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A bit concerned that DS's school doesn't 'get' him...

(16 Posts)
Nottigermum Tue 23-Oct-12 12:02:18

DS is 5 and in year 1. He has special needs as he has a speech dissorder. He is very quiet and pronounces words incorrectly, and gets lots of speech therapy for his problems. He is also not very good in large groups, he just becomes very quiet.

We had our parents' evening last week, and when I asked the teacher how DS is doing at maths, she said 'he's doing OK'. Big red lights here. DS is very very good at maths. He can understand maths concepts very well, he knows most of his times tables, all his number bonds up to 10 and 20, he can easily add and subtract double and triple digit numbers, he can count up in 2s, in 3s, 5s, 10s, 15s, 20s. He can count backwards in all of those as well (imagine the look on granny's face when playing Janga when DS started counting the bricks up in threes without any hesitation, and down again counting backwards easily). We do lots of maths games with him at home, which he loves.

Am I asking too much from the school to actually spot his ability? He was at the same school in reception and I never made a fuss over his talent, but really by now, somebody should have spotted it? He is also good at reading and spelling, probably just above average, but his understanding of maths is exceptional. What do I do now?

Lancelottie Tue 23-Oct-12 12:09:32

Just wondering: do you think they understand his answers when he speaks? You know that he's saying 'thirty-three!', for instance, but would a relative stranger be able to tell?

Nottigermum Tue 23-Oct-12 12:12:33

In a large group situation, he probably would not speak at all. If it's a smaller group (maybe 5-6 children), one to one, or on paper, then he would be understood. His speech is clear enough to be understood if it's relatively quiet.

This is all in his IEP (individial educational plan) as it is know very well to the school that he will not express himself the same way as other children.

Nottigermum Tue 23-Oct-12 12:14:25

but to answer your question, and adult who doesn't know him would not be able to understand 33, especially that number as it's very hard to pronounce. He sais far instead of four, and his th are like s. He can't do Rs. But if it's a professional who is working with him every day - ie his teacher or TA - then yes they say that they do understand him.

SoupDragon Tue 23-Oct-12 12:17:02

Did you ask them to elaborate?

He may well be brilliant at maths but, if he isn't demonstrating that at school, they won't know.

difficultpickle Tue 23-Oct-12 12:32:20

He may be a completely different child to the one he is at home.

Ds spent four years in one school with me being told he was capable of more. In his last year at the school I was told by his teacher that he was near bottom of the class (child below him had SEN) and wasn't capable of any more. Outside school everyone would comment how 'bright' ds was. I figured that teacher knows best but did think it odd when ds got very good class exam results (teacher commented that maybe ds was just one of those dcs who are good at exams).

New school - ds's teacher said in passing 'as you know ds is very very bright'. He is being given extension work in all subjects and doing well. Different environment which is clearly suiting him (previous teacher was very shouty to ds and the class as a whole, new teacher never shouts).

numbum Tue 23-Oct-12 12:35:05

Did you question the teacher when she he was doing ok?

Like soupdragon said though, maybe he isn't demonstrating it at school

expansivegirth Tue 23-Oct-12 12:38:03

Putting aside whether the school should have spotted it, let's say they haven't... then perhaps it's a good idea to set up a meeting with the teacher, say you want to discuss maths, find out from her where she thinks your son is at, bring in the stuff that he does at home, acknowledge that he may not be showing his abilities off to their best in the class... and ask what she thinks is the best way forward. if she responds well, all good; if not, perhaps ask for a wider meeting with SENCO etc. I imagine it would be great for his confidence to have this ability acknowledged and built on by his teacher.

shortie3 Tue 23-Oct-12 12:55:20

Notatigermum, have you mentioned this at school as expansivegirth mentioned?

I mentioned it initially when my DS was in class R in the intro meeting and then mentioned it at the subsequent parents evening at half term. They had noticed a numbers of things and I could see in his folder, the record of comments made. They set him a separate folder of work when the others were doing maths. DS is now in year 1 and we had a meeting with SENCO early on since they had a folder of work to show his ability. He has a special lesson plan and lessons weekly with the SENCO.

Nottigermum Tue 23-Oct-12 14:22:34

I mentioned it when he was in Reception both in an IEP review and parents' evening with the teacher. The R teacher did notice that he was good with numbers but nothing came of it in practice, not in real terms. In year 1 I have written in his homework book what we do instead of, or on top of, the regular maths homework. I did mention it during our first meeting with the teacher at the beginning of the school year, but maybe numbum is right, he doesn't display his 'talent' the same way at school than he does at home.

We have another IEP review coming up after half term, but this is focused mostly around his speech issues and social development. Maybe I will try to talk directly with the teacher after school, set up a special meeting, but I am just a bit dissapointed that the school has not found a way to evaluate better, not test them as in GCSEs for 5 year olds, but at least be able to have a better understanding of their progress even if a child has problems with communications.

SoupDragon Tue 23-Oct-12 14:30:15

What did you say when the teacher said your DS was doing "OK" at maths?

RaisinBoys Tue 23-Oct-12 15:24:17

Did the teacher elaborate? "Doing ok" is not a reasonable response.

Did you ask about attainment levels, did you get to see his maths book, do you know what his targets are for this year? Do you know how they differentiate work in the class?

Make an appointment to see the teacher specifically about maths and I'd be asking about all the above as your poppet sounds very able in maths.

Good luck!

Nottigermum Tue 23-Oct-12 15:43:06

I was a bit surprised and asked her to tell me more about the maths work they were doing, and she talked about number bonds, 3d shapes, additions, maths sentences, etc. but she also said the children are having an 'evaluation' week this week (goodness knows why the school had a parents' consultation before the children's evaluations...). The targets are very vague. For maths, it is: I know all additions and subtraction facts for each number up to 10 and I can write my numbers the right way. WHich I suspect are the same objectives for most children in the class.

teacherwith2kids Tue 23-Oct-12 15:57:22

I'd have alarm bells ringing, tbh. Maths, even for children without communication difficulties, can be a tricky subject to show your ability in if you are not given explicit opportunities to do so - so if, for example, the calculations given are of the 4 + 3 = 7 type, how is the child supposed to demonstrate that they can actually add 344 + 973?

DS had a similar issue early in Reception - because Reception teachers don't routinely ask questions which discover a child's ability to add and subtract negative numbers, for example - but after a conversation with me the SENCo tested him more fully (I seem to remember she started with Year 2 SATS-type questions and then just kept moving up from there, to find things that he could do and areas of relative weakness) and things were much better.

It may be that he is not being asked hard enough questions, it may be a 'reverse halo' effect (where difficulties in one area are assumed to mean difficulties in others), it may be that he is finding it hard to show what he knows, but either way it is entirely reasonable to ask for a more detailed meeting to discuss maths in partcular, to discusss the type of work he is being given to do, to compare this to what you know he could be capable of, to explore why he might not be showing this in school and to develop a plan to move forward. If the class teacher isn't happy with this, talk to the SENCo and then to the head.

Nottigermum Tue 23-Oct-12 16:04:04

teacher, you deserve a gold star. This is why I love mumsnet.

Today on the way back from school he asked me what is the smallest negative number...

And then he told me that 50 X 50 makes 2500.


midseasonsale Tue 23-Oct-12 18:37:25

I think I would chat to the teacher - say you are worried that you think he is just doing ok. Explain that at home he can bla bla bla ...

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