Please please help with very bright 6.5yr old(23 Posts)
DS1 has just completed Yr1 and I'm at a loss about what to do for him. He's exceedingly good at maths and has received extra tuition for that, but I think it consisted mostly of computer maths games that hardly stretched him. He's been reading fluently for years and has differentiated reading assignments, but most are of very poor quality and instead I buy lots of quality lit we read at home. His writing is a bit messy and that's where he's slowest. He's far ahead of his peers and is increasingly ostracised. No bullying yet but when in school he's miserable, cries most days upon returning home and is completely different boy--happy, confident--during the holidays. School is making an effort which I appreciate but for him I can't see that it's enough. Am considering requesting he skip Yr2 to help allay boredom but am not sure and am quite certain school will veto it. I simply don't know what to do. Please any advice or shared experiences wld be appreciated.
Can you have LOTS of playdates, think of ideas that will really get him and potential friends interacting (football, cricket in a park, soft play areas, building dens in the garden). Does he prefer the company of girls (quite common in young intelligent boys) would there be more social success there? Does he appreciate the skills of others (running , sport, colouring in, neat writing)? Do you know why they may ostricise him, there maybe an element of him criticising them or telling them off ? How is it handled at school (is he overtly praised), is he spending so much time doing his own activities that socially he is not given the chance to develop.
I cannot emphasize how much work goes into Ds social life! When friends are over they rule the roost and make the rules (I fear sometimes he makes rules for games to complicated). There are only 3-5 days a term he does not have playdates! Everything is done very discretely at his school (the different work comes to him , he does not go to enter other classes). What happens with his differentiated work? How many are in a class? can the teacher try to make sure he is involved more?
I am not sure about skipping a year, socially he maybe even more out of his depth but academically still way ahead.
Agree focus on the social skills and getting him involved in something else cerebral in his spare time, physical, social and challenging (a sport maybe to help motor skills, chess, Cubs). Do school say he is upset during the day or is it just when you fetch him ? fwiw I doubt advancing him in school would do him many favours long term academically and simply further earmark him as different.
Aww poor lad
It's a shame he's so miserable but please don't think it's inevitable for gifted DCs to feel like that. It can get better. I've no personal experience of skipping a year but I think the general consensus is that it's usually not a good idea. He may end up needing to repeat a year (6 most likely) and being extremely bored. What if he is still miles ahead of his new classmates - he could still be bored and still feel ostracised.
Keep pushing for differentiation, sticking him on a computer for maths games just sounds like they don't know what else to do with him that is also not inevitable - are there other schools around? I'm all for extending activities, extra socialising, learning an instrument etc, but TBH none of that would be truly worth it if he was still miserable for 6 hours a day.
Have you considered homeschooling? He sounds like a motivated little boy and maybe being in charge of his own learning would make him happier. He could investigate anything without being tied to a curriculum or timetable. You could make the summer holidays a sort of homeschooling rehearsal - provide plenty of opportunities (not structure, just the chances for him to choose what to learn and play) and let him get on with it.
I must confess that this past year I've been v. busy at home w/ DD1 (4), DS2 (just 2) and DS3 (11 months) so that we've let play dates slip. I can't imagine having many playdates where I can really spend my time engaging or supervising or even getting out that much to take them places. Perhaps that sounds somewhat pathetic. DS1 is best friends with DD, who will be in Yr R in Sept and I'm afraid they will choose to play together at school, though they'd both be happy doing so. He does swimming lessons which he loves and is starting piano, and loves football but so far not on a team.
When I've been able to watch him play at birthday parties the other boys play quite roughly and yell a lot, which intimidates him. He always asks to play but sounds like he's asking permission and they just ignore him or tell him to go away. There are only 5 girls in the year group, in the other class--his is all boys (about 18). He is very boyish but not aggressive or silly enough to fit in better. Also when he makes up games they inevitably involve detailed knowledge of things the other kids don't know yet, like numbers, the solar system, whatever. I just think they don't "get" him, and he gets very timid.
He goes out of the classroom for the extra maths but otherwise works in groups doing the same work, and I think is only just conscious of working at a different level. No real extra praise, I don't think.
I guess I need to put in the effort at play dates but have had my head in the sand and only know a very few of the other mothers, and don't feel comfortable calling someone who doesn't know me at all to ask her son over. Doesn't help that I'm very shy myself, though DS1 is not. Sorry to twaddle on but I v. much appreciate your replies.
And homeschooling is another issue--my MIL is dying for me to do it since she did with her 4 (very successfully) but I can't (as of yet) and DH is against it. DS1 would be the ideal candidate for it, I admit, but how would that help him socially? And I couldn't do it all the way through Y13, so wouldn't he seem even more abnormal when sent back? We're in a very small community and have chosen the only private school since the local primary was rubbish.
I also think that you need to speak to the school about your concerns re dd starting. It won't do either any good in the long run if she plays exclusively with ds1. Hopefully ds1 is getting of an age where you should n't need to engage or supervise so closely. Focus on entertaining your younger dc or go to the park then home for tea.
Dd1 skipped a year (went from reception to year 2) but then this ment her repeating year 2 (as school refused to move he to year 3 as she had to stay key stage 1 until she's 7/8), the school have still given her harder work but sometimes she has found it a bit boring as she wants to be working with her friends not doing higher work on her own. We have now moved schools (start a new school in sept) so we will see how this school will handle things.
Ds2 has spent the entire year playing with his brother, ds1, in the playground and not bothering to make friends in Reception, who are comparatively boring to play with (I know from inviting a few around - they really don't play in the same, imaginative way, or have the same verbal or fine motor abilities, and unfortunately, ds2 is not keen on girls, who probably would....), so I entirely sympathise with your fears for when your dd starts school. It has been a real problem for us, although hopefully next year, when ds2 has different playtimes because he will be in KS2, it will resolve itself. I'm not convinced about skipping a year as a solution, though. Keeping on at the school about not wanting the siblings playing together exclusively would be a good idea, though, unless your dd is highly social and can widen your ds's circle of friends!
You've all given me a lot to think about, and I'm starting to consider ways in which I could be proactive rather than at a loss. Very helpful, thanks. Iggly2, how do you manage so many playdates? Do you ever feel you miss seeing him just yourself? Has it helped?
Wow, a busy year . Hopefully at 6.5 they will be able to play without too much supervision. I like Lizs' idea about the park.
It does sound like the school are trying to help (not drawing too much attention to him in front of others) but giving him appropriate work discretely. It is a shame about the lack of girls in his class, could he change class (do you think it would help)? Definately have a word about your concerns about when his sister joins. It is lovely he is so close to his siblings though.
Do not be at a loss. I am a great believer that things can work if the effort is put in. Your son sounds lovely and he gets on great with his siblings so he must know how to play well. He sounds a lovely gentle big brother.
It has been (very) tiring. At nursery they said he kept to himself and now he is a social whizz (propably as he is an only child he knows he has to work at it as well to make friends). Admittedly I do only have one and we live near the school. His best friends are mainly girls (it can make a difference at a young age). I did feel a bit weird asking for the playdates at first , but now he runs around inviting everyone after school! I do get through mountains of icecream and biscuits
He really has changed...it was worth it (I need the summer hols for recovery).
Totally agree with playdate and park suggestions. I really worried about all this with my DS1 (though he turned out to be much more social than I thought anyway). I will admit to bribing children to our house with incredibly good biscuits. Craft materials and junk modelling are also surprisingly popular.
One thing I would say is beware of consciously or unconsciously exaggerating the difference between your DS and his classmates. I'm quite surprised that other boys in his class don't want to join in his solar system games, for example. Most of DS1's classmates can at least talk the talk naming planets and blasting off to them, even if they don't really know what they're talking about terribly much (neither does DS1 really - it's not his main interest which is transport nerdery )
Also, does he watch TV? It makes me itch to think about it (becauses DS1 isn't interested and I keep thinking Imay be at the point of encouraging telly), but being able to join TV chat can help socially and also give shared experience to join in with games.
vitapulchra: DS1 would be the ideal candidate for it (home education), I admit, but how would that help him socially?
LOL, that's so funny!
OP your ds sounds lovely and I'm sure my ds would enjoy being friends with him if they were at school together.
The girls are my ds' saving grace and there is a particular one who is a bit of a tom boy but not too much who has brought him out of his shell and given him the courage to join in with football etc. I do think it'd be worth asking about swapping to the other class too but it depends on what the five girls are like. If they are pink princessy girls your a bit boyish ds isn't going to like them anyway presumably?
What about considering private school, with a bursary if necessary given he is so bright?
Mrsgboring - oh I have a transport nerd of the highest order too (hence the name I have changed to to post). He had memorised the whole of the tube map by age four. Is now putting the super-memory to good effect by racing through his times tables (as well as train timetables ).
I hope you don't mind me intruding - my DD has just turned 19 so I can look back on the infant/primary years now with a little detachment.
DD found it hard to make friends in school though the same kids would happily come round to play and loved her inventive games but these games didn't go down so well in the playground. Her advanced vocabulary seemed to be a social drawback at school and she gradually dumbed down in lessons so as not to draw attention to herself. I can honestly say that she learned nothing in years 1-5 that she hadn't already learned at home.
To cut a long story short - it does get easier, particularly in secondary school, because there is an increased number of fellow pupils to mix with and gradually they are streamed more and more so that finding a soul-mate becomes more likely, and the work is more stimulating.
I'm afraid that grinding through the Nat. Curric. KS 1&2 is deadly dull for bright children unless there is an inspirational teacher and I'm pleased to say she was blessed with one of those. Her Y6 teacher, at a different school, simply wouldn't tolerate any dumbing down and made sure she was stretched and stretched again, then stretched a bit more until she was doing maths we couldn't understand. She loved that and it was, I think, very important that Y6 was a happy year for her. She went on to enjoy a terrific social life at secondary school while doing very well academically.
A little more exposure to tv and popular culture isn't a bad idea, even if it means tolerating speech patterns that might make you wince. DD was a little too used to hearing Radio 4 at home!
unitarian Just read back the first sentance of your last paragraph and try not to wince yourself.
I meant the same as mrsboring - that it is helpful when socialising to know what other classmates are talking about.
And maybe <<whispers>> actually enjoy a little more TV and popular culture? I'm not talking Jeremy Kyle or Eastenders, just the usual after-school fodder eg. Blue Peter, Horrible Histories
Dick and Dom?
MIL can't have been that successful with the home education since DH is dead against it (I am asssuming he was one of the 4 home educated?)
I wouldn't ask to skip a year because socially it would be more of a problem. What is his teacher like for next year? They may be far more approachable and helpful-get in early and talk to him/her.
Big fan of the extra- curricular here. Noting & agreeing with what you say about rough play, we put DS into judo in yr1. Highly recommend. At this age only half the class is spent on 'judo' the rest is running games etc but there is a structure & discipline to the session.
Cricket is another good one as everyone gets to bat, bowl & field at this age. No need to be part of the 'in crowd' to get a go touching the ball. we pay £2 for 1.5hr session.
Tennis is more of a solo thing but find a squad session, £5 per hr round here. Tennis has the advantage that their brain has to be engaged for the entire period as each ball is coming at them. Much better than football for concentrating & rules !
All of these can lead to 'fun' with spreadsheets & scoring etc.
I mention costs as appreciate you have the 4 DC. See if there is another mum you can split the ferrying around with?
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