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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?

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 14:38:36

So has anybody else experienced a teacher stopping a child's natural progress because they wont know what to do with them next year? or if not do you think its right? how do I approach this?

BertrandRussell Thu 11-Oct-18 14:58:29

I think you should go back and talk to the teacher again. It is not at all unusual for a child to be reading fluently in year 1- and for a scho to say that they won't be able to teach him anything in year 2 is completely bonkers. But I would be wary of putting your child's unhappiness down to not being pushed enough-apart from anything else, reading to the teacher takes up very little time in most classes. Surely he can just read his own book-there will be a wide spread of ability in the class. Also, be wary of him saying he's bored. Many children say they are bored when they are actually feeling other things. He could be simply bored but is often more complicated than that.

DemocracyDiesInDarkness Thu 11-Oct-18 15:09:25

I don't really see how he is being held back.

If you're reading chapter books then have to stop to read a basic book once a week - so what? It's like homework. We may not always want to do it but it's part of the job of being a school pupil.

My daughter is reading years above her level but I'm not all that interested in levels. Sometimes the books from school are boring but she can get through them quickly. And there are very often words and grammatical points to learn, or be reminded of. Reading never goes to waste.

It's the same with her spelling; there are few words she can't sort of instinctively spell, but what would be the gain of not also doing the spelling that goes on in her class now? None.

Tawdrylocalbrouhaha Thu 11-Oct-18 15:20:45

From everything you have said, I am doubtful whether your DS's distress and anxiety are truly being caused by feeling bored or unchallenged. I would be looking much more closely at social skills issues, and worrying less about academic progress (which I must say you and your sister seem to be overly focused on).

GooseDownCreek Thu 11-Oct-18 15:27:26

So has anybody else experienced a teacher stopping a child's natural progress because they wont know what to do with them next year
Yes I have. I said so in my first post. In fact DS was at a small primary with mixed year groups which made it worse. But as I also said, it the long term great scheme of things it did not matter.
I focused on encouraging him to try harder in the things he found more difficult when social skills, arts, music

SlowDown76mph Thu 11-Oct-18 15:38:14

Yes. Frustrated bored child who started acting out (bad behaviour). School couldn't/wouldn't offer any help to meet her needs. Ended up home-schooling. Probably not the solution you were hoping for! But it was very successful, happy child who did well in all areas (yes, social life too!) and grew up to do her favourite academic thing at uni, great career, partner, children.

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 16:05:30

Thank you slowdown76mph. Practically the only non-judgemental post on here. Not the solution I'm looking for but although I am not in a position to home school entirely I had thought of flexi schooling allowing him some time at home to do some more challenging things the school don't have time to do with him rather than trying to fit things in after school everyday.
I just want to clarify this whole post is about my sons well being and not his academic ability. His anxiety stems from a number of things related to school, some things he has help working in coping with IE separation anxiety but some small part of his anxiety is not being stretched at school. This is what I am trying to address not because it is holding him back academically but because it is making him unhappy. Telling me my child is not unusually advanced or that he is not the only bright child in the class is not helpful and of no consequence to the issue. I simply ask if anyone has had experience of this and what their opinion of not progressing a child because they are worried what to do with him next year was.

HeadsDownThumbsUpEveryone Thu 11-Oct-18 16:25:22

Well if I'm being perfectly honest a child for who is suffering with his mental health due to anxiety around separation and what he perceives as not being challenged the approach of not pushing him sounds exactly the right course of action.

The teachers are not holding him back I am sure he is being challenged with greater depth questions during his lessons and stretched with his learning. The fact they are giving him levelled books means very little he can read them and then continue to be challenged with books of his choice. Surely letting him be happy at school is going to much more beneficial than adding to his anxiety levels by giving him lots more work to do?

MissMarplesKnitting Thu 11-Oct-18 16:40:04

Tbh you are drop feeding and changing message.
Firstly he self harms because he's anxious about being held back, now it's a bit about this and separation anxiety amongst other things.

If you have an anxious child then work on that. Nothing else will improve until this is. School will know this. It's possibly why they aren't pushing because they don't want to make it worse.

Let him read whatever he wants at home, evidence but in his reading diary and let the kid come to terms with school better. He's clearly not that happy if he's self harming.

You need to get to the bottom of this before trying to get the poor kid stretched academically, or the whole house of cards will tumble down in the teenage years.

BertrandRussell Thu 11-Oct-18 16:45:19

Blimey. OK- fair enough, OP.

<wanders off wondering whether there is any sort of correlation between bright children and rude parents....>

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 16:59:52

Miss Marple I clarified that this is just a part of his anxiety because people were jumping on saying there must be more to it. There is but it wasnt relevant. We are working on his anxiety issues at home as well as at school through the senco and the school nurse. I dont want him stretched academically just for the sake of it but if it will make him happier then I can't see the issue. There may well be working with him on greater depth in other areas I just thought it was odd to halt his progress. If they had said we sont want to push him because of his anxiety then that would be fine but to say they wont push him because they wont know what to do with him next year seems an odd way to do things.
Bertrand Russell, wonder away.... I came in here asking for some advice on how to deal with a situation that was making my son unhappy, I have been asked to clarify why I think my child is g&t even though i didnt claim he was, I have been told he is not unusually advanced even though i did not claim he was. I have been accused of putting too much pressure on him and focussing too much on his academical progress when I have clarified that my main concern is his happiness.

CherryPavlova Thu 11-Oct-18 17:09:05

I think boredom rarely causes anxiety and a lower than his ability reading book isn’t going to make him self harm. You need to back off around the reading book at school - give him books at home he can take in to read and just let him flick very quickly through school readers without fuss. Many children (and adults) read material that isn’t as academically challenging as their intellectual ability suggests from choice. It doesn’t hold them back or prevent learning. Imagine it’s like reading a comic - no harm ensues.
Sounds like they are reluctant to apply academic pressure to a little one who has developed problems adjusting to school because they’d undoubtedly be blamed for exacerbating his abnormal behaviour, if they did. Let him be a little child and learn from playing and socialising. Let him learn to cope with a school environment without doing battle over something so trivial.

MissMarplesKnitting Thu 11-Oct-18 17:09:32

Well if that's the case then stop bothering about it. Let him read to his hearts content at home, and focus on the anxiety stuff.

None of the rest will be built on solid foundations otherwise.

I was/am "gifted" academically. Apparently. Hate the label. Top 1/2% performance wise. My parents let me read and read at home but I never did anything else extra at school until juniors, when I did get extra work along with some other bright kids. I pushed myself along at my own pace, lapping up non fiction, anything horse related and fiction and did just fine. I'm glad it was that way. I wasn't aware I was 'better' as a reader than anyone else really. I just did my own thing.

Let him do the same and stop worrying about books, and focus on his school anxiety.

It could be that this situation is making him anxious if you're mentioning it at home. Let him be. You can push the issue forward once he's got more stable emotional foundations.

Knitwit101 Thu 11-Oct-18 17:13:34

I think it's not ok to deliberately give him work that is not challenging just because the teachers don't want to make teaching him harder in future years.

I wonder what you would ideally want the school to do? I think in your situation I would come up with a list of books I want him to read, probably you will have to provide them, and ask that he reads them in school instead of the school books. Do you think they would say yes to this?

I think more of my ds' time just now is spent on letters and spelling rather than actual reading. Just now he is learning blends like -ew and -ough and how they make the same sound then having to think up words with each blend in them. Even though he can read he often finds thinking up words and spellings for himself challenging so I don't feel this time is wasted. It's always good to learn the basic rules. Does your son find all that too easy as well? I can see why he would be bored.

MaruMaru Thu 11-Oct-18 17:22:39

Every book doesn't have to be challenging. Children can still gain plenty from reading books which aren't challenging. As an adult, I'm an avid reader, but I can't say I want to read challenging books all the time. Or much of the time actually. I want to ENJOY a book.
Find him some additional books from your public library. The librarian should be able to advise you on books for higher ability readers with younger chronological age.
However, I'd be much more concerned about your 5 year old's anxiety and self harming. I think this is where you need to focus.

MaruMaru Thu 11-Oct-18 17:25:04

PS To be honest, I was shocked that he had a goal to be a free reader, at the age of 4-5. How was he even aware of the reading scheme structure? and setting himself goals age 4? Sounds most unusual.

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 17:28:36

Knitwit101 I was told by the teacher I was free to read whatever with him at home but in no uncertain terms he has to read what they provide twice a week. I had suggested if they didnt have something to provide him with wemay have it at home or library or ill buy it but would just like guidance as to what we should read but that was her answer above! He has been going into the year above since the first school term in reception for phonics as he was above his class, He does enjoy that as its more challenging for him. I need to find out if they are working on greater depth with him in other areas at school but like you say its not ok to not challenge him for that reason.

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 17:34:57

MaruMaru, he has older cousins and is very competitive! I think because he was getting through them so quickly and was closer to the end than the beginning he got it into his head! If he was happy reading the books from school I'd have never had the conversation with the teacher. I was always an avid reader and agree sometimes I just want to pick up something easy (mum literature lol). I wouldnt object to it if there was a proper reason as they are the professionals but just to not encourage him so they have something to do withn him next year is not right? He has received lots of help with the anxiety and it has pretty much stopped thank goodness but i was just trying to address some of the factors that did contribute to it and this was one of them. x

reallyanotherone Thu 11-Oct-18 17:38:26

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

If he’s self harming at 5 i think his academic progress should be the least of your worries. Why is he so anxious about stuff being too easy?

Current thinking for g&t students is “extension”. Faster progression or learning advanced stuff can be counter productive- lack of understanding, plus at some point he will have to repeat as he’ll have no where to go.

Extension meaning learning in greater depth, rather than learning more. So if they’re doing ww2, he could be given a side project to research air and sea transport, or land girls- something he can do in class and/or carry on at home.

I’d also be looking at extra curriculars to round him out. He could do music lessons at school. Sport, or social activities like scouts out of school.

FruitCider Thu 11-Oct-18 17:39:03

How is your child self harming exactly? I think the self harming is a far bigger problem than your son being "forced" to read level 11 books? Especially if he is self harming because he's not "being challenged".

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 17:44:13

He is anxious about school, partly due to speration anxiety and in a lesser part to not being stretched at school getting bored. He has been putting his fingers down his throat and sucking his arms and legs excessively until he bruises himself. Not terribly extreme but still concerning and is being addressed. He does a few things outside school, swimming, play rangers and lunchtime football club but he is very competitive which is probably not a healthy thing. Saying he needs to stay on level 11 would be fine with me but their reason for it doesnt make any sense and is not for his benefit

hibeat Thu 11-Oct-18 17:48:51

There are so much things to learn apart from school that I would not see the teacher as holding him back but letting him free to get on with all kind of other things (tidying his room, taking care of his things, taking care of himself like a big boy). Because he's almost free of homework (how much time does it take, like really ?) He can learn about science at home, play an instrument, develop interest in sports and be an all rounded individual. There are also different level of comprehension when you read (Just take an Mba entry level test, it's not just for kids). Also keeping creativity intact would be the mission plan imho. Gifted children are work and sometimes school does not accompany you on the journey, though it's quite rare nowadays. Somebody in my family got up 3 classes in the 60's. She absolutely suffered. Starkdismay is spot on. If they are studying x, just go the deeper level. You are all about reading, what about his maths ? And science ? Your son is not exceptional, there were at least 5 kids that started year 1 as free readers. It was the same for my daughter. What you learn when you are a kid you never forget, and the world that we are living in is absolutely fantastic to discover. You can't deliver the baby while fighting with the midwife. You have to work with the teacher. Her win is your win. Her loss is his loss. You cannot win. It's a mantra. By the way your son is exceptional, you are on the tip of an iceberg, you have to find out all this 90% : beyond reading.

ThinkOfAWittyNameLater Thu 11-Oct-18 17:56:41

I'm not surprised you're struggling in these circumstances.

We had a similar situation with DC1 struggling because he wasn't being challenged enough (boredom is the enemy!). Luckily his teacher understood where we were coming from and there was an overnight improvement.

I agree with a pp - ask for a call or meeting with the teacher again. Discuss your concerns and ask what the plan is to support your son. Use parents evening for a check up. Don't leave this TIL parents evening.

hibeat Thu 11-Oct-18 18:02:30

I cross posted. level 11 is 2 levels from free reader. it's a 3 month gap at max. It's not a big deal. I think cuddle time is of order. And if learning, learning through play only. He is still so small.
Let him take a pile of book in the science and history section at the library, make experiment, walk in nature through the different seasons. Nature is an open book for science. He will never forget those memories and his thirst for learning will grow. Big hugs to you and your son.

emzy1987 Thu 11-Oct-18 18:03:41

hibeat I agree about working with the teacher, his teacher last year was great and we had a fantastic relationship. His new teacher is saying that his old teacher and the head teacher (who have both left) agreed he shouldn't be pushed that is contrary to what the told me. I don't think he is exceptional but the school he is at has never had a kid in year 1 on stage 11 or above and they have admitted to me before that they have no idea what to give him to read.
Thinkofawittynamelater. I agree it is frustrating and his teacher last year was fab and I was shocked to hear her reasoning behind her idea of not encouraging him.

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