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Feeling guilty. Can my reception child 'catch up'?

(54 Posts)
MerryMarigold Fri 17-Jun-11 21:45:04

Bit worried about my ds1. Ok, admit that (deep down) I am a competitive parent. Never have been into all that who walked/ talked/ biked quickly business. And I don't want him to be 'top of the class', but just doing well I suppose. My ds1 is in one of the lowest groups in his school for reading, despite more than three quarters of the kids starting with English as second language. In fact even many of those kids who don't speak English at home have now overtaken him. He is in with January starters now. His teacher is always saying he's really intelligent, but he's often sent out of the class for bad behaviour and he is getting behind academically. To be fair, I haven't done lots at home as I have toddler twins, he is exhausted after school and he hates doing any reading/ writing, however fun I make it (we've made books, labelled pictures etc.).

I just wondered if/ when his behaviour settles down, whether he will be able to catch up or whether this is really going to set him back long term. Also what I can do to help him. His teacher is EXTREMELY odd and always says he's really intelligent, he will just grow out of the behaviour stuff/ being able to sit still and listen. He can certainly concentrate for ages when he wants to, but struggles when he's not interested in something. Apparently he is not interested in reading or writing, despite the fact we read lots of books. Now it's nearly the end of Reception, I just feel like he should be able to write more than his name and be able to read a bit.

I don't want to come across as a pushy parent. I think maybe my lack of pushiness hasn't helped him to be honest. I've asked the teacher a few times what we could do, but not really pestered when she's said to leave it. Now I feel guilty and that he's not where he could be. Part of me thinks, well GCSE's are a very long way away, so there's plenty of time for things to get better. But then I worry that he's going to be 'stuck' feeling like he's not able. He does say sometimes that he's not clever, and this really isn't coming from us. Is it common that kids get off to a bad start and change later?

Marne Fri 17-Jun-11 21:55:30

Of course he can catch up, he's in reception, my dd2 is the same age, i think reception is more about play and settling into a school routine. Try not to worry, he's still very young.

hopenglory Fri 17-Jun-11 22:19:36

It's reception, give him a chance, he's barely in the school and he's got years ahead of him. Just let him enjoy it and sod doing anything after school

Littlepurpleprincess Fri 17-Jun-11 22:27:02

He's just a baby, give him a break! You sound like he's about to start his GSCEs! Listen to his teacher, she obviously thinks your son is lovely and I'm quite sure she's right. smile

My DS is coming to the end of reception and can "write his name and just about read", and I am VERY proud of him. Think about what a complex process that is for such a young a mind. He's got to remember the sound, it's name, what it looks like, how to form the letter, where on the paper to put it, what order to put the letters in, to go from left to right....that's before he's even thought about writing more than one word and making sentances, and way before he's considered putting ideas down. It's incredible!

Chelseahandfull Fri 17-Jun-11 22:31:43

Personally I would work on his basic phonic work over the holidays - spend 15 mins each morning after brekkie or at bedtime. Make sure he really knows his sounds (not "muh", buh" but "mm" and "b" etc) and work on his blending to make sure he goes back next year totally primed and ready to hit class 1 running.

Niecie Fri 17-Jun-11 22:36:41

My DS1 was like your DS when he got to the end of Yr R. He managed to read about 27 words at the end of the year, significantly short of the expected number. He could barely write. He loved listening to books but just wasn't interested in reading them himself.

However, these things have a way of just clicking. The trigger will be different for different children but for my DS, it was concentrating on the key words rather than reading books that made the difference, although I read to him obviously. It was what he needed it seems because somewhere in the 1st term of Yr 1 he just started to 'get' reading and having been practically bottom of the class in Yr R he was up the top end for reading by the end of Yr 1.

So yes it is possible to get off to a bad start and for things to change. I have also seen it the other way of course - some children shoot ahead in Yr R and then everybody catches them up later. Learning isn't a smooth curve, it goes in fits and starts. Your DS is very young and there is plenty of time to catch up. I know you can't help but worry, having been there too, but if the teacher isn't worried yet then I reckon you don't need to either.

MavisEnderby Fri 17-Jun-11 22:36:56

He is just little.Don't stress.If it helps i think the teacher is right.DS was in the lower/middle sets in reception and year one.Collectively as a family we had a lot on..Dp was dying and dd was newly dx with fairly severe learning delays.Now in year 2 and since his dads death(I think cos the worst happened and we are no longer in limbo as it were) ds has "blossomed" and is now in the top set all round.I think that children all develop at different paces and you obviously have a lot on with toddler twins too.Don't beat yourself upsmile

Pancakeflipper Fri 17-Jun-11 22:38:32

Yes yes yes - he can catch up. What he needs at this age is to be happy. A happy kid will progress far easier than an unhappy child.

Don't go crazy over the hols but keep on reading and perhaps a project on something he is really into?

Year 1 is a whole different ball game. Hopefully he'll find areas of learning he really likes. Has he a different teacher next year? If so it will be like a new start for him. And don't be afraid to talk to the teacher - they've heard it all before...

RoadArt Fri 17-Jun-11 22:41:46

dont beat yourself up about it because you will pass on your anxiety to your child.

You are at the end of the school year. Next year, new teacher, new goals, new settings, slightly older.

You mention you dont have time because of your other children, but this is something that you do need to give your son. He deserves the same amount of attention. Maybe he isnt doing as well as he could because of jealousy. You need to find out the triggers for his bad behaviour in school. Once this is resolved his learning will definitely improve. The teacher has indicated he is clever, so he has worked out what has been going on aroundhim at home.

Reading and writing doesnt have to be formal. reading shop signs is a great way to start, recognising brand names and logos. Same with reading food labels, chocolates, sweets, breakfast cereal. Names on boxes of favourite toys. You can talk about these when out shopping and get him to search for particular words, ie Fire Exit, Cashier, Toilets, or whatever.
Another good way is to ask him to read to his siblings. Say you want to make him his favourite dinner and it would be good if they listened to a story, but you cant do it because you are cooking. Give him some responsibility and I am sure this will help his motivation. Give him lots of praise for doing it as well.

But most of all, dont worry. Unless he does have any learning difficulties he will be fine.

beautifulgirls Fri 17-Jun-11 22:42:40

Academically he can catch up. What I would be more concerned about is the behaviour. What are the school doing to try and help him correct this as clearly sending him out of class is not helping him? I think perhaps you need to speak to them and see what they are doing and discuss what else is possible to try and encourage better behaviour. There is a good chance that if they can help him to sort that the academic stuff will start to sort itself.

PrettyCandles Fri 17-Jun-11 22:48:20

You know what? Trust the teacher. Nothing about what the teacher has said sounds odd to me.

Your ds has had quite an upheaval, with twin babies and starting school. School, as you have observed, can be exhausting. Not every child is ready for school at the time that the calendar dictates they must begin school.

Don't pressure him, let him enjoy school. His teacher is well aware of his intelligence - it's not like you're being told "he's disruptive, he won't learn" etc. Your being told "here is an intelligent child, settling in at his own pace". And that's fine.

Personally, I would not be trying to get him to read at home just now. Share books, read to him, give him the opportunity to interact with literacy if he chooses, but take the pressure right off.

One thing I would check is his hearing. Hearing problems can easily be missed, particularly in very intelligent children.

BoysAreLikeDogs Fri 17-Jun-11 22:52:09

yy another vote here for a hearing check

turdass Fri 17-Jun-11 23:00:06

Try starfall.com for help with his phonics. My DS really loved it.

NonnoMum Fri 17-Jun-11 23:03:27

Bit worried that the teacher sends him out of the room. Not great teaching there. Ask if they have any other sanctions in place in the school.

Oh, and my DD caught up really well in Yr 1, after a not very impressive Reception - I was also really busy with two babies.

Just think - in some other countries they haven't even started school yet.

Tgger Fri 17-Jun-11 23:43:38

He is what, 5? They don't start to read/write until 6 or 7 in a lot of countries. There's a reason for that- the brain is more ready at this age. Your son is probably very intelligent and there are probably no problems at all.

As others have said he will probably fly once he is ready, you've just got to catch it. I think the best thing you can do is trust the teachers and engage with your son with whatever he is interested in.

hellymelly Fri 17-Jun-11 23:56:11

Its only reception,I would try and relax. Here (I am in West Wales) they do learning through play until seven and very little reading type stuff in reception.they don't start reading until year one and even then its all quite relaxed.From posts here I can tell the system in England is different and sounds much more pressured,which I think is really sad. My Oxford educated Scientist husband was put on the table with the children who were really struggling when he was in infant's school,he didn't want to sit still and just didn't get it at all.Relax and let him go at his own pace and he will find the right level.

southofthethames Sat 18-Jun-11 06:16:12

He could just be tired at school and needing time to adjust to routines, sitting still. Have you asked the teacher why he's being sent out of class? (what kind of bad behaviour exactly - it seems a bit harsh at this age if all it is is that he's restless). Is he also overly hungry or thirsty when he gets home? (mine gets naughty or grumpy/uncooperative when hungry, even when he claims he isn't - kids don't always know they are.....until you put a sandwich or a meal in front of them and they start wolfing it down.)

It is definitely worth asking your doctor about getting him a hearing test - many children, esp boys, may have difficulty with reading or "misbehave" when they are frustrated at not being able to hear properly. The hearing test isn't unpleasant - he'll just sit down with some headphones and hear sounds. There have been instances where children did have some mild but significant hearing loss which didn't get diagnosed till 6, and they'd struggled in earlier years.

If you feel you are tired but would like to do more, could you ask your partner or a relative (eg grandparent, aunt, etc) to read with him? Not to push him into a higher reading level as such, but just so that he can continue to get some enjoyment from it.

mrz Sat 18-Jun-11 07:54:05

I would be very concerned that he is missing his education because he is being sent out of the class and would be asking why ...
How many children and how many staff in his class? The organisation of reception should allow the teacher to support his behaviour in the classroom while ensuring he learns.

what is his physical development like? I would be considering his tiredness, limited progress and behaviour as having a possible physical cause if he were in my class.

queenrollo Sat 18-Jun-11 08:13:41

mine is Home Educated but a family member is a qualified teacher and covering his reading and maths. He'll be 6 in August.

he quite flatly refused to entertain learning to read until about 6 months ago, and now is using an online reading programme. He is very bright, but also very active and the 'sit down and learn' method is very difficult to do with him. His 'tutor' is not worried about this at all, and has worked with many boys who have been put off reading by being 'forced' to learn when they are just not ready.
DS will feign ignorance and gives the impression he can read very little.

His tutor writes the names for objects round the house (table, fridge, computer etc) and sticks the labels on. When she was pretty sure he'd figured them all out she mixed them up one day before he went round and told him the 'mix-up fairy' had been round and could he put them all in the right places. It turned out he knew 53 words!
If you want to do something at home with him over the summer to help him recognise words then maybe do this? We also do a calendar so he has to change it every day and pick the right day out of the box. Make it fun for him, and you may find he develops an interest. With many boys this is half the battle, getting them to realise that reading can be fun.

Others will give you better advice as regards behaviour in school because it's not a system I'm familiar with.

I just wanted to reassure that for bright and intelligent children it's not unusual for them not to be reading at this age/stage.

lazydog Sat 18-Jun-11 08:35:49

My ds2 has only just started reading chapter books at 8yrs old (we're not in the UK - he started formal education a year later) but he's intelligent and is easily doing maths that is 2 years ahead of his grade level. Reading just wasn't something that interested him any sooner than age 7, but then it suddenly clicked and he went from only being able to read short words (very late by UK standards) to fluently reading long and complicated sentences in just a few months...

DS1 (11) was the same and yet he is a total bookworm now. He's just sold his iPod touch that his grandparents bought him for his birthday, to get a Kindle instead grin

The hearing test thing is definitely worth investigating, but if it comes back ok, don't worry about him "catching up" - he could just be like my boys who raced through learning to read after a later than average start.

Panzee Sat 18-Jun-11 08:40:35

You need to find out what behaviour is so bad that he gets sent out of class, and what happens to him when he's not in class. That concerns me slightly.

Panzee Sat 18-Jun-11 08:41:10

Oh and my MIL who was a headteacher at several schools couldn't read till she was 8. smile

thejaffacakesareonme Sat 18-Jun-11 10:51:27

Please don't beat your self up. He's had a lot going on. How are the twins sleeping? Could he be knackered from being wakened up all the time? Like some of the others I'm a little concerned that he is being sent out of the classroom. Who is supervising him at this time? Is anyone supervising him? If he isn't in the classroom is he missing out on teaching? If he's missing out on some of the teaching then it may not be a surprise that he isn't doing as well as he might. Having said that, it is almost the end of the year and may be worth discussing with his new teacher at the start of the new term. I'd ask about sanctions and what strategies the school wish to use and how you could support them at home.

Lizcat Sat 18-Jun-11 13:24:20

I would suggest eye check too. Friend's DD really struggling to read, write and settle in class. Eye check she needs glasses and the opticians comment was no wonder she struggles her eyes and brain are working twice as hard as everyone else. Nearly a full term since the arrival of the glasses and the reading has clicked and she is much more settled in class.
Also my DD is coming towards the end of year 2 and there has been big changes since the end of reception as to who the 'bright ones are'. DD really only found her stride this year.

aries12 Sat 18-Jun-11 16:22:33

I don't think there is any need to worry, sometimes bright children take even longer to settle in school. Reception is for setling in and as long as he is happy to go to school and can make friends easily then there is no need to be overly concerned. My Dd is now in Y2. She had an unsettled first year and definately lacked concentration and had no interest in writing. She always enjoyed reading but I did not push it at all but I always read to her and spent time with her. She is now on stage 9 readers (have no idea if this is average or above...she is still only 6....late August birthday). Looking back she was immature in Reception..but then again...she was barely 4. All children develop in spurts and at different ages and sometimes things just seem to click for them. Finally a change of teacher can help as well and maybe you should seek a meeting with his new teacher in Sep. and explain your concerns. I do think that young children should not be sent out of the classroom for behavioural issues..there has to be other alternatives..

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