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Reception aged child obsessed with being the best at reading. V worried.

(12 Posts)
boxofbugs Fri 24-Jun-11 23:11:13

Today my DD came home and sobbed for an hour, proper hiccuping, tear filled sobs, all because she is no longer the "best reader in the class".

It has happened that reading has come quite easily to DD. She only started Reception in January (that is when they start summer born children in our area) and she quickly picked up the basics and started moving up the reading levels. Each time she moved up she was the first in the class to do so. She is currently on level 7 and only one other child is on that level with her, then today that child moved to level 8 and DD didn't - hence the sobbing.

I have no idea why she thinks this matters. We have never made a big deal about reading levels and certainly not about her being "the best". I tell her I am proud of her when she moves up a level but that is it. I have never told her I am proud of her for being the first on a level or compared her progress with that of other kids.

How should I deal with her reaction and get her to understand it does not matter who is on what level as long as she is trying her best? This message needs to get through before year one or she will have an awful shock ( in our area the summer born children are in a different class to the winter borns and then at the end of Reception they mix the classes. I know the other class is stronger at reading as they are older and have had a term more schooling - so DD will have little chance of being at the top of the class next year).

2BoysTooLoud Sat 25-Jun-11 07:27:03

Is the teacher making a big deal about levels/ making kids 'aware' of whether they are higher level or not? I know kids can be aware from an early age but reception is very young and it is sad that competition kicks in so early.
I might have a word with the teacher and say that I was concerned at how much this is mattering to your DD and they may be able to monitor class attitude.

Sleepwhenidie Sat 25-Jun-11 07:39:26

I don't know what advice to give, but anyone else find that this is definitely a girl thing? I was chatting to a mum of a girl in ds1's class (yr1) the other day and she mentioned how conscious the children were of their reading levels, what colour book meant what in terms of stage etc. I was shock because DS1 is totally oblivious and couldn't care less (though seems to be progressing fine). I think this is worrying for parents of both sexes, for different reasons. It seems shocking that the stereotypical girl/boy attitudes to schoolwork seem to start so early.

Sorry for slight thread hijack....

mummytime Sat 25-Jun-11 07:48:56

It sounds as though you have a perfectionist. That means you will have to work on making it very explicit to her that you love her regardless of how she does at school. Try to praise her for things like being kind and helpful. Do also talk to her teachers about her (over) reaction. Do also be aware that if se is a perfectionist your standards and her teacher's standards may not be the ones that matter, her own internal standards may be much higher.
My DD in reception said she was "a rubbish reader" because she wasn't reading the same books as her 8 and 11 year old siblings.

Runoutofideas Sat 25-Jun-11 08:11:58

Some children are just born like it, I think! My dd is similar - very much a perfectionist and likes to win. We have had multiple tantrums when playing board games at home and she doesn't win. Now, at age 6.3 she's starting to get better at losing but it has been a long process. A good example was recently, at a school disco, the DJ gave out 2 goody bags for the best dancers, (2 out of 90 children). DD didn't win one which last year would have caused lots of tears, especially as I was there helping - she doesn't make so much fuss to her teachers - but this year she had a bit of a resigned look on her face, and that was it.

Is this just over reading levels, or generally? You may find that in Yr 1 next year she becomes better able to deal with it, especially as other children are likely to be more advanced than her. We've done a lot of talking about how people are good at different things, and that it doesn't matter if you are not "the best" as long as you are trying hard.

hawesmead5 Sat 25-Jun-11 20:17:42

Hi there
This is quite common for children who seem to have a particular talent. They are told that they are clever/smart for being able to read so well, by all who hear them (other children are often told that they are working hard or trying to improve) they then believe that when someone does better than them that they have in some way failed and that they are no longer clever or smart and it therefore has an effect on their self confindence. This is an interesting article on it www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13128701 . I discuss with my children at school that everone has to work hard to improve and the only way we can be good at something is by practicing hard.

fairydoll Sun 26-Jun-11 19:07:44

Is she competitive in other areas, or just with the reading?

JemimaMop Sun 26-Jun-11 19:34:20

I definitely think some children are just born like this. DS1 and DD are exactly the same, whereas DS2 has no idea what reading level anyone else is on and to be honest doesn't care. Ironically he is actually the one who finds reading the easiest and is furthest ahead of the "average".

As others have said you just have to teach them that being top doesn't necessarily matter, as long as they have tried their hardest.

anthonytrollopesrevenge Sun 26-Jun-11 19:38:25

Same with my DS, only he gets upset if anyone beats him at maths. He's in yr 3 and I think it is a part of him, we don't make a big thing of it at home. But this year they have had weekly times table competitions and DS is locked in a highly competitive battle with the other 2 boys who are good at maths in his class. It's tears every Thursday evening if he wasn't top in the test, but then again he has excellent mental maths skills that will last for life as a result.

boxofbugs Sun 26-Jun-11 20:08:39

Thanks for all the tips. She is not competitive in other areas, or not particularly so, she is certainly not competitive at physical activities but its hard to say about other academic areas as she is only in Reception!

This weekend she wanted to read her reading book every few hours "because I must get better Mummy". She kept covering up the level 7 and telling me it really said level 8 under her thumb. I kept saying it did not matter what level it said as long as she enjoyed reading it and tried hard and she looked a bit crestfallen and said "I am not sure you really understand about reading" confused.

I will continue to praise hard work rather than high achievement. I just fear for her. She is an end of August baby, so the very youngest in a school year of 60, and that is going to hit home hard next year if she sets her heart on being "the best".

Isitreally Mon 27-Jun-11 10:26:49

We had this and it turned out that the school was encouraging it (well they said they weren't but it felt that way):
The way it worked was that there were only 7 or 8 children in the "top" group for reading so if a child in the middle group ploughed ahead, a child on the top table would have to swap with places them. And the ability groups were on the classroom wall on a laminated sheet written in white board marker so they could be rubbed out and swapped more easily. It created a frantic state amongst some children (mainly the conscientious girls) whereby they were aware that any second they could be ousted from the top table and publically shamed (as conscientious girls see it) into the bargain.
They had the same system for my DS who is older but he didn’t care. I don’t know if or how many times he was bounced down from the top table and back up again but I know every time it happened to DD because we’d have weekends of sobbing, refusing to read and her pleading with us to go in and ask for her to be put up a level!
I’m not saying your school are quite this –-insane—differentiated but it might be worth checking with her how she knows when other children have gone up a level.

skybluepearl Mon 27-Jun-11 23:08:35

can you make more out of just enjoying the content of the books? just an idea. can you be a little daft and stick a new number on the back - say 77? tell her she reads the most beautifully!

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