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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?

AornisHades Sun 21-Oct-18 01:26:11

Dd was reading Roald Dahl in reception and was finally moved to free reading in Y1. School struggled to deal with her so while we were getting books home she would sing them to me or substitute words to make it less boring. Floppy pursued the stick rather than chased.
She's autistic so her struggles are anxiety and social.

OlennasWimple Sun 21-Oct-18 00:59:00

Use the school books as the starting point for more interesting stuff. So get him to read it through once to find out what thrilling excitement Chip and Kipper and Biff have been up to in this installment, then play around with the story by asking him probing questions and getting him to think more deeply.

"Why did Kipper react like that?"

"How would the story have been different if X had happened instead?"

"What other words could the author have used instead of X?"

"How do we know how Chip feels? How would you feel in that scenario?"

That type of stuff

Lollipop30 Sun 21-Oct-18 00:44:40

I don’t think you’re wrong for worrying about it.
My DDs in Yr1 and in kind of a similar situation except she’s not gifted or talented, she’s quite bright and she works hard so I’m happy.
Last year they stopped reading with her altogether ‘to give the others in her class chance to catch up!’ A notion I’m sure you’re all too familiar with. I will admit I was seriously miffed but I just sourced the correct level books and went to the library lots. Luckily this year her teacher is more open to each child working at their own level so she was instantly skipped onto an appropriate level book where I agree they stretch her just the right amount.
I’d try again perhaps at school and if you get another nonresponse just get books that are slightly more difficult for him to read at home, not forgetting to keep questioning etc to make sure he actually understands the content. We still do our own extra ones alongside schools and just document it in the log in the same way.

GreenTulips Sun 21-Oct-18 00:20:22

I think you are over thinking the reading. They really don't read much in school at all - guided reading once a week, maybe share a book with a friend or quite reading.

Otherwise they learn about science art, music, team work PE, RE computers, plays, singing, forest school, friendships, etc

DD could read at a higher level at a young age, she also joined a class higher up the school, but guess what? At nearly 14 she reads exactly the same as all her friends.

Made no real difference to her ability (she's still top 1%)

Let him be a kid and stop banging on about it

Thatcrazymummy Sun 21-Oct-18 00:03:50

My little one was at foundation a little while before the school suggested my child become a free reader and scrap even starting the ORT all together . I said I’d read at home with them a series of there choice .. but for reading at school I’d like them to still take part in the ORT scheme so they didn’t miss out on all the extra stories of there comprehension age

It’s a beautiful thing when your child can really read . There access to information becomes gigantic ....

Most importent is the happiness of the child but I personally belive if children want to do more and can then why shouldn’t they

I realise how little children. however far ahead are not supported ( or the parents ) as often you are the minority

I face the same issues in terms of supporting them at school - but I have a generally holistic approach to my kids but support there subject matter they do at school at home . ( and any work they wish to do I let them )

I wish you and you and your child luck x

roundturnandtwohalfhitches Mon 15-Oct-18 18:05:16

Could be that is new teacher is a bit shit and a bit lazy. Not all teachers are amazing or good at their jobs or like kids. The reason she has given is a bit weak. If she is resistant then I suspect you'll just have to suck it up and do it yourself or
Our school is terrible at encouraging the brighter kids. The emphasis is on getting the most number of kids to an average level, which gien their resources or lack thereof doesn't seem a bad target . What it is excellent at it is teaching them self confidence and resilience. They are taught every mistake is an opportunity to learn. Hard work and effort is praised. That stuff is incredibly important and has set him up to thrive academically when he reaches secondary. DS is a bright anxious child but they have grown his confidence immensely. He helps other kids in his class with reading and comprehension and he loves it. He reads more advanced stuff at home. He is P6 now and I realise the angsting about easy reading books in P1and 2 was a waste of my time really. The other stuff was more important.

folduptheocean Mon 15-Oct-18 17:21:59

How is he socially?

Naty1 Sun 14-Oct-18 22:54:04

It could be as simple as they want it to look like he has made progress each year. If he goes up too fast he will stop making progress yearly.
I agree with pp that understanding will make much more difference in the l-t.
It took our school a whole year to get dd to the level she was capable of. (She could read brown/grey etc endof year r and it took till yr 2 to get to about that level). It is a complete waste of mine and dd's time. Though 1 or 2 bookshave been interesting.
And i do get what op is saying about the i interrupting of home books withthe school book. Especially if you are reading chapter books you lose the feel of it. We seemed to keep starting new ones.
Even the free readers are really easy ones.

Hope he gets past the anxiety etc.

school is quite stressful for lots of kids for various reasons. And i think the big changes of the new school year can be quite triggering. It's hardly surprising that they dont want to go back after the holidays.

takemeback Sun 14-Oct-18 17:44:04

Tell me about his maths....
What's his letter formation and writing like?

takemeback Sun 14-Oct-18 17:43:08

If he's a confident reader then he doesn't need school banded books! Buy him some national geographic kids magazines and take him to the library. Reading should be for pleasure not to prove a point!

brilliotic Sun 14-Oct-18 12:08:25

OP, DS was anxious in Y1, and we were told almost the exact same thing ('keep him on this book level as otherwise we won't have anything for him to move on to next year'). Also suddenly a new rule that all children must read every book in every level, so unless he did actually read those books (it was purple level this time of Y1 for us) he would never move up the levels. So I can relate.

You don't say much about his ability in other areas so I will respond to the reading only. What I would say is that you need to be careful to distinguish between 'progressing in the book levels' and 'progressing with reading'. Holding a child back in the book levels is not equivalent with holding their reading back.
Conversely, putting a child on a higher level is not the same as stretching/challenging them!

Chances are that they are challenging/stretching his reading ability at school, they want him to make progress. It's just that you don't see it and it's not easily measurable / comparable like the book bands.

Also, there comes the point where your child 'can read'. What further stretching/challenging should there be then? In my opinion the main aim then is to develop the child's breadth of reading material and give him/her insights into different genres and the kind of storylines and formats that are familiar and common, without moving on to 'literary analysis/criticism' or some such. So it is no longer about 'stretching' or 'challenging', but about reading for pleasure and discovery.

With a competitive child, I think it is important to make the distinction between 'reading ability' and 'book level' clear to them too. And to stress that neither is a race, and that the aim of increasing your 'reading ability' is not to get good grades and praise, but to be able to access fun and interesting books.

Unfortunately at our school the children were making a lot of competitive comparisons regarding their book levels amongst themselves. Possibly this is happening at your school too. In which case I can understand that a child who is moved back levels would feel upset!
So I would mention to the teacher that perhaps a talk is needed for her to remind the children (not just yours!) that neither going up the levels, nor learning to read, are competitions.

Perhaps a way to bring across that the book levels are not a competition is to ask your child: So what is the reward for moving up a level/moving to 'free reader'? You get to choose your own books. Well, you get to choose your own books already. The level of your school reading books does not stop you from choosing to read whatever you like!

Fortunately, reading is one of the easiest areas for you to fill the gaps when the school doesn't. As people say, just use the library ;) However I want to say, I do get your point about the school books then becoming a distraction and nuisance. There is a certain point where the school books have a length that means you can't just whizz through in 3 minutes, but are still rather simple and boring/off-putting. They feel very much like a waste of time, time that could be spent reading more interesting/fun things. And it makes reading feel like a chore, rather than a pleasure.

Firstly, I would like to reassure you that this phase passes. Your child will learn to recognise a simple text and read it very fast. (You are lucky in a sense to have only 2 school books, we had 5 a week, it was a drag!) Or you ask school specifically how much time they expect your child to be reading school books per day (there may be a homework policy on this point too), and then do exactly that. If it is 10 minutes a day, but the books require 30 minutes to finish, just don't finish them - use your time for other, own books.
The point of the reading scheme books for your child then becomes the lesson that school requires you to jump through certain hoops, which you do (in most cases) - building up some 'homework discipline'. After doing the required, you do what you enjoy!

We are now 3 years down the line. In Y3, they finally let DS move onto 'KS2 books' and in fact straight onto the highest level of these, so books aimed at Y6. Some of these are great, they are books just like any other he would read for pleasure/out of interest. Some are highly inappropriate. In some ways I wish they were still 'holding him back'! But at this stage school is more relaxed about the school reading books. I only actually ask DS to read his school book when he happens to be in a reading slump between books/series that he chose for himself.

Ceilingrose Sun 14-Oct-18 12:06:27

Kids need to be able to not succeed at everything all the time and , crucially, for it not to matter.

Kids also need downtime. Mine read all kinds of crap and one hated reading. They've all done well in their chosen ways so far.

FredFlinstoneMadeOfBones Sun 14-Oct-18 09:00:39

He definitely needs to be less focused on goals and outcomes. He should be reading because he enjoys reading and loves the material not because he wants to progress to a certain level.

I have experience with top undergrads and a-level students and many of them have their identity so wrapped up in academic success they completely fall apart when they're no longer the best (and this will happen to him).

I would be much more concerned with his mental health than his reading level. He can go to the library and pick whatever book interests him anyway, it's a total non issue. His mental health sounds much more pressing.

corythatwas Sat 13-Oct-18 19:38:14

Can I just say that I agree with the posters who have suggested a wealth of activities at home to encourage him to try difficult things and get used to not always getting it right. If you encourage him to think of school as the only place where he can grow and develop intellectually, you risk narrowing his horizons and quite possibly contributing to his anxiety.

I was that child who read fluently at 5. My parents, who were teachers themselves, provided what I can now see was a very intellectually exciting environment but it was never about levels or making sure I was on the right grade: it was simply that they themselves thought the world was such an exciting place that they had to share it with me. They enjoyed good children's literature (or at least my mother did) so we had the best. If you go for classics, as they did, then maturity of content is going to be far less of a worry: reading something you don't quite understand won't do you any harm as long as it is not directly inappropriate.

They enjoyed reading about history and art and nature, so we had that too. They never related it consciously to what I was doing at school, but they made learning exciting and worth while.

And it wasn't just about book learning: they let me learn an instrument, and taught me basic DIY (for which I had NO talent), and let me help with painting and decorating the house, and took me into the woods.

And they let me see that learning never stops, that grown-ups can find it exciting too.

emzy1987 Sat 13-Oct-18 12:08:57

Thesteakbakeofawesome thanks for the chuckle lol that's what his teacher was like last year, always assessing his reading n comprehension n moving him on and he thrived. Now this teacher is saying she spoke with that teacher and they agreed not to push and he has bow been moved back. Seems most bizarre X

TheSteakBakeOfAwesome Sat 13-Oct-18 11:19:02

Only popping in because it came up on active. We had this a little bit with DD1 in Reception where her school had the mindset that you only were allowed to plod through every single one of the "Reception books" and that was it. Ended up with a school move for various reasons - and she flew up about 4/5 or so book bands to find a more natural level for her in the space of about a fortnight as the teacher tried out different ones to see what was the best fit for her.

We're now nearing the end of the banded books our school has available (infant school so have a small selection in the post-lime bands but not masses)... but non fiction challenges her much more in terms of vocabulary and understanding than chapter books - I think there's a tendency to just chase after longer and longer chapter books and forget about other things to read as they go through the levels. She could read and read with good understanding almost any children's chapter book - and then you're hitting the level where maturity of content becomes an issue.

So I don't worry about it too much - make sure we've got some cool non fiction books at home which engage her endlessly (the Atlas someone bought for Christmas last year is falling apart from use) and I also don't sweat it when she chooses to read the most mindless fluff going that's completely not challenging her (cough Rainbow fucking Fairies cough) as at least she's reading and enjoying it and I KNOW she can read what's put in front of her and understand it if required but not everything in life has to be "worthy" or generating progress on her and hell, I'm partial to the odd bit of fluffy chick lit absolute literary shite as well.

emzy1987 Sat 13-Oct-18 11:03:59

Ceilingrose no criticism that has very much come out of this discussion that that is something we need to address. He seems good at everything, swimming, football, maths reading etc so has got used to being better than most so I think when he does try n finds something difficult he just gives up. Something to work on definitely!

Ceilingrose Sat 13-Oct-18 10:19:32

OP I do not want to criticise your parenting. However I wonder if it would pay to look further into why he gives up easily in case he fails. That is the start of an unhealthy learning habit which can have long term consequences. Fear of failure is common amongst us, but really something quite important to focus on.

emzy1987 Sat 13-Oct-18 09:29:10

hibeat thanks for that document will definitely take a read of it. We are all play n no work at weekends, last night was play rangers (totally awesme outdoor play scheme organised by the council for free) followed by a movie.
Soontobe60 you make a lot of assumptions. His anxiety started a few weeks before going back to school, the main rerason being seperation anxiety, I am not pushy in any way and I don't believe him to be a genius, all i have stated is he is a fluent reader at the age of 5 which people have been keen to point out is not unusually advanced. This is actually my first dealing with the teacher and I dont disagree with holding him back but her reasoning that they wouldnt know what to do with him next year! He also does not make himself vomit, he makes himself gag to feel the sensation but does not make himself vomit. Like you say it may have been a throwaway comment by the teacher so I will ask her to explain again at parents eve as she may have been put on the spot. This is her first class.
MaruMaru I am not less concernede about his anxiety but he is being worked with by professionals and as I have said it has basically stopped, they will continue to provide him with strategies to cope with his anxiety but that side of things is beyond the scope of a forum so ill allow the professionals to deal with it. I am not asking anyone to condemn the teachers comment i was asking if people had had experience of it as the reasoning sounded bizarre.
Thank you 6springcats I think if we can't reach a resolution we will just have to read what we like at home, if he wants to read the school books then fine but they dont allow them to choose their books at this age! Strategies to deal with boredom would be good to start with as I think its likely to pose a problem.
Mamaryllis and janleverton I agree we have lots to work on in terms of perfectionism and attainment!
Thank you extrastrongmints there is definately frustration. Waiting to see a psychologist is a year in my area. We are very lucky that the school nurse and senco have both been working with him with great success. I considered paying to see one but at this stage that is working well.

user789653241 Sat 13-Oct-18 09:13:52

To me, being an early reader is a bonus. They can use their ability to access what ever they are interested.
If the literacy is the one for your child, then it makes sense to fight with school to get him more stretched in that department.
But otherwise, there are many more options you can take. Instead of investing too much time on reading levels/books which will take only a short time and you can spend as much as you like on books dc wants to read, you can concentrate on what the dc are actually interested.

BrieAndChilli Sat 13-Oct-18 09:05:02

My son started reception with a reading (and comprehension) age of 14+ - Ed Pysch assessed him.
He still had to go through the motions of the reading levels although extremely quickly, as they needed to check that he had learnt all the correct rules etc.

To be honest he has a lot of ASD traits and he hating infants. Hated going to school as he hated the unstructured play style of it (we are in wales and it’s all learning through play, which is great for most kids but not DS1!)
School were great with him and he went into year 2 for some lessons (they wouldn’t put him any higher as socially it would not have been right for him)
He settled into juniors a bit better but he has now started secondary school and he’s like a different boy, he’s really enjoying it.

With regards to his reading we ignored the reading log (on agreement with the school) as he would have a different book in his hand every time I saw him and he mainly enjoyed factual books and absorbed knowledge like a sponge. He has other areas that needed work eg handwriting and social skills so we worked on those instead as that was a better use of our time.

I would say however that I never questioned schools methods in front of him, they need to learn that someone you have to do stuff that is boring, or beneath your level, or not what your really want to be doing. In the world of work that will happen and you need to have the skills to deal with it in a professional manner. Sometimes you have to work to the level of the rest of your team and sometimes you can shine and work above. It’s all about learning thoses sorts of skills too.

Janleverton Sat 13-Oct-18 08:38:34

That’s true - by then he was ok verbally, not great, but good enough. They did talk about moving him up a year as he’s old for the year group but socially, he was not advanced at all and it was decided between us that it would have been the worst possible thing. Much better to try and adapt within the class and also to work on areas where he wasn’t advanced but was in the correct year group for his age (social skills, maths).

user789653241 Sat 13-Oct-18 08:31:11

Janleverton, I think it really depend on the child how the school manage their reading. My ds was able to read text good enough for KS2 children easily in reception. And like your dc, he had reading age of mid teens at the start of reception.
But his verbal ability was no way near that of yr4/5 children to have meaningful discussion with them.

If OP's dc have the ability to work with children way above his own age group, then school is definitely holding him back. And I do believe those children do exist. So, if that's the case, then OP should have right to be concerned about school's approach about how they accommodate children with outlier abilities.

extrastrongmints Sat 13-Oct-18 08:11:05

regarding the reading, my experience with 2 children, both reading fluently at age 5 / Y1, is that both their (different) schools held them back, giving them books 2-4 years below their ability. It's not just about the reading books - the wider issue that the child's ability and needs have been misunderstood and all activities in school will then be pitched too low leading to frustration and boredom.
Ensuring that instruction including reading material is at a developmentally appropriate level is not pushing, it is matching - ensuring a good fit between the child's prior attainment and the provision made for them.
When there is high ability and inappropriate provision causes frustration, kids can respond in different ways. Some tolerate it fairly stoically, others become despondent, some lash out, some bottle it up in school then explode at home. It depends on the degree of mismatch and the personality and environment of the child.
Self-harm in a five year old is fairly rare. In your shoes I would be trying to see a child clinical psychologist as they can assess and advise on both the ability, the anxiety/self harm, and the possible interaction between them.

Janleverton Sat 13-Oct-18 08:01:03

My ds was very similar to mamaryliis - naturally very fluent reader, self taught etc. Reading fluency of 12-15 in reception.

I don’t actually recall him being on the reading scheme. The school were very flexible about it - he took his own books in to read. Then when they started shared reading groups later on he read with my older child’s year (different class) so in year a would potter off to year 4 for shared group reading. Year 2 would go to year 5. By year 3 there were some other really good readers in his class and the lines between his natural early talent and their ability were blurred so he was accommodated more easily (without holding back) within his year group.

I remember having a wobble about all the time they spend on phonics in early years and ks1. But actually it was a helpful addition to his own way of reading and he didn’t seem bored. He had an awesome reception teacher who had lots of daily help from her mother as a volunteer and so he’d spend a fair amount of time with her. For interest, they got him to sit some made up ks1 reading and writing tests in reception and he got full marks in reception. By year 6 he got top score in all SATS (120). I was very proud of the maths - because that wasn’t his natural forte, and was very impressed with the teaching that got him there.

I did pay for a private Ed psych in year 1 - had a tricky year there because he just wasn’t happy and didn’t gel with the teachers. Nor they with him. Best money spent - gave everyone an idea of strengths and weaknesses and the SENco who was also the deputy head made sure that there were areas for confidence boosting and stretching in reading by organising the group reading set up.

I would be concentrating on the happiness of the dc particularly as it seems here that his progress is related in part to his own competitiveness and pushing himself.

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