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How advanced is my son (4)? Perspective and opinions please!

(63 Posts)
Cat98 Mon 16-Jul-12 19:39:38

Ok, DS is only just 4 so is in the nursery class at school. Due to start reception in Sept (he will be one of the younger ones in his year).
At school they have said he is working at quite a high level with numbers. I have spoken this weekend to a family member with a 6 year old who is meeting all his targets at school (so not behind) and when I told her what my son is doing with regards to numbers she said it's incredibly high level for his age (more than her son is doing) and that we should "push the school" to make sure he is catered for.. I am very sceptical so I thought I'd get some honest (mn) opinions as to whether he is really THAT advanced.

He can count up to 1000 plus though not sure about 2000 onwards.
He can do simple multiplications (3x5 etc), can do addition up to 20 (9=5 etc), subtraction - same, can count backwards, can count in 2s, 5s and 10s up to at least 100, knows about halves and quarters, can divide even numbers up to 10 by 2. He can also work out the difference between, say, 47 and 52 by counting between the numbers though would struggle with something far apart like 47 and 76.
I think he is bright but not exceptional.
Reading - yes he is above average but can only read simple sentences (the cat sat on the mat etc) - would strugggle with more difficult words though would have a go if they made phonetic sense.

Has my SIL got a point or is it just a case of bringing him on at home (he loves numbers so it's all fun at the moment) and let schol do/think whatever?
SIL says that in reception they will be doing number recognition up to 20 and that would be a waste of time for him.

Thank you

signorapacino Fri 22-Feb-13 19:53:17

Yes definitely advanced. I'm surprised nursery haven't said more to you as can't see most other kids his age being able to do that.

anitasmall Fri 22-Feb-13 19:29:05


When we parents search for good schools we consider so many things but not this labeling issue.

I am glad that you mentioned it.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 18-Feb-13 20:17:43

My DD was abysmal at maths and slow at reading in reception year 1/2 but at 11 she's now in top sets and doing really well at maths and English, achieving results way beyond those expected for her age and plays the piano and violin very well.
Im just adding this comment for those parents who don't have the obvious child prodigy, children can be late developers but as parents we have to guard against children being labelled by schools. I think this practise is damaging for both the very bright children and the children who take longer to get there.

DD was consistently put in bottom sets, it started to affect her self esteem, sets within classes can start to become self fulfilling prophecies. Problems start when children don't match up with the expectations of the teachers.

DD didn't start to flourish academically until she got away from the teachers who had labelled her slow to a school where all the children were pushed to the best of their abilities, not just the obviously bright ones.

anitasmall Mon 18-Feb-13 19:45:18


Your child is very bright. However there are more and more children who can read before Reception class. Picking up foreign languages easily at this age is also normal. If I were you I would teach her foreign languages (Spanish, German, Russian...), singing-musical instruments (recorder), I would take him/her? to swimming lessons, ballet...

gfrnn Fri 15-Feb-13 16:13:57

Hi, I am in situation with some parallels, and shameless enough to bump the thread.

The child in question is 3.6. He suddenly "got" addition and subtraction in the space of a week just before Christmas. Recently asked him how many fingers does everyone (3 of us) here have, and it took him 2 seconds to come up with 30. Then asked how many would there be if his brother and grandparents (i.e. 3 more) had been there, and after 2 more secs he answered 60. Started reading at 2.5 and is now fairly fluent at around ORT 8 / purple band level. This afternoon he called his DM in to show her he had spelt "electric" with scrabble tiles. Sang happy birthday, in spanish, to DM aged 2.10 having picked up some spanish at childminders.

He will be starting reception in September as one of youngest (August birthday). School choice is not yet set in stone as we have at least 2 potentially viable options. - one independent, one state: both local and seem good, but neither academically selective. Other than general thoughts/perspectives, I would be interested in hearing from anyone with a child with similar tendencies who has started school (or others with relevant experience) regarding what problems might come up and what qualities they would look for in a school to help us pick between those available. thanks in advance.

anitasmall Tue 15-Jan-13 19:10:28

I highly recommend to everyone to check other children's books. At our school one TA's children's work was appreciated this term. My daughter complained a lot about her: not attending, not listening, behind...When I complained at the school that she was awarded a present for her achievements the school went on about her qualities. Than I pointed out that I have seen her books they weren't so happy.

hardboiled Sat 12-Jan-13 23:01:57

When we checked his literacy and maths school work at parents' evening it was clear that the work he is doing is different from the some of the other books we saw, both in maths and in literacy Anothercup, does your post mean you were actually looking at other children's books at parents evening? And then comparing them to yours? hmm

Madwoman, what's wrong with bumping an old thread? I've never understood the criticism someone gets on Mumsnet if they bump and old thread...Am I missing something?

FriendlyLadybird Fri 11-Jan-13 22:28:50

In my experience, the teachers are used to dealing with children with a wide range of abilities and different levels of knowledge. Just make sure that he admits to what he can do. When my DS started Yr1 they went round the class to see how far each child could count: DS, who had got the hang of counting and therefore could potentially continue counting indefinitely, decided that 23 was a good number to stop at.

Magdalena45 Mon 07-Jan-13 23:36:25

Oh, sorry

madwomanintheattic Fri 04-Jan-13 04:03:03

Old thread, Magdalena.

Magdalena45 Fri 04-Jan-13 00:51:39

Worked in nursery, reception year 1/2... This is VERY advanced for maths. Really.

learnandsay Mon 26-Nov-12 10:56:35

I'm not sure how much help the nursery report is likely to be in this context. If it's the one I'm thinking of it's structured around the EYFS goals. So if your child is say great and physics and can build working rockets, the nursery won't mention it because EYFS doesn't have a section about rockets.

And if you're lucky Reception will have activities for a four year old who can count to 1500 and divide any number by two. But it's also possible that they won't. Mainly because they've never seen such a child before (or not many) so they simply don't know what to do with one.

anothercuppaplease Thu 22-Nov-12 16:30:46

DS was similar and he is now in year 1, and he is doing great at school, he loves it, he is not bored, he gets extra homework (different from other children, in maths especially). When we checked his literacy and maths school work at parents' evening it was clear that the work he is doing is different from the some of the other books we saw, both in maths and in literacy - I mean the teacher gives him more difficult and challenging work. We have never had to ask for it, it just happened.

We do extra work with him at home, focusing on understanding of maths rather than just learning times tables for example. We use numicons and the old fashion cuisenair rods to explain maths concepts. He is already asking questions about percentages, about negative numbers, etc. Such as 'are there any numbers smaller than zero' and 'what is the smallest negative number', and it's funny if we ask him if he's hungry he'd say 'I'm 80% hungry'. He is also asking questions about fractions (what's half of a half of a half for example) and he will know the answer if we ask him 'what's a quarter of 14' he will say 3.5.

He can now add (most of the time) two digit numbers such as 75+34 in his head and can count in threes backwards, his party trick!

anitasmall Sat 17-Nov-12 17:01:13


My daughter knows exactly the same things that yours. All the class was assessed and then they told me she is very advanced...

However! I am not convinced that she is G&T. In her class she is not the only child that knows how to add and take away 2 digit numbers and knows the 2,3,5,10 times table. We can not compare this generation with ours.

anitasmall Sat 17-Nov-12 16:32:19

Hi Cat98,

My daughter is a bit like yours. She is in Year 1 and is in HA group both from Maths and Reading. She is very tiny and the youngest in her class so for her going to year 2 is not a solution. I already accepted that the British education system is only free child care. I rather try to spend more time with her playing music (recorder, Kodaly method) or taking her to sport activities (music, fencing).

Cat98 Tue 13-Nov-12 17:19:56

Wow bunnyjo that sounds great!
We had parents evening the other day and I was gobsmacked, as they not only "spotted" ds but noticed lots of things I hadn't even thought they might! They told me he is very advanced and that he is now working on the yr 2/3 maths targets. They also said they did a standard language comprehension test with him and he scored "in the 99.9th percentile for his age"? (does anyone know what that might have been?!
Like you I am staying realistic however, as I know it might level out, but I hope they continue to bring him on and not let him stagnate.

Bunnyjo Sat 06-Oct-12 09:43:24

My DD sounds very much like your DS at the same age - she is now 5 and in Yr1. She's a late August born and, before starting school, she could count way beyond 1000, add and subtract 2 and 3 digit numbers, knew her 2, 5 and 10x tables and could do more abstract things like tell the time to the quarter hour. I knew she was bright, but didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. The school quickly noticed she was very bright, both with literacy and numeracy and she had a fantastic first year in school - they differentiated the work well and she made excellent progress.

Mid way through reception, she announced she knew what the biggest number in the world was; I expected her to say a million or suchlike, but she said 'It is infinity and it looks like a bow, or an eight on its side... But it isn't really a number, it's just bigger than any other number and means it goes on forever! I saw that Professor talking about it on the television.' She meant Professor Brian Cox!

She's now been streamed into the Yr2/3 class and she's thriving. She does, however, have 2 left feet and cannot do sporty things for toffee grin.

I am realistic, though; she is ahead of all her peers at the moment, but these things have a habit of levelling themselves out. As long as she continues to love school and make progress, then we will all be happy. Whether she is the brightest at the end of Yr6 (or Yr11/13 for that matter), does not matter.

Cat98 Sat 29-Sep-12 09:43:06

Another update - met with ds's teacher yesterday and have come away feeling reassured and very happy that he is in such a lovely school smile!they have noticed some of his abilities (though didn't know the full extent of the maths but I told her a couple of the things he's been doing at home) and she said she already differentiates - will give ds a different but similar task for example so stretching him sideways I guess.

She also told me some more about her teaching ethos and I am very happy and relieved, I'm sure he's in the right place! He happy too which is the main thing. She said 'it's a good class this year, but your ds especially stands out'. They do a lot of learning outside which ds loves and he is clearly confident with her as he was chatting away to her, which is a surprise as he can be very shy.
Thanks for all the advice!

Cat98 Wed 19-Sep-12 19:18:39

It certainly seems like ds is self motivated at the moment though I am not sure how long it will last! (it didn't with me...)
I certainly don't talk to many other people about what he can do, it's only really been close family members or friends with children of different ages when the subject has come up (I haven't blabbed about it to any of his peers' parents because I wouldn't want comparing or to sound smug!)

He told me tonight that his teacher asked him today "what is double one" and he said "I don't know"! Hmm. When I told him that "doubling meant "times by two" he got it straight away and we did doubles up to 100 taking it in turns. But his teachers will not realise what he can do - he just didn't know the term "double"!

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 19-Sep-12 16:53:07

I have found that being good at maths is nice in KS1, but it isn't really rated until KS2. The focus seems to mainly be on reading in KS1 and this is definately what other parents see and rate children by.
However, come KS2 the emphasis seems to shift to maths. DD whilst being described as a gifted mathematician at the end of year 1 has never seen herself as one of the clever ones until she arrived in KS2. Now she is able to see where she stands compared to older children and is able to appreciate that her Maths ability is more than something nice, but actually something really quite unique and special. She hasn't suffered from the lack of emphasis in fact I think she has benefited from nothing being made of it until she was really able to appreciate how special it is.
The observation I would make is that he should get a lot out of the measuring and 3D shape aspects of maths in KS1.
I don't speak of DDs achievements to anyone beyond my family and this is something I am very glad of. No other parent at school has any idea where DD is working and this again is a good thing as she gets no negative vibes about being good at maths - something I suffered from horribly.

ISeeThreadPeople Tue 18-Sep-12 15:05:43

My dd is a year older than your ds but started reception at the same age iyswim.

DD, like your ds, was and is a clever cookie. She could read and write before starting school and her maths was at a v similar level. It never occured to me to worry about school 'stretching' her, simply because we chose a school we loved. We liked the atmosphere, the teaching staff and the focus on each child as an individual. They don't bother with G&T (I don't think dd is g&t btw) but they do like to stretch sideways where necessary and every single child in the class, to my knowledge, was stretched at an appropriate level. And often without knowing about it.

DD ADORED reception. She did so many projects, made brilliant friends, played and played and played and her teacher stretched her academically in ways dd wasn't even aware of. She's in y1 now and reading chapter books, understands percentages and is obsessed with division, asks to do more complicated sums etc. She writes 'books' and illustrates them, writes poetry and songs, plays shops an awful lot (she likes the calculations), gets books out of the library every week, an even split between fact and fiction and she keeps a diary. We go along to museums and open days and anything really. Whatever might spark an interest.

I think the thing I've learnt is that a bright child is often very self-motivated if you give them the opportunity. I think personality plays a part, but dd very much likes to self-direct her learning. She is interested in birds atm for example so we made a bird feeder, read up about garden birds, took photos, drew pictures etc and did some planting of things which would attract more wildlife, all the time learning about associated stuff like photosynthesis and pollenation.

Cat98 Tue 18-Sep-12 15:05:11

Thanks, yes I do know what you mean. Very helpful smile

BrainSurgeon Tue 18-Sep-12 15:03:34

grin @ prose - give him a couple of months and he'll get there wink

To answer your question, I guess I would try and approach it from an "asking for advice" perspective? (sorry I'm not very good at giving examples but hope you get what I mean?)

Cat98 Tue 18-Sep-12 14:53:00

Oh and brainsurgeon - when I say "writing" he can write his name and write CVC words, that's it, so not writing pages of prose or anything!

Cat98 Tue 18-Sep-12 14:52:09

Thank you.
I think there's a parents evening at the end of this half term so I'll mention it then - how do you say something like that?! Seriously - how should we word it without sounding like a pushy parent?

We have also been doing some estimating lately as a friend who is a teacher asked how his estimation is and we didn't have a clue. He estimated that he has 100 cars (he has 92) and he estimated 20 quavers in a packet - sounds about right we thought (we didn't count them!) Have tried with a couple more groups of things and he is quite good at it I think. Though again, if friends hadn't said stuff and I hadn't asked on here I would still just assume top end of normal, a bit like the reading. Speaking to parents I am pretty certain there are at least two or three others at a similar reading stage, allbeit September/Oct birthdays, so I am not worried about that side of it really.

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