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Plateauing in infants - school or normal?

(26 Posts)
Basketofchocolate Fri 10-Jul-15 21:35:39

DS read at two, etc.

Started Yr R with sight reading age of 11yrs and was free reader after a few weeks when they realised he could read all the scheme books. He went to Yr 1 for maths and now in Yr 1 has been going to Yr 2 classes and doing Yr 3/4 curriculum in that class.

His reading books are from Yr 2 class, but he is now getting ones he's had before and when I asked whether they should be giving him something to challenge him in the slightest, they said 'ooh, wait til next year and he'll do book reviews'. Which, ok, sounds like a bit more to do, but he's not being challenged on the stuff he's reading at all (Horrid Henry, etc.).

I won't go on with the rest but just wondering if anyone else has found that their high potential child has started to plateau once into the school system?

I know school is about social skills too, and conforming and all that (and seems mostly about learning swear words, how to backchat and learn to spit at each other...!) but I don't feel he's being stretched (not pushed, that's too far maybe) at all.

Thoughts?

var123 Sat 11-Jul-15 01:04:32

Yes. The child doesn't plateau but its not in the school's interest to push him on, so he appears to plateau.

You've just had stage 1 of the runaround.

Next year, in September, they will say wait until we get a chance to know your child.
In October, they will say wait until parent's evening around half term.
At parent's evening they will say, we only have 5 or 10 mins. Make an appointment if you want to discuss in detail.
In November, will listen and make noises like they may do something.
In December, they will suggest everything is busy with the run up to Christmas and wait until January.
(I don't want to bore you by writing the rest, but suffice to say it carries on until June / July when they suggest again waiting for the next year when everything will be much more challenging).

Personally, I've tried everything I could think of - my youngest is leaving Y6 so I've had lots of opportunities. If you insist on talking about it in September -even late September - they treat you like a massive pain and put their efforts into resisting you rather than helping the child. You might even be treated to the HT or the deputy head attending the meetings as well if you become particularly insistent.

My only advice, and its not good, is that unless the teacher actually wants to challenge your child (and is able to do it), then it won't happen.

Basketofchocolate Sat 11-Jul-15 10:34:26

Thanks Var, I did have the feeling it might be like that. Think the teachers already think I'm a total PITA although I don't hassle them anywhere near as much as I would like.

At home DS reads whatever he wants to read. I do struggle to find books that are challenging his vocab and language but have a story he can follow/not be scared by at home. I figure that the school has a responsibility to do the stretching part, but as you say, not sure that will actually happen.

I think at a nicer school he may do better and we are looking for an option for that as at current school the teachers have more issues with second language kids and those who are way behind so I can see that their attention is often with the majority.

We will continue to try to challenge a little bit more at home - hard when don't know much about education though!

I also would love to take him out of school on odd days when there is stuff on that he would really benefit from, but not been brave enough so far. Might start looking for things and if has to be unauthorised absence, then so be it, but I don't see why they shouldn't support us doing the extra work he needs.

Did your DC hate this time of year too when it's all about being stuck in front of a Disney film and playing and stuff instead of doing work? Have noticed in last week DS has pulled out maths workbooks at home - a clear sign that he's missed his maths classes all week due to 'art week' at school smile

Heck5897 Sat 11-Jul-15 10:40:36

We stopped using school books completely. I took DS to the town library weekly and he picked what ever he wanted to read. We didn't discuss this with school and they didn't pass comment.

Heck5897 Sat 11-Jul-15 10:41:30

Try captain blue bear books. Great language

Basketofchocolate Sat 11-Jul-15 10:49:47

Ooh, thanks Captain Blue Bear looks good!

We do get library books - he always reads in the evening and not usually his school book - he reads one of those before dinner as they're easy to read.

I like the idea of just scrapping the facade of school books. Not sure how that works with the introduction of 'book reviews' though. Guess I need to ask them how his comprehension is as they seem big on ticking that box, despite me knowing he can accurately recall in detail what's happened in a story.

var123 Sat 11-Jul-15 19:30:02

I have a friend who regularly took his children out to go to museums etc. He had them marked down as off-site education trips (or an official phrase that means that). I don't know how he did it though! Possibly sheer dogged determination and low respect for the rules.

Personally, i think its a good idea, as long as you use them properly and it doesn't turn into a battle over the child's head.

UniS Sat 11-Jul-15 19:36:27

DS, who is in wayvan infant prodigy has been taking reading books into school since y2. The school stock books were not interesting him, he was picking books based on the picture of a bike or a skateboarder on the cover and thus flitting wildly between tooooo easy and too mature subject matter.
Started taking library books and home books in, chosen with more time and a bit of parental pre reading to check content. Much better.

NoParking Sun 12-Jul-15 09:51:10

Dd1 has been reading home books since somewhere in Y1. They made her a free reader, realised she picked random books from the KS2 library some of which were too mature in terms of themes, then her TA insisted on her choosing books from a box which was far too easy.

At that point I said I would provide plenty to read at home, and we agreed I would cater for home reading and school would just pick out one book for her to do guided reading with the teacher. It freed up their time (she gets through a lot of books in a week) and I don't mind weekly library trips and intermittent Book People orders. Could you suggest that as a solution to the school?

var123 Sun 12-Jul-15 10:23:46

Years 4,5 and 6 will have a collection of books that the children are supposed to read. In our school I think they were silver star and gold star (not sure if your school would have the same book band system?)

Those books are not in the school library but may be in the corridor outside the KS2 classrooms? You could try to borrow those. They are more challenging but tend not to contain challenging themes or bad language.

However, working through reading books peters out to almost nothing from year 3 onwards, but the need to be sufficiently challenged remains, and grows (or perhaps that's just how I felt?).

I think you need to look for a solution, or new school, that will serve your child in the long term.

Galena Sun 12-Jul-15 15:17:50

Remember, comprehension is not just retelling the story. There are higher order skills such as inference and deduction which are sometimes more easily developed in a text which is not too challenging, otherwise the whole concentration is on reading rather than developing skills.

Also, a school with high EAL and historically low intake is perfectly capable if stretching more able children. My DD's school is managing.

Basketofchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 16:53:45

Thanks for the more replies.

VAr123 I like that phrase. We have a new Head starting in Sept, so will see how we go with her I guess. The infants is a big, oversubscribed school, so three full classes each year. The juniors is down the road so no chance to borrow books from higher years.

Noparking That makes good sense. I will suggest it as otherwise he can end up with 2-3 books on the go at once which can be disjointing.

Galena I think it is 'book reviews' he's expected to do come Sept, but no idea how/if they differ from normal comprehension (which he has apparently handled no probs in Yr1).

var123 Mon 13-Jul-15 19:01:59

Book reviews (fiction):-
What was the book called?
Who was the main character?
Do you like the main character?
Briefly say what happened in the story
Would you recommend this book to other people? Give a reason why.

They (teachers) have this thing called "differentiation by outcome". It is not considered good practice but it is depressingly common. The idea is that the more able pupils will put their effort into producing a good piece of work that goes beyond the minimum being asked for. It often does not work in practice (which is why it is considered poor practice from teachers). Anyway book reviews and other stuff like "design a poster" are examples of differentiation by outcome.

Both my sons saw this sort of homework as an opportunity to produce something that would get someone from a lowish group a happy-smile stamp from the teacher and then they would spend anything up to 2 mins doing it before getting on with their evening / weekend.

Basketofchocolate Tue 14-Jul-15 22:09:39

Var123 - Ha ha, yeah, I have one like that here. Doesn't care about his writing or showing working out as quicker to do it in his head and scribble the answer smile

DS has been breezing thru age 8-9 maths workbooks at home this week, so it gives me a good guide to talk to new teacher in Sept. Will pick up next age up and see at what point he starts to find it a struggle.

var123 Wed 15-Jul-15 10:10:12

try ixl. it will allow you to do some sample questions for free. It has every topic for every year group, from reception through to year 13

The thing is though, that if they are really able, its hard to work out their level because even when you think you've found it, a few words of explanation and they are off again.

On the few occasions when there was a new concept that he'd never heard of before (e.g. 3d coordinates), Ds2 seems to need half an explanation and then he (rudely!) cuts me of mid-sentence and goes off and solves the questions.

var123 Wed 15-Jul-15 10:14:27

and the not showing working things... my strong advice is to try to curb that. Ds2 does that too. The teachers have been complaining about it for years. He says that he loses his train of thought if he has to write down the working.
However, its a good habit. It means he can get half marks if he makes a mistake and later on, there are times when you get 0 unless you show the workings, even if you put down the correct answer.

The compromise i worked out with DS2 is calculate it your way in your head, write down the answer and then go back and fill out the workings the way the examiner wants to see them.

Lurkedforever1 Wed 15-Jul-15 11:10:17

We had one teacher in ks1 who was of the opinion it complicated her job if anyone wasn't smack on average, so she'd kill 2 birds with one stone by getting dds day to being about being ta to the child who struggled most, meaning once she'd helpfully done it for him they could mess about, along with any other child who was above average, less constructive than leaving them on the playground for the day.
However every other teacher, except the odd supply has in fairness done their absolute best despite the fact for that small cohort she's an outlier by a long stretch. Up till the end of y3 she went up to older classes for maths, and then y4 her and another y6 outlier had maths together, then it's been just her. Due to practicalities I can fully sympathise that her maths teaching is less timewise than the rest of the class, but to a degree she just 'gets' it anyway so it's not been an issue. Other subjects, or during maths lessons for the rest of the class except that year they've differentiated well for her.
Reading wise the content/ ability thing we got round by fiction based around her interests/ hobbies, so although they were aimed at early teens, the characters did the hobby at the same level as her so the content was age appropriate. Terry pratchett was also a favourite, lemony snicket etc, although she has a pathological dislike of the hobbit, lor and Harry potter, which are all apparently boring. And non fiction. School wise they'd get her delving in to the comprehension side and analysing characters.
But some children do genuinely plateau, so I can see why With a child that's just very able in a below average group they don't like to make too much fuss about treating them as an outlier when that might not always be the case. Although that's no excuse when it's blatantly obvious and it's an excuse for lazy teaching

Lurkedforever1 Wed 15-Jul-15 11:18:06

And on the reading she's always been happy to read books with content she likes even if they are too easy and she gets through them quickly, as well as the more complex books she enjoys

Basketofchocolate Wed 15-Jul-15 19:11:20

Var123 Have had conversation with him this morning about exactly that about showing working - does have a tendency to rush through so can sometimes write e.g. 11 instead of 10, while saying 'ten' so have explained how important it is to show working out as you go along - esp since his rushed zeros often look like sixes!

I have also found finding his actual level tricky. Mainly cos if I get a workbook to test him out he aces through some pages with no explanation but doesn't attempt others cos 'doesn't know' them. However, if listens to brief explanation, yes, can do it straight away.

I would like to look into something like basic economics for him - looking at other ways to use his maths in an applied way and in a way that isn't the bog standard curriculum that I he will go thru with school.

We went to the library today, but no Captain Blue Bear sad Will have a look on Amazon.

Lurked - I need to find DS a hobby then! smile Lots of boys books about football, but no interest here for that.

Lurkedforever1 Wed 15-Jul-15 19:30:34

What about algebra? It's got a vast scope so you wouldn't be rushing through the curriculum as you can make it as complex as you like without learning rules or the next concept, and it's applicable in daily life. Or old text books/ exam papers that are outdated enough not to be taking chunks out of the current curriculum. Dd also liked working out racing odds, risk factors, accumulators etc and it doesn't take anything other than the concept of probability out of the curriculum. Maybe not horse racing for him but there might be something similarly applicable.

getinthesea Thu 16-Jul-15 11:44:46

If you've got a tablet, the Dragonbox Algebra apps are brilliant. There is a 5+ one and an older one, and it's a game which encourages them to work out algebra for themselves. DD really loved it and it's a fantastic introduction to the principles. The same people have done one about geometry, called Elements, but no one I know who has tried it thinks it is as good.

Basketofchocolate Thu 16-Jul-15 12:13:36

getinthesea - thanks for the top tip, will check it out.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 19-Jul-15 22:41:05

vars first post on the thread is so ridiculously accurate sad

Basketofchocolate Mon 20-Jul-15 12:57:15

Var123 - do you have any tips on socialising your child with other kids at the same academic level and age?

var123 Mon 20-Jul-15 14:21:41

To be honest, no, even though I've tried to find the answer. Ds2 seems to have worked it out without any help and nothing we have done or said has really helped Ds1.

Taking the one who is popular:-
Ds2 just sensed that never boasting is a very, very good idea.
Sometimes he tells little white lies about how he once struggled to make others feel better
Minecraft was a great leveller for Ds2 (but Ds1 found it boring)
Joining clubs should've done the trick but Ds1 worried that he'd be singled out as a nerd or a geek for the more G&T type ones, and he just wasn't remotely interested in the arty ones, so that just left some sports and cubs/ scouts.
Football was good for both
With hindsight, I wish that i'd sent them both to a drama club.

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