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Why do people say "they'll all catch up eventually" when it's just not true?

(52 Posts)
HailSatan Sun 26-Aug-18 21:17:47

If it were every child would come out of school with straight As. Theres always different tables or sets. Some kids just aren't academic either. So why do people lie?

reallybadidea Sun 26-Aug-18 21:20:15

It's a social nicety. Obviously hmm

Elementally Sun 26-Aug-18 21:21:57

Because otherwise you're saying to the parent of a 4 year old that their child will never achieve academically. It's impossible to know one way or the other so why not be optimistic about it?

Mokepon Sun 26-Aug-18 21:22:36

I guess it isn't so much lying as either
1. Trying to convince themselves their kids arent totally stupid
2. Realising that most kids will be able to read/write/do maths at a level they need to get by at some point
They do all catch up to where they are meant to be. Not everyone is a candidate for Mensa. It's just a turn of phrase.

ems137 Sun 26-Aug-18 21:23:43

It depends what context they're talking in.

My DS didn't speak a single word until after his 2nd birthday, not even the usual mama dada babble. I heard this phrase a lot at the time. It's true, he's 12 now and speaks as well as the next 12 year old!

flossietoot Sun 26-Aug-18 21:24:03

To be nice. And you can have the most acdemic child in the world but if they are a total prat it is immaterial.

Peanutbuttercups21 Sun 26-Aug-18 21:26:26

A lot of kids do, actually

Development is not linear

It is also meant to keep parents of GT kids grounded,when they get carried away with quite how GT their kid is at age 14 months wink

EvilRingahBitch Sun 26-Aug-18 21:27:09

It is an immensely annoying cliche. I think it’s most harmful when people say it about talking because late speech can often be a symptom of undiagnosed hearing loss which needs treatment, but it’s obviously literally untrue.

However, an OP, which would have had one meaning in AIBU, and another in Special Needs, has a fairly unpleasant tinge in G&T.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Sun 26-Aug-18 21:27:40

Because some parents hothouse their young children so they appear to be ahead of others, e.g. can read before school, but they are not actually more able it's just the other children haven't been taught yet.

Nousernameforme Sun 26-Aug-18 21:34:43

Because baring Sen they will all catch up. They will all walk and talk and read and write.

My ds is 15 now and it doesn't matter that he taught himself to read at age 3 and the other in his year learnt at school at the usual age, they can now all read and what age they started is unimportant.

HailSatan Sun 26-Aug-18 21:53:32

It definitely seems to harm the low achievers as they don't think they have to try hard and their parents think the same. It must hurt the high achieving too as they don't see why they should try if they'll be in the same place eventually, might aswell coast. I seem to hear it a lot from the parents who don't help their kids do homework

HailSatan Sun 26-Aug-18 22:59:32

@EvilRingahBitch how so?

JustRichmal Mon 27-Aug-18 08:43:34

It is sometimes used as the argument as to why people should not bother teaching their child. As in, why bother, they all catch up. IME they do not level off and I actually think educating a child does make a difference to their ability. Of course, it does cause problems for the school as many of them are not able to cope with outliers.

The term I also hate is hothousing. To be fair, a parent who decides their child will be a doctor or solicitor, or whatever, and educates to that end should not be condoned.Those who spend all day and every day making their child study are happily very few and far between, but it seems to be assumed than anyone who spends some part of a very varied day educating through fun activities is hothousing. My child could read before school, but I did not hothouse her.

Dd is 15 and still ahead. To any mums out there thinking of educating their child I would advise you to do so. They do not all catch up eventually. But it is just advice; it is your choice how you bring up your child.

sirfredfredgeorge Mon 27-Aug-18 09:01:35

I have never heard it used in terms of intelligence, just in a response to skills, generally either as a self-deprecating comment after parental boasting about a specific skill where barring additional needs they will (Little Tommy is 3 and is already reading, but they all catch up!) or as a response to the same comment without the parental comment (I see little Tommy isn't reading yet, Jemima was doing it at 2 / yeah he's more into eating mud, but they all catch up)

I've never heard it said and don't believe anyone ever thinks that intelligence and ability catches up - the evidence is so much there that it doesn't. In terms of skills though it generally does, and if it doesn't there's a reason more than the parents not teaching.

And yes, teach your child it's really important, of course what I'm going to disagree with is not teaching them the narrow skills (reading, writing and counting) that are what so many people take for intelligence in 4 year olds. For a very able student who will likely end up still ahead, the early acquisition of those skills came from their ability, but that doesn't mean another child who was pushed towards those skills at the expense of another will also end up ahead.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 27-Aug-18 09:07:45

I've only ever heard the term used for things like potty training and walking, where (barring SN) they do all catch up eventually.

However I agree with Evil that posting this in G&T is goady, as is your follow-up comment about low achievers. Would love to see your evidence that this common cliche makes 'low achievers think they don't have to try hard'

LusaCole Mon 27-Aug-18 09:12:47

In my experience it's often trying to recognise the fact that summer born children tend to struggle more in reception. In my DS's class, in year 1 the youngest child in the top group had a January birthday. By year 4, the youngest child had an August birthday, and correspondingly some of the early 'high achievers' had moved into lower groups.

However of course you're right to say that not everyone catches up to the same level.

JustRichmal Mon 27-Aug-18 09:28:35

I know lots of people who do not try teaching their child because they are told to leave it to the school. My Mum was told to not teach me to read as it would confuse me when I went to school. Unfortunately it was not a good school and when my Mum realised and transferred me at 7, I astounded teachers at my lack of ability to sound out simple words. I never really caught up and now, unlike my dd, who is an avid reader, never read for pleasure.

It does not matter what a child's level of intelligence is, education will not be wasted and will help them reach their potential. They will not catch up and level out. Their eventual ability is not written in their genes alone, it is also developed by their education.

irvineoneohone Mon 27-Aug-18 12:52:35

I totally agree with Richmal, as always.

extrastrongmints Mon 27-Aug-18 15:01:26

They say it because it's comforting for them to think so, and because it's an excuse for inaction, insofar as if were true then one-size-fits-all provison would be easier to justify.
A child who is already significantly ahead is so because they learn faster. The attainment gap naturally widens with increasing age unless they are artificially impeded in their development. This is supported by research cited in e.g. in Re-forming gifted education. Studies like PISA also show an 8 year gap in attainment even between the 10th and 90th percentiles by the age of 15, and thus no sign of the others catching up.
Conversely a child who is behind in an area may need support and interventions not wait-and-see wishful thinking.
Most kids learn to read adequately, so the difference between a kid who was reading fluently at 3 and their peers who were not at 6 is no longer so visible to a casual observer at 10, but there will be enormous latent differences in cognition. It doesn't level out.
I've heard "it all levels out" and "the others all catch up" from a couple of teachers and they were generally the most complacent ones. The kind who fail to provide differentiated work, teach to the middle, and let the most able stagnate. It doesn't seem to occur to them that if the others are catching up it is a sign of their neglect of the most able kids. In my book, it's a massive red flag. It indicates not just that they are ignorant of the real spread of intellectual diversity among students, but also that something is badly wrong in their classrooms.

JustRichmal Mon 27-Aug-18 15:22:47

Thank you irvineoneohone. I sometimes get the wrong end of the stick and on re-reading, don't always agree with me!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 27-Aug-18 15:29:52

I only really heard it used up until roughly year 3. Beyond that you rarely hear it. It is largely true of reading, writing and basic maths.
Beyond year 3 individual children begin to show strength in lots of areas and there is much less direct comparison than there is in KS1.
By secondary stage there is no the intimate comparison of reading levels etc, yes there is setting, but often children will be showing other skills that mark them out in other areas. So Jimmy maybe in bottom set Maths, but he is an amazing footballer and scores goals for the school every week.
Every child has a talent it is their parents and the schools job to find and nurture that talent whatever it is.

HailSatan Mon 27-Aug-18 17:28:54

@extrastrongmints wow I didn't realise the difference was that drastic. It does give me some concern about these teachers

corythatwas Mon 27-Aug-18 17:47:08

"A child who is already significantly ahead is so because they learn faster. The attainment gap naturally widens with increasing age unless they are artificially impeded in their development.

Most kids learn to read adequately, so the difference between a kid who was reading fluently at 3 and their peers who were not at 6 is no longer so visible to a casual observer at 10, but there will be enormous latent differences in cognition. It doesn't level out."

This only works if we assume that all gifted children have the same interest to learn to read at 3 and that learning to read is the only way in which they can stimulate their giftedness. Which may be rather a large assumption.

I taught myself before I started school, having got the grown-ups to explain the sounds of the alphabet. My db did not learn to read until he was taught at school. By the time we got to secondary, having both had every opportunity, he was ahead of me. He knew as many MFL as I did but also played an instrument to conservatoire standard and got top marks in STEM subjects.

If your theory held true, the attainment gap between us should be in my favour. It isn't.

I suspect the reason for his slightly later approach to reading was precisely because he was such an all-rounder: he was busy learning carpentry and sports and music and didn't need to read to make life interesting. My talents, and consequently my interests, were always more narrow, and being more of a dreamer, I had a need of ready access to stories.

extrastrongmints Mon 27-Aug-18 19:50:40

@HailSatan Here's the government's own report on the PISA data.
p78-79 (maths) - "The difference in mathematics performance between the highest and lowest achieving 10 per cent of pupils is 245 points (approximately eight years of schooling) "
p97 (reading) "The difference in performance between the highest
and lowest achieving 10 per cent of pupils is 254 points (around eight and a half years of schooling)"
The obvious reply to "the others all catch up" is: in what country?

@corythatwas how remarkable that you taught yourself to read despite those pesky grown-ups trying systematically to impart the key elements of reading. It must have been quite a struggle to ignore them and find your own path. On a related note I taught myself calculus in spite of some grown-ups explaining a few things like differentiation and integration.

OzymandiasFanClub Mon 27-Aug-18 19:56:22

It's usually said about children starting primary school, when September borns are way ahead of July/ August borns. It's not because the Sept borns are cleverer- their slightly advanced age gives them a temporary 'advantage' over the younger children.... but eventually the advantage is lost and the clever younger ones overtake the average older ones.....

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