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Told I'm teaching my son the "wrong" way. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

(50 Posts)
Katherine Tue 18-Mar-03 12:51:25

I feel really furious so just have to get this off my chest. DS started school in January and so far has loved every minute of it. He's very bright but puts most of his energy into creative things and imagination and has not so far been that interested in numbers and letters but lately he's been getting much more involved and this weekend wrote his sisters name without any help which really impressed me.

Anyway this morning his teacher (who has a reputation for being a dragon) took me aside and complained that she had been testing his letters. She was horrified he didn't seem to know them all yet (well isn't that why he is there!) but then went on to complain that he won't say the letter, only the word it starts off, so instead of "n" he says Noah and instead of "M" he says mummy. She complained that I had been teaching him the wrong way. That I should focus on other letters and not mention what the letter stands for. Or better still I should stay well out of it and leave it to her.

Now I don't claim to know more about teaching but the sad thing is I feel terribly guilty because I never have time to teach DS - anything he has learned is something he has developed himself to help him remember. I feel he has just not learned the distinction between words and letters yet and if someone spends some time on this with him he will grasp it all fine.

I feel really arngy as I don't feel she is accepting that this is my sons way of doing things. She is trying to impose on him rather than letting him develop his own ways which I think is wrong. But most of all I feel it is terrible for her to blame me for something he has got wrong and to order me not to teach him at all. Does anyone else think this is unreasonable? And if so how do I stick up for myself. I am not a confrontational sort of person and to be honest I find her scary. Do I just let it pass and do my own thing at home. I just feel really bad about it all.

Jaybee Tue 18-Mar-03 13:14:35

Sounds like a dragon!! (is this the same dragon who wouldn't remind him to go to the loo before assembly??) Could you ask her for some phonetic worksheets or similar that you could look at with him at home. When dd was in reception we were given sheets on how to help her with her letters - each letter had an action. Trying here desperately to remember some - her favourite was j j j jelly - while she wobbled like a jelly, others were i i i (like a mouse while making mouse type movements); d d d (like a pneumatic drill); a a a ant (pretending an ant was creeping up your arm) etc. etc. At least this was, each child was taught the same at home and at school. Bright kids will make up there own way of remembering and it may be worth telling her that this is his way and not yours - at 2 ds would say m - Mcdonalds

Jaybee Tue 18-Mar-03 13:16:53

Should read 'At least this way' not was and I have made the mistake that I always cringe at there should be their - sorry!!

lou33 Tue 18-Mar-03 13:31:21

Katherine maybe Jolly Phonics would help ? There is a thread on it on Mumsnet, it attaches an action to each sound to help children remember their letters. Elc sell varous forms of it I think.

As for the teacher you have my sympathies. I have encountered similar types with my children, and it doesn't seem to matter which way you approach them, they will still be dragons. All I can advise is to stay calm but firm if you need to challenge her opinion. You and your ds are doing the best you can and that is the most important thing to remember. Good luck.

janh Tue 18-Mar-03 13:51:40

Katherine, your post has made me furious! What is it with these teachers who think they are god?

Of course any way that helps him remember is good at this age! As long as the word he comes out with begins with the right letter he is doing really well! Learning the names of the sounds the letters make is one of many many skills they acquire as they grow up and they can't be expected to parrot what they are told as soon as they are told it. And he only started in January! Ooooh, I am hopping mad here! Why is she teaching Reception with an attitude like that?

If you can't cope with confronting her again, and I have to say dragon-like teachers still make me quiver after having children at primary school since 1987, could you put it all in a note? Keep a copy and say in the letter that you were not happy with either her approach to your son's efforts to learn, or her attitude towards you, and that you hope nothing like it happens again or you will have to approach the Head about it.


LIZS Tue 18-Mar-03 13:59:39

I would have been horrified if I were in your postion. How dare she belittle what he knows or you have taught him. The fact that he recognises a correlation between letter sounds and words is progress towards reading in itself.

Did he start later than the majority of the class so that perhaps she feels that he and any other Jan starters are in a catch up mode with the rest of the class, perhaps requiring more individual attention ? Not that this excuses her as after all teaching is her job and many kids arrive in reception with no pre-reading skills at all. She should be encouraging you to help your child rather than undermining you.

On a more constructive note perhaps you could find out what system the school uses (Jolly Phonics, Oxford Reading Tree etc) so that at least you are talking the same terminology to your son and can reinforce what he learns. Otherwise I would play word/letter games with him so that when "m is for mummy", you offer alternatives too (mouth, mirror,monkey etc)and above all read and share books with him. My MIL is a retired reception teacher and feels that the importance of this cannot be emphasised enough.

I'm assuming that your ds is not yet 5 in which case try not to worry too much over it. Our ds is almost 5 and not yet reading as the emphasis at his school is still very much on learning through play. Yes, he knows his letter sounds, can recognise some words in context and will guess at a word from its first letter or so but reading itself is a little way off. Boys especially can be slower on the uptake and a phonetic approach has been shown to particularly benefit them.

Please don't let the teacher get you down , but perhaps go back to her and invite her to give you more guidance as to how you can help. Who knows she may even be grateful !


WideWebWitch Tue 18-Mar-03 14:04:10

Katherine she does sound like a cow and I agree with Janh, whatever works for him at the moment is good. I can't imagine why she thinks you deserve criticism, how damn rude! I agree with the note idea too. Or could you cope with making a polite phone call to her to discuss your concerns? What about writing it all down beforehand?

Katherine Tue 18-Mar-03 14:08:37

Thanks all for your support. I just needed a bit of reassurance. Yes she is the teacher who didn't remind him to go to the loo before assemby and then made a scene in front of the whole school. Thankfully DS seems to have got round that one all by himeself.

I'm not worried about him at all. I think he's doing great - he's not 5 until mid-August after all. It just made me so angry that she warned me away from him and just seemed to criticise rather than recognise what he can do. Recently she made another child stand in the corner with his hands on his head whilst he cried for his mummy just for being a bit disruptive. She is awful and everyone recognises it but unfortunately she is the head teacher! I think this is probably the first battle of many. I will just have to try and stay calm and ask her to suggest things for me to do as there is no way I'm going to just "back off". Thank-you all for giving me a bit of confidence.

janh Tue 18-Mar-03 14:15:24

She *is* the Head? How does she manage that? Is she cloned? Most Heads are full-time non-teachers. I can understand that Heading and teaching combined must be quite stressful, but even more reason for her not to take Reception I'd have thought.

Lots of luck then, Katherine! Hope you can talk to her when she's having a good day and can appreciate your concerns.

Katherine Tue 18-Mar-03 15:24:58

Thanks all for your support. I just needed a bit of reassurance. Yes she is the teacher who didn't remind him to go to the loo before assemby and then made a scene in front of the whole school. Thankfully DS seems to have got round that one all by himeself.

I'm not worried about him at all. I think he's doing great - he's not 5 until mid-August after all. It just made me so angry that she warned me away from him and just seemed to criticise rather than recognise what he can do. Recently she made another child stand in the corner with his hands on his head whilst he cried for his mummy just for being a bit disruptive. She is awful and everyone recognises it but unfortunately she is the head teacher! I think this is probably the first battle of many. I will just have to try and stay calm and ask her to suggest things for me to do as there is no way I'm going to just "back off". Thank-you all for giving me a bit of confidence.

Jimjams Tue 18-Mar-03 16:09:28

oh for goodness sake!!! Stupid stupid teacher. That's all I can say really. They'll be wanting them to come of the womb reading, counting and pronoucing things phonetically next. What on earth happened to play? He sounds lovely.

Oh god don't get me started......

Mrs Angry.

judetheobscure Tue 18-Mar-03 16:17:09

How about having a word with other mums and then the governors, maybe "off the record" to start with?

Demented Tue 18-Mar-03 23:41:40

Katherine, she sounds horrible, how can she be so cruel, the kids she is teaching are little more than babies! If it is any consolation don't feel bad about not teaching your DS reading etc at home, I haven't done this either, I figure the few short years they spend at home before going to school should be spent doing other things, unless of course they are very keen to read as many children are. My DS1 (aged 4) recognises his name and can write the initial letter of his first name but this hasn't been anything to do with me.

Clarinet60 Wed 19-Mar-03 00:00:02

Hell, this is horrific.
I feel for you, Katherine. This might be my DS when he starts school next year.
As for the poor boy with his hands on his head, if anyone ever does that to my DS, I'll KILL 'EM!
I will!!!!
I'll probably be in prison before DS reaches year2.

oxocube Wed 19-Mar-03 09:15:28

Katherine, your post makes me so angry. I am a reception teacher, although I am not working at the moment, and I simply cannot see how you have done anything *wrong*. Your ds is showing an interest in letters and in sounds and IMO should be congratulated and lavished with praise, as should you! It makes me so mad that little children and their parents should be put under so much pressure when in my experience, they learn much more through play at this age.

I agree with whoever it was who suggested speaking with other parents to see if they have the same concerns as you (safety in numbers!!) and also in putting your concerns into writing. I must admit that I did sometimes steer parents towards the same 'schemes' as used in school if they felt they wanted to do some extra work with their children at home, simply because it was easier for the children, but TBH, I usually advised that apart from sharing reading books with their children, parents played games such as cards or lotto instead of doing workbooks or worksheets; much more fun and just as effective.

Anyway, sorry if this is stating the bleeding obvious but it just gets me so mad..... will stop now.

CAM Wed 19-Mar-03 09:21:10

Katherine, is your ds at a private school or not? I just wonder as it does seem unusual for the head to also teach reception.

Marina Wed 19-Mar-03 09:28:51

I do sometimes wonder whether well-meaning, committed parents are a softer target for certain teachers than the children and parents who really do need help to get the best out of education, and may not be "easy" to deal with. Sorry you have had this extra aggro Katherine, she does sound a sourpuss!

MABS Wed 19-Mar-03 12:48:18

As Cam said before - is it private? if so , get him out( and the poor child in the dummy incident ) At least if you are paying , you have the choice!! (mine are at private school, my choice, but if anyone treated them OR ME like that i'd tell them where to go) At my dd's school , any parental input they get is always encouraged and never criticized...

Jaybee Wed 19-Mar-03 12:58:51

I don't think it is that unusual for Heads to teach especially in small village schools.

Katherine Wed 19-Mar-03 15:25:16

No its not a private school but our local village shcool. When I duscussed this with DH last night he commented that the only negative thing in the ofsted report was poor comminication with parents. This is obviously what they meant!

There is an open evening in a couple of weeks so I'm going to tackle her then as hopefully I'll have DH behind me for a bit of moral support. Have discussed it with other parents and they all just laugh as it is so typical of this teacher. They were pretty horrified too though. As this is my sons own strategy I am certainly not going to discourage him but plan to spend some time trying to teach him the disticntion between letters and words and encouraging him to think of other examples as well as the ones he always comes out with, but at the same time he is so tired after school that I don't want to push - it will come with time anyway.

tigermoth Wed 19-Mar-03 16:51:40

katherine, I too am shocked by the head's atttitude here. In every one of the three state primary schools my son has attended, there were sessions held for parents where the teachers explained just how and what they were teaching the children at least in numeracy and literacy. Parental support was positively encouraged in this way.

I wonder, does this school hold similar meetings? Could you ask the head (it would avoid he focussing on the one incident with your son)? if she says no, ask her why not and how does the school see the parent's role? Oh, and if you have time, please come back here and let us know what she says!

LIZS Wed 19-Mar-03 19:27:31


I know what you mean about them being too tired to make it worthwhile giving them more to do. I had all these ambitions to supplement ds' school day with Letts books,Ladybird workbooks,Jolly phonics etc, through concern that the curriculum wasn't keeping up with his UK counterparts and that at some point in the not too distant future he would return to the UK system, possibly behind. However I also haven't got the heart to make him do them when he comes home tired, hungry and just wanting to play with his own toys at home. Even after-school playdates are only occasional as a result.

You are definitely best judge of your ds and I similarly have come to the conclusion that there is no need to push at this age. Whatever you choose to do, keep it light and simple and let your son decide when enough is enough.

Good luck with the Dragon at parents evening,


Batters Wed 19-Mar-03 22:09:03

Katherine, I agree with Tigermoth's comments about schools encouraging parents to become actively involved in the process of learning.

My dd's school has held parentcraft classes which show us how the children are being taught as well as what they are being taught in numeracy and literacy. The numeracy one in particular was amazingly useful to me. Children now use the number line (which I was blissfully unaware of) and it was made emphasised that we as parents should also be using this method when helping with homework etc.

I too am amazed that a head teacher actually has teaching duties as well.

I hope the parents' evening goes well.

Katherine Thu 20-Mar-03 10:32:59

DS gets a reading book every night and we have to sign his reading record to say that we have read it with him. I find it so hard to know when to do it though. When he gets home he has just finished a long day and needs to play, but then we do the evening meal etc and then its bed time. I've been doing them with him as part of the bedtime story but last night he was obviously too exhausted to care and it was terrible. However one positive thing happened. Just before we had left for school I grabbed some letters off the fridge and asked him what they were. I said "these are letters" and we made the sounds, Then I made them into his name and said "look when you put letters together it makes a word - what is this one. I took all of 2 minutes in the middle of the morning rush but last night even though he was too tired to read he actually explained this to DH so it obviusly went in OK. I did it again this morning with one of the words from the story book so I'm hoping if I drip feed him this way it will really teach him the relationship between letters and words. It was also reassuring to know it made an impact in so little time - spending time teaching him obviously does not necessarily mean sitting down for half an hour so feeling very chuffed with myself and gave Mrs X and very smug look this morning.

I think the open evening in a few weeks time is about how they teach the kids so I'm hoping it will enlighten me more and reduce any furture conflict although I still DON'T LIKE HER APPROACH!

I think its quite common for the head to teach in small schools though - they simply can't justify getting extra staff for each job so there is a lot of sharing around. ITs just a shame she is in charge of the little ones. She wouldn't seem nearly as bad teaching the older kids I'm sure. I still like the school as a whole though. Will keep you informed

Jaybee Thu 20-Mar-03 11:38:23

Katherine - please don't take this the wrong way but I am laughing here to myself as despite the bad way she approached this and the complaints you have made re. these comments you are doing as you are told by teacher and teaching him another way and he is picking it up - sorry, I admit that she sounds like a dragon but her approach has worked What does ds think of her? You say that other parents laugh about her - you will probably find that by the end of the school year you will too.
One further thing, following a clear out at home last night - I took a bag of dd's outgrown pants and tights into the Reception class this morning to see if they still required any spare kit (dd is in Y1) - the classroom assistant said that they are still getting numerous accidents and that there are sometimes accidents in Y1 too - no need for your ds to be worried!!!

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