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What makes a child "academic"?

(36 Posts)
5exybomb Mon 08-Dec-14 15:11:11

We are moving back to Elmbridge, Surrey next year and are looking at private secondary schools for DD1. I was thinking when people say my child is academic, what do they mean?
My DD1 goes to a prep school with 45 in the year group. She is top set for spelling and English and middle set for maths. She was in top set for maths but got put down as she was struggling to keep up with their pace so is now top of the middle set.
She is hardworking and outgoing but can lack confidence in her ability. She is very popular and sociable and has many friends. She also loves drama, and some sports but isn't particularly sporty.
Would you say she is academic and therefore would she suit academic schooling or do you think she sounds more of an all rounder?

EdithWeston Mon 08-Dec-14 15:18:04

It's a mixture of being clever and of being diligent (by which I think I mean happy to study). So both ability and attitude.

A talented shirker might do well in an academic school because they can stand the pace without needing to be bookish. But a diligent all rounder who is clever enough would do well too.

(Is that a fence I'm sitting on?)

You need to talk to current prep about the types of school they can see her flourishing in, even if they cannot advise on specific schools at your new location. And ask for her CATS scores.

Seeline Mon 08-Dec-14 15:22:48

I think Edith is right in that an academic child needs to be bright in the first place, but crucially needs to be willing and able to learn more. It is the application that makes the child academic.
I do think an academic child can be an all-rounder as well though - it's not an either/or situation. Often a bright child, who enjoys learning and being challenged will take that attitude onto the sports field/art studio or stage as well.

5exybomb Mon 08-Dec-14 16:43:12

Hi Edith, sorry to sound ignorant but what are CATS scores?
It is difficult as the schools in my area are completely different to Elmbridge.

Taz1212 Mon 08-Dec-14 16:55:14

I would call DS academic. He is bright and incredibly enthusiastic about learning. He loves the vast majority of his classes (finds History incredibly dull). He is at a private school and the environment is academic but very much has a focus of "being busy". When children aren't in class they are off at a club or practicing an instrument or attending a lunchtime concert or playing a sport etc. DS thrives in this environment and he is very much an all rounder.

Every school will be different and I'd suggest going round a few to get a feel for them. DS would have been OK at a school which mainly focused on the academic side, but he is having a fantastic time at a school that also strongly encourages children to join in loads of other activities as well.

BackforGood Mon 08-Dec-14 17:06:46

I would say that my dd is academic, but not my ds.
Both would probably be seen as being 'bright' or having a reasonably high IQ, but ds has always gone to school because he had to - would be delighted with a snow day or a missing teacher or some other reason there was no lesson one day. He did his homework, but aimed to "do enough". dd OTOH, enjoys problem solving and challenging work. She complained when they weren't giving her maths that challenged her, she felt she was being deprived, as she enjoys being given something difficult to resolve, whereas ds would have thought 'great, an easy ride today'.

As an adult, my dh is 'an academic' (literally, that's his job) and he enjoys reading research papers, etc, in his own time - he thinks they are interesting reading. Me, I like my job, but read any research I need to know purely as a means to the end of improving my practice, not in a 'for pleasure' type of way.

EdithWeston Mon 08-Dec-14 17:30:19

CATS scores are the results of a standardised Cognitive Abilities Test. They are designed to measure students’ learned reasoning abilities in the three areas they say are most linked to academic success in school: Verbal, Quantitative and Nonverbal. ('learned' because they work from the standpoint that you cannot isolate innate ability entirely from educational experience, but it's meant to be less influenced by school performance than other types of testing).

Not every school does them, but it's something that is readily comparable between schools that do. And shouldn't be much affected if she's going through a temporary flat period.

They are not an IQ test, but 'academic' schools probably have some idea of the level they want to see in pupils who have done these tests, and the results are usually included in references.

1805 Mon 08-Dec-14 17:39:55

I have an "academic" ds, and a "creative" dd.
Ds just loves to learn about everything, and questions why things are the way they are. He likes exams, and strives to be top of the class in tests and homework. We moved him to a selective prep school with a whole bunch of bright boys. It is perfect for him. Also, he can remember and reguritate endless facts. He just likes knowledge.

dd is completely not like this!!!!

ReallyTired Mon 08-Dec-14 17:51:08

The good news is that that you have a good selection of private schools to choose from in the Elmbridge area. She might be happy in one of the large private schools like Surbition high which welcomes dilgent all rounders as well as the super gifted. The top sets of Surbition high produce results comparable to some of the super selective schools. Surbition high also gets reasonable results from more average children.

summerends Mon 08-Dec-14 21:50:00

I would n't separate creative and academic 1805, the brightest people I know (at a very high level) have combined a thirst for learning with a creative approach to problem solving. Some of those may also be creatives in the arts / music.
I would define academic as somebody who is enthusiastic to learn / discover more in academic subjects (bit of a tautology).
However as pointed out above academic schools often also require the DCs to learn fast, usually be natural mathematicians, have good writing skills as well no problems with exam performance.
If a DC can't process information quickly, despite enthusiasm and diligence (and potentially success in later life) they could end ip being overburdened with the time taken to keep up with their classmates in a more 'academic' school.

5exybomb Mon 08-Dec-14 22:21:55

Thats exactly my fear, Summerends as my DD1 often finds it hard to process what is being asked of her so needs the question or task explaining then once she has this she is away, no stopping her. However once she knows something she is very good at tests, exams and revising.
I believe she is also good at drama and has taken several Lamda exams gaining distinction every time.
Would anyone recommend any schools in the area that would be suitable for DD1?

Hakluyt Mon 08-Dec-14 22:34:13

Interesting. I have two bright children- my ds is much the cleverer but dd is diligent and loves leaning and by virtue of that did very well at school and is now doing a very "academic" type degree at a Russell Group. Ds is doing better than she did at school so far, but finds it much easier and doesn't have to work particularly hard. And is certainly a "yippee for a snow day! Fantastic it's an away match so we miss afternoon school!" type. So I would say that dd is "academic' and ds isn't- even though NC levels say differently.

pointythings Mon 08-Dec-14 22:36:42

I'd say there are three components to being academic:

- Intelligence (ability to learn and remember faster and more easily than average)
- Interest (desire to learn and discover)
- Graft (understanding that to get the results you need to work hard)

Creativity is a red herring, you can be academic and creative, or academic and sporty. I'd say that both sport and creative endeavours require interest and hard work in order to get you anywhere anyway.

Hakluyt Mon 08-Dec-14 22:53:12

I would put interest and graft before intelligence.

summerends Mon 08-Dec-14 23:55:21

I agree Hakulyt and for success later on in life also staying power.
Sexybomb some DCs may appear to pick up things quickly but have only superficially understood and then forget easily. Your DD may in terms of effort required to learn something actually need less overall time than them as she has understood properly and won't forget.
'Academic' schools are a spectrum. However it sounds as though to build her confidence she might benefit from being near the top rather than in the middle.

shoobidoo Tue 09-Dec-14 08:47:07

The very 'academic' schools (top achieving) are increasingly using IQ type reasoning tests to choose pupils. They are looking for potential and natural ability rather than learned facts.
What I suggest is that you look at lots of schools and let your dd take a selection of entry assessments - schools know what they're looking for and you'll quickly find a suitable school for her.

dodo3 Tue 09-Dec-14 10:10:11

I have a very academic child 148 IQ and another with 80 IQ (bless) my more academic child has no common sense whatsoever yet my less intelligent child can talk to anyone on any level, I can trust him to make logical decisions and hes very personable.

I think my less able child will go far in life because he has developed other important skills to compensate for not being as academic.

Hakluyt Tue 09-Dec-14 10:49:04

My "academic" child has a lower IQ than my non academic one.

TheWindowDonkey Tue 09-Dec-14 10:54:53

An academic child tends to be one who has an inherent thirst for knowledge and will persue it independatly. There is one in my dad's class at school and he is very, very bright and interested in everything.
Dd is very middle ofthe road and MUCH less interested in perusing her own knowledge, but that would never stop me from putting her into a decent academic school as she will also work hard and keep going at things til she gets them. I think both kids have the opportunity to do well academically with the right approach (it's just a shame that most schools are too overcrowded and underfunded tobe able to give this one on one attention enough)

ReallyTired Tue 09-Dec-14 12:16:39

I think that the op daughter might lack maturity rather than intelligence. She needs a school that can stretch later developers. There are some good state options in Elmbridge as well.

MrsMarigold Tue 09-Dec-14 12:22:05

My husband is a very academic person - practical and social things aren't his thing but he is super analytical and has razor sharp wit.

MarjorieMelon Tue 09-Dec-14 12:33:49

I hear people say that their children are academic all the time but I don't think that they are. In my opinion "academic" means very studious head in a book all the time, a history buff or science geek type person. When I hear other people use the term they usually mean that their child isn't bottom set.

TheWordFactory Tue 09-Dec-14 17:46:48

To me, an academic child needs to be intelligent, quick to learn new ideas, interested in pursuing those new ideas and able to display them.

But more than that, they need to be able to do these things within the auspices of Academia.

MrsMarigold Tue 09-Dec-14 17:50:02

My DH's sister is not academic despite having got a scholarship to top public school and a first from Oxford but with her it's all about organisation and efficiency. DH was the one they thought was thick but he is just reflective, also went to Oxford but only got a 2.1 because he got anxious during finals.

MrsMarigold Tue 09-Dec-14 17:50:31

My DH's sister is not academic despite having got a scholarship to top public school and a first from Oxford but with her it's all about organisation and efficiency. DH was the one they thought was thick but he is just reflective, also went to Oxford but only got a 2.1 because he got anxious during finals.

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