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Math and spellings in Y5... should I be worried?

(43 Posts)
DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 09:48:56

This is what is being given out:

'find half of 10', find 1/2 of 20' (8 questions), 'find 1/4 of 12', 'find 1/4 of 40' (8 questions), find '1/3 of 9', 'find 1/3 of 15' (8 questions)'. This is first Math homework home for 3 years as apparently 'it's all done in class'.
Still working on 3 times table.

much, line, too, old, puppy, rabbit, same, boy, book etc
10 each week. No test.

Apparently, child is 'not behind'.

They are having a laugh, right?
Should I be seriously worried?

Gremlingirl Tue 03-Feb-15 09:51:06

My son, who is in year four, did his spellings last night and they are working on words like interaction, antibacterial and interview and he's not particularly bright - these are the spelling that a&e given to the whole class. The words and the maths do sound very simple. Are they streamed at school?

DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 10:04:15

there are four different groups.
child is in next to bottom group.
no 'learning difficulties' or learning support.
told child is 'on target' sad

Gremlingirl Tue 03-Feb-15 10:09:40

I'm sure some people who actually know about these things will be along soon - I only have my experience of how it is at the schools my children have attended (forces family so have been to a few!)
How does your son manage with the spellings and maths he's being given? There's no point in them giving him more difficult ones if he wouldn't manage them but if he's finding them very easy, it seems odd they are not pushing him a bit more.
Do you do stuff with him at home outside homework? You can get workbooks from libraries or book shops and that might give you an idea of what he can do as well. Or ask for an appointment with his teacher to discuss it and ask where they expect him to be at the end of year 6. The target is for all children to achieve a level 4b at the end of year 6 but that sounds quite a way off.

cingolimama Tue 03-Feb-15 10:12:24

OP, I would be worried. "On target" or the dreadful "he's right where he should be" is about pigeon-holing children based on KS1 SATS, rather than helping them to reach their potential.

Fortunately, you can do something about it: work with your DC at home to improve their skills and confidence. Hire a tutor if you can afford it/wish to. Unfortunately, the school is unlikely to deal with this effectively if your DC is reaching their pitifully low target.

Good luck.

amidaiwish Tue 03-Feb-15 10:15:39

yes i would be worried.
looks more like yr3 stuff.
DD2 is yr4 and middle group for spellings. this week they included desperate, business, bicycle, believe, complete etc...
get a 8-9 or 9-10 maths bond book and see how he gets on. they are a very good indication imo.

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Feb-15 10:15:46


I suppose the question is whether your DS was struggling with that maths homework or not. If it was a struggle for him - then yes that's a worrying sign. If he could do it easily - then that is as expected for a Year 5 pupil.

The significance of tables is difficult because ability tables are dependent on that class cohort and it may be a very bright year, for example.

The spellings do seem a bit on the easy side.

My advice is have a serious look at what the government feels Year 5 pupils should be able to do:

for maths - new maths curriculum programme of study here (just scroll down to Year 5): - bear in mind this is what will be covered during Year 5 and presumably mastered by the end of that year.

for spelling- have a look at this: - page 16 is a list for Years 3/4 and page 23 is a list of spelling words a Year 5/6 pupil should be able to handle.

There are tons of workbooks out there but oddly enough we found the CGP literacy workbooks (at most bookstores/ newsagents/ amazon/ etc...) which worked through various grammar rules (so why Y changes to ie and exceptions) really helpful.

With maths - the key thing is to get them to a point where they can add/ subtract/ multiply/ divide up to 2 digit numbers from 3 digit numbers. So that's the end goal and you can determine where on the spectrum you are. A great free resource for practice is woodlands junior school maths zone: - just select the area of maths you need to work on and have an explore of the games/ resources there.


amidaiwish Tue 03-Feb-15 10:17:27

re times tables, by yr5 i would expect them to be testing all 12 tables together, multiply and divide, mixed up.

YvesJutteau Tue 03-Feb-15 10:17:27

DS is Y5. This week's spellings are on "ur" -- absurd, burglar, burgle, further, gurgle, hurdle, hurl, hurtle, murder, murmur, occur, occurred, purchase, pursue, purpose, suburb, surge, surgeon, surprise, survey. Last week was doubled letters -- address, attic, beginning, butterfly, dagger, dinner, disappear, disappoint, disappointed, embarrass, fitted, filled, foggy, happen, hidden, jewellery, mammal, narrative, recommend, slipped.

In maths they've been doing area and perimeter and are now working on pie charts.

DD1 is in Y2 (middle group of five) and that maths homework is easier than what she's been doing.

What are they doing in class? It's possible that the teacher is deliberately setting very easy homework (because doesn't agree with homework but has been pressured to set some) but they are doing more challenging stuff in class... maybe...?

DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 10:23:54

Hi again,
thanks for this.
The school is poor.
No idea what they are doing in class.
Work is not available to see, even on parents evening, or by written request.
My younger child is also struggling - doesn't want to even go in for the days they have writing. Teacher's response was to shrug and say: 'if she puts her head in her hands and cries what am I supposed to do'. This has been happening routinely apparently.
So, the school is poor. Other parents agree.

Younger child will do homework fairly happily.
Older child cries, refuses, gets very very upset. HATES it. Throws workbooks, hits self on head, says: 'I'm too stupid' etc.
Will do no work with us at all.
Thinking of moving into the English system (we are in UK but not England) but am worried child will sink like stone and fragile confidence will be destroyed.

amidaiwish Tue 03-Feb-15 10:39:06

sounds like you need to build the older child's confidence up. start with some easy workbooks that he can do, Lett's do some good themed ones which are more fun.
good luck. and yes if you can i would try and move them. i know easier said than done. or could you get/afford a tutor 1:1 might just do the trick.

DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 10:41:26

amidaiwish - he wont do work AT ALL at home.

Those maths Qu's could take him 3 hours.
The spellings could take 2...

This is tears and shouting (child not me!).x

Medoc Tue 03-Feb-15 10:52:36

He is presumably upset and refusing to work because of perceived pressure of getting it wrong?
Or has he always refused to work at home?
FWIW that's the kind of work my Y1
DC is doing.
Re the halving, go back to basics with him, use visual props (cake, pie, pizza whatever) and make sure he understands the relationship between multiplying and dividing.
can you change schools at all? Are there options?
really halving

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Feb-15 10:55:38

Dopey from what you describe it sounds like he's seriously struggling in maths and is a bit overwhelmed by work. His negative reaction is probably understandable - he's frustrated - but you're going to have to work out what the 'hurdles' are and work away on them. It won't be easy - but it obviously is concerning you and you want to help...

so perhaps use games to help -

if addition/ subtraction is week - try playing game of SNAP. Write a target number (say 20 - I tend to write it on a post-it note or scrap of paper and place it by deck) - shuffle the deck - Ace = 1/ 2-9 as marked/ Jack,Queen & King = 10) - flip a card - say it's 8.

First to shout out answer to 20 + 8 or 20 - 8 (you decide whether addition or subtraction) wins the card. Play through deck and the winner is the one with most cards.


Snakes & ladders - but play with two dice (so numbers up to 12) - may have to play the board more than once.


Does your DS like video games? if so try things like maths champs (which is free): - now this is set up by age ranges and this can upset a child when they're working on things for younger children (as it did my DD1 - but tell them nobody will know and it's good fun anyway isn't it?).

with multiplication - try something like Timez Attack - which shows both multiple additions (so 4 x 4 is counted up as 4/8/12/16) and then traditional vertical multiplication problem. There is a free version with two platforms - you can by multi platform verisons but we found free version was fine:

Another useful free website is multiplication dot com: - lots of games there to try.


If you feel the issue is that core concepts are not understood - so he needs tuition (someone clearly explaining step by step what to do) - consider something like an on-line tutorial. Many here (including me) have posted about how this has helped. There's tons out there maths whizz/ komodo maths/ mathletics/ Maths factor/ Khan academy (this is free) - have a look and see which one appeals most to your son - because they're all very different. Most offer example lessons or free trials.


Spelling is less of an issue - but really work this year on his reading skills/ comprehension skills. Read with him nightly - 20 minutes a night really adds up. Talk about what new words mean/ what he thinks might happen next/ his opinion of characters etc....

If writing is an issue - encourage little things -

fan letters to tv shows/ authors
entrance to competitions
making his own comic strips
thank you letters
post cards to friends

also don't rule out things like magazines - there's often a lot of reading/ maths tucked away in children's magazines with stories/ quizzes/ competitions/ etc... to get involved in. It's all learning - it just doesn't feel like it.


DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 11:05:15

pastsellbydate - Wow - thanks, loads of ideas and links there.
Really appreciate it.

Yes, he has refused to work at home since he went to school 6 years ago.
He already repeated Y1 as he couldn't cope at all.

He wont do anything at home. Nothing. Says he has 'had enough at school'. He will cry and go to bed.

Yet, he reads voraciously. Built his own pc from parts at Xmas.
vocab was tested age 7 - it was in the age 18-25 bracket.
He is super bright.

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Feb-15 13:00:07


this sounds very complex - and also slightly lopsided ability there - hugely ahead reading/ comprehension/ vocabulary but struggling in mathematics.

The tears and shouting is frustration - nobody likes something that is difficult and it can become 'a thing' - it's hard - and naturally they would prefer not to do it. But you have to determine if something can be done or not.

Being exhausted after a day at school sounds like there may be other issues as well - sensory overload, fatigue from having to sit still/ behave all day/ etc.... So I get that you have a tired, angry boy coming home and probably the best thing for everybody is to let him rest. (one note of caution is do check how much sleep he is getting. If he's staying up late reading and going to school tired, that could well be part of the problem).

What I will say is if your son is good at languages then assure him that maths is just like a foreign language - it has rules, grammar, structure and is used to express activities - combining two groups of things (expressed as addition - indicated by numbers of item 1 + numbers of item 2 = total number). The position of digits within numbers indicates value - so in the number 3486 the 4 indicates 4 hundreds and the 6 indicates 6 units. Breaking this code is what your son needs to start doing.

He may find it easier if it is shown visually - with objects.

I think the first order of business for you is to determine whether this is a 'learning issue' - i.e. numbers dancing on the page/ reversing/ switching constantly befuddling him and resulting in wrong answers (the teacher may be able to help there - often constant silly mistakes is a good sign of this problem). Or whether it's a case of core maths skills are shaky or even missing. As I said there are all sorts of on-line tutorials and silly as it sounds - doing a bit at home (even if only 30 minutes in two installments of 15 minutes each weekend) can cumulatively make a big difference - with the proviso that this issue isn't SEN related.


Killasandra Tue 03-Feb-15 13:00:36

You are describing a classically dyslexic child.

You have to understand what the teacher means by 'on target'. If she means 'on target for your child', that is different to 'on target for his year group'

eg if a child is expected to make 2 sublevels a year, then if they start the year at 2c and finish on a 2a, they are 'on target' - regardless whether they are in Y1 or Y6.

It's only at the externally marked Y6 SATS that you can actually tell how your child is doing, if school choose to not be honest and open with you.

I know plenty of examples where school said, don't worry he's doing fine / well for years and years. Then SATs came out, child did badly, and nothing. Child's left school. There is nothing the parent can do about the fact that school lied to them for years.

Tanaqui Tue 03-Feb-15 13:16:36

If it's that he can't do it, that suggests a sen like dyslexia or dyspraxia.

If it's that he won't do it, that might be more along the lines of autism, though could be poor behaviour resulting from the sen, or could be poor behaviour full stop. How is he with other boring chores?

tigrou Tue 03-Feb-15 13:19:25

I also thought this sounds like dyslexia in a gifted child. My DD was/is the same. MASSIVE frustration because they can't do what they can so easily understand. Voracious reader because they have a real compulsion - but often read from context clues not grasp of phonics, so spelling is very weak. DD would get most of the spellings you list wrong. And the mere mention of times tables brings on nervous diarrhea!
In your place, I would get an independent evaluation done and find out what support he needs. The school is obviously not meeting his needs either in terms of his strengths or his weaknesses - and both are equally important.

YvesJutteau Tue 03-Feb-15 13:27:42

If there's a big discrepancy between his spoken and written vocabulary then that's a classic marker for dyslexia. Gifted dyslexics often go undiagnosed because they have developed their own coping strategies to enable them to muddle along "well enough" at school and everyone misses that they have so much more untapped potential.

DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 13:34:24

Hi again.

This child is apparently 'on target' for age group, even though he is sitting in a class with kids up to 2 years younger (as sitting in a year below).

In Scotland, achievement levels are woolly, to say the least, with upto 3 years given for 'most kids' to achieve a level. In a poor school an AWFUL lot can slip through the net.

Dad is dyslexic and convinced ds is too.
Ds is on spectrum but school will not acknowledge.
This affects the lack of co-operation with boring tasks as yes cant cope with those at home either.
Cant tie laces, awful with cutlery, zips, cant kick a ball etc but apparently 'no dyspraxic tendencies noted' either.

He has never slept well - up till 1am designing computers etc. On paper. Or new cars. Or alternate worlds!
Yet he can't spell his sister's name or write it legibly without a huge huge effort (nor can his Dad, mind)

I think he wont do it because he is aware that he cant and hugely self conscious about it. He is angry and depressed.

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Feb-15 13:55:32

I'm not sure how it works in Scotland DopeyDawg - but I think you do need to have your son assessed - as one there is a hereditary trend to dyslexia - and of coruse dyspraxia/ dyscalcula/ dyslexia are all spectrum disorders (related disorders but on a spectrum).

DH (who is severely dyslexics - 7 year old spelling age officially) - says that coming home angry and tired sounds exactly like him at the end of primary school.

The only good news is that things can seem to suddenly improve at puberty - it now looks like the brain is entirely rewired whilst going through puberty.

I will say that going to bed at 1 a.m. (and yes I get that he's awake/ alert/ interested) is a problem. He'll be going to school very tired - and that won't help. On that front - I'd advise just returning bedtime to something more appropriate for a 10 year old. (info here about needing ~ 9.5 hrs sleep a night: So if he's going to sleep at 1 a.m. and getting up at 8 a.m., he's 2.5 hours short of the 9.5 needed - thus the need for an afternoon nap. But taking a nap in the afternoon just ends up with him feeling wide awake in the evenings. Try to get his sleep cycle back to a more normal range over half-term by just skipping that nap out. He'll be grumpy/ tired - but I bet he'll go to bed at 11 p.m. not 1 a.m. Then you can try and gradually roll that back to 10 p.m. Still a bit late - but if he sleeps until 7:30 a.m. that's his 9.5 hours.

Finally look at diet - is it fairly healthy? or lots of sugary snacks/ drinks? A healthier diet will even out energy levels and also stop sugar crashes that result in feeling really tired/ out of energy.


DopeyDawg Tue 03-Feb-15 14:02:26


Oh, he goes to bed at 8pm but cant sleep before about 1, even though he has no screen time after 6pm and no sugar after then either. He has quite a plain diet as he is riddled with eczema/allergies.
On a schoolday I am lucky to get him out of bed by 8.30am.
On a weekend day he is up and fizzing by 6am.

I tried to link some egs of handwriting but had no luck (rubbish at links)

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Feb-15 14:16:49

Gosh Dopey - this sounds really difficult/ complicated. Again all I can say is try to talk with the school's SENCo and see if he can't get some help and try and win the battle on the sleep front. Going to school tired (and ? late and ?without breakfast - getting up after 8:30 here would make most people late for school) can't be helping.

Isthatwhatdemonsdo Tue 03-Feb-15 14:23:09

I would do what past says. Please make an appointment to see your school SENCO.

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