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When do schools 'stretch' more able children?

(84 Posts)
Feelingsensitive Wed 10-Nov-10 11:39:20

Possibly going to be flamed but this is a genuine question. DD is in reception and according to her teacher and previous nursery is 'very able'. She is basically reading/writing/doing maths about a year ahead. She is my first born so I am new to this. At parents evening the teacher said she didnt want to start sending reading books home until after Xmas when they all start learning to read as then she will have loads of requests from other parents to do the same. I can see where she is coming from and am happy to just read at home using library books. The only thing is it sounds to me that DD is not having anything tailored to her abilities. Now I am not suggesting she should be sent home with 'War and Peace' and it could be that her abilities are not even that remarkeable or they all even out at the end of the year. However, this is the second time I have been told she is working about a year ahead of her age group. Should I be asking the school for her to be pushed a bit more or does that come later? Common sense would suggest it shoud come later as they are all still so young and she loves school so I want it to stay that way. I have friends who are teachers but I dont want to ask in case I come across as a prat. Any advice would be appreciated. As long its not too much about me being a PFB pushy mother grin

redskyatnight Wed 10-Nov-10 11:49:46

Reception is mostly play based. So the school you encourage her to develop the activities she chooses to stretch her.

Example - my Reception age DD was playing shops and decided to label and price all the items in the shop (DD can form letters but not really use them to write words). Easy to extend this activity to include more writing, adding up etc.

Also, IMO Reception is a lot about making friends, learning to get on with other children, understanding the "rules", being able to sit and listen plus "practical" skills like putting her own coat on, managing her own hygiene etc. Obviously you don't want her to get bored at school, but sounds like that is not the case?

piscesmoon Wed 10-Nov-10 11:55:27

As your friends who are teachers-they won't mind. I agree with redskyatnight.Read at home. She will get down to more formal stuff and be 'stretched' next year.

domesticsluttery Wed 10-Nov-10 11:56:35

My DD is also in Reception and in a similar position. She is working well above average (I have no idea whether other children in her class are too) and is reading, writing, doing sums etc. Maybe though because she is my 3rd DC I am very laid back about this.

Your DD's teacher is quite right about sending books home, there will always be one or two parents who will go in demanding to know why their child hasn't been given one when your child has. It is far better to wait until everyone is ready (and then they can just all fall out about what reading level their children are on!).

IME as a parent and as a nursery school teacher the Foundation Phase curriculum allows plenty of scope for stretching more able children within the realms of play. So as long as she is not complaining of being bored or having to keep doing things which she has done before then I would leave things as they are.

DD seems perfectly happy in Reception. Yesterday she took in a toy duck because it started with a "D" and that is their letter of the week. I have to admit that I was a bit hmm as this was something she could have done 12 months ago, but she was delighted that the teacher had put her on the star for doing something good. She is learning, and she writes sentences about things where perhaps some children are colouring in pictures. As long as she is happy then I am happy.

DS1 and DS2 both started having properly differentiated work in Year 1, so it does come. As you say, their positions within teh class may well have changed by then anyway as some plateau and others catch up.

zapostrophe Wed 10-Nov-10 12:00:39

Message withdrawn

earlycomputers Wed 10-Nov-10 12:07:31

I can completely sympathise - you probably saw my post on sats yesterday? I got hunted down by swathes of witchhunters who clearly have no idea. It seems the education system today is all out for helping slower kids but if youv'e got a kid whose above average ability then teachers dont seem to want to make extra work for themselves by stretching those kids. I thinks its just a real shame not to extend the bright ones, but apparently I seem to be in the minority. Teachers, I think, work to their minimum set targets (ie catering to the below or average level pupil) and anyone outside this band are left alone.
People seem to also think that because you want to give your child harder (not extra) maths or english you are somehow a hothousing pushy parent whose child will have a miserable play-free childhood.
I would either read etc with her at home or put her in a dif school.

piscesmoon Wed 10-Nov-10 12:12:26

You were not witch hunted earlycomputers!!! You made an OP- having taken a very silly course of action-truanting your DD, and didn't come back with further information.
Teachers, I can assure you, do not work to minimum set targets and leave everyone else out!!! (Not unless it is a very bad school).
If you start a thread and absolutely everyone disagrees with you can be sure that you are wrong!
redskyatnight with the first reply on this thread had excellent advice.

domesticsluttery Wed 10-Nov-10 12:18:44

Sorry earlycomputers but IME that is total rubbish.

As I said earlier I have 3 DC. DS1, who is 8, is fairly bright all round and has been given extension work at the level of the year above since Year 1. DS2, who is 6, is exceptionally good at reading and the school are sorting out providing SENCO help for him as it isn't realistic for a Year 2 child to be in with a Year 5 or 6 class, which is the level at which he reads.

My experience of the support which my older two have had in the school (which is a fairly run of the mill village state primary) means that I am not overly worried about DD not being stretched in Reception.

You must have been very unfortunate in your dealings with teachers, as not one of the teachers who have taught any of my three have tried to avoid extra work by not giving them ability appropriate activities.

Tikitikitembo Wed 10-Nov-10 12:22:04

There are always a few children in every reception class that are way ahead of average. Some will be reading Harry Potter and some learning their own name.

Reception about preparing children for the rest of their school life and the routines/social aspects of that. You can let your child read and write at any level at home. Let them get used to school life for a while. Despite what you may think the "advanced" children are rarely actually "bored" because they are far too busy.

Feelingsensitive Wed 10-Nov-10 12:41:50

Thanks to you all. DD is definately not bored. She doesnt seem to mind a bit that she is doing things she is already knows as its recapping for her. She also extends herself in a way. Like this week, she wrote out the shopping list when they were playing shops. Her teacher is great and already has a grasp on DDs abilities despite the short time she has been there. Who knows she maybe just developmentally ahead rather than overly bright. I guess the next year will tell more. All very interesting as i was hopeless at school!

vanitypear Wed 10-Nov-10 12:42:02

Shame. We've been told the same about DD and her teacher has already been working quite hard to ensure she is on the right reading level and is bringing the right things home, listening to her weekly etc. I don't think what other parents think is a valid reason not to send books home - at the same time at least she has noticed. Perhaps keep up the work at home for now and if things haven't improved a few weeks into next term, take it up with her again?

spanieleyes Wed 10-Nov-10 12:51:39

We set in my small village primary for maths. I teach top set maths and have children in my group from yr 4 to year 6 .

My "target" is not to reach a minimum set limit but to ensure that every child makes AT LEAST an agreed amount of progress from wherever they start, the more progress they make, the more brownie points I get! ALL performance management targets I have ever seen are based on this same premis, how much "value" can you add to every child whilst they are in your care ( value being the awful term we have to use to measure a child's progress!) So the child I have working at level 5 has to make as much progress as the child working at level 3, otherwise I'm not adding enough value! It's not a case of get them to level 5 and stop!

domesticsluttery Wed 10-Nov-10 12:54:47

Do all of the Reception class have reading books home right from the start though vanitypear ? I can see that if all of the children have reading books it would make sense to ensure that your DC was on the right level, but if the standard practice is that they don't bring them home until after Christmas, or even until Year 1, then it would be a potential minefield to let one or two children out of a class of 20+ bring one home.

My DD's reading is not suffering by not having school books home to read. We have books at home and she visits the library frequently. If she wants to read something to me then she can.

Learning doesn't have to come from traditional 3 R type activities. As you say Feelingsensitive children are very good at extending activities themselves.

Cortina Wed 10-Nov-10 12:58:42

Last year I was told by the teacher she would get DS 'to where he needed to get to'. I wanted him to go far beyond that's the thing.

So far he's seen as very middle of the road. A seemingly arbitrary decision, it seemed to me, was made about who to extend. Some children went into the Y2 classroom in Y1 to be 'extended' with their reading and some didn't. I would say that a great many more would have benefitted from similar 'extension'.

This year things seem to be being run very well by a much more competent and professional teacher.

lovecheese Wed 10-Nov-10 13:12:17

But Cortina if your DS is "Middle of the road" as you say, then why should he have been one of the ones selected to go into YR2?? Surely common sense dictates that only the top - at that particular time - should be extended?

lovecheese Wed 10-Nov-10 13:17:39

BTW not intending to sound argumentative, I'm really not; In my YR2 DD's year there are a few children who have extra reading once a week. This was also done last year. However, one or two who did it last year are not involved now. I anticipate a couple of these parents making an issue of it, but children spurt and plateau at different rates and if their child is not one of the ones chosen this year, then sorry to be blunt, but tough - other kids have clearly overtaken them and should be given the opportunity.

Cortina Wed 10-Nov-10 13:20:17

Thing is why shouldn't 'middle of the road' be extended? In terms of DS's reading ability then I'd say he was practically on a par with a couple of those who were 'extended' (I was a parent helper last year). He was 'middle of the road' at school but at home was demonstrating excellent comprehension and reading skills. A lack of confidence on his part and being one of the youngest mean the rarely spoke up in class or demonstrated anything like his true ability/potential.

Of course I am no expert of course and I like to think all should be extended. Would DS's reading & that of others have improved if given the same time and attention? Unquestionably, yes. Reading is simply learning to decode after all. Comprehension also can be learned and encouraged.

domesticsluttery Wed 10-Nov-10 13:25:18

I always thought that the children at the "top" and the "bottom" of the class (for want of better terms) were the ones who needed extra help. The ordinary teaching should be at the right level of the children in the middle, and therefore stretching them. It is the ones who are struggling at that level and the ones who are not stretched at that level who need extra support.

A good teacher should be able to spot a child's potential even if they are quiet and shy.

piscesmoon Wed 10-Nov-10 13:39:39

It really isn't a race! My DS was in the bottom maths group all through primary school, he was getting the grounding, and he out performed most of the top group with his A at A'level.
Being shy doesn't hide a DCs ability-many of the 'top' performers don't speak up in class.
A reception class will indeed contain those who read Harry Potter to those who can't recognise a letter, but by 10yrs you won't be able to tell which was which(unless they still have problems with decoding).
Reading scheme books are a tool, the teacher will use them when ready-in the meantime use the library.
Reception is important for life skills, washing own hands, getting changed for PE etc, making friends and learning to share, coperate and listen to others, becoming enthusiastic and wanting to learn. Let them get on with it and next year it will become more formal.
I think there is a lot to be said for the countries that start formal education at 7yrs. If she is happy, likes school and isn't bored she is fine and will thrive with 'stretching' (I always imagine elastic!)later.

Cortina Wed 10-Nov-10 13:40:12

I agree. It's difficult for a teacher to do this in a large, lively and possibly disruptive classroom situation.

I find it really interesting to debate these sort of issues.

If we are just talking about reading and you decide on a group that you are going to stretch, where do you draw the line? If we are talking about an exceptionally able child/children that is/are working way, way beyond the general level of the classroom I can see that this might merit a different approach but otherwise?

piscesmoon Wed 10-Nov-10 13:41:18

sorry cooperate

civil Wed 10-Nov-10 13:42:20

It varies hughly when and how primary schools send out reading books. Especially in reception. However, it causes lots of anxiety and discussion amongst school-starter parents who all panic about whether they made the right school choice!

So, I wouldn't worry about your dd now.

Our school sent books out from Oct half term. Then they - sensibly in my opinion - allowed children to progress at their own pace. E.g. some were allowed to zoom ahead, others had to read every book.

lovecheese Wed 10-Nov-10 13:42:54

Cortina, domesticsluttery has just said exactly what I was going to.

domesticsluttery Wed 10-Nov-10 13:44:06

Agree with yoy piscesmoon about life skills in Reception.

DD, who can read, write in sentences, do simple sums etc, learnt how to put her tights on herself this week. This is a far more useful skill at this moment in time, as it means she will be allowed to wear tights on PE day and her legs won't get cold walking to school grin

piscesmoon Wed 10-Nov-10 13:46:53

I remember when my DS was in reception the teacher got very frustrated and said that any DC who could add 2 numbers, vertically, in their head ought to be able to hang their coat up!!

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