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Having a problem with DD's school - but I'm an academic

(37 Posts)
WriterMum034 Wed 18-Jan-17 10:39:41

Hello parents

I'm writing this post at a moment of utter confusion and a real drop in confidence in my abilities and attitudes as a parent.
This is what's happened in a nut shell: the school have written to me and my husband to say that our daughter, who is 5 (in year 1), doesn't change her reading books often enough. It was a very judgemental letter which said things like "most children are being supported at home...Unfortunately, it appears that Ana blah blah", also that we are hindering her progress, and she may become a reluctant reader etc.
The letter was a surprise but the tone of it was a shock. It's correct that we don't insist on homework, but our beliefs are that we shouldn't. DD is at the reading level we've been told she should be at (blue, whatever that means) and the Xmas school report said she's meeting age expectations in all areas. Since when is that not enough? I wrote back explaining that, yes, we can start to enforce homework if necessary, but that we're not aware that there's an actual problem with her progress, and that we believe that she also needs rest, free play, and not to be put under too much academic pressure so young. She reads all sorts of stuff at home, from my grocery shopping to bits of books we read at bedtime, and to be her progress seems fine. She doesn't have to be an absolute Einstein at this young age, because I want her to keep loving school (and she does), and not become sick of it when there's so many years of studying ahead of her.
My argument was also that, as I'm a writer and an academic (I'm a full time lecturer at a university, teaching creative writing of all things!!!), I don't really foresee problems with my children becoming good readers because we are simply a family where books are a normal part of every day life. I'm a published writer, I read every day, I read to my children every night, I just think those things happen naturally and organically.
My daughter has read 35 books (this is from her reading diary) from the start of the academic year. I have no idea how many she was supposed to have read, but 35 books for a 5-year old to me sounds perfectly okay.
Well, now I've been invited in to meet in person with the teacher and the head teacher, to discuss my daughter's reading and the points I raised in my email. I feel utterly told off - I mean, invited to have a meeting with the head??? I almost can't believe the development of this situation.
I'm utterly confused, a little bit angry and also somewhat concerned.
Am I totally wrong here? Am I just being crazy, for thinking that they've gone a bit crazy in our elementary school education system?
Please help. Let me know your honest opinions. Thank you so much.

DoItTooJulia Wed 18-Jan-17 10:46:43

I think that they have a lot of time if this is how they're spending it-inused to have to insist that my ds's books were changed monthly!

I couldn't get an appointment to see the head when I had a serious problem with the school (not reading book related!).

I'd go along to the meeting with an open mind. Be firm in your opinions and listen to theirs, but don't worry about it. If you're confident that home is nurturing your daughters abilities, just in a different way to their expectations then that's ok. We're all different, we all parent differently and that's ok. I mean, it's not like they can force you to do things any differently as a result of the meeting.

It's a minefield-just be confident in your methods. Good luck

FATEdestiny Wed 18-Jan-17 10:48:52

How often do you fill in her reading diary to indicate you read at home with her?

Our school expect 4 times a week. That can be magazine articles, newspapers, menus etc. However it is recognised that phobic based children's reading books ideal for this daily reading.

Do you have an issue with listening to her reading aloud daily?

BernardsarenotalwaysSaints Wed 18-Jan-17 10:49:15

No I don't think you are wrong & I agree with you. Is it because you're not signing her reading record? I'm terrible at remembering to do it, my 2 that are school age read to me every night as well as lots of other material. I just simply forget to put my initials in. They now thrust the record at me with a pencil/pen in hand on a Sunday morning grin. If i were you I'd go to the meeting make your points again but also make the right noises...

You've put your dds name in your op by the way so you might want to report it to hq to get it removed.

WriterMum034 Wed 18-Jan-17 10:49:24

Thank you - that's kind and reassuring of you to say. I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

FATEdestiny Wed 18-Jan-17 10:49:55

Phobic? Phonic

Manumission Wed 18-Jan-17 10:50:01

But I'm an academic

Sorry but that did make me smile. Schools are more or less run on pro-forms letters now, or sometimes seems, and pro-forma letters are no respecters of profession smile

Manumission Wed 18-Jan-17 10:50:44

or so it sometimes seems...

GobblersKnob Wed 18-Jan-17 10:53:15

My opinion? Your dd is 5, your attitude to books at home sounds spot on, merrily toss the letter into the recycling and don't give it another thought. If anything similar gets raised again ie at a parents evening, smile and nod and repeat as needed.

I am resolutely uninterested in such missives from the school until they reach 11, education until that point should be about fun and enthusiasm, targets are for someone who gets paid to do so to worry about.

WriterMum034 Wed 18-Jan-17 10:54:21


We don't always write everything into the reading diary, especially if we were reading a book at bedtime and then she reads the blurb on the back, or a couple of pages etc. And I love listening to her read, of course. We've just never put much pressure on adhering to some specific schedule. It's not a problem for us to amend how we do things if absolutely necessary, it's more that I feel that they're making an issue where there isn't one (but of course being a parent I worry that I'm wrong and I don't want to cause any harm to my daughter's progress. Am I??)

WriterMum034 Wed 18-Jan-17 10:55:52

Of course, I understand, and I didn't mean to make a big deal at all of my job as it's a job like any other, it's just that my job happens to involve copious amounts of books - so to me it seems natural that my children will pick that up. I hope that makes sense. Thank you.

Manumission Wed 18-Jan-17 10:56:08

No you're not wrong.

Tick box culture is "wrong".

WriterMum034 Wed 18-Jan-17 10:57:31

Sorry I don't seem to know how to reply to specific comments so all my responses came in at the bottom - I think you can see what's meant for whom. Thank you so much for writing back. I'm off to work now but will check this thread later. Thank god for other parents, is all I can say!

Confutatis Wed 18-Jan-17 10:58:12

I wouldn't worry. From everything you have said, the situation sounds fine. You know best what is going on at home and there's nothing wrong with your way of thinking. Maybe she is a reluctant reader at school by which I mean when the teacher wants her to do some, at that time she is a bit keener on something else! I'd take up the offer of meeting them and see what they have to say. It may be that you feel there isn't anything you need to follow up on (which is what I expect FWIW) but they may give you some food for thought. Your DD sounds pretty well adjusted.

Confutatis Wed 18-Jan-17 10:59:29

And no, you are not causing her any harm!!!

Manumission Wed 18-Jan-17 11:05:27

No, I know, I was just gigggling at the thread title. I'll behave myself smile

We had similar reprimands in KS1 and I was flabbergasted. We were a book-obsessed, no-TV," household and the DC were bookworms.

It became clear in time that the DC (especially my eldest) didn't particularly like the school-mandated books in the school-mandated order, read ahead with "class books", skipped altogether any titles they didn't fancy and that we were all generally a bit scatty about ticking and signing things constantly.

All three of mine had reading ages of 18+ by the time they left primary school and, more importantly, they all were, and are all still voracious readers.

Don't lose any sleep over it at all.

1Violetcream Wed 18-Jan-17 11:11:09

No yanbu at all. Your home sounds like the perfect environment to foster a positive attitude to reading and education in general. So don't feel confused or doubt yourself in any way. I have 5 children ranging from 24 to 1 week and I have come across this kind of thing many times, mostly to be honest in the state sector where there is a lot more pressure on teachers to fill in forms and quotas and to quantify progress. I always felt really angry and quite threatened by this sort of thing but over the years have learned that the best thing is a. To feel confident in your parenting and not be intimidated. But b. Not to go in guns blazing etc as it just ramps the situation up. I would, as previous poster said, go to the meeting calmly and with relaxed open mind, listen and nod. Reassure them with all the positive stuff you are doing at home. If that doesn't satisfy them then perhaps pull yourself up a little more assertively and put them in their place a little. I've always found at that point they're always a bit put off balance a bit and back off. So you're basically going in ready to listen and work together but if that's not good enough you're not taking any shit. But obviously all done in a totally calm, respectful way so they can't accuse you of being anything less than civilised?!? These things feel huge for 24 hours but ALWAYS blow over! So please don't worry. ..... we will all be here to support you through any further developments! You are obviously a highly educated individual with a great deal of experience and confidence within your field..... don't be belittled by a primary school. DD may be your first 5 year old but she is yours and you do know best and your attitude to her education sounds completely sane!! Good luck xx

minipie Wed 18-Jan-17 11:14:39

I don't disagree with you regarding the reading. She sounds like she's doing fine and well.

Being a bit blunt, I wonder if this might be more about your reply, rather than the actual reading issue. Perhaps it came over (unintentionally) a bit dismissively of their view? Perhaps they just want to meet you to suss out whether you're going to be a parent who (generally) backs up the school or not? Haven't seen the reply of course, it may have been a masterpiece of tact grin

MauiChristmas Wed 18-Jan-17 11:20:06

But I'm an academic!! Maybe don't start with this line when going to the school. The teachers are after all also professionals in getting children to read.

Manumission Wed 18-Jan-17 11:23:52

I have 5 children ranging from 24 to 1 week

Oh violet you lucky thing! That sounds really lovely. If a bit hard on the washing machine smile

Bobochic Wed 18-Jan-17 11:24:41

YANBU at all and don't let yourself be bullied by teachers who fondly imagine that if they aren't ensuring books are read, no one else (i.e. parents) are. Some teachers completely lose sight of the fact that DC only spend about 10% of their lives at school and that families might be providing a rich educational environment in the other 90%!

longdiling Wed 18-Jan-17 11:27:45

No definitely don't do 'but I'm an academic' it's like saying 'do you know who I am?!'. It's irrelevant, you make some really good points but they'll just assume you're implying you have some kind of special status that means the rules don't apply to you specifically.

VaginaDentata Wed 18-Jan-17 11:29:14

Being an academic may be entirely relevant, not to your child's reading progress, but to how you are perceived by the school.

I'm an academic, too (Eng Lit - but I write novels and am considering a move to CW grin) with a son in reception at a nice little village school we're generally very happy with, but I've been slightly taken aback by a slight sense of 'oh, you must be terribly clever' from some staff some times. It had never occurred to me that this would be likely to be an issue, but apparently, in a school where the school gate is largely populated by SAHMs, I am conspicuous, as is having 'Dr Vagina' on parental mailing lists etc. The very nice school receptionist once made a reference to 'the way you write' which I was too baffled and rushed to pursue fully, but it seemed to come down to that my emails were very grammatical or 'full of long words' or something. I don't think that's in fact true, but I did wonder if the fact that I was emailing from my work address once or twice affected how it was perceived...?

I must admit we are not the most copious writers in the reading diary either, probably for the same reason as you, OP - we do, but not on a daily basis, because he's also reading lots of other things which are far more exciting that the doing of Biff and Kipper...

Surreyblah Wed 18-Jan-17 11:33:26

It's totally unnecessary to emphasize your occupation in your OP!

Manumission Wed 18-Jan-17 11:37:17

I am conspicuous, as is having 'Dr Vagina' on parental mailing lists etc.

grin Well...

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