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academic 4 year old

(41 Posts)
soundevenfruity Mon 26-Nov-12 01:26:11

I've been pondering an advice for parents of primary school age children the general gist of which is that if your child is academic, do everything to get them into an academic school. I have no idea what that means. Or is it one of those questions: if you ask the answer is no. As far as I am concerned at 4 they are too young for such labels. I have no idea if my DS is academic. Did/do you know and how?

madwomanintheattic Mon 26-Nov-12 05:01:33

It actually doesn't matter. If it was likely to be a significant issue you would know. A primary school is better than an infants because they can borrow books from higher key stages, but that's about the extent of it.

Most yr r classes have at least some kids who are fluent readers and can do ks2 number type stuff (and obv also a few that don't recognise their name). Huge variety, and most schools are capable of differentiation with a bit of encouragement.

State schools don't generally push the envelope wrt gifted kids, and if you are rich enough you're probably considering public anyway. <shrug>

But schools can cope with academically gifted kids, particularly if at 4 you aren't sure if they fall into that cat anyway.

MrsJamin Mon 26-Nov-12 05:59:53

I have no idea what you're asking OP. Can you rephrase what you are saying? I don't think you know at 4 if they are "academic" though.

cory Mon 26-Nov-12 08:18:07

I had an inkling with dd that she probably would be: very, very verbal, always wanting to discuss things and find out about things, quite advanced in the concepts she was able to handle. I still sent her to the local infants round the corner as I felt other things matter too: making local friends, not getting too tired out when you're little, ease of getting to school when one child (or mother!) is ill etc.

I am sure there are schools that are so bad that they could put you off learning. And that there are children who are so inflexible that they genuinely cannot thrive unless surrounded by others like them. But if you have an academic but adaptable child and a pleasant though not particularly academic school, then I wouldn't worry. It certainly hasn't put dd off learning.

soundevenfruity Mon 26-Nov-12 08:25:21

I think it was about how many children go onto competitive entry secondary schools, ie grammars and private after that particular primary school. The assumption is that the school would be able to support more academic children that flourish in that kind of environment. I thought I would need to figure out if DS is grammar material much later.

Saracen Mon 26-Nov-12 09:57:58

I can't advise on schools because my dd is home ed, but I seem to have been quite mistaken about whether she was "academic" based on what she was like at four. When she was four she was very analytical, liked to talk about philosophy and religion and ethics, and was asking some very interesting questions about maths (what's the biggest prime number?). She had perfect recall of words, poems, stories etc which she had heard, including things which meant nothing to her so I thought she'd be great at languages.

As it turned out, she wanted nothing to do with reading until she was 6.5 and even then she found it a hard slog, only becoming a fluent reader at nine. Writing followed along after. She didn't do much more with maths until she was nearly ten either. She hasn't taken up a foreign language.

Now she is 13. Overall I would say she is very average academically. She says university doesn't really appeal to her and she would rather do something practical. Her great passions are drawing and singing. Of course, she still might change tack again - many kids do - but I'm glad she didn't spend her primary years in an academic pressure-cooker.

soundevenfruity Mon 26-Nov-12 10:42:01

Cory and Saracen, thank you so much for sharing your experience.
We are trying to bring DS up bilingual and in his case it delayed fluent speech in both languages. So I still have a very vague idea what he is thinking about. He is keen on performances and role play. Really hope it won't lead to any acting aspirations. grin

TheWave Mon 26-Nov-12 11:03:33

I am not sure you can say "State schools don't generally push the envelope wrt gifted kids" in such a sweeping way though. Choose after looking around. Plenty of differentiation in state schools.

Do and encourage your child after school with extracurricular fun stuff if you want to push them as well as they will be learning other things.

"Academic" generally means parents are thinking that academic stuff is the be all and end all for children's education, and putting their child into that box is part of thinking that. Of course childhood and education is more than that!

madwomanintheattic Mon 26-Nov-12 18:35:00

Well, I dunno. I've got three kids who test gifted, and as we are a military family and can't afford private, we've had the opportunity to test out the gifted provision in nine state schools so far.

None of them have managed to come up with anything I would describe as enabling any of mine to reach their potential, although we have seen occasional glimpses of good differentiation.

It sounded sweeping, sure, but with my own experience of nine, and the second hand experience of thousands of Internet sprites, I'd say it was reasonably accurate! grin

Fab if you manage to find a good school and don't have to move though. Lucky.

It's also been v illuminating to join online forums worldwide and see how gifted ed works in other countries. At that point you realise that the uk system is sooooo far behind in terms of provision that it's really very sad for the thousands of children that are being let down on a daily basis in the uk.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 22:53:20

I imagine that DD will be academically motivated - DH and I were and she is similar to us at the same age. She was an early talker and the subjects that interest her are not the most conventional.

I know she is a bright child, whether she is a very bright child, whether she is motivated, whether she has any SEN and whether she would be suited to a high pressured academic school is still to find out.

At the moment she is at a CofE primary's nursery class. Next year she will be going to the local state primary. In the meantime I am sussing out the options should the state primary not be able to meet her needs (whatever they may be). I will be taking a keen interest in what she is doing - but not to the extent of marching in every 5 minutes. I am told that this particular primary is good with the very able students so I will be interested to see how it works in practice.

If she is academic then we would like to sit her for some of the super-selectives at either 7+ or 11+. This will mean tutoring so that the exam syllabus is covered - it isn't until well after the exams in most state primaries. So we will need to have a fair idea if it's worth pursuing earlier than would be ideal in order to fix that up.

I would consider all your options, familiarise yourself with the different hoops to be jumped through for each and then support where you can and have plans in place to help should your DC have problems along the way or if you are not happy with something.

If you are trying to suss out primary schools to apply to, then my methods have been to read the Ofsted, look at the Value Added, and more importantly look at the %age of children getting Level 2 at KS1 and Level 5 at KS2. I would prefer a Good school that gets 70% Level 5 at KS2 than an Outstanding school that gets 20%. Interrogate every parent on buses, in Tescos, on the swings, doctors surgery etc about the school their DC is at and what they think.

Not sure if that helps at all...

madwomanintheattic Mon 26-Nov-12 23:04:10

Value added is a complete waste of time for more able kids. Completely biased in favour of a cohort with below average entrance capability.

Yellowtip Mon 26-Nov-12 23:05:01

Pyrrah you can't be serious?

My youngest four DC have all attended very mediocre primaries up to the age of 11 and seem broadly to be where their older four siblings (who had a much better school for the early years) were at the same stage. Just try to see that the DC is in an environment where s/he learning. It shouldn't be much more complicated than that.

Yellowtip Mon 26-Nov-12 23:06:45

Quite agree about value added mad.

Yellowtip Mon 26-Nov-12 23:08:28

'where s/he learning'?? Where s/he enjoys learning. Sorry.

rhetorician Mon 26-Nov-12 23:09:09

blimey - my dd starts school next year and all I've thought about really is whether she will cope socially! I am sure she will do fine in other ways, whatever her talents grin.

Yellowtip Mon 26-Nov-12 23:11:28

Sounds the right priority rhetorician.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:20:10

I am totally serious.

Both my husband and I were utterly miserable and bored at our respective state primaries. My parents moved me to a very academic prep, and DH's parents brought in tutors and got him a scholarship to a very selective Indie at 11.

We don't have any indie preps in the area, so the only options are HE or state primary. I hope that this particular primary will be good and DD will be happy and thrive.

I guess a lot depends on what you grew up with and your own experiences. My experiences of state schools for me and my siblings and my nephews and nieces have been in the main poor.

madwomanintheattic Mon 26-Nov-12 23:24:52

Well, quite. Like I said up thread, most state primaries are crap about meeting the needs of more able kids.

But to suggest using value added as a means of ascertaining the likelihood of this is risible.

If you haven't got the money to shop round, you have to make the best of what you've got.

A good Value added score is often the worst possible sign that an academic kid will thrive, as all of the school's resource will be concentrating on the other end of the academic spectrum to get them up to 'average'. Kids who far exceed the average on entry are generally roundly ignored in this context.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:27:48

I don't really see how it differs from what is going through the minds of parents who are sending their child to a private pre-prep or prep school. Same questions to be answered.

Just because you don't write a cheque at the beginning of term doesn't mean that you shouldn't be looking at what you are getting with the same level of scrutiny.

The one thing I am relieved about is that DD is very gregarious and popular at both her state and private nurseries. DH and I were both much more geeky, socially awkward kids so we are very glad she is more 'normal'. grin

rhetorician Mon 26-Nov-12 23:28:46

I had excellent experiences at both, in very mixed areas - primary I had the best teacher I've ever had, secondary excellent teachers who pushed me hard, realized I was bright - ended up with 12 As at O level, 4 As at A level and an S level, matriculation offer to Oxford with scholarship. No independent could have bettered that! Not to mention the other aspects of my schooling which have been very important to me during my life. It's a long time ago, granted, and education is completely different now - but I wouldn't base my decisions about my child's education on my own experiences.

All I meant is that I really haven't thought about it much - perhaps I should - because I don't really know what DDs interests and abilities will be. It's all a minefield - hard to know what to do for the best. Easier for us as we don't live in UK and ethos of school is the most important to us (e.g. non-religious and co-ed).

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:32:38

The Value Added, KS1 & 2 levels all seem to be on the same chart I got from the LEA, so I wasn't singling out the VA just mentioning it in the same way as the Ofsted (which is a very 'read between the lines' document).

Am I wrong in going for the KS1 & 2 levels as being a good indicator? Are there other things I should be looking at?

seeker Mon 26-Nov-12 23:33:59

"Value added is a complete waste of time for more able kids. Completely biased in favour of a cohort with below average entrance capability."

This actually isn't true. Schools are expected to show progress in low, middle and high attaining cohorts- the new league tables show the progress of these groups separately.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 26-Nov-12 23:34:03

>As far as I am concerned at 4 they are too young for such labels. I have no idea if my DS is academic. Did/do you know and how?

Nope. If I'd had to guess at 4 I'd have said not really - bright but no interest in reading. Didn't really take to it all through infants. It wasn't till the end of yr4 we realised that we might just possibly want to look at the GS...which is where she is now, suits her perfectly.

They develop different abilities at different ages - some are slow starters who suddenly surge.

pourmeanotherglass Mon 26-Nov-12 23:37:23

A good school should be able to work with children across a range of ability levels. My girls have had a lovely time at their state primary. I wouldn't call it an 'academic' school as it has children with a range of abilities, but they do really well at helping the ones who are struggling as well as challenging the brighter ones.

Pyrrah Mon 26-Nov-12 23:44:29

rhetorician - I think it is very possible to have a great education that surpasses many independent schools at some state schools. My secondary was a state grammar, so I am not some 'if only we could afford private' type.

Unfortunately in the area we live in, the number of children achieving Level 5 at KS2 is very small (20% type small). DH and I are both governors at state schools. Mine got less than 50% achieving 5 GCSE's - and that didn't include English and Maths. DH's primary is amazing and we would happily send DD there if we actually lived in catchment.

I think schooling in the UK - especially London - is one of the hardest minefields out there. We're also atheists and so that rules out the church schools - which means that 4/6 schools in the area are ones that DD wouldn't get a place at.

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