6 year old struggling at school

(19 Posts)
milly26 Wed 17-Apr-13 22:27:38

I apologise in advance that this may be a very long and rambling message but here goes. My daughter is in year one, she is struggling with all aspects of school work, the teachers say she reaches the national average for her age in reading, maths etc but in a year group of 45 (only 30 in her class, the brightest 15 are in a class with the low achievers of the year above) she is bumping along the bottom of the class. We are very active parents, we do lots of work with her at home, we are both graduates with no history of learning difficulties in the family and her 8 year old brother is very advanced for his age.

I try not to put too much pressure on the children as I think it is counter-productive, but at the first parents evening in reception we were told that there were two children out of the 45 who were not able to do the same work as the rest of the class and she was one of them, the teacher mentioned the SENCO but said she would leave it until after Easter to see if it was caused by the change of environment, nursery to reception. Unfortunately the teacher then went off sick and the supply teacher didn?t understand why she had mentioned SENCO, so I decided to step up the work a lot at home, she started doing ?maths factor? and I tentatively worked through ?toe by toe? and we did think she was improving. At the start of year one I went to speak to her new teacher to explain what had happened the year before and that is when we were told that her scores were ok for her age ?national average? and now I think I have done too much at home so I am just about keeping her ticking over but a lot of extra work is just keeping her bumping along the bottom of the class.

At the last parents evening we were told that she was still struggling but was a ?lovely girl?, ?delight to teach? etc, but what is most worrying is that, as I have already mentioned, the school places the bottom 15 with the brightest 15 of the year below and her teacher said that my daughter would probably go into that class. What worries me about this is that my daughter is socially quite mature and her best friends are all very bright so at the moment are in with the year above, one of them has said to her that while my daughter does try very hard, they all have to work much harder as they are in a higher class, she is really worried that she is going to be in the ?lower class? next year and sees it is a punishment because she can?t do the work. I?ve tried to explain to her that it?s up to me and her teacher to try different ways to make sure that she can understand the work and she is doing nothing wrong but her confidence is just rock bottom.

Over Easter I took her for a dyslexia screening and it was discovered that she had poor visual memory but no auditory problems and I?m just about to make an appointment with the school but I really don?t know what to say, I am far too emotional about her, I just feel at this moment in time her future holds so many possibilities and she could be anything in the world, it?s up to me to make sure that she has the opportunities. I don?t want to get upset or damage the relationship with the school because I do realise they have a whole year group to think about not just my child ? what shall I ask for / say?

Taffeta Wed 17-Apr-13 22:37:07

Op, she sounds very much like my DD, I also have a high achieving Y4 DS, and we have the same set up with the top 30/bottom 15. Ours however isn't just done n academic ability, they also take less tangible factors into consideration, like social and emotional development, friendships and mix of sexes.

My DD in Y1 was behind. The teacher recommended her for the lower class but was over ruled, possibly by the head I don't know, and she was put in the straight 30. I was partly relieved as she would be with all her friends, but worried that she would lose self esteem and not be able to keep up with the work.

I started Maths Factor last Sept and she went up 4 sublevels in a term in Maths. Her reading has also taken off. I'd say she's in the middle of the class now and is coming into her own. She is a slow burn, she is an Aug birthday but the most noticeable thing with her is that she gets things when she gets them, not when she "should" or when I want her to. S from being behind in YR and 1, she's now doing fine.

I would speak with the school about your concerns about friendships and her social development, they should also are this into consideration.

milly26 Wed 17-Apr-13 22:44:04

Thanks, thats so reassuring, I really hope that my dd is a slow burner, I'll definately carry on with the extra work, I sometimes feel like a pushy mum doing lots of extra work with her but if it works!

Taffeta Wed 17-Apr-13 22:49:05

I think the key with work at one, certainly with my DD, is pitching it at the right level, so that they feel confident and it builds self esteem.

DD and I have been using a number square since September. Since about Dec I have been trying to show her how if you minus 9, you go diagonally on it, as opposed to straight up like you do with 10. She did not get it. I must have told her 100 times. Then, a few weeks ago, she had a break for a week or so, and then had a minus 9 q. She did it diagonally without counting out each number. And then she had a minus 8 and went diagonally and on one. She gets its when she gets it. grin

Taffeta Wed 17-Apr-13 22:49:27

Work at home not work at one. Stupid ipad

milly26 Wed 17-Apr-13 22:59:38

I fired up the laptop for that enourmous post, I dont trust my ipad it changes everything around I sometimes send some very worrying messages :-0

mam29 Wed 17-Apr-13 23:03:25

Milly 26 hd to respond as some similaries with my eldest.

during reception I was bit worried about her reading but teacher 1 job share kept saying everthing was fine, teacher 1 was frequently sick.

the school was 45intake but teh 15 were supposed to be dob not academic ability which was the case in year 1 but she was split from her best freind who was in the r1 class. that freindship never recovered.

But she also combined in year 1 class with the 15oldest who were ahead of her you ask me they had better teacher.

Year 1 was mixed year at first started ok she liked her teacher 1st parents evenibg everything was quite positive.
2nd shes strugling we doing extra phonics work just before the 1st national phonics test!

At 2nd parents evening her teacher told me r1 teacher had it easier as yoiungets 15got taught together whilst ta took the 15roldest reception kids out to play.
last day term her school report came out wasent great and was behind.

found out younger ones in year got higher gradessad

year 2 starts thourght be positive she has waht supposed to be very capable teacher.

she combined with 15youngets whio were on higher reading levels than her.

They also had coloured tables on ability she was bottom for numeracy and litercacy.

wehn tried to discuss with heda and nnew teacher all they saod was she passed phonics test and dident get 1c so she wasent eligible for any extra help.

we did maths factor summer school and that helped and did loads over summer.

but come year 2 she was in tears over maths honework and found out she was given the simple stuff.

her self confidence was shattered they refused extra support so we moved her to small village school.

I explained what had happened and my worries.

they said they access first term october-xmas ad if extra help needs would start in jan which it did,

shes in top phonics group readings fine but lower guided reading group, they actually think her maths and science is quite good.
shes had 1 to one with spellings-used to get 10/10 in old school and one to one with reading.]

she had change of teacher in jan we were told old one was leaving when we joined sad but thought better than old school.

last meeting with new teacher she thinks hes caught up.
shes still in split clss one of 10year 2s in year 1 class but she likes it shes no longer bottom, mothers the year 1s and is seem as responsible ones and they recognise her other talents such as gynnastics and sport.

learnandsay Wed 17-Apr-13 23:14:03

How does her mind work? If you let her piece information together and give it to you what does it look like? Do you as a parent observe and respond accordingly or do you have a list of things that she needs to know and try and shove the list into her?

milly26 Wed 17-Apr-13 23:14:19

Thanks for that, I have got my daughters name down for another school but we are practising catholics, I really want her to continue at a faith school and they are all full. My husband thinks changing their schools is a bit drastic as the problem may continue but she will have the added problem of making new friends and poor confidence. Did your little one get on ok with the change of school emotionally?

milly26 Wed 17-Apr-13 23:24:17

Learnand say - TBH my daughters confidence is so low we have to play games and work through things that way, we have some apps on the ipad for phonics, maths etc she does those whilst I do her hair in the morning (consequently her hair is always elaborately plaited, so she has to sit for a bit longer) we have no set list of things that she needs to do because there is not really just one area she struggles. She has a weekly spelling test this is the only thing that we sit and make her practice sort of parrot fashion, the rest we try and do in a nice way, reading is done cuddled up in bed, maths factor is not done every day and we sit and really praise her whilst doing it, don't let her sit and struggle too much, she quite likes maths factor, she thinks carol vorderman can see her and is talking directly to her, so cute.

PastSellByDate Thu 18-Apr-13 03:05:17

Hi Milly26

I totally understand you're worried but first and foremost you have to understand that being bottom half of the class may not necessarily mean your DD is failing in any major way - it may just be a very bright cohort of pupils. I note your DD is 6 in Y1 - but am unsure whether she's one of the older children or in the middle. Sometimes age makes a difference. Sometimes being a younger sibling makes a difference - parents are more clued up. Sometimes the socio-economic background of the other parents makes a difference - you can get years with very ambitious parents who do a lot of 'enrichment' educational activities out of school.

You've mentioned your DDs confidence is low - being in a less demanding cohort may be the boost she needs. Success breeds success.

We have used mathsfactor to great success for both DDs but it has taken years and regular practice- not a few months. I've found with DD2 she responds best to the instruction videos (though rarely watches them the whole time) whilst DD1 responded better to visual examples/ whiteboard work & games. The thing to realise is that we all learn in very indvidual and idiosyncratic ways - and as many teachers have posted on MN - not linearly. Also bear in mind mathsfactor is the full primary curriculum for calculation skills (doesn't include geometry) and does take several years to work through.

My advice is be honest with the school when you speak to them.

Say that you're concerned about your DD and this whole SENCO thing has been upsetting - but really your DD's underconfidence and what appears to you to be slow progress are your concern. (Do be extremely careful not to suggest in any way the school are at fault - as that will just make them defensive and make getting honest feedback difficult).

Discuss the fact that she sees staying with the lower group as a punishment/ failure and is very negative about it. Ask if there are possibilities to move up in future (mid-year or at start of new school year) - as this could be a positive incentive for her to keep up the good work.

Discuss with them what they feel her weaknesses are and what they'd like to have you work on with her at home.

Sometimes children just are slow starters - but you have to tell yourself that this is a marathon not a sprint Milly26. Of course you'd love your DD to be with her friends next year, but surely some of the children in the lower group are nice and there will be children from the year below who've gone up to her form who could be lovely as well.

What I will say is that the fight to ensure they can add, subtract, multiply, divide & read at about age 10/11 reading age by the end of primary school is worth it. However, primary school is also about learning to work with other people, discovering new things and, hopefully, finding out some of your strengths. It's 7 years of effort, frustration, progress, set-backs and scraped knees (and moments of worry for Mums/ Dads). My advice is to treat this as a marathon, try to keep positive and just see each little activity you do to help your DD as pennies in the bank. It really is more a slow and steady, work away at it kind of thing. My DD1 was horribly behind in Y2 but has slowly, steadily improved year on year (now Y5). She's doing amazingly well now but most importantly she's learned that practice and determination get you there - possibly the most important lesson I could have taught her as a parent.

mousebacon Thu 18-Apr-13 03:21:46

I think you've already been given some great advice here. You sound like a lovely mum smile

With regards to the class splits, I think I'd go and see the head. Arrange a proper meeting and go through all of your concerns. See what she suggests and if you really want her to stay with the 30 group, that would be the time to make your case.

milly26 Thu 18-Apr-13 08:21:30

Thank you for all the advice, sometimes it feels like I'm the only one struggling, it's nice to know that others have overcome similar problems. My daughters birthday is march so mid-way through the year, not one of the youngest, it is a high achieving school so although my daughter is national average she is way below her peers. The lowest 15 tend to either be summer born boys or children with less home support, either because of big families or lack of academic focus (not necessarily a bad thing). Tbh I'm coming to terms with the fact my daughter may not be academic because I think if she has good social skills and confidence then she can still do well in life. One of our most successful friends took three years to get two E's at alevel, but he's so confident and self assured he has gone onto great things. I really want the school to recognise her confidence is the main issue, I think if they worked on that she would stop blaming herself for not being able to do things and be able to stand up for herself if friends said anything.

Pastsellbydate - I agree that learning to work hard is no bad thing and may set her up for life. If she was confident this would be so much easier.

Mouse bacon - thanks for the lovely mum comment, I just feel super protective of my daughter at the moment, I feel I've let her down at some point, so that's a nice comment to see!

sashh Thu 18-Apr-13 09:52:48

She is 6.

Back off.

Is she happy at school? That is the main thing, if she is happy then she will learn, at her own pace.

She is meeting national targets.

You have done the dyslexia testing but have you taken her to the optician? What about her hearing.

Once you have covered all the bases re eyes/ears then let her go.

Don't do extra maths and English, do something fun but where she is still learning so bake a cake, make a cardboard castle, go to museums.

I repeat she is 6, you can go to uni at any age, you only have one childhood.

Carolelh Thu 18-Apr-13 10:57:56

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

milly26 Sat 27-Apr-13 23:55:26

Just a quick update, I have spoken to the head teacher, she was really lovely, she said she wasn't really happy with how the class structure was but her hands were tied as it was in place when she entered the school and would take a lot of reorganisation and consultation to make changes - I wonder if that is on the cards for the future. My daughters class teacher has moved her to another table not sure of the reasoning but I'm glad that they are at least trying something. I also think they are watching her a lot more closely she says she is having one to one reading every day and she got told off for the first time the other day because she was daydreaming when she should have been listening, I know it sounds bad but I'm glad of that, I worry that my daughter is so quiet and knows how to slip under the radar and keep out of trouble so glad they are noticing that she isn't concentrating.

After all that the school we have her name down for phoned on thursday and said that they had a place, we aren't sure if we have it yet it is very very popular but should find out next week. We have had to get some forms signed by her current head teacher to say why we want her to move school, I think it is to make sure that wew have tried to resolve the issues, again the headteacher was really lovely she said she agreed with us that it would probably be what she would do for her own children in the same situation and thinks the set up at the other school will really benefit my daughter so fingers crossed she gets the place. I would love to ease off the pressure a little bit and see how she does, the other school is a one form entry so no matter what she will be with her new friends every year.

CalicoRose Sun 28-Apr-13 05:23:28

It's very unusual for the HT to say she should thinks she move.

Unfortunately it means you have to move now, as the HT doesn't want her.

Jinty64 Sun 28-Apr-13 08:50:29

I think you should look beyond school work. Is she sporty, musical etc? Could she learn an instrument, start tennis lessons, dance classes, something that not everyone does. My ds2 has never been very confident in his ability, ds1 being very quick, clever, academic and social. He started learning violin and now plays in several orchestras and has made so many friends through music.

milly26 Mon 29-Apr-13 21:32:35

Calicorose- the head is really lovely, she did try to talk us into staying, but said she could see why we were doing it, she is new in post and not happy with the split classes herself, I know of 4 other families who will be starting new schools in September, it's such a shame it used to be a lovely school, the previous head wanted to expand, did so, realised his mistake and then retired!
Jinty64- my daughter is quite sporty she loves swimming, she also goes to beavers which has given her some confidence, I would love to find something she really excelled at, I'm hoping the new start will help, I always remember when I changed school as a child (I attended 6 different primaries in the uk and abroad) everybody wants to be your friend and its nice to be special - I hope she makes some lovely friends.

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