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Year 1 maths - does setting matter?

(10 Posts)
poisondwarf Sat 23-Mar-13 13:05:20

DS has never been one of those children who has a natural interest in or flair for numbers, although he is a bright boy. At home we've tended to concentrate more on the reading side of things and haven't really paid as much attention to maths & writing tbh. He loves reading but hates putting pen to paper.

Lately we've been trying to help a bit more on with maths & writing but he's extremely reluctant with both and it's difficult to get the balance right between supporting his learning and making all our lives a flipping misery.

We had DS's learning conference yesterday. He's recently been moved down from the 2nd set to the 3rd in maths (out of 5 sets). We were aware that they've just done their maths assessments and so we asked whether there'd been a noticeable drop since the last assessment.

The teacher explained that by the end of Year 1 they expect to reach level 1a or 2c and he will have achieved probably a 1b in his assessment. Then she went to get his assessment and it turned out to be a 2c. I was a bit surprised she didn't even have a vague idea of his level tbh but she only teaches him 3 days I suppose (job share) - she was at pains to point out that it was the other teacher who had moved him down, not her.

She said that in class he'll be given say a set of 10 sums and he'll get through 2 of them and that's why he's been moved down. I know exactly what she means - he won't do them until he's threatened etc. but when he finally does them he's fine. But will moving him down help? Surely it will just mean he's doing 2 sums out of 10 in a lower group but that's not really going to motivate him is it?

Does that sound like the right approach from the teachers? And if so, will he just end up at the bottom of the class eventually even though he's obviously reasonably able?

And what should we be doing at home? Our experiences with the school so far have been that if we leave it to the teachers they are happy to let him drift along so although I'd much prefer to leave them to it my instinct says we wouldn't be doing DS any favours.

Also (sorry this is getting long now) - in your experiences will he grow out of this not wanting to put pen to paper (he turns 6 next week)? Am I worrying about nothing?

A little perspective Experiences please!

redskyatnight Sat 23-Mar-13 13:34:55

I'm not sure if you mean sets (which would be across the year group) or streaming (within the class)? If it's the latter then there will be big overlap between what the groups do (or different groups will even do the same thing), so moving down a group doesn't mean he will do different work. Does the lower group get more support? (I guess if there was an adult there prompting him that would be helpful).

At level 2c it sounds as though he is doing very well for his age so I wouldn't worry too much. My DS hated having to use a pencil at that age too (he still does - he's nearly 9) but as he got older he did understand that there was an expectation that he had to write so much.

poisondwarf Sat 23-Mar-13 13:56:16

Thanks redsky. Yes, it's just within the class. You could well be right about him getting more nagging support in the lower group - that would make sense and might actually work.

Reassuring to hear that your DS's attitude has changed (to his work if not to pencils) - I think it's going to be a long, uphill struggle with DS.

Clothqueen Sat 23-Mar-13 14:58:00

My son had some problems with focus in year 1 and I knew he was able to do maths. I stopped worrying too much about sets and focused on getting him to enjoy numbers a bit more at home and see why they are exciting. If he likes reading there are some great books you can get which he can read and learn about maths. I think I got them off eBay/amazon for around £4 each they are called mathstart ( yes they are American so I did not get the money one!) by Stuart J Murphy. He loved all of them. I also bought numbershark yes pricey but really worth it but if that's too much other sites here like matheletics are great to make maths exciting with games format. He did these for 10-15 mins three times a week. He improved dramatically and the school noticed and it was not stressful at all.

Clothqueen Sat 23-Mar-13 15:05:58

Re the writing boys are often not keen to write. If you make it relevant and fun though they will, just leave scraps of paper around and play some detective games. Also play consequences as a family, its an old game but my son did not notice mum was getting him to write! He loved the game so he had to write. One other tip, if he loves reading get him to pick a few lines out of his favourite book and then you read it to him and he can write it out. Just a few lines. Does not matter if he spells stuff wrong, it just might get him writing and they learn spelling and punctuation this way. Trick is they have to choose and then they have the control and then they are much more likely to do it,!!!

Elibean Sat 23-Mar-13 16:41:31

dd2 is in Y1 and was moved from top set to second set in maths a short time ago, because she was losing confidence trying to do maths with a couple of the other kids in the top set (who are all having tutoring/extra help for entry into selective private schools, as it happens). She is doing the same work, but with more support and consolidation - so her confidence builds.

poisondwarf Sat 23-Mar-13 21:43:37

Thanks for the replies. The books sound good Clothqueen - will definitely check those out & I'm going to check out a few online resources as well.

On the writing I agree on making it relevant & fun. For example this week we've been making a Little Book of Lies, which is just loads of made up facts which he has to invent. He was initially really into it but he's now figured out it's a writing exercise so he doesn't want to do it any more. Consequences sounds like a good idea.

Interesting to hear that DD was moved to boost her confidence Elibean. I can see how that might work although I think it might have had the opposite effect with DS - I think he's got it into his head that he's struggling with maths now. Will have to work on that I think.

PastSellByDate Mon 25-Mar-13 11:13:48

Hi poisondwarf:

At some point someone on MN posted this link: - I've used this to make sheets with key words/ spelling words to practice letter formation/ writing skills as well. DD2 (now Y3) was struggling with joined up writing (which I know will be an issue much later) but we found there were lots of workbooks for print & cursive writing practice - available most bookshops/ newsagents/ amazon - on amazon you can sometimes 'look inside'. DD2 has found practice (a page or two) whilst waiting for DD1 to finish lesson or after school club really useful. Keeps her busy whilst she's waiting and her handwriting is much improved.

With maths there are a lot of on-line free games that are great to help practice concepts & build skills:

Woodlands Junior School Maths Zones has all sorts of games - just chose calculation skill you want to work on:

Mumnset has a link through their learning pages to Mathschamps - play games by age - lots of great practice there:

If your school has an offer to join education city or something similar - there's lots of maths games there.

Try card games: oddly enough playing '21' or black jack is a great skill for adding up to 21 (and somewhat beyond - although you don't want that). Great to play open hands as a family and let your DS do his own adding, with support.

Snakes & ladders is great practice for addition (playing forward) - bigger numbers can be achieved by adding dice. Play it backwards for practice on subtraction.

BBC Learning is a Beta version (under construction) of a website to support students/ teachers/ schools. Here's the link to KS1 mathematics: There's lots of worksheets & games you can explore - it takes a bit a research but often helps when there's a particular area your DC is struggling with.

From Year 2, BBC Bitesize KS1 (practice for SATs) is really useful because it is reviewing those key calculation skills for the end of Y2 assessments:

Year 1 is early days - you've identified that progress is slow and are trying to find ways and means to help. Keep showing your DS you believe he can do it - it's just a matter of cracking it - once he understands how to do things it's easy really. With each little success he'll gain confidence and it will be easier. My DD1 was in a very similar place in year 1 - we got through. It was a lot of hard work - but it can be done.


Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 11:20:23

Yes, PoisonDwarf, I can see how that could happen (re confidence).

dd told me about the change with a big question mark in her voice and eyes, as if to check out if I thought it was a Bad Thing or not! I did some careful talking with her about it all, and we talked to her teacher too - which was very helpful - and now she is happy and tells me, with great authority, that people move up and down between groups, that she is in a group with good friends, and that she is there to help her not panic about maths grin

poisondwarf Tue 26-Mar-13 20:40:56

Thanks so much for all those links PSBD - I will check them out. We have a weekend away in a caravan coming up and given this hideous weather I can definitely feel some card games coming on too.

Yes I think Elibean we might have been to blame for knocking his confidence by making a bigger deal about it than we had to I suppose, so we've got some work to do there.

Apparently he has been working better in class in the last couple of days but I'm not holding my breath...

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