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Private school to help my child?

(12 Posts)
Whowherewhywhat Tue 26-Mar-13 22:21:56


Would really appreciate your views/ experience wrt to my Ds.
He's 7 in yr 3 (youngest in class) and seems to be losing focus and concentration in school. I have discussed a no of times with his teachers and their feedback is that he thrives and does really well in a small group but loses focus/ interest in his bigger class (30 children in his class).

I'd be really interested to know if you think he would benefit from moving to a private school with smaller classes or try and persevere with where he is, which is known as a good state primary.

I'm concerned he's going to fall behind especially as the teachers say his class is above average and I assume they are therefore moving at a certain pace which may be causing my DS issues, appreciate your views.

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 09:48:10

I'd be interested in investigating what is causing the loss of attention first. If there is some difficulty rather than just the pace is too fast, he may still struggle since even in a private school the class size will be bigger than a small group and there's no guarantee (sadly!) he will get the right help there either. And what support are they currently giving him? Are they using any strategies to help him focus? Is his written work keeping up or does he have problems with it?

Assuming though he does just need more personal attention and support - in theory yes a private school would help due to smaller class sizes. I've just taught in one myself and it is certainly easier to give individual attention with fewer children, which was lovely.

The key thing though is what is the private school like? Some have a great reputation for being supportive of children, but others can be very challenging and expect a fast pace, so I'd advise doing a good bit of digging first (having heard stories of frustration from other parents!) See if you can get personal recommendations. And also, see if you can get the current school to support him as they should first.

Hope that helps! (And great that you're trying to find the best way to help him smile)

Whowherewhywhat Wed 27-Mar-13 15:13:31

Thanks soo much for the reply teacher creature, our frustrations stems from lack of strategy to address the slowly dropping concentration and interest from the teachers. I know they are trying to help e.g with smaller groups etc, but I was hoping that we could at least explore approaches that they had taken in their experience previously but they seem to be drawing a blank on how to address concentration issues, maybe I'm expecting too much!

The private school we are looking has significant resources and approaches to nhelping children with or even identifying underlying issues, around concentration etc to the level where they will provide someone to sit with a child through all lessons if need be to keep them in track or bring them up to speed, and we already have friends to attend there.

We plan to work v closely with our current school over the summer term to try and turn things around, and are also looking at the particular private school as well so that we have options.

Was hoping to find out of other parents had taken this approach and if it had worked or not.

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 16:53:40

You're welcome. And sadly yes your story of frustration is very familiar! I was teaching Y3 myself and each year had new children arriving with similar tales of lack of support and their parents saying how relieved they were to have made the switch. I also have a very close friend with a visually-impaired Y2 son who is having almost exactly the same issues as you and is herself considering a private school if the current place don't sort it soon. (Where again, her local private one is known for being super supportive.)

However I definitely wouldn't say that private is always better than state, since I have also taught at two excellent state schools as well. I think it really does depend on the school and their awareness level/willingness to support the individual - but I must say the one you are considering sounds ideal in terms of the help they are willing to offer.

I also think your approach of trying to get the current school to sort it first is wise. Smaller groups are helpful to some extent, and it's good that's being tried, but I do think they ought to be looking more at why is his concentration wandering? Could there be some form of difficulty affecting him? There are so many individual needs a child can have (eyes, hearing, dyslexia, processing difficulties etc etc) that I'd always exhaust those possibilities first. If you establish there is no problem with the learning, then lack of concentration can still be helped through reward schemes and so on. Stickers, tick charts, cubes on desk as a reminder that you silently take away (rather than verbally nagging all day) - there are numerous things that could and should be tried, and so no I don't feel you are asking too much at all.

Overall I'd say it always seems a shame to me that children have to be moved, but ultimately if you feel his education is suffering and there is another option, then I agree I'd be tempted to do just the same. Hope very much it works out for you, whichever you go with - good luck!

Teachercreature Wed 27-Mar-13 17:17:03

Oh one other quick thought - how about trying a tutor? A good one working closely with him might be able to help work out what's happening? Also cheaper/less permanent than a switch to private. (Of course if you feel he isn't happy in general then it might not be worth it.)

Whowherewhywhat Wed 27-Mar-13 23:47:01

Thanks again teacher creature, wish you were at Ds school, you sound like a wonderful teacher!!
I'm going to have his eyes and ears tested over the hols just to check and rule out and a great idea to maybe give him some sort of visual reminder on his desk to help him focus ( and remind him of my concentration mantra 😁)

The one thing he says all the time at the moment is that he keeps 'forgetting' what he's supposed to do, have you had any experience of this? Thank you soo much for your time, don't want to monopolise you ☺

Whowherewhywhat Wed 27-Mar-13 23:48:04

Sorry should have finished off that to me, this is listening but not processing it or taking it in?

Teachercreature Thu 28-Mar-13 11:54:42

Aw thanks very much! And no not monopolising at all, happy to help any time. The visual reminder thing does work well as I always think it's depressing for a child to hear their name repeatedly being called if they aren't focused - it can get very negative. Instead of removing something you can also put a little sticker on sign on their desk and go past and tap it (while still explaining to the class, you don't even need to make a thing of it!) Harder though if he's losing attention while sitting on the carpet.

Interesting that he says he forgets - yes I agree this sounds like for some reason he isn't processing. Is he generally happy there apart from losing focus? What's his written work like - is he keeping up there or is it suffering due to the concentration problem? And is it just the teaching input part where he doesn't concentrate, or is it when he is asked to work independently too? (ie does he need an adult to encourage him to concentrate at all and is this why the group work is more successful?)

If it is just following instructions he struggles with (there could be several reasons for that) the school could help him by providing him with simple written instructions maybe? (If they are complex I'd usually put them up on the board anyway.) Or get him to repeat back what he's heard and see if he can do that? I do feel they need to be trying to get to the cause rather than just saying "he doesn't concentrate", especially given he says he forgets.

Another option I haven't mentioned for further down the line is if his hearing checks out and the problem persists even with school support and various different strategies, you could get him assessed by an Educational Psychologist. The school are unlikely to arrange this unless they think he has severe problems (the wait is about 18 months too), but you could get a private assessment for about £500. This would tell you if there was a problem, and also advise steps on supporting him. But definitely see if you can get the school to help first - sometimes children just go through a temporary blip with learning and then recover with the right support! smile

Paddlinglikefluffyducklings Fri 29-Mar-13 13:23:13

DD was similar, although oldest in the class. Losing interest in school, switching off when previously engaged. She told us the class was noisy and she couldn't concentrate.

DD had to sit next to TA to produce any work, as lost focus and distracted, but in small groups or on her own worked well. However this wasn't the child we could see at home, she would stick to a task for some time and was self motivated. This showed even more when she was put on a special reading scheme as she was behind where she should be for her age and she flew through it, showing great application, but it was on a 1-1 with a sympathetic teacher, who couldn't praise her enough.

We moved her in yr2 private, 18 in the class, as opposed to 31. The change was remarkable and obviously suited her. It took her a good couple of terms settle, but now she is thriving, although is still forgetful and will forget her books, so has a buddy to remind her!

We thought we may have to go down the Ed.Psych. route, or there maybe some other problems, but there obviously isn't. Although a friend who works as a specialist teacher did do a basic assessment and found she is a visual learner and her processing skills were weak, but not awful. She is going to retest this summer, when we visit again.

How is he at home? Would he sit and work with a tutor and remain focused? Do you think there are any issues, apart from what you are being told? If not then I would be tempted to move him if it is an option.

ICanTotallyDance Mon 01-Apr-13 20:12:31

If you can comfortably afford it and the local private is reliable and supportive, go for it. You can always change back at 11 or 13. If its a bit more of a strain on the finances, or if you're not sure about the school, do a lot more investigating before you make the move.

Of course, talk to his current school first. They may after all be able to help.

One thing to consider when you move, not true of all private schools, is that even at Yr 3 friendship strong groups may have formed. If there are only 16 kids in the year group, and they've been together since they were three or four or five, by seven they'll be very close. That's not to put you off, most children integrate fairly quickly in this environment, I'm just saying that even if there are immediate academic gains it may take your child a couple of terms to find their ground socially again. I would recommend starting at the beginning of a new term or school year rather than mid term.

trinity0097 Mon 01-Apr-13 20:24:09

Children in prep schools usually welcome new arrivals regardless of the time of year, I don't find that starting at the start of the year/term makes a difference in how quickly children settle, especially when they are still young.

Teachercreature Tue 02-Apr-13 16:21:15

From my experience that depends on the year and the existing friendship groups. Have seen some settle quickly and easily, others not so much. Just as in state schools, in fact!

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