Has tutoring for 4 and 7+ always gone on?

(48 Posts)
Margetts Mon 10-Feb-14 08:32:31

I am new to MN and am amazed at the amount of tutoring that seems to be going on with such young children.
Has this always happened or is it relatively new?
Where we live I no children sit academic exams as such a young age. Personally I think it's a lot of pressure for both parent and DC which can't be good for DC.

ThisOneAndThatOne Mon 10-Feb-14 08:57:07

You don't have to tutor for 4+ and 5+. And I think those that do are wasting their money.

You also don't have to tell them they are being assessed. And at that age you can was easily hoodwink them. I told DS that his current teacher was best friends with the teacher at the new school and she wanted to do some fun activities with him. He believed it and it worked!

No no stress at all for anyone.

7+ is a different matter as the test requirements are published and the DC are obviously much more aware of what is going on. But I still think that parents can downplay their importance to limit DC stress.

Margetts Mon 10-Feb-14 09:38:56

Thanks. I'm just amazed that parents put so much time and effort into tutoring children for an exam at such a young age.
I am just glad I live in an area where they are good state schools and even the independent school is non selective.

tellmeonasunday Mon 10-Feb-14 10:07:02

You don't have to tutor, but the majority of children sitting for selective schools at 4+ and 5+ go to preschools that specifically prepare them, so whilst a parent can be very smug about not "tutoring", their children are being prepared for these assessments several hours a day for several months in advance. When schools offer places based on performance on certain tasks, that is bound to give an advantage. Tutors at this age tend to be very low key, certainly wouldn't dream of telling a child that it was for an assessment.

You have to work in the system you find yourself in, and if you have poor state schools locally (or, for example, live in a state school black spot where you won't be offered anything) and all your local private schools are selective, what are you going to do? Is it any different to discovering God for a church school?

tellmeonasunday Mon 10-Feb-14 10:07:09

BTW I'm not a tutor!

AmIIndecisive Mon 10-Feb-14 10:10:18

I think tutoring for 4+ and 5+ is a complete waste of time and money and even if successful, can lead to a long term false economy of tutoring to keep up. Maybe for 7+ it's different as they are doing an exam so may need the practice.

I did tell my kids that they were going for an Assessment though, to see if they liked the school and the teachers and to show the teachers how clever and well behaved they were, I find this strategy works well if your kids are competitive. If they don't like pressure then maybe a different strategy is better.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Mon 10-Feb-14 10:27:31

Op I have been reading the 3+ AND SO on thread, just to get some info really and I have been agog at it....astonished, I feel like I am living in a parallel universe!

tellmeonasunday Mon 10-Feb-14 10:35:37

AmIindecisive, out of interest did your children go to a preschool that has a record of sending children to these selective schools? Because if so, they'll have been doing at preschool for several hours a week exactly what you decry as being "a waste of time and money" with a tutor.

Artandco Mon 10-Feb-14 10:41:23

Eldest is 4 here. He is being 'tutored' at nursery as they do with all his age to get into the school. Luckily he doesn't have to be assessed now but he will at 7+ to stay on at the school hrs due to start in sept. I wouldn't say we tutor but we do work hard to get him up to standard before school begins at home ie teaching him phonics/ reading/ writing/ general knowledge etc etc so it's part of his life and he doesn't feel thrown in the deep end from sept

ThisOneAndThatOne Mon 10-Feb-14 10:44:49

What would these pre-school do that a regular pre-school would not.

Surely stuff like cutting and sticking are fairly standard whatever pre-school you pick.

tellmeonasunday Mon 10-Feb-14 10:47:33

I wouldn't say we tutor but we do work hard to get him up to standard before school begins at home ie teaching him phonics/ reading/ writing/ general knowledge etc etc so it's part of his life and he doesn't feel thrown in the deep end from sept

Well, that's exactly what a tutor would do. So what is so unreasonable about using one if you don't have the time/skills to do it yourself! Artandco, presumably you will expect the preschool to thoroughly prepare him for the 7+ if he has to do it.

I do agree that the whole assessment thing at this age is a bit daft, but just because someone is called a "tutor" doesn't mean they are hothousing kids or doing anything different from a preschool.

AmIIndecisive Mon 10-Feb-14 10:48:28

My children were at a nursery that had EYFS in their curriculum, and part of their learning worked on fine motor skills etc which I would expect from most nurseries (play dough etc). They didn't assessment prep as such. If they hadn't been there, they no doubt would have done similar things at home through natural play.

I read to my kids every nightand if they ask me questions or show an interest in letters, numbers, colours etc I would help them by answering the questions they asked.

I chose my nursery because it was the closest to where I lived and because when I went to visit it, the kids looked like they were really happy.

My priority being that they would be the happiest they could be and gain good social skills, which is in my opinion, the most important thing for a toddler.

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 10:52:52

well, OP, I guess you've seen from the responses that there are certainly people out there that do feel the need to prepare children for assessments at 4 and 7.

I sympathise, to some degree, when people in London feel this way. This is because I once worked for a London Law Centre with an education rights department, which every year, would take up the cases of people who had not been allocated a school place at all or who had been allocated something so absurdly unsuitable they couldn't take it up. (e.g.: miles and miles away in the opposite direction to where siblings were placed)
These were working class people with ordinary children who didn't have the option of tutoring to get into selective schools or paying for private and they got totally screwed.

Can I see why people with the means to do so get into the, seemingly absurd, position of tutoring small children so they can avoid this situation? Absolutely.

Am I glad the state schools in my area are well funded so that I don't have to? Hell yeah.

I do remember SATS at 7 when I was a kid. We were told it was to test the teachers, to make sure they were doing their jobs properly. Which I suppose it was.

Artandco Mon 10-Feb-14 11:03:26

I have no objection to tutoring. I just said we don't hire a tutor. What we do is what I would call parenting not tutoring, surely most parents do the same

Here the schools send the nursery/ parents a list of requirements to know beforehand. They basically all say things like: ' we highly recommend you teach your child to read and write the basics, it's ok if they start without but this will be a hinderence to progressing with learning' or ' please make sure your child understands numbers up to 50 and the basic concept of add/ subtract/ multiple'

If your child is the only one starting without then they will struggle to keep up surely and won't be great for their self esteem

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 11:13:31

I'm really surprised the schools ask you to teach them the "basics." What does that consist of- Do they mean the letters of the alphabet and the child's own name or do they mean proper reading and writing?
Because I thought they did all that with synthetic phonics these days- which I don't understand at all!

AmIIndecisive Mon 10-Feb-14 11:13:34

Tellmeonasunday, sending a 3 or a 4 year old to a private tutor is completely ridiculous and totally different to them going to a Nursery, surely you can see that?

And worst still, if people are sending their kids to a tutor at this age specifically to pass a school assessment, then they are cheating a system that is designed to see natural ability, and may end up in a school that is totally wrong for them long term and can have serious psychological issues later in life or, they'll spend their school years playing catch up, who on earth would want that for their kids?

Elibean Mon 10-Feb-14 11:23:01

Well, just to add to the research:

We live in SW London. No kids are tutored or expected to know 'basics' in anything before starting at the local (excellent) state primary schools. Though knowing how to put your coat on is a definite plus.

When I was a kid (in the 60s and 70s, admittedly!) there was no tutoring or extra work even for the 11+ - which we all took, and enjoyed, and weren't stressed over. I so wish it were like that now.

The only kids being tutored that I know of at age 6-7 are the ones being moved from state to private schools. And then, not all of those.

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 11:23:31

AmIIndecisive (Good name by the way) I have to admit, I don't really believe in this idea of systems set up to see natural ability or ending up in the "wrong" school.

I think all children benefit from good education, high expectations and stretching. Including all the kids of the parents at the law centre, who were given rubbish school placements or none at all.

Presumably that's what parents are hoping to achieve when they start tutoring.

Some aspects of the education system are very wrong- including the aspects elitism where good quality education is assumed to be only suitable for the brightest and the resulting scramble amongst middle class parents to prove that their offspring are just such children. Its messed up.

AmIIndecisive Mon 10-Feb-14 11:35:15

Private education and who is deserving of the whole concept of it is a different discussion altogether, I would and am sure most people would, like to see all children be given the same opportunities, irrespective of their circumstances. Unfortunately, that is not the exact society we live in.

For the purposes of this thread, the fact is that these schools assess to see how kids are, if they have a spark, and if they are the kind of child that can hack it in a certain kind of environment.

The kids who naturally can, won't notice the pressure and will enjoy the school, the kids who have been trained to pass the various tests in the assessment (because the tutors know what comes up and practices parrot fashion with them) may (I said may) not be able to handle the pressure in the long run as they have walked into the assessment effectively knowing and practicing what will be asked. This is cheating the system and taking away places from naturally gifted 3 and 4 year olds who have not had this sort of prep.

Margetts Mon 10-Feb-14 11:40:32

I agree with IdRatherPlayWithAllTheMadM, I must be living in a parallel universe and am glad that I am.
As a parent I want my DC to do well but also have fun.
When do DC who are getting all this tutoring have to e to learn to swim, ride a bike, build a den in the woods, go out for a walk in the rain and splash in the puddles?
I would just be concerned that children reach teenage years who have pushed from a young age and they start part to have mental health issues.

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 11:44:02

I don't know- I think just being in an academic environment teaches you how to cope in an academic environment.
I have a friend- he's doing a post grad at St. Andrews University.
He got a first in his degree- as a mature student, so obviously not thick. But his schooling was bog standard comprehensive in the 1970's.
He says he feels at a disadvantage in processing information, due to never having learnt to effectively take notes, especially compared to some of the products of private education that he sees around him.

I was pretty surprised at that- but it seems his natural talent has got him this far, with gaps in his skill set.

There are others who may be less intelligent but have been taught tools which have given them an edge throughout their schooling.

tellmeonasunday Mon 10-Feb-14 12:11:22

the fact is that these schools assess to see how kids are, if they have a spark, and if they are the kind of child that can hack it in a certain kind of environment.

That's what the schools say, but do you honestly think that with such nebulous criteria they could pick the 10% of children that they have space for?

In reality they have defined mark sheets and children will lose or gain marks for things like the amount of detail on a drawing. I have been told by the admissions woman at one of these schools that they find it much harder to take girls from nurseries than preschools as they don't do the tasks as well.

AmIindecisive, your daughter is clearly very bright, but if you have an honest discussion with the parents of her new class at whichever school you chose (probably won't happen as people are tight lipped about these thing) I guarantee that a significant proportion will have been tutored.

I'll bow out now as we're clearly never going to agree! I hope your daughter is really happy, both the schools you mentioned on the other thread are fantastic places.

tellmeonasunday Mon 10-Feb-14 12:12:00

I think just being in an academic environment teaches you how to cope in an academic environment.

I would absolutely agree with this and wouldn't criticise any parent who made efforts to get their child in through the door.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Mon 10-Feb-14 12:19:32

I have no objection to tutoring. I just said we don't hire a tutor. What we do is what I would call parenting not tutoring, surely most parents do the same

Yes I did most of what you said but with our DC I just could not get to them to do things before they were naturally ready.

I was told to start her on piano very young, but a piano teacher told me unless they have genuine natural talent and will pick it up quickly, she said I would be paying for 6 months of lessons to grasp things, If I wait until say 6....they would get in one or two lessons.

This is how I have felt about doing things with them at home, they have been exposed as it were...but things for my DD in particular only fell into place at just before 6. Now she is literally flying along and very very fast...

There were moments when Peers said at 3 : so and so has a good pencil grip now and can write his name..."

I would go back to dc and try again but felt there was no way I could force them to get it, when they were not ready and now, I feel justified in that.

However my living in a parallel universe comment is not a criticism.

I believe education is all.

What worries me is that if DC are 11+ material they will be up against DC from such high powered back grounds...will she really have a chance.

These children are being prepped from 22 months some of them?!

What has concerned me about reading the other thread, is that it seems to me, that there is a huge gap in aspirations from say my DC school to some schools mentioned on here.

How can state compete, or perhaps someone can a lay my fears.

Now my DC are flying along I am fully intending on supporting them where I can but I am no professional!

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Mon 10-Feb-14 12:21:45

* I have been told by the admissions woman at one of these schools that they find it much harder to take girls from nurseries than preschools as they don't do the tasks as well*

what does this mean

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