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Some perspective

(9 Posts)
MsGus Sun 29-May-16 21:28:39

Hello, I would be grateful for some perspective.

My son is in reception. His schools give golden stars when they do good work. The aim is to reward them for their effort and improving on things they have done or for doing something kind, etc. It is apparently not a comparison with their peers.

However, I can't help but think that the kids who get a lot of stars must be the overall the best students in his class. My son does get stars but there are a couple of kids that get quite a lot.

My son has asked me why did he not get as many stars as his friends and I found it tricky to explain to him. The teachers say my son is doing very well but I think if he is, then why isn't he getting as more stars.

Am I placing too much weight on these stars? Do others have any experience of this reward system and what are your thoughts on it?

I'm a bit embarrassed to ask because I may come across as unncessarily competitive. I am just trying to understand what to make of this star system and what it means for how well my son is doing compared to his peers.

IoraRua Sun 29-May-16 21:33:52

Honestly I'd guess the teacher tries to spread golden stars out among the class - quite often we'll have a class list tucked away somewhere to record who gets what. Of course that mightnt be the case for all. They aren't necessarily assessing the whole class for it though, they're measuring children against their personal best - or they should be, imo.

I wouldn't necessarily put too much weight on the stars in terms of achievement but you could always mention to the teacher that he's a little disheartened about his work and I'm sure they'll try fix it.

educatingarti Sun 29-May-16 21:35:02

I think you are probably putting too much weight on the stars. If the teacher has did your son is doing well, then he is. If your son would like more stars, are there things he could do at home to earn special ones from you?

LotsofDots Sun 29-May-16 21:47:02

Often, in my experience children who maybe aren't doing as well academically or struggle with behaviour get awarded stars or certificates more frequently than a pupil who is generally easy in the classroom and doing well academically. Star charts can be very misleading. Don't use them to compare with classmates. Also, same goes for star of the week type thing. If teacher says your DS is doing well, that's what is important.

MsGus Sun 29-May-16 22:05:58

Thanks. Sorry if I am coming across as silly.

I should have mentioned that when they get a certain number of stars they get a special badge. Starting from bronze up to gold.

The school stresses that it is about students personal best and rewarding them for effort but what does that mean for those who do not get enough for a special badge? How are they to interpret this?

My son works hard and he is doing well. He thinks that those who got the badge worked hard and did good work. It's difficult not to think that this is saying that those who didn't get the badge isn't working as hard or doing good work. I think it is pointless stressing that it is all about how the individual child is improving or the effort they are putting in.

Really grateful for your responses so far. They are helpful and are giving me some perspective smile

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sun 29-May-16 22:19:51

Can I explain DD high school?

She's on target for A* so her effort grade can only be GOOD as she can't exceed this target

If she was targeted a B - and her work was above this expectation - she'd get an effort grade as EXCEEDS!

She can never exceed!! So we have to accept good

I would assume your DS is in the same boat

Pico2 Sun 29-May-16 22:58:02

My DD seems to be one of the ones with most stars in her class. She's compliant and eager to please at school, but, I imagine, in quite an outgoing way, so I think she probably gets noticed for it more than some.

She also gets stars that she can't explain and I think it is probably from being 'caught' behaving well in a way that isn't a challenge for her but near someone who isn't behaving. And she might get those more than some other, equally well behaved children because she is a robust, confident child who doesn't avoid being near the worst behaved children. I think she ignores them, but they don't try to push her about because she is big and confident. And some of the other children may avoid those children as they have experienced being bitten or kicked etc.

At my DD's school the stars add up to certificates. But they haven't given out certificates until everyone in the class has achieved them. I'm not sure if it's a policy, but my DD is owed about 3 of them and doesn't seem to care. I think that's fine as it is less public than actually getting the certificate and seeing the same people go up for stuff is demoralising, possibly way beyond the positive effect for the child getting it. That's particularly the case for small children as being on the receiving end of 1 in 30 of the badges given out would be a reasonable distribution, but to a small child 1 in 30 feels more like its never their turn.

MsGus Mon 30-May-16 13:06:56

Thanks Sally and Pico. That's helpful.

sirfredfredgeorge Mon 30-May-16 14:57:09

It sounds like a reward system that your child doesn't understand and you don't know, so you can't have explained to them anyway. I think your response to the question of why they got more is "I don't know, you could ask the teacher, but maybe they work harder, struggle more, ask for them more, or ... " and come up with lots of ideas of what it could be. But really you do need to ask the teacher.

I never get these "not meant to be comparison with their peers" things in schools, children, well people, compare everything among themselves. Many are extremely competitive, any reward/punishment system will be viewed with that lens, and even more so in the early years before the cynicism and reality has sunk in.

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