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selective indie 4+ assessment... I don't need to TUTOR DD, do I???!!

(28 Posts)
DuchessOfWeaseltown Wed 24-Feb-16 22:11:37

We love a particular indie not far from us and though I don't care for the idea of assessing 3 year olds, as it's a selective school we do need to put DD up for the assessment.

From what it's possible to tell at her age (just 3) she seems very bright, she picks things up fast, asks lots and lots of very good and left-field questions, she is interested hugely in the world around her and is terrifically verbal.

But with ratio of applicants to places somewhere around 5 to 1, I don't know if she will neccessarily get through any assessment! Surely some of it is just luck of the draw at a certain point?

Aaaaaanyway, my general question is what, if anything at all, we should do to help maximise her chances of doing well at assessment. I have this horrible fear that, despite the advice of the school, there might be a lot of tutoring going on - maybe not actual tutors being hired for 3 year olds but certainly a good deal of prep work done at home in terms of reading/writing etc.

I guess we have sort of been planning to just wing it and hope that DD's natural brightness shines through but is this just wildly unrealistic?!

Though she is starting (just since turning 3 actually) to show more interest in the letters etc she is learning at nursery, she certainly isn't the sort of child to happily sit down and let us 'educate' her even if we wanted to. Since she has shown more interest in letters, I do take every passing opportunity I can to chuck in a bit of "oooh, look, there's the letter b, remember your grandad's name starts with that' etc, and she really gets a kick out of this, but this is as close as I think we'll get to 'teaching' her anything ourselves.

Do parents drill their kids with letters, counting etc for these sorts of assessments, and are we going to put DD at a big disadvantage if we don't? Or can these types of schools really see past a lot of preparation/ even the dreaded formal Tutoring? At age 3, when they assess them...?

writingonthewall Wed 24-Feb-16 23:04:06

Yup. They do. Certainly for the big hitters in NW London. Pour yourself a large drink and look at the 3+ 4+ 5+ 7+ threads started by mumteacher.

ridinghighinapril Thu 25-Feb-16 07:55:43

Where are you based? There isn't a culture of tutoring young kids in SE London as far as I am aware.

AnotherNewt Thu 25-Feb-16 08:06:19

No, you don't need to.

It's seriously limited to North London. I usually post about central, South and west London schools and it hasn't reached here. I was sceptical that it was going on in the north, but have been firmly assured by posters here that yes it does happen there.

Schools aren't looking for reading achievement, but for learning potential. So yes it does mean a level of skills, but more importantly things like way of expressing themselves. Being a bit shy is fine, but being unable to talk at all to a friendly teacher will be a problem. Being able to follow simple instructions, and direction towards an activity will help enormously. Try not to read the (terrifying) checklists that can be found on line!

Good things to do for preparation: read lots to your DD (single most important thing) occasionally ask her what she thinks might happen next; encourage her to do lots of colouring in (for fine motor skills) and drawing; play games which involve counting and sorting objects; encourage her (safely) to join in conversations with other adults she doesn't know well (shopkeeper, librarian etc)

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Thu 25-Feb-16 08:21:33

Depends on where you are. I think the bottom line is that when there are several applicants for each place - as is the case with inner London pre-preps- it is a sellers market and schools can pick and choose who they take. They will be looking for bright, interested, compliant children with no obvious educational/behavioural issues. Most of the children entering for these schools are just that. They will have high earning (usually equates with quite intelligent) parents and lots of social capital ( languages, experiences, familiarity with books, numbers, etc). Parents will be doing all they can to maximise chances of DC getting in and this will include tutoring by teachers familiar with the entrance procedures. It is a very different scenario if you are in a rural area where pre preps are competing with good state schools with a similar offering for free.
All Schools at this age will try to give priority to siblings assuming they are equally bright and well behaved. They may also be looking to balance numbers of girls/boys, month of birth/ensure diversity etc. They will also be looking to ensure that parents will pay promptly.
So if in inner London hedge your bets and apply for a few different schools. A bit of tutoring will not do any harm. But don't get too obsessive about it. The biggest determinant of academic success at all levels in Uk is family background. Your little ones will do just as well in state schools as they will in the private sector.

MissGintyMarlow Thu 25-Feb-16 08:39:45

I am very sceptical of the 3+, 4+ threads, they've been started by a tutor and it is in her and all tutors' interests to affirm you do need tutoring at this age. I think what you're doing sounds fine. With kids this age it is mainly the luck of the draw, I know plenty who've been rejected for schools at 4 and gone on to great things. Good luck.

Girlsinthegarden Thu 25-Feb-16 10:37:36

I know a child who went to a top ten selective school at 4. Passed all the local school assessments and didn't know her sounds until she started at the school.

My own DC was asked to do things like make a pattern on a crown and they read a story to her and the children to come up with the rhyming word when read a rhyming story. To be honest all stuff that an able enough child should be able to do anyway at that stage without a tutor. If they can't do it by themselves (or normal parental input) then you don't want to send them to one of those schools anyway because they boot them straight back out - or as soon as their lack academic ability affects the school.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Thu 25-Feb-16 11:03:58

Thanks so much all!!

We are SW London... sad so might fall into the 'tutoring area' bracket!

Heart sinks slightly at DD being asked to colour in neatly or draw as right now (and assessment is roughly 9 months away) she is a manic scribbler who shows no interest in staying in the lines!!

She is a huge one for chatting to adults (finds them easier than her peers right now in fact) and would do enormously well at any kind of 'what do you think happens next?' line of enquiry.

But she's certainly not zipping ahead with letters/numbers like my niece for example did at this age. Her natural brightness is really obvious (am not just saying this!!) as nursery/her CM etc frequently comment on it, but without us pushing those sorts of skills at her I'm not sure it would be anything other than the luck of thd draw on any given day.

Such a pity as I think the school would be a great fit, they are big on creativity and free thinking and I love that.

Oh well I guess we will have to see how we go...

Thank you!!

Girlsinthegarden Thu 25-Feb-16 11:55:26

My daughter wasn't assessed on numbers on letters. In fact the reception teacher ranted about idiot parents trying to do it themselves and screwing it up grin.

They are pretty well trained at what to spot and your daughter sounds like she wouldn't struggle.

'Zipping ahead' is more often than not down to the parents making sure they can do it. The really bright and motivated ones take off in reception.

Girlsinthegarden Thu 25-Feb-16 11:56:49

Oh, and no matter what they say, there's a definite bias towards to older children in the year. They are more developed at the assessments and it shows.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Thu 25-Feb-16 12:12:35

Thank you Girls!!

She is a late Feb bday so not all that 'old' for the year... She has a friend who was 3 in Oct and I can see the difference clearly between that little girl (also obviously bright) and my DD. Oh well, all you can do is hope, I guess!!

Girlsinthegarden Thu 25-Feb-16 12:15:12

Good luck smile. Feb should be fine!

Rodent01 Thu 25-Feb-16 12:23:39

As somebody who works in an indie, very oversubscribed school, tutoring is not necessary for 4+ entry. Its insane. Its not necessarily the brightest children that schools are looking for and a tutor can't make a 3 1/2 year old not freak out when they come to a new place, have to leave their mum / nanny and go into a room with other adults and children who they don't know. This will come naturally to some.

Girlsinthegarden - incorrect. Our school (and others I imagine) looks at the birthdays and deliberately take a range across the year so specifically has places for winter, summer and spring children.

writingonthewall Thu 25-Feb-16 12:31:50

Oh, and no matter what they say, there's a definite bias towards to older children in the year. They are more developed at the assessments and it shows.

varies between schools. A recent intake at SHHS (in the last five years) had 20/24 girls born between September and December. schools talk the talk about adjusting but I'm not convinced they always do it.

Girlsinthegarden Thu 25-Feb-16 12:33:38

Rodent. That's good to hear.

The major one I know of was very heavily weighted towards autumn borns (75%) the year I looked at but then it does have a reputation for being ruthless. The said they would take age into account but it just happened to be 75% born in the autumn...

Hurrayitsnotdark Thu 25-Feb-16 15:03:26

My niece is at a top London girls school. She got in at 4+ with no preparation. She's a perfectly bright little girl but showing no signs whatsoever of being a genius. It was the only school my sister sat her for and was perfectly happy for her to go to the local primary if she didn't get in. Her younger brother has just got into another extremely highly regarded school at 3+, again, no prep whatsoever, he doesn't even speak that clearly but he was happy to leave my sister to go off and play and didn't snatch from another child (on that occasion) and that was probably all he needed to do to get in. These are both schools that MN parents get hysterical over getting their children into.

ridinghighinapril Thu 25-Feb-16 15:10:52

Hurry - I could have written the exact same post about my two kids!

ridinghighinapril Thu 25-Feb-16 15:12:21

Hurray, not hurry! shock

isthisabigdeal Thu 25-Feb-16 15:28:44

My DCs both got offers from all the SW London schools we applied to without any tutoring or prep from me. As others have said I think tutoring at 4 is an exclusively N London insanity phenomenon.

Happymummy007 Thu 25-Feb-16 15:58:12

We aren't in London, but when our DD went for the prep assessment we were told to prepare with things such as jigsaws, colouring etc, to improve her hand-eye co-ordination. We also looked at colours, shapes, letters and numbers. But this was in a normal, day to day environment, as you seem to be doing, and I'm sure that what you're doing is absolutely enough. As the other posters have said, often the school is looking at how a child interacts with others, not their actual IQ level (which I would have thought was impossible to gauge at this young age). And our nursery head was also phoned to give their impression of our DD before she was offered a place.

I am sure that you are doing just the right thing - please try not to stress too much about it. The main thing for us seemed to be whether or not our DD was happy being left in a strange environment for an hour. Best of luck - I'm sure she'll be fine.

MissGintyMarlow Thu 25-Feb-16 16:05:05

Just to make you feel even better, my dd freaked out at being abandoned at her 4+ assessment and I had to stay with her throughout. She still got in, though I turned down the place partly because I was so unimpressed at the whole procedure.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Thu 25-Feb-16 19:17:39

Thanks so much again to everyone who has posted!!

Unfortunately I don't know actually how well DD would do in a strange environment for an hour... she's not remotely shy or quiet, quite the opposite, but she is a very clingy child until she is certain of her surroundings. Also when feeling unsure she isn't that great at all at interacting with other children!! She can get a bit over-sensitive...

Eeek, I think we need to get some strong back-ups. Which is tricky because we really dislike the other main indie option (non selective but we just don't like it) and one other indie option is kind of fine but a bit underwhelming.

We stand literally no chance whatsoever of getting into a state option that we'd be happy with.

Oh, well, we just have to keep our fingers crossed and carry on as we are doing. Whilst encouraging her to work on those all-important social skills. She is much more comfortable with adults in general so we do have more than the occasional problem just 'getting along' with other kids. She can be very wary of other children until she's comfortable and she quite often needs adult guidance to show her how to resolve any issues that arise...

We read to her all the time, so that's a big plus... She is very very verbal and opinionated on pretty much everything, and interested in everything. Hopefully a plus! As for jigsaws etc, she does do them happily enough but basically all she ever wants to do is creative play where she makes up some peculiar rambling story and ultimately builds some sort of den to escape from the baddies in... not sure how well this particular skill will translate to 4+ assessment but we can but hope! wink

Thank you all again!

DuchessOfWeaseltown Thu 25-Feb-16 19:21:19

Oh wow, Ginty, that sounds unpleasant for your poor DD... was it just badly-handled and all far too overwhelming? The school we are looking at say they keep it all very small and cosy but I do have paranoia about some sort of 7th circle of hell with stressed-out parents and crying children...

MissGintyMarlow Fri 26-Feb-16 08:56:45

Duchess, it was a looong time ago, I don't think it was that traumatic an event, but I think dd picked up on my stress (though I already had pretty much decided I wouldn't pick this school) and decided to act out accordingly. What happened in the room was very low key and dd did just fine, especially when biscuits and squash were produced. Sounds like yours is well on track and if it doesn't work out be assured there are always plenty of other entry points, a couple of years in another school never ruined anyone's life.

CruCru Fri 26-Feb-16 20:23:31

My son has just done the 4+. We didn't tutor (crumbs, I don't think he'd have stood for it) but one thing that I think helped was just getting him to talk with people he didn't know (waiters, shopkeepers, friends of mine). I'm quite strict about the kids having to say hello and goodbye to people - it's not much good being super smart if the child goes into a prickle haired trance when confronted with a new person (I must point out that I didn't do this just for the 4+).

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