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Practitioners - how can you tell if a child is 'clever'

(14 Posts)
noagenda Mon 13-Jun-11 00:26:22

This is a genuine question and is not a boasting my stealth thread.

Please don't reply if you believe it to be such.

Have namechanged btw.

Dd is in preschool.
I had a word with her preschool practitioners last week about transition issues and spoke to them a little bit about my fears for her. She is the only one from her preschool to go to her primary school and she has a few 'issues' with initiating friendships.

They said that yes, it is an issue, but because dd isn't upset at all by a lack of close friendships they aren't concerned. They said that it is in fact dd's choice not to play with others and that she can play perfectly nicely when she chooses to.
The conversation then got on to dd's 'ability'.

Each of the practitioners (3) said that she's a very bright little girl and that she'll cope well with primary in fact, she'll be "top of the class".

Now, I'm very hmm about this as although I know she's quite canny, I wouldn't have said that she's particularly bright, or certainly not "top of the class" bright.
She doesn't know all her letters, she can't recognise all her numbers, she can't count beyond 10 etc.
OTOH she has got extensive language skills, quite a logical brain and the memory of an elephant!

So, my question is this - in the absence of knowing the 'academics', how can they be so sure that she's "a very clever little girl".

FingandJeffing Mon 13-Jun-11 00:36:49

I have no idea either. My dc seems bright enough I suppose. The nursery teacher has said similar to us. Tbh I think they are often compared to their peers. At her old nursery she was less 'bright' as they all seemed the same, all could do letters and numbers etc and several bilingual/English as additional language kids. At the current one the brightness is much more remarked on as I think the others in her class have fewer of these skills and are definitely more summer birthdays which at 4 makes a big difference.

noagenda Mon 13-Jun-11 00:42:34

She is summer born and not quite 4 yo yet, so that could make a bit of difference, I guess.

coccyx Mon 13-Jun-11 05:33:21

Oh dear, thats a word I hear a lot from early years workers. Not based on academia more that socially she can cope, which is a great thing.
Wouldn't get drawn too much into comparing your child with others. There will always be some 'brighter' and some less so. As they move through school this changes as well

Hormoneoverload Mon 13-Jun-11 07:25:47

It's really unhelpful to talk about bright or clever in children just about to start reception, it's all more about readiness, whether for academic skills like reading, writing and maths or socially and practically. Often this is what people mean anyway. I guess that's what the staff are really saying. Don't worry about levels of achievement. When she does start school, the important thing will be that your dd is engaged with and interested in what she is learning and that reading books have up to ten per cent of words to challenge. How that ranks really doesn't matter.

Bucharest Mon 13-Jun-11 07:31:00

Wait and see till she gets to school. They are the ones to know how to make the judgement if a child is "clever".

I wouldn't worry too much about her being the only one going to her new school btw, dd was the only one from her nursery to go in her primary class. I was worried sick, but she was fine from day 1.

GiddyPickle Mon 13-Jun-11 13:53:10

I would say, from personal experience only, the first way of telling if your child is clever is to wait until they are 7 years old and see then.

Being able to talk at 1 or read at 3 shows potential but it isn't a cast iron guarantee what you have a little Einstein on your hands. Other children will and do catch up or even overtake early developers.

Until 7 or 8 it seems very hard to distinguish between a clever child and a developmentally advanced child. My DS was a toddler genius (truly). He could speak in sentences by age 1. He could read and write long before he started school. He could relate number facts to problems, understood science theories and all sorts of other things. In truth it was a bit freaky! He started school streets ahead and.... gradually everyone else caught up. It's not that he hasn't progressed - he's still top group for everything (but not top of the top group) and gifted for some subjects but he is now nolonger years and years ahead of his classmates.

Children with a good memory and good problem solving skills tend to end up being considered clever but at this age you don't need to worry. Well you don't really need to worry about it at any age.
The friendships issue I am sure will be fine too. If your DD is happy to play with a variety of children rather than focus just on one friend that is fine. In fact, this aspect of her personality will probably help not hinder her in going to a new setting. At least she isn't stuck to the idea that only one person is her friend and is open to playing with different children.

fairydoll Mon 13-Jun-11 16:46:40

It is just something they say IME , I think you are reading FAR too much into it.

fairydoll Mon 13-Jun-11 16:47:40

But to answer your question, kids who cotton on to and extend new ideas are 'clever'

ShowOfHands Mon 13-Jun-11 16:51:30

Our preschool says this to all the parents bar a couple. I think what they mean, reading between the lines, is that they're ready for school. The couple that they haven't said it to, they're negotiating a staggered or part-time start for (only allowed through negotiation, otherwise you must start ft in Sept). And it's not anything to do with letters, numbers or recall, it's more to do with their readiness to be in that kind of environment for that length of time with the requisite social and physical abilities to navigate through it.

I think 'bright' in this type of situation is an umbrella term and just means ready to transition.

Carrotsandcelery Mon 13-Jun-11 17:02:53

I also think this is just something that people say and shouldn't be taken to heart too much. I suspect it was aimed to encourage and comfort you.

That is not to say that your dd won't do well and prove to be very capable.

IME children can even enter secondary school top of their class but prove not to be particularly outstanding in the long run. Some progress faster than others but reach barriers. Some progress fast all the way through. Some start slow and unremarkable and end up outstanding. It is unhelpful IMHO to label kids as it leads them to feel pressure or disappointed with themselves etc. I know this is not what you were trying to do but I am just adding my tuppence worth, having seen parents crestfallen at parents' evenings when they realise their dcs are not what they thought they were.

I hope your dd loves Reception and has a great time at school.

coccyx Mon 13-Jun-11 17:24:55

Meant to say hope she settles in well and enjoys school

noagenda Mon 13-Jun-11 20:46:49

That's pretty much as I suspected - thanks all

...and thanks for the good luck messages smile

colditz Mon 13-Jun-11 21:11:22

ds2 knew 'S' when he started school, could barley count beyond 10, and didn't recognice any number over 5.

He's on the G & T register for maths (He's now 5), and to my utter shame, when his teacher told me, I sniggered and said "You're kidding, right?"

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