to explain why going through at the right speed necessarily solves the problem either.

adeucalione Wed 12-Dec-12 08:36:34

And for balance here's a study conducted by Chatham Grammar School in 2006 that sees the accelerated curriculum rather more positively.

adeucalione Wed 12-Dec-12 08:39:13

I found that on the gt voice website - they do quite a good job of collating articles and research about g&t children, which some might find interesting.

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