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Should I be talking to the teacher? Or just keeping quiet?

(20 Posts)
Snowglobe18 Mon 30-Nov-15 18:46:36

My twin sons are in Y1 at a 'good' local state primary. Their classes are large...32 and 33. This followed a successful appeal by 5 parents when the school was oversubscribed.
Last year, it all seemed fine. An extra TA was provided for the 5 extra children, but she's not there now.
I feel like I am teaching my children more than I should need to. Perhaps my expectations are too high...I went to independent schools so had small classes and was pushed.
I have no idea how bright my children are....they seem bright but not exceptionally so to me, but all I hear from teachers is very vague statements.
The teachers this year are lovely but I don't feel confident with what my sons are doing at school. Their numeracy is good. Their fine motor control, pencil grip and handwriting are shocking and they never make progress with it at school, only at home. They left Reception on Stage 5 ORT. Over the summer, they read a lot and sprang forward. I spoke to the teacher of one of my sons at parent's evening in October and said I didn't think he was learning anything from the home readers. She assessed him, agreed and moved him up to level 8.
My other son was getting something from the level 5 readers back in October so I didn't address anything to do with reading for him.
Both boys can now read level 11 or 12 fluently and with expression at home, and read lots of chapter books etc. I know they will be on a much lower level at school for instructional purposes but the green books aren't helping one at all, and the other I think.is ready to move on too...but since parent's evening in October no teacher or TA has listened to either of them read. They say they don't do guided reading or read to parent helpers either.
Do I bring it up again or just leave it?
Thanks and sorry for the essay.

sharoncarol43 Tue 01-Dec-15 00:20:09

i think your expectations are too high. Only part of a child's education is done at school, most of it comes from parents.

catkind Tue 01-Dec-15 01:08:13

To have read something to someone at school every week isn't high expectations. It may be that it's more hidden away within other lessons/topic work so your DS's don't realise they've done it.
I'd ask about the levels again. In a "DS seems to be finding this level very easy, is there anything he should be working on?" sort of way. Even if they are hearing them regularly, it won't be every day like you are.

Our experience does chime with yours for handwriting I'm afraid. My theory is that for my DS, he doesn't care what it looks like, so unless someone's actually looking over his shoulder and correcting him on the spot, the more he writes the more bad habits get reinforced. Of course school can't have someone looking over the shoulder of every child. He does do a lot better in the holidays, although he only does a tiny bit of writing, we can make sure he does it right.

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 03:43:08

I think my expectations probably are too high. I do teach my own children, of course I do, but at the same time it feels as though the more I do at home with reading etc, the less is done at school. And now it's three weeks until the end of term and it's winding down towards Christmas and a lot of the regular structured stuff has stopped already.

Mominatrix Tue 01-Dec-15 05:33:19

sharon - I find the expectation most of a young child's schooling should be done by the parents quite sad, and very damning of state education. Great for those active, involved parents who have the knowhow, confidence and time - but what about those children who do not have this? Too bad? I think that Snowglobe's experience is unsatisfactory. Either the staff is overstretched (probably) and instead of having a handle on the whole class (hopefully) is focusing on those who are really in trouble or they are incompetent. Either way, her children are being sidelined.

I would bring it up as it looks as if it will be the only way to make any sort of change here.

christinarossetti Tue 01-Dec-15 06:15:11

Yes mention it to the teacher. It's likely that she'll do as she did before ie reasses and adjust level accordingly.

Just on the fine motor skills.... Boys' thumb muscles develop later than girls', apparently. Makes no sense from an evolutionary perspective, but there we are. Boy's writing can be slower to develop. Do lots of play dou, cutting, kneading, threading beads etc at home to encourage this.

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 08:38:12

Thanks! I will try it!
My friend's son reads with a TA or teacher every day. He's finding it really hard and I don't begrudge him the help, but I would like the teachers to hear my DCs occasionally.

kesstrel Tue 01-Dec-15 09:13:16

Snowglobe - you might be interested in reading this: heatherfblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/schools-shouldnt-be-relying-on-parents-to-teach-reading/

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 09:31:36

That's very interesting. Thanks.
I think I'll speak to the teachers again. I just don't want to be 'that parent', but speaking to them about one of my sons in October made a 3 level difference overnight.

howabout Tue 01-Dec-15 09:48:11

Interesting read kestrel and a state of affairs I find all too familiar even though my DD2 was in a class of only 17.

Op in your position I would be equally frustrated, but I would not necessarily raise it with the teacher, as I don't think any amount of concerned parent chats will address the central problem.

You don't mention numeracy but this is another area where I found there was a lack of focus on the work of mastering basic skills. The DC who progress are the ones with parents who enforce adding and subtracting facts and learning times tables.

This is one of those things where if you discreetly put in a bit of effort now you will be able to reap the rewards of leaving the DC to it later on ime. I made sure mind could do the 3 Rs and then when all the enrichment projects came along they were equipped to make the most of them unaided.

irvine101 Tue 01-Dec-15 10:04:36

"This is one of those things where if you discreetly put in a bit of effort now you will be able to reap the rewards of leaving the DC to it later on "

This is so true, howabout.

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 10:54:08

We do reading, writing and maths at home every single day. One supervised reading book, 10 mins on Mathletics and 3 sentences written.
This was not something I ever imagined I'd be doing every day early in Y1.
The numeracy is fine, they've always loved numbers so know all their times tables to 12 etc. They've taught themselves on Mathletics...I don't have any great love for maths but all my children do.
I tend to just leave school to it. For example, there have been 50 words sent home in 5 sets over the term. Five weeks to learn to sight read them, a week to consolidate, 5 weeks to learn to spell them. Well, it's five weeks if you get 9/10 or above in the test each week.
They could already read the words each week. They could spell all but a couple anyway. The first week, I wrote that in the homework book, but then realised that wasn't going to make any difference, so I just check they can do them once and then forget about it. I am ok with that. It just seems daft that no one can hear them read and just have some idea of what level would suit them.

I'm starting as a parent helper in January as my youngest is off to nursery so I guess I will probably be awfully sympathetic after being in the classroom for ten minutes!

WowOoo Tue 01-Dec-15 11:32:11

They are very lucky to have a supportive parent at home who can consolidate and expand on what they learn at school. Keep helping them at home. Many children don't have this kind of input at all, I know you realise and that this is not the point!

Spellings can and will get much harder - so think of it as a massive confidence boost for them for now.
My youngest hates writing practice but I make him write shopping lists, things to do lists, little stories, postcards and letters to relatives etc. When they have a purpose, he's more willing. You could give it a try. It'll all come together eventually.

I'm still doing what I can at home with my eldest too, who is in Y5. Hard when you work, but we've always done it and he knows he gets his screen time after we've done some extra 'work'. smile

Ellle Tue 01-Dec-15 11:43:55

I don't think your expectations are too high (e.g. expecting that your sons read to a teacher, TA or parent helper once a week).

It just seems that schools differ a lot in the way things are done or taught for some reason.

At DS1's school (which is also a "good" local state primary), he reads to an adult twice a week. One of those is guided reading, the other is one to one with a TA or the teacher. He gets his books changed at least twice a week, sometimes more.

We do a lot at home but only because I want him to know literacy and maths in the minority language, and he enjoys it as well. I didn't teach him to write, or did anything on that area at all, that was all the school doing. I benefited from it as knowing how to write in English can be transferred to our home language. I only had to focus on spelling which is different to English.
He also learned to read in English at school, I did nothing for it. And he progressed quickly through the bands and was a "free reader" by Y1.

So I don't think it is too much to expect the same kind of progress and help from your school, when for us that is normal and his school is not even private, doesn't have small classes, and not even "outstanding" according to Ofstead.

catkind Tue 01-Dec-15 11:49:54

If they can already do times tables the problem may be they're streets ahead of what's being taught. DS' class are just starting on times tables, at snail's pace, in year 2.

Ellle Tue 01-Dec-15 12:54:33

That's true, knowing the times tables already in Y1 means they are streets ahead in maths.

Although the OP does not seem to be concerned about maths (she said their numeracy is good). Her main worries appear to be that no one is listening to them read at school, so she thinks they are not learning much, progressing through the bands, getting more challenging books, etc; and she also mentions fine motor control, pencil grip and handwriting. This is where she thinks they should be getting more help from school, but she sees not much progress.

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 16:23:44

That's right, Ellie. The numeracy isn't something I'm concerned about. The handwriting really is. I'd say they are significantly behind much of their class. DH and I both, for different reasons, have very non-standard pencil grips so, beyond buying pencil grippers, we left it to nursery school. That was a mistake and we aren't making it with our younger DS, but it means they have ingrained poor pencil grips before we even deal with anything else.
When they write at home, we correct it, but as a previous poster said, after a day at school it's gone back to how it was before.

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 16:24:48

Sorry, Ellle.

catkind Tue 01-Dec-15 16:39:42

Look, you've noticed a problem school don't seem to be addressing. What's the worst that can happen if you ask how they are supporting pencil grip and what you should do at home? If they correct it once a day it's better than nothing. Failing that, holidays are your friend.

Snowglobe18 Tue 01-Dec-15 18:20:11

Thanks, they are aware and said in October they were 'thinking about what to do'. I am going to chat to them next week. I don't want to be pushy, but I need to put my mind at rest somehow! Thanks again.

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