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Shocked at how strict the Brit system is compared to Japan!

(32 Posts)
bristolsushi Tue 10-Jan-12 04:16:41

I have been living in Japan for 10 years. My DD who just turned 5 three months ago goes to a Japanese kindergarten. DH is Japanese. While DD is bilingual, English is weaker as she doesn't have any English speaking friends nearby. So since DD was 4 I have been teaching DD to read and write. Nothing serious... Just 15 mins 2-3 times a week- basically for fun. Have always assumed DD will go to an international school when she is nearly 7 cos japanese primary schools are just suicidally crazy/intensive. But due to circumstances,since last September, there is a possibility of relocation back to the uk sometime this year (actual date not decided... 6 - 9 months later maybe). Now, having checked the brit system, I realize formal schooling starts from 5!! Having read some threads on here, kids should have advanced reading and writing skills, know their maths, have SATs exams, loads of homework, tutoring etc. gosh.... And I thought japan was bad!! So over the winter holidays I bought Year 1 workbooks to do with DD and really upped the reading and writing. DD doesn't know what's hit her with all this new studying thing!! I feel quite overwhelmed now as I feel I need to teach the KS1 curriculum all by myself. I'm not a teacher and don't know if im doing the right thing. I even bought ORT books for the first time ( having no idea what they were until now!) and DD is at level 3... but it seems kids aged 5 in uk are around level 6-7? knowing DD is already weak in English makes me think she really won't cope at all. In Japan, 5 and 6 yr olds are still playing in the sand pit!!no formal education at all. In a big panic!!

TanteRose Tue 10-Jan-12 04:25:18

Hi bristolsushi

I am in Japan too (Kanagawa), with two DCs who go to local Jps primary and junior high schools. I personally think that Japanese primary education is one of the best in the world - very varied (top class maths/science, good cooking/woodwork skills, great art/PE schedule etc.)

I wouldn't panic - your DD will be still young enough to catch up to speed within a year or so. I would choose a school/area that has ESL assistance, though (fairly common in large cities, I would imagine)

If you push your DD too much, she might completely refuse to do ANY English - take it slowly and start by reading lots of books with her.

Good luck!

Donki Tue 10-Jan-12 04:38:56

Panic not.
Year 9 (13 year olds) at levels 6-7 would be on track to get a C at GCSE...

sashh Tue 10-Jan-12 05:44:18

Calm down.

Depending on where you relocate to you will find she catches up in no time.

In most cities in the UK you will find schools that regularly take in children with no English (they tend to be lower down the league tables because of this) there will be ESOL support.

Don't neglect the Japanese though when she is in the UK. If you have a choice of location London might offer the best choice in ESOL / keeping Japanese going.

Not all British kids have tutors / supportive parents and all the things you find on this website.

IMHO read with your daughter, talk about the differences she will find at a UK school - different uniform, different games, no bento boxes, differnet manners etc.

Basically get her ready for the change and leave t to her new teachers to do the teaching.

karatekimmi Tue 10-Jan-12 06:39:29

Level 4-5 is what I would expect children to be on when they enter secondary school at age 11. The ks2 says only go up to a level 5 so when kids leave primary school they can't be above s level 5! Her level sounds about right for her age!

mummytime Tue 10-Jan-12 06:41:41

Don't panic. British schools are pretty used (in large cities, towns with Universities, and even some quite rural places now) to children arriving at all ages (including secondary) with little English. Infant schools are quite used to the odd pupil landing who hasn't been to school yet. There is lots of research that countries where children start school later, the children do better.

Most children go to State school. Most children do not have tutors (and most who do have them for 11+ or GCSEs, or for a SEN).

MNet is not a true picture of life in the UK (just look at the threads about which Public school is best).

Try not to force the learning, read to her lots, encourage her to write if she wants to, count everything and talk about numbers, try to foster a love of learning, and relax.
Good luck!

philmassive Tue 10-Jan-12 06:44:27

Don't panic! I'm betting your dc will be absolutely fine and will have no difficulty with levels if they go to a British primary school. also, don't believe half of what you read on here about what people's dc's are capable of, there's a fair but of competitive parenting going on grin

rabbitstew Tue 10-Jan-12 06:45:49

??? I think you'll find lots of kids in the UK go to school age 5 unable to read at all and many don't even know their alphabet... It's only on mumsnet they all start out at level 6. And as for writing - try learning to write when you still hold the pencil in your fist.

ISaw3ShipsCatsComeSailingIn Tue 10-Jan-12 06:48:47

FWIW, my 5 year old DTs are on ORT levels 3 and 4 smile

goinggetstough Tue 10-Jan-12 06:53:02

Think the OP meant that her daughter is reading level 3 Oxford Reading Tree scheme books and not level 3 for SATs etc. Plus if the OP's DD was 5 years old 3 months ago she would be in reception and not year 1. So that might be why the Year 1 work books seem rather hard.
I am sure a KS1 teacher will be along soon and confirm that they would have a variety of abilities in a class and that ORT level 3 is fine at this stage.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Tue 10-Jan-12 06:54:35

Don't panic.

I am abroad and could choose the english program for DD1 (now almost 7, year 2).
I decided to delay her entry until this year, so from kindergarden straight in year 2. She started in september not able to read or write and has already caught up with her peers. She is still behind compare to a UK year 2 kid but I would guess she will be fine at the end of the year and that is due to the difference of teaching and the priorities (she is learning to read and write in the local language at the same time and has more art/craft/music...than in the UK).

Kindergarden prepared her very well to learn to write and read, her handwriting was perfect straight away because she could hold a pen properly and do complex drawing and arabesques with it.
The phonics were easy too, because of all the preparation done in Kindergarden too (and the help of the cbeebies web site).

She caught up reading by 1 year/month according to her teacher. The start was hard to be honest but it looks like your daughter is already ahead compared to mine wink.

Math is/was never a problem but that is because she is a natural so my experience is biased but she was also very well prepare by the kindergarden.

I was panicking a bit seeing that in the UK they do time table in year 2. I just realised that here they do it in music instead of math. What I mean is that they are not teaching the same way but in the end the result is the same. I lived in Japan for a bit and the teacher I knew there where impressed by the level of the children (except in foreign language of course).

I completely agree with Basically get her ready for the change and leave it to her new teachers to do the teaching.

Actually I do recommend that you get her to play on, they don't realised that the are learning.

Good luck.

EdithWeston Tue 10-Jan-12 06:56:35

As you DD turned 5 in the autumn, she would be in Reception, not year 1.

It might help if you looked on google for EYFS (early years foundation stage). What you are doing, by using year 1 textbooks, is expecting her to work a year ahead of where she would be in UK from a standing start.

When will you know for sure about the relocation? And do you expect to be joining the state sector?

TheRoundTable Tue 10-Jan-12 09:13:38

Like others have said,please do not panic! A 5year old will be in Reception now and a lot of them learn to write and read in Reception,some even in Year 1.

I moved to the UK 2years ago and literally went mad,because I allowed myself to worry that my daughter was going to be so behind and I'd never be able to do anything about it. In my country,children do formal learning really early-start learning to write in Nursery,do Tens and Units from Primary 1(we call it,here it's Yr1),answer comprehension questions from books called readers,got homework,wrote numbers up to a thousand even in Year1.

We moved quite a bit when my eldest was young, so she missed that in my country. I had to just help her at home,but absolutely no stress! I got here and I knew things were different here. I was so sure DD would be fine with learn through play,etc. The mistake I made was to think that every child had to be like the children I read about on Mumsnet/Netmums or they were failing. I started drilling my daughter even though her teacher said she was fine. We don't do targets for children in my country,so when her teacher told me what she had to learn,I thought she meant my daughter was struggling in that area and I should drill her to make sure she got it. I succeeded in putting my dd off learning and her confidence totally disappeared. That made me even panic more... Not worth it at all. Now I am trying to hands off totally. We do her homework and that's it. from time to time,we talk about something she has mentioned from school. I think she is fine. She is doing better now she is happy...

Your daughter will be okay! DD's english isn't the best,but it is tons better than it was when we got here. Please do not panic!

Takver Tue 10-Jan-12 09:33:09

Absolutely agree do not panic and do not consider MN typical!

I'm in Wales, if you can come here not England consider it as the Welsh Foundation Phase curriculum (up to end of yr 2) is fantastic, play based, child centered etc etc.

And if you could send her to a Welsh medium school then you wouldn't even have to worry that her english isn't so great wink

Tmesis Tue 10-Jan-12 09:50:42

If your DD turned 5 three months ago she'd be in Reception. So if you are doing Y1 workbooks with her you are covering stuff a whole year ahead of where she "should" be. ORT level 3 would be very good for a Reception child at this point in the school year. Also, most children that age wouldn't have any homework besides taking a reading book home.

I think you have picked out the worst/scariest bits of threads on stuff which is not particularly typical of the UK, applied them to your DD who is a whole school year younger than the children being discussed there anyway, and got yourself into a bit of a tizzy.

If your DD is going to be (from what you've written) joining a Y1 class without having been through a Reception year first, then it will be helpful for her to be able to read and write a bit -- which she can already do and no doubt will pick up more over the rest of this year on the "just for fun" basis you were doing before. It will be helpful for her to be familiar with numbers up to 20 and be able to count on and back on a number line. But there is absolutely no need to start cramming her with extra work as you are doing.

reallytired Tue 10-Jan-12 09:58:58

Please don't see mumsnet as a source of accurate infomation about children's achievement. ORT level 3 at the age of five is very respectable. A lot of mumsnetters are pathological liars about their children's achievements. Your dd is learning two languages, its going to be harder for her.

Reception in the UK is not super intense and mostly play. Your dd will have no problems.

bristolsushi Tue 10-Jan-12 10:14:22

Thanks everyone for the reassurance. You know what.... I DIDNT realize my DD should be in reception!! I emailed my enquiry to the LEA ( Bristol city council) giving DD's date of birth and THEY replied saying DD would be in year 1 !! Having double checked on the web, I realize that indeed she should be in reception... Which has calmed me down BIG TIME!!! Will check EYFS to check what she should be doing in reception. DD can do the YR1 level textbooks so I think i will just ease off and be "normal" now. DD has been eyeing me very suspiciously since I started the "intensive study" malarky!!

In the uk, I only have 2 friends with kids and they have young babies. So I'm alone with this schooling problem which was how I came upon mumsnet. I feel reassured that mumsnet isn't the typical British set up. so I guess I shouldn't start a new thread on what kids should be doing in reception on this website cos it would put me into panic mode again.......

IndieSkies Tue 10-Jan-12 10:22:05

PLease do not worry so much!
None of my DCs learned to read fluently until they were 6 (and this, believe it or not is normal / average), none have been tutored, none have done more than the bare minimum of homework asked fr by the school, and all are doing better than average.
It is clear that your DD is doing perfectly well. Just keep up gentle reading, and maybe play some maths games, counting etc.

mummytime Tue 10-Jan-12 10:22:41

In reception (as you will see if you look at the EYFS) they are mainly concentrating on social skills. Also I'm not sure if its still there but my very bright DD would have failed on the "able to use a remote control for a TV" one, because as a third child, no one let her touch the remote!

ohmygosh123 Tue 10-Jan-12 10:35:40

I was thinking about coming back to UK for year 1 and I asked the school she would have been going to.

I was told that she needed:
to be level 2 or 3 max on ORT,
know basic phonic sounds,
count and add one on / take one off on numbers up to 20 (and understand tangible maths - eg be able to put out 7 counters etc),
be able to form her letters and try spelling simple words like cat for fun if she wanted (CVC words).

They preferred children to have learned to read with a variety of simple texts, rather than gallopping through the read at home reading schemes, as they said that was a more solid foundation. However if she could do none of the above she would still be fine, as it wouldn't be the first or the last time a child came into the school in year 1 who could speak but not read or write english. And so far in their experience the kids settled down and caught up very quickly.

Finally they said that being abroad is a fantastic experience for a kid, and while we are there we should enjoy it. The other thing they suggested was to make a scrapbook with DD so that they could use it to help her fit in, so the other children knew where she had been while they were in reception. I guess a getting to know you kind of thing.

Basically as everyone else says - DONT WORRY!

unreasonablemuch Tue 10-Jan-12 10:45:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bristolsushi Tue 10-Jan-12 13:44:52

Thanks everyone for the advice.
Ohmygosh- the scrap book sounds like a great idea!

UniS Wed 11-Jan-12 20:32:03

"no bento boxes"

well, not as many, just there are a few. DS has a bento box, It has a sandwich in rather than onigiri, as he likes sandwiches. I love the box as it's so compact and easy to keep his lunch from getting jumbled up.

bristolsushi Thu 12-Jan-12 00:23:06

bento?god...I am soooooo happy the UK has a "dump a sandwich and a whole apple" lunch culture!!! Been slaving away for 2 years every morning making cute onigiri, grilled salmon, cutting rabbit shaped apples, making super mini cheese French gratin etc..need 45 minutes just to prepare her lunch every day. Definitely will NOT be missing that side of Japanese culture!!

ohmygosh123 Thu 12-Jan-12 08:24:31

Please tell me you are joking about the rabbit shaped apples - way beyond my artistic ability! Mental note - do not send child to school in Japan as mother won't be up to standard!

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