Teacher deliberately holding him back

(99 Posts)
emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 12:35:46

My son is 5 and has just moved into year 1. He can read fluently and there was much discussion at the end of last year about what he should be given to read with both his class teachers who both left and the head teacher who also left! He was moved to free reader simply because the book bands for his ability were inappropriate, in terms of content, for a 5 year old. He was very proud of himself as this was his goal and he worked hard to get there. His new teacher is now giving him stage 11 books to read which he finds too easy. He thrives on a challenge and is very thirsty for knowledge. He is very dispondent so I asked the teacher if there was something more challenging he could read and she basically said they had all decided at the end of last year not to push him (the complete opposite to the outcomes of my meetings with said personnel) because otherwise in year2 he won't have anything to progress onto. Besides the fact they are letting my son feel like you can work hard and acheive your goals but we can just take them away from you there is a very real concern that they don't know what to do with him and are trying to get him to progress at the same level as the other children. He hates going to school and has been effectively self harming due to anxiety about school and to be honest I was very shocked! I have parents eve in a couple of weeks where I will endeavour to find out who coordinates gifted and talented and what is in place to extend him but has anyone else come across this?

OP’s posts: |
sad9999 Thu 11-Oct-18 12:37:41

The issue is when he gets to a certain stage of book the content isn't appropriate for his age. He can read it but he understand it ?

sad9999 Thu 11-Oct-18 12:39:10

I would visit the library let him enjoy a range of books at home and see GP about self harming

Nottheduchessofcambridge Thu 11-Oct-18 12:42:21

Why does he have anxiety about school?

Shambalashawadeewadee Thu 11-Oct-18 12:42:47

Take him to the library to extend his reading. Staff have very little time to hear him read at school anyway - much too time consuming with 30 children. Agree that his comprehension is key. I could ‘read’ a scientific text, I wouldn’t have clue what I was reading though.

If he’s self harming at age 5yrs because his reading books are too easy you might want to also take him to the GP to see if he needs other support.

Shambalashawadeewadee Thu 11-Oct-18 12:43:47

@sad9999 snap!

BlowPoke Thu 11-Oct-18 12:45:35

Why has he been working so hard at reception age? Kids should progress naturally through reading levels as they gain skill and confidence. I would say give him a break from all of the hard work and let him be a kid. If he hates school I would look into strengthening social connections and making sure he’s not alone during break time, things like that. My DS is the same age and also a fluent reader but he’s not hung up on levels. He reads school books in school and whatever we want at home. Admittedly we ignore the reading diary sent home but the teachers understand.


teaandtoast Thu 11-Oct-18 12:46:38

I would email or arrange a meeting before Parents' Evening. It's too important to be left and if they get something in place, they can feed back to you at the meeting.

What I did was go through the motions with the books from school and then let them read whatever they liked from the library (within reason, oc).

I don't consider that mine were g&t, just very good at reading and comprehension and they deserved to progress as much as other children.

sad9999 Thu 11-Oct-18 12:46:58

I think you also need to separate out your frustrations and his. I have 2 teenagers. One read early one didn't can't remember when they free read. Both in top sets now...

GooseDownCreek Thu 11-Oct-18 12:47:21

He hates going to school and has been effectively self harming due to anxiety about school
This over a book? I'd be very alarmed at a five year old self harming.Is there some other problem at school? I hope you haven't let him know your reservations about the school.

I recognise the scenario well though.
This was DS all the way through primary and secondary school in Maths. He did eventually get A*s at GCSE and A level and a first at Oxford so I guess it didn't ruin his life. He would disagree with me though, he did feel frustrated at school and would have enjoyed being stretched more.

At five he was also a fully fluent reader and allowed free reading. They can be deceptive though. I soon learned that while he could read all the text in a book he didn't necessarily comprehend it properly.

My advice would be to ask if you can provide his school reading books. Then do some research and choose books with appropriate content that are at a suitable level for him.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 11-Oct-18 12:48:20

Have you had him tested for giftedness? I think a full report plus recommendations from a psychologist is the only way to get the school to listen.

Is he advanced in other areas? A grade skip might be necessary.

Scatteredthoughtss Thu 11-Oct-18 12:51:12

I read this and you say he is gifted and talented, but you don't say why you say that, whether he has been tested or what. It's not that unusual to read well at five. If he is just ahead in reading, then I agree with others, take a trip to the library, but I would also see the GP about self harm, as that seems incredibly disproportionate.

Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 11-Oct-18 12:55:05

And giftedness aside, I would have a problem with any school that would deliberately hold a child back because they might be bored in the future. That’s totally ridiculous. School is for learning. If they’re not allowing him to learn then they’re doing their job.

BertrandRussell Thu 11-Oct-18 12:55:06

Give hm a book from home to read at school.

And take him to the gp about the anxiety. Talk to the SENCO at school about it too.

Isadora2007 Thu 11-Oct-18 12:55:42

Is he advanced in other areas? A grade skip might be necessary

The evidence suggests this is rarely the right move for a child. It segregates them socially and he already sounds like he is not a robust young boy as it is. Being socially immature is not going to do him any favours if he was moved up a year.
Also reading is not a good indicator of intelligence- what is his comprehension like?

Nothisispatrick Thu 11-Oct-18 12:58:37

How much time in school is spent just reading books? Can not having a hard enough book really be the source of self harm in a 5 year old? Can you get him appropriate books that he will enjoy or is it all down to school?

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 13:10:15

Thank you everyone for your comments. The self harming has been addressed through the gp and the senco and school nurse are working with him. We have seen much improvement but he has anxiety about going to school and this stems from being bored and unchallenged so felt it was appropriate to mention. Schools don't tend to tell parents if a child is on a gifted and talented programme but his aunt is a primary school teacher and judging by his natural ability and his levels on his school report he "should" be identfied as such but I havent claimed he is neccessarily gandt. I have not pushed him, he pushes himself, he seeks out the challenge and naturally progressed through the book bands at a fast rate. He has many friends at school and is socially confident, I do not have concerns about that. Mostly I just want him to be happy but if he isn't challenged at school which is causing him anxiety he isnt happy. I do read with him at home and the library but when we are reading a chapter book and have to interrupt twice a week to read a book provided from the school (which she has told me he must read!) then it interrupts the flow. His comprehension is on par with his reading ability so I am not concerned he is not understanding the text. My concern is a teacher deliberately holding him back rather than allow him to progress at his own speed in order to allow him to progress later especially when she is aware of his anxiety issues.

OP’s posts: |
StarkDismay Thu 11-Oct-18 13:13:08

They are not actually 'holding him back' though, are they? My DS was actually held back and put in a class with kids 1-2 than them. Your's is doing Year 1 stuff in a Year 1 class. You can read whatever you like outside of school and even make notes about it in his school reading diary. If he is G&T much of what you do will be as important as what he does at school. The teacher will be teaching a whole class, not just your child, and how the whole class are doing will impact on him too. My DD's class had two thirds of the class go on to be streamed into G&T straight away at secondary. She did not get any special teaching at primary because the whole class were doing stuff more advanced than they should have been. If he is suffering anxiety because he has been given a different reading level from next year at 5 years old then something bigger is going on here or you are putting too much pressure on a very young child to have goals that are not supported by his school. I would focus more on reading for enjoyment and at home and let him enjoy being a little boy. Trust me in Year 2 the pressure begins on kids and then you'll wish he'd been allowed more time to play without targets the school needs him to achieve.

sad9999 Thu 11-Oct-18 13:19:13

Glad he is seeing GP etc. Comprehension is not just Bill went swimming they also need to understand and infer as well

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 13:24:45

They are not "holding him back" but they are not allowing a bright kid to progress at a rate he needs to to be challenged and not get bored because they are worried about what they will do with him next year. He is not simply having anxiety over his reading levels it is an anxiety about school which is partly to do with seperation anxiety and partly to do with being bored and unstimulated at school. Yes he is doing year 1 stuff but he is capable of much harder stuff and is bored. We do do a lot of fun stuff that stretches him at home but the school also have a responsibility to stretch a gifted child in a similar way they are responsible for supporting sen children. How am I putting too much pressure on him? I want him to be happy and if he was I'd let him bumble along but he isnt.

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emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 13:26:06

sad999 thank you, yes I know that, his aunt will always check he is ready to move on in that respect everytime his teacher wanted to move him on.

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Iwasjustabouttosaythat Thu 11-Oct-18 13:26:29

The evidence suggests this is rarely the right move for a child. It segregates them socially and he already sounds like he is not a robust young boy as it is. Being socially immature is not going to do him any favours if he was moved up a year.

Actually a lot of recent studies have found the opposite is true. Truly gifted children often prefer the company of older children and they need their minds engaged with harder work. Often what teachers assume to be immaturity in a child is actually the child acting out through boredom and social isolation from being surrounded by age-peers rather than mind-peers. The behaviour generally improves quickly once their needs are met. Gifted children often thrive with grade skips and longitudinal studies suggest they go on to be more successful adults than gifted kids who were held back.

I’m not saying that’s the case here of course. If the child is thriving socially with his current age group then a grade skip probably isn’t the best thing. I would ask for extension work at the very least but harder work all around would be more appropriate by the sounds of it.

StarkDismay Thu 11-Oct-18 13:27:34

Help him find challenges at home then and let him view school as a safe and easy place to have fun, make friends and play. Too often people get fixated on academic progress of their kids at too early an age, when the main focus should be on learning how to get along with your classmates, learning increasing freedom and independence and learning how to behave in the big wide world. By the sound of it, he is failing in some of these lessons in life by suffering anxiety over not being allowed to set himself targets beyond the scope of his class.

DD never read any of the books that they set and provided we sent in evidence that she was reading every day, we were listening to her, and she was understanding what she had read school were fine. DS is at a different school but things are much the same there, and have been with all the teachers they've had. You need to perhaps contain his aspirations a little and find him a way to set himself challenges without getting himself into such a state that he self harms. Let him take up a musical instrument and have one to one lessons - they proceed at the speed of the individual child and no one attempts to slow them down through the gradings. Let him elaborate on work done in class to a level he enjoys working at, even if that is working up a level - often schools will incorporate projects carried out at home if it is possible.

Your child is unlikely to be the only child who is bright in his class. He is unlikely to be held back. But where once is was considered the right thing to do to put a clever child up a year or give them work for older kids, the way they do it now is to continue to focus on work appropriate to the year they are in but to give the brighter kids work at an extra depth. It does make things difficult for the teachers when a child who is entering a year has done all the work already - they are difficult to fit into the lessons without letting them get bored. But any half decent teacher should be able to challenge a child sufficiently without teaching them next year's content.

StarkDismay Thu 11-Oct-18 13:38:18

Just to add that my DH in hindsight wishes he hadn't been moved up a year at school. It made things rather hard for him socially. DD has been identified by her current school as G&T. DS is currently a subject in a university study for something where intelligence is not the main focus of the research but related to and measured, and I have been told that he is 'almost off the scale' for maths ability. Both are happiest in a group of children the same age as them. It is a rare thing to find a child who excels at academic subjects AND arts and sport and is socially adept in all circumstances. If the school is doing it right there will be plenty for him to do.

GooseDownCreek Thu 11-Oct-18 14:38:11

Many years ago my DH was put up a year, as was the norm then for bright kids. Whatever the academic benefits were they had no noticeable long term impact but there were social disadvantages not least because meant he went to university just turned 17.

emzy1987 as others have said he won't be the only bright child in the class. Have a chat with the teacher and try and reach a compromise on books.

I do read with him at home and the library but when we are reading a chapter book and have to interrupt twice a week to read a book provided from the school (which she has told me he must read!) then it interrupts the flow.
I don't see the huge problem with slipping in a school reader twice a week. Also if you are still reading books with him chapter by chapter I'm not sure his reading is unusually advanced?

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