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Are we expecting far too much of a primary aged children??

(57 Posts)
lars Tue 11-May-04 15:01:54

After posted on another thread it made me think are we expecting far too much of our children.
They appeared to pushed,pushed and more pushing.
In Norway they think our education system is mad. Where has the fun gone in going to school is just seems to be sats and test, test , test, what do you all think? larsxx

goosey Tue 11-May-04 15:10:36

I agree with you lars, and as with a lot of things in this country it has become a snobbery thing too. This or that pre-school is beter than the other because they teach a foreign language or have their own uniform blah blah bah.
Let them explore and enjoy their childhoods away from the spectre of national tests which limit their freedoms and individuality. My views are extreme - but yes, stop pushing them and allow them learn to run on their own inspirational steam instead.

lars Tue 11-May-04 15:27:30

goosey, I don't think your views are extreme but reflect the reality of the situation.
Children don't appear to have time to enjoy their school years without having pressure to perform and deliver. If they don't they are considered a failure at such a young age. I feel sorry for the teachers as well, can't be easy having to go along with all of this. I really don't like the education system today, when I was young it appeared to be fun and there was time to enjoy school - no pressure unlike today- What has happened!!!

secur Tue 11-May-04 15:40:15

Message withdrawn

lars Tue 11-May-04 15:52:48

secur, that seems so hard to keep you in playtimes when that is the most important part of social interaction with your peers. Did you get excluded by your peers, as when would you have the chance to interact with them except in the classroom doing school work not doubt. How awful for you I think I would of resented that and started to slack with my work. larsxx

secur Tue 11-May-04 15:57:20

Message withdrawn

luckymum Tue 11-May-04 22:13:41

My dd (year 5) had an *important* - her words -spelling test today, she usually gets full marks. Today she got 7/20. She got in the car and wept buckets because the scores had been read out and all the children stared at her. She said she was embarassed and that she'd failed. I'm so angry that any 'test' at primary should be deemed important enough to reduce her to tears - that she should feel a failure - that she's 'expected' not only by her teachers but by her peers to produce a perfect mark week in week out- that she's lying in bed now not sleeping because she's worried about how she'll perform tomorrow - and that I can't find the words to make it right.

twogorgeousboys Tue 11-May-04 22:37:14


Your poor little girl - she should not be made to feel like this at such a tender age. Why do the results have to be announced? I used to put spelling test results into childrens bookbags for them to look at with their parents at home. It's nobody else's business as far as I'm concerned.

dottee Tue 11-May-04 23:16:25

My 10 yr old ds started crying in the bath last night. He did his yr 5 SATS and the apparently the class didn't perform as well as expected so the teacher reprimanded them yesterday.

I wrote to the his teacher in a very nice way last night. I didn't blame her but blamed the system etc., however, I felt I had to let her know the knock on effect. I've promised ds I will write to Tony Blair! Personally, I'm livid!

When my dd (who has complex learning difficulties and delayed language) was in her year 2, she was obliged to take SATS under law. What a waste of time! Thank goodness she now goes to another school who have disapplied the SATS tests.

tigermoth Wed 12-May-04 00:50:55

luckymum and dottee - agree those tears shouldn't be there for those reasons on 10 year old faces.

I have just realised that my 10 year old doesn't get one day free of school work. That's teribel isn't it? I get 2 days free from work each week.

Mon - Fri he has normal school (plus 3 extra curricular things).
Saturday - an hour of 11+ tutoring
Sunday - homework usually otherwise it's too much to cram into his weekday evenings.

Plus music practice at least 5 times a week. His music teacher wants him to start taking some exams, but I've said no till after the 11+ is out of the way.

monkey Wed 12-May-04 11:05:41

I think it sounds awful, esp the story of thepoos little girl who cried because she 'only' got 7/20, and all of thos expectations on such young children. I mean 5 years old!!!!!!!!

We live in Switzerland now, where my ds won't even begin kindergarten until after his 5th birthday. he'll go there for 2 years, where the emphasis is on building relationshiips with other, socialising, arts & crafts, exploration etc. He'll ge for 5 morning & 1 afternoon a week They don't even get introduced to letters or numbers until they start school at age 7. And I feel very lucky he's got the opportunity to go through this system.

Women complain because it does make working harder, but for me, I'm comfortable with it, I'd rather this path for my children, that's for sure.

Something is wrong when 5 year olds feel like failures. Or 15/16 year olds don't get one day off per week

monkey Wed 12-May-04 11:06:37

sorry, just read that the spelling girl was year 5, not 5 years. Still, the points the same, way too much stress for such young kids

annh Wed 12-May-04 14:19:43

Yes, we do expect far too much of them. Ds1 started school aged 4 in the Netherlands and spent the first year (and would also have spent the second year except we moved back)very much in a play environment, loads of gym, singing, stories, a deluge of crafts etc. There was very little academic work, certainly no reading or writing. I did not do any extra flashcards, workbooks etc with him at home and very much got the impression that this was neither expected or even welcomed by the teachers. Writing and spellings started in group 3 (equivalent to year 2 here)but the observation I made from looking at work on the walls or in the school magazine was that the children seemed to completely skip the two-foot high letter stage and went straight from 0 to 60 in a very short time. After about 3-4 months of work, they were producing beautifully presented and correctly spelled pieces of work. Made you wonder what the point of the first two years of handwriting and spelling here is all about?

We moved back part-way into year 1 and ds1 went into overdrive on learning to read, add etc He is v-bright so apart from the first few weeks has had no difficulties and is now in the top group which is great but I do feel that he misses out on the "fun" activities that he enjoyed in NL. As parents we seem to be deluged with reports on what they are doing, suggestions of activites we could do at home to support them etc and although ds really enjoys school, I do have to wonder whether we won't look back and wonder where his childhood went.

Ds2 goes to playschool a few mornings a week, is learning bits there and picking up bits n pieces from me and elder brother. However, I am constantly beating myself up about whether this is enough or whether I should be making more effort with letters, pencil control, numbers etc before catching myself and thinking what the hell, surely much better for him to be "weeding", "mopping" and "dusting" - his current favourite activities?!

And finally (phew) all the studies show that continental children have caught up - and surpassed - UK children by secondary level, so what is the point of being able to read/write at 4? What is the average 4 year old going to do with this talent - get a job?!

Sonnet Wed 12-May-04 15:20:16

i agree our children are put under far too much pressure far to early - I HATE it.

But, I am sad to say, I see a lot of parents putting pressure on their own children, not saying any of you are
also, visit waterstones or WH Smith, even our local Tesco's and see the shelves and shelves of LETTS books and Carol Vordeman teaching maths!!! - If I wasn't so set in my views i could feel very inadequate as a mum!!

Kittypickle Wed 12-May-04 19:33:17

I had a couple of conversations about this recently. In the first we were talking over dinner to another couple whose DD is due to start reception this year. I said that I thought we start formal education far too early here - they looked at me as if I'd lost the plot and a snipey comment was made later (won't be having them again !)

The second was with a good friend who's son is the same age as my DD and is in reception at a school that pushes the children academically. He now looks forward to the weekend so he gets a break. It makes me feel really sad for him and I know it's making my friend feel that they have made the wrong choice of school.

DD's reception teacher was overheard talking to the classroom assistant saying that she feels really inadequate as she feels that at age 4&5 they should be just playing, but she has to adhere to the foundation curriculum. She said that she tries to make it as fun as possible, but goes against her beliefs. I know people have very different views on this subject, but I personally think the system is mad and do not care at all if my DD doesn't know the 49 words or whatever she is supposed to by July as she'll catch up later.

Lara2 Wed 12-May-04 19:37:43

We definately expect too much from our children. DS1 is Year 6 and doing his SATS this week. At the weekend there was no-one to play with because they were all in revising!!!! At age 11!!! He said "Should I Mum?" And all I said he should do was have a quick read through his books if he felt he needed to. Too much, too soon.

Piffleoffagus Wed 12-May-04 19:50:08

my son was encouraged to do the STATS a yr early in yr 1, silly really, he didn;t start school until the January when he was 5... he did really well, but thats just him. since then he has had annual QCA'swhich he finds great but gall me to the core, now as we are moving we are facing the 11+ as well in Yr 6 next year.
Then of course to grammar school (likelihood being I guess) can't see there being any let up after that realy!
Poor little sods, makes you want to give them a gap year at 11!!!
xx kiwi

susanmt Thu 13-May-04 09:48:29

I'm so glad my kids will go to school in Scotland where there are no SATS, no national curriculum (only guidelines) and a more relaxed attitude to age at starting - all my kids will start at 5 and a half.
The system in the rest of the uk sounds mad to me, and there seems no time to play. What is childhood for?

roisin Thu 13-May-04 10:06:30

DS1 is only 6, he's in year 2 - doing KS1 SATs at the moment. He loves the tests, and finds them quite easy, and isn't worried about them. School really play it down, and we have barely mentioned them at home. But he is still very stressed this week. He seems to have had 3 formal tests (much longer than I expected), and a spelling test, and other assessments too. Is this right? Personally I just can't wait til they're over and done with ...

But we've just found out school will be having an Ofsted at the end of term ... Grrrrrrr....

lars Thu 13-May-04 10:09:27

I'm so glad I'm not alone feeling like this.
When i here how Monkey's ds is being taught - how wonderful!
annh, you are so right what is this country doing to our young it is very worrying.
I really wish we could do more as parents about this and at least have the choice of how we would like our children educated. I feel very let down by our current education system, not schools fault I know they feel as if their hands are tied.
Maybe a protest of parents views might make the government take notice- just a thought - any ideas ??? Sorry but I feel really strongly about this one!

webmum Thu 13-May-04 10:12:48

can I add my 2pence worth?

In italy children go to school at 6 but by then a large number have attended kidergarden for 3 yeras and a many have learnt to read by then even if it taught in a v. 'unofficial way'. (there's no curriculum for nurseries that says they have to teach to read).

SO I think the problem is not so much at whata ge you teach them, but mainly how.

DD,3, can recognise most letters of the alphabet, but we never set out to teach her (I'm definitely NOT that kind of mother), but she started asking and now she can link the letters to the names of people we know.

What I mean, is, I don't think it is necessarily bad that school starts so early, but the emphasis should be put on learning through play for the first few years, and definitely no exams until 11!!

The advantage of starting so early is that by 21 british students can be graduates and enter the workforce (and they WILL find a job).

In italy even if you're excelelnt, you don't graduate until 23/24 and then it might take you a couple of years before you find a decent job. And that's just a minority of people.

The fact that continental students seem to do better aftera while is probably more due to quality of teaching than the age when they start!

lars Thu 13-May-04 10:20:15

Webmum, you are right ' learning through play' for the first couple of years has got to benefit the children. The quality of teaching is important but with the current system it just seems trail and error and can't blame teachers for that .I think the government need to look at other countries and see how it works well for them and take note. lars xx

Sonnet Thu 13-May-04 10:25:36

That's interesting webmum.
My DD2 is also three and recognises nearly all the letters and all numbers to 10 - and we have never taught her them...She does go to Nursery ( I work PT) and they spoke to my DH last week to say how well she is doing and how she understands concept of numbers to 6 as well as recognition. At nursery they are only at the stage of shapes, name recognition and numbers 1 & 2. They were so suprised with the way she fired everything off that they tested how much she did know and then presumed we must be doing them at home with her.- WE MOST DEFINATLY ARE NOT....the only thing DH and I can think of is that she plays schools with her elder sister who is 7 - LOL - so my best intentions have failed..

I would still like to know who buys all those LETTS books though.....

discordia Thu 13-May-04 11:43:36

Short answer to lars' question - YES!

B****y SATs. My 7 year old dd has been getting steadily more stressed all week. She was really uptight and miserable this morning because of SATs. SHE'S ONLY 7 FFS! (Sorry, ranting a bit). I just didn't know what to do to help her so ended up promising to take her out wherever she wants after school which did cheer her up.

lars Thu 13-May-04 11:52:29

discordia, poor thing it is really not fair that children should feel like this at such a young age.This is supposed to be the best years of their lives. larsxx

secur Thu 13-May-04 11:57:01

Message withdrawn

Fio2 Thu 13-May-04 11:58:03

yes I think so

discordia Thu 13-May-04 11:59:11

I just wonder how on earth to encourage a positive attitude to school when it's so stressful. Instead of these tests, the government would do well to concentrate on more important matters like how is my 5 yr old ds supposed to learn in a Reception class of 33 kids? He never gets to read on his own at school, always in a group. AAAAAAAAAARGH. Sorry. Very negative mood this morning. SATs plus PMT = very crabby mummy.

secur Thu 13-May-04 12:02:01

Message withdrawn

Fio2 Thu 13-May-04 12:07:28

no it was yes I think there is too much pressure on primary kids (or whatever the title is!)

discordia Thu 13-May-04 12:08:27

I really don't think ks1 children should have homework and even ks2 shouldn't have much. This time of year they ought to be outside playing. Rant.

secur Thu 13-May-04 12:11:30

Message withdrawn

scoobysnax Thu 13-May-04 12:14:45

IMO school starts too young in England and the school day is too long. I think it is a shame to confine kids to a class room for so many hours and that a classroom environment is not the best one for learning anyway.

I would like my child to have fun with no pressure for more of her life than our educational system will allow her. I am dreading her starting school in September!

lars Thu 13-May-04 12:23:02

Secur, your not a bad mum- you sound a fun mum afterall isn't that what our childhood years are all about having fun and remembering the good times in the summer holidays.
Like you, I don't intend to push my children to the limit, like I see some parents do every day. They can't wait to see the teacher to get the next stage reading book, etc. It all appears to be brag, brag , brag and how well their child is doing. Sometimes feel an outsider as I don't believe in all this homework at primary school. Lets face it I think most of the h/w is done by the parent and not the child anyway. larsxx

secur Thu 13-May-04 12:34:41

Message withdrawn

lars Thu 13-May-04 12:42:37

Secur, My friend's neighbour does this and thinks it's great. I did think about it but not sure as I think I would find it too stressful. Two kids fighting to be seperated in a school enviroment far better option for me. My friend's neighbour only has one child who is very bright and finds it easy.
I would like to see changes in the education system and choices for parents. I know Rudolp Steiner schools are very good, but cannot afford to send them there as private education. Just wish there was more options open to us and have schools like they have in Norway,etc. larsxx

secur Thu 13-May-04 12:48:09

Message withdrawn

marialuisa Thu 13-May-04 12:54:02

Lars, Steiner schools usually have a sliding fee scale based on parental income. the Steiner school my friend works in has some kids who pay fees equivalent to the local private day school (about £6k p.a.) some who pay nothing and loads in between.

lars Thu 13-May-04 13:06:37

marialuisa, that's interesting I didn't know that about the fees. The only other thing for me is the nearest is in Herts- which would be too far for me to get to everyday.

Secur, I really do feel we have no input in the education system and I know in my area alone 30 parents have opted out of state school education and teach their kids at home- very worrying !!
Is there anyway us parents can be heard as enough is enough of this education crap!!!! larsxx

oxocube Thu 13-May-04 13:08:17

lars, have only read your first message but I couln't agree more. Test, test, test .... where is the fun?

Sonnet Thu 13-May-04 13:14:54

Secur - re your last post - I agree! But I think that our views are in the minority
Fortunatly or unfortunatly (dependent on your view)I was lucky enough to be able to opt out of the state sector - NO SATS or FORMAL EXAMS and actually less formal lesson time in the school day.
DH and I are very happy with our choice.I do see pushy parents from hell every day and my own opinion is not a mainstream one.
during the last week of the school year(dd1 just finished yr 1) she came home with a holiday homework list - maths, literacy, short story writing and a holiday diary to complete. DH and I were horrifed ( garden and paddleing pool were our plans like your own!). I went to see the head the very next morning and expalined the way I felt. Te head explained to me that, personaly as a head and a mother, she 100% agreed with me - the reason homework was given was because of parental pressure!!. Needless to say we had her backing and the homework was never done!. Interestingly DD1 did express an interest in doing the holiday diary so obviously we let her - and she won a prize!! - so it wasn't held against her. She is now in year2 with a fantastic teacher and gets spellings every week and occasionally 1 piece of other homework. She reads like mad, loves school and by the schools standards is doing "extremely well".

lars Thu 13-May-04 13:36:55

Sonnet, I'm glad to hear your children's school thinks the same about homework. I do hear parents compaining all the time not enough homework. It appears that the only way they think their children learn is through homework and nothing else.
We are currently planting seeds at home and think the children are learning far more through counting the seeds, germination, etc .They are doing this in a fun way there is not always time to do this in school. larsxx

Sonnet Thu 13-May-04 13:55:43

Agree Lars - hope the seeds grow.
DD1 is "hatching" chicks at school - oh the exitment this morning coz two had hatched....

roisin Thu 13-May-04 14:17:39

Secur - sounds far too much homework to me. Ask to see the school's homework policy document.

At our school apart from reading: Yr1 children just get handwriting practice once a week. It's pretty tedious, but at least it gives them chance to learn that if they sit down and do it without any fuss it only takes 10 mins then it's over with.

Yr2 children get homework up to twice a week, (but in practice only 4 times a month), and it only takes about 10 mins. Ditto above re working habits.

They don't have homework at all over the holidays.

Oh - as well I think some children get spellings to take home and practice if they get some wrong in a spelling test.

Re: Home-edding - a friend of mine has just made the decision to do this. Her dds are 3 and 4 (almost 5). In some ways I'm envious. I'd love to home-ed ... Just not my own kids!

roisin Thu 13-May-04 16:07:59

Isn't it nice when they just want to do kid things. DSs arrived home from school and went straight into the garden. Whoops of ecstasy when they discovered the tiny shoots where the carrots and spring onions have germinated ... careful inspection of the recently planted tomatoes, peppers and rhubarb! I took their drinks and snacks out to the playhouse, and 5 mins later ds1 came in overflowing with exctiement to tell me they had found a spider with hundreds of babies! And they could see her spinning her web.

SoupDragon Thu 13-May-04 16:18:35

DS1 is in reception and so far I'm delighted with his school. Yes, he's learning to read and he's learning maths and all sorts of other things but as far as he's concerned, he's playing. He claims that he doesn't learn anything at school but then comes out with stuff we certainly haven't taught him.

There was a note on the board this morning telling us that the class had got some new resources today. I assumed they meant books, computer stuff or something like that but in fact it was a Plan Toys fire engine and large wooden fire station with about 8 firemen and accessories. Fantastic

Also, apparently they don't "coach" the children for their SATS tests. Yes, they may have practice papers in the week before but apart from that, the children have no idea they are doing the actual tests when the time comes. They get damn good results too.

DS1 has had one piece of homework - because he asked his teacher if he could do his plan for a particular project at home. He had to design a sandwich!

susanmt Fri 14-May-04 02:29:45

You CAN withdraw your kid from SATS if you don't want them to do it. It is a pretty controversial thing to do in most schools as it can affect their scores in the league tables, but if I were in England I would do it regardless, or find a school that wasn't doing them. Primary school age children should be continually assessed by their teacher without the need for formal tests (and I include any type of 11+ in that idea).

I'm a teacher (though currently a sahm) and I wouldhope most children sit their first ever national exams at 16. Thats how it works up here mostly adn its far, far better! Plus we have a far broader education system, which encourages different subjects to be taken just for fun!

toddlerbob Fri 14-May-04 02:46:17

Parents are generally made to feel like they are not intelligent enough to bring up their own children from a very young age. One mum I know goes on and on about how educational her ds's preschool is, but it's all ground she would probably cover if he was at home (he's only 1 FFS).

At my ds's very relaxed playgroup we go to, they have to keep a log of the activities to get education funding. I provide a translation below:

Music (put a tape on, get out some shakers - have a cup of tea)
Outdoor play (open the door to the garden area - have a cup of tea)
Playdough (put playdoh on a low table - have a cup of tea)
Art (put out some paint until you can stand the mess no longer)
Transport (get out some toy cars and have a cup of tea)

I like the fact that they have discovered how to use the system to get funding to buy stuff and then ignore it so that kids can actually have fun and do what interests them.

nightowl Fri 14-May-04 03:04:46

have only skipped through the thread so apologies if i repeat but ive always thought ds's school are way too hard on them. what surprised me was that he was bringing homework back when he was in reception class. hes naturally very bright, if a bit laid back and i feel the more they push him the more he cant be bothered. They make him feel stupid, and several times he has announced to me that he is stupid. how heartbreaking is it for a 5 year old to say that? i attended the same school and my mom was actually told i was too forward and to "baby me" a bit. that says to me a lot about how it has all changed in 20 years or so. I dont think pushing them is the answer. ds reads to me and we do his spellings etc but i dont sit at home for hours making him work. hes just a little boy and should be allowed the freedom to be one as far as im concerned.

luckymum Fri 14-May-04 08:19:41

Its not just the SATs I have a problem with - its the testing in between too and the way its done in my dd's school. Surely children can be 'tested' without them being made aware of it? I think teacher assessment over the year is a much more reliable tool. Tests just result in the children being compared favourably or unfavourably to each other, by themselves, by parents and by teachers.

LHP Fri 14-May-04 09:03:46

There has been a sort of move to hold back some of the really formal schooling for pre schools and reception from when they introduced the "curriculum guidance for the foundation stage" in, I think, Autiumn 2000. This was based on lots of research about the importance of play and especially outdoors play and produced in consultation with Early Years experts such as Tina Bruce. The guidance IIRC was intended to override the Literacy/numeracy hours and any formal whole class reaching until at least the summer term in reception. When this is done well, with lots of resources, outside access and,crucially, training for the staff on how to make "play" meaningful and relevant (What I mean is,for example,presenting a problem to be solved with the lego and not just bunging it out on the table in a box, what is what I think many non EY teachers think happens) it's great, but the sad reality seems to be that the foundation teachers receive lots of pressure from managers and KS1 teachers who have not had training in Early Years, to produce reams and reams of worksheets, sitting still for hours on end etc because "they are going to have to do it in Y2, so they might as well practice now" WTF! They are going to have to lrearn quadratic equations in Y10, but it doesn't mean they have to start age 5!! There is so much evidence for the value of learning according to developmental readyness, it makes my blood boil when I hear pushy teacher/ school stories like these.

Batters Fri 14-May-04 10:26:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

discordia Fri 14-May-04 10:51:03

This thread has inspired me. I'm going to write to my MP with my views on primary school testing. Ask him if he can come and explain to my dd why she is suddenly finding school so horrid.

BTW, my kids are at a great school, I have no complaint against the school at all. The Year 2 teacher is good and leads up to the SATS quite gently but all the children know that they're being tested and it stresses them out. Seven year olds should not be suffering stress!

lars Fri 14-May-04 14:28:54

discordia, you are so right to feel pressured to do well at such young age is worrying. We never had it so why should they.
Maybe us parents need to do more about it, but I know you will get the parents who think their child is not learning enough- like not enough h/work at primary - surely children should be able to enjoy their childhood.
I think no10 Downing street here we all come!!! larsxx

roisin Fri 14-May-04 14:33:21

I sometimes wonder whether this generation of children will grow up and feel robbed of their childhood. They seem under so much pressure: not just education and after-school activities, but clothes to wear, music to listen to, culture and materialism. Some kids have no free time just to 'be' ... and don't get me started on the lack of independence and freedom to play without constant adult observation and interference ...

Janh Fri 14-May-04 14:36:23

roisin, I had to pop into school this morning and was talking to the school sec'y who has been there longer than god (scary to think how young she must have been when dd1 started, she has always seemed so grown-up!) and we were agreeing what a lot of pressure they're under now, what a PITA SATs have been with practising for weeks etc, and she said exactly that - they don't seem to have a proper childhood any more.

lars Fri 14-May-04 14:49:05

I feel really sad about it
I do feel it's all our control and teachers/parents don't appear to have any input.
I know when they sit the SATS they have to go into the hall- remember that feeling of exams!! My daughter has got to sit her test paper when she goes back to school as just had her tonsils out- only yr5 but they need to practise. larsxx

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