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Gifted and Talented - Reception

(69 Posts)
preschoolprimadonna Tue 25-Jul-17 11:53:38

I know every parent thinks the sun shines out of their child's rear end, but bear with me. My DD4 is certainly not a genius, but through hard work (and genuine enjoyment) she is reading at approximately age 6-7 at the moment. Her maths is above average, but not exceptional (simple adding and taking away up to 20, no multiplication yet, can count to 100) and her vocabulary is excellent for her age. She is also very, very good at art (which definitely doesn't come from me!). Her handwriting is average.

Her gross motor physical skills are average, but on the lower side of average. Her social skills are average. She is excellent at sitting down, concentrating and listening. She is less excellent at social niceties, but well within the realms of "normal".

She will be starting reception in September at a brand new school that hasn't yet opened. The school's ethos is very much about "we will not compare your child to other children; tests cant't measure compassion", but I do want to make sure that she is stretched academically and doesn't get bored with phonics etc. if she can already read fluently.

Is Gifted and Talented still a thing? How is it assessed, and can I ask the school to make sure she is supported in this way? (She may not meet the criteria, but I would like to explore every avenue.)

OP’s posts: |
ElizabethShaw Tue 25-Jul-17 11:58:39

I wouldn't worry, some children in every reception class will start school already reading to some extent. A thorough grounding in phonics is still important for spelling as well as reading. Her teacher will also focus on filling in the gaps for her, especially in the fundamental "prime" areas of physical development and social skills.

Ginmummy1 Tue 25-Jul-17 12:22:32

G&T is no longer an official ‘thing’, although the school may choose to have a G&T policy anyway. It may be covered within their SEN policy. Being a new school, I guess it might not!

I was in a similar position to you before my DD started Reception two years ago. DD was already reading well and loving reading, and her private nursery considered her exceptionally advanced in literacy, and moderately advanced in maths, speech, social skills. Her nursery keyworker tried to speak to her new teacher about her as soon as she got a place there, but the school were quite dismissive. The school is a ‘good’ small-ish school and very nurturing, but not particularly high achieving. There is no G&T policy or similar at the school.

I would advise you to do what I did, which is to wait for your daughter to start school, and ‘watch and wait’ for a few weeks. She will be observed and assessed early on in the term, and unless she’s very shy, she will soon make her abilities known to the teacher. I was called in about three weeks into term, and my DD was placed in Y1 for phonics. Throughout the year her experienced Reception teacher made sure she was challenged without going over the top: she chose her own books from the Y3 classroom (developing her independence) and was asked questions to ‘stretch’ her but within the class environment.

I cannot stress this strongly enough: Reception is all about learning the routine, the social skills, learning how to be at school and how to learn. It is so much more important that your daughter learns to be happy at school. If your daughter is not ‘ahead’ socially, it is even more important that she is given the time to let her social skills develop during the Reception year, as she will develop skills to support her learning going forwards.

As she is starting school with such a head start, she will no doubt continue to do very well academically. My DD has just finished Y1 and continues to exceed in all subjects. If we feel she’s not being challenged enough in Y2 we will raise it with the school, but only now that she’s well established in her learning.

MiaowTheCat Tue 25-Jul-17 13:26:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

catkind Tue 25-Jul-17 14:51:03

I would say make sure they're aware if she's reading etc at the beginning of reception as they won't expect it and may not notice if they don't routinely hear them read until further into the phonics programme. (Mind you, we did tell school and so did preschool and they still hadn't heard DD read by the first half term/parents' evening - they did get on the case quickly after that.)

My best advice is to let her settle in first. See what comes home in terms of reading books and work - it may be they're completely on top of it without you saying anything, in which case you've saved yourself coming across pushy and annoying. See if your DD seems happy and learning. There's usually a parents' evening half a term in or so, then you can find out if they know what your DD can do, and if it's not matching up offer to send in some writing/things she's reading at home. If it's all a bit handwaving, asking to see DC's targets can help to clarify.

And ask to catch up in x weeks rather than wait till the next parents' evening to find out they still haven't got it figured. The squeaky wheel thing. Our reception team had DD's abilities nailed down a week after the first parents' evening and called us in to tell us all about it. But there is a pattern we get with DS where at the first parents' evening they're "still evaluating them", at the Easter parents' evening "ah yes we think he's very able. But we are challenging him! Oh, he's not finding that challenging? Well perhaps we can try xyz", and then a little bit of something happens at the beginning of the summer term which quickly fizzles out as everyone's busy with sports days and stuff. I hate bothering teachers as they seem so busy, but am going to try harder for DS next year.

I think you'll find your DD is well ahead of average for maths too. There's very little of it in EYFS at all. And if she's writing at all she's likely ahead of average for that. Unless we're talking private school where most of the kids have gone through academically inclined private nurseries.

Our school do have a thing called G&T; but it's not really relevant. It involves in the older years occasionally offering them an enrichment day. (Like once a year.) Much more important in my view is whether their classroom targets are appropriate and they're happy and being challenged on a day to day basis. And that's something that should be happening for every child in the class, so doesn't need a label.

preschoolprimadonna Tue 25-Jul-17 15:06:08

Thank you all, that's really helpful, especially the squeaky wheel comments. I think I am naturally a squeaky wheel blush, but just trying to get an idea of how likely it is her abilities are going to be noticed. She is quite shy unless she is very comfortable. I can see her being too shy to raise her hand in class with an answer. We are working on this.

We have a 1-2-1 20-minute meeting at our house with the new teacher in September, the week before school starts, so I can mention the reading then. We also had to fill out forms about our child's attainment levels, though I'm not sure if they are actually read and looked at properly, or if they are just to make the parents feel better!

The school will only have one class above her - a mixed Y1/Y2 class. I love the idea of her going there for phonics, but the whole school's ethos is about NOT separating out for ability groups, so I imagine they would be loath to do this. I suppose I just want to know what her "rights" are, as I would if I suspected SEN; every child deserves to get an appropriate education. If G&T has been disbanded, I guess this doesn't really give us anywhere to go.

I appreciate it sounds like I'm spoiling for a fight before the school year has even begun, but I just want to be forewarned and forearmed from others' experiences.

OP’s posts: |
Witchend Tue 25-Jul-17 15:36:02

It depends on the class and the year as to whether she's ahead of everyone else. She wouldn't be at the top in either of dd1 or dd2's year in reception. Both had a few (mostly girls) who were reading fluently chapter books, could count as far as you wanted and were doing quite complicated maths. Because there were a few children doing it, other children wanted to which meant they had a lot of (especially) girls really storming ahead. And a couple of girls who couldn't read at all at the start of year R really clicked and they were doing as well or better by the end.
Ds' form had a couple of girls who would have been similar to your dd but not as good as the ones in my older one's year.
This is a standard state school.

I would mention that she is reading, and give a well known example of what she reads to herself. Expect them to check-it isn't unheard of for a parent to tell a teacher the child is capable of things well above reality, plus they need to have seen proof for themselves.

But also don't focus on that you think she'll be able in her form. Firstly, she may be, she may not be, it depends on as much the other children which you have no control over. She may also start out that way, but have others overtake her.
Plus there will be plenty of things for a bright child to learn in class, not just academically, but socially and just about being in school and with other children.
And those children who looked so good in year R? My older ones are teenage. Some of them are still looking good; on for A/A* at GCSE. But some of them aren't. One of the ones who was looking right at the top and a hard worker in year R has just been told that for English she's in set 5 out of 8 and maths 6 out of 8 for GCSE. She can't cope and her parents are devastated. Because her identity is bound up in the "being the really clever one" she lost her way. It's not that she hasn't worked-it's that she just was an early started. The others caught up and overtook her when they started.

Don't go in with the attitude "what are you going to do for my amazing dd"? Go in with the attitude "how can we work together for my dd's strengths and weaknesses for her to achieve her best?"

LadyPenelope68 Tue 25-Jul-17 15:40:15

You may find she's is a class with plenty of other children who can also read and that she isn't flying ahead of the others, every year the cohort can be massively different.

Ginmummy1 Tue 25-Jul-17 16:23:47

Catkind’s suggestion to arrange follow-ups rather than waiting until the next parents’ evening is a very good one. A year can go by very quickly!

The home visit is your ideal opportunity (we didn’t have this). Hopefully your DD will feel comfortable enough to show the teacher what she can do, and you can mention (lightly) that she’s been doing some reading and enjoys it. The teacher may ask your daughter to write her name during the home visit too, if you have some paper and pencils placed somewhere handy!

I don’t know whether you’ve taught her to read using phonics. Either way, be prepared for your DD to cover familiar ground in Reception – but in my view this is not a bad thing really, as it does embed the learning and will be done in a fun way.

To respond to your comment about being moved up to the next group, I should say that, although my DD went initially to Y1 for phonics, she was moved back ‘down’ very soon afterwards because, in her school, they do writing in the phonics lesson and she wasn’t yet ready for that amount of writing. I respected the school for moving her up quickly, and down quickly – both moves made sense at the time. If your DD’s school doesn’t move them around, don’t worry, as long as you can tell that she is being challenged in class. My DD used to say phonics was ‘easy’ when they had a supply teacher in, which told me that her teacher was stretching her.

2014newme Tue 25-Jul-17 19:04:26

Phonics is crucial for writing even if you can read!
If your dd can go to the toilet unaided and wash her hands, queue up,tidy up, get dressed quickly, use cutlery, open own items in packed lunch, put hand up when wants to speak, share and do 'super sitting ' she will do well in reception.

2014newme Tue 25-Jul-17 19:07:00

Just to add I had no idea my child was g and t till they started school many children don't learn to read before school but fly from the start.
Be careful that your dd is not disappointed if others are as advanced or more advanced than her. Don't make her self worth about being the cleverest. Children learn a lot from doing something Tey aren't the best at tbh.

user789653241 Tue 25-Jul-17 19:10:40

Ime, reception wasn't a problem. It's mostly child led, free flow, play based situation so school can accommodate easily to the child's needs. KS1 wasn't so bad either. My ds was sent 2 years above for maths and literacy(Though the work was still easy enough so in terms of a challenge, it wasn't very good.)
In KS2, time tabling issue came up, school wasn't doing anything in particular, and I decided to stop expecting school to extend my ds. I provide him with extensions at home.

To me, school is not just the place for academic subjects. He can still learn loads of things which is important for him.

We are living in a great time, there's so many great resources you can access these days.

Some posters say they will all catch up, or there are others similar to yours, but I don't think so, ime, depend on how far ahead and capable your dc is.

user789653241 Tue 25-Jul-17 19:14:22

Oh, forgot to say, my ds was able to decode any words when he started school. Still, he enjoyed phonics lessons at school, it just gave him the solid understanding of how to decode/spell words. He totally enjoyed it.

prettywhiteguitar Tue 25-Jul-17 19:18:46

I think you might find that her reading may not be as unusual as you think, many girls in my ds's year could do the same as they had an excellent preschool. As the year progresses all the children catch up.

If your dd is exceptional then it will present itself, the only other way to continue up the scale is to go independent where the smaller class sizes have more opportunity to work with children who are developing at a faster rate.

DonkeyOil Tue 25-Jul-17 19:27:01

'Gifted and Talented' has been ditched in favour of 'Interested and Able' at my local primary school. Don't know what they use as the criteria for inclusion.

preschoolprimadonna Tue 25-Jul-17 19:31:17

Thanks all. I am certainly not claiming my child is exceptional, just that I think she may be "brighter than average". I thought the G&T criteria was the top 10% of the class, which I think she would fit comfortably into, but I may well be wrong on this.

You have all given some excellent points, particularly with not tying her worth up to being "clever" - we do make an effort on this, rewarding kindness etc.

We are not in an area where many children will have gone to pushy nurseries - it's not deprived, but certainly not affluent. I haven't met a child yet that is her age, or even a year older, who reads as well as she does. But we have worked on this at home, so it's not totally natural ability and natural ability alone.

OP’s posts: |
DonkeyOil Tue 25-Jul-17 19:32:17

I'm through the other side, but I wish I could convey (and had realised myself) how unimportant reading levels/groups/tables/setting/g&t etc.etc. are in Primary. Please don't sweat it. Honestly, they'll be fine!

user789653241 Tue 25-Jul-17 19:42:58

If your child fit into top 10% of the class gifted, I don't think you need to worry to much. School are capable to cater for that, imo. It's a problem if she doesn't fit in that criteria.
Tbh, it really doesn't matter if you worked with her or not. If the child was capable, they would have wanted it anyway.

mrz Tue 25-Jul-17 21:26:19

The idea that the top 10% in a class should be labelled G&T is a nonsense. The top 10% in one class could well be the bottom 10% in another class/school. As a criteria it wasn't well thought out.

preschoolprimadonna Tue 25-Jul-17 22:07:54

I think the purpose of "labelling" 10% of the class G&T was to ensure the more able elements of the class were stretched appropriately. It doesn't necessarily mean that they would be gifted or talented compared to the population as a whole, just that within the environment that they were in, the work was adapted suitably. And, however you want to label it, surely it is important that every child, either at the top or the bottom of the class, gets appropriate work.

OP’s posts: |
mrz Tue 25-Jul-17 22:09:24

Sorry but that's nonsense.

paxillin Tue 25-Jul-17 22:19:30

Someone who walks at 10 months rather than 12 does not normally turn into a better walker, never mind a Usain Bolt.

You will find that many of the staggering free readers from reception are just the same as the others come year 4. Because they were staggering readers who, like your DD got there through hard work (and genuine enjoyment). Let her enjoy school, learn to navigate friendships, not be Mary at nativity, fall in a puddle on a trip and make some gruesome artwork. Schools are usually quite good at setting appropriate work from year 1, reception is about learning to "do school".

The tree really doesn't grow any faster or taller because you pull very hard.

jamdonut Tue 25-Jul-17 22:23:29

My youngest son could read when he started in Foundation. Not actively taught by me, he just could ! Phonics wasn't as big a thing as it is now, but I don't recall him ever being bored with literacy, although he never liked writing. Still doesn't and he's doing Chemistry , Physics and Maths A levels now. He was and is a clever lad. It was noted all through Primary, and he did get to go on some special science days, but He never had any particular extra pushing.
Why don't you wait and see how it pans out? It's a teacher's job, these days, to make sure every one is catered for. Trust them!

catkind Tue 25-Jul-17 23:05:29

It's a teacher's job, these days, to make sure every one is catered for. Trust them!

Like with kids really - trust them, but keep a beady eye on things too I reckon. The best teachers DC have had in terms of differentiation have also been the teachers who are more than keen to tell us about what they're doing to extend them. "Trust me we're challenging him" teacher on the other hand - wasn't.

I'm not that keen on letting reception be a dead year learning wise, fun as that may be for them. One of the key things in reception is learning to learn in a school setting. If a child isn't routinely learning, they may be learning to daydream in a school setting instead. Doesn't really set them up for school life.

whoareyou123 Wed 26-Jul-17 07:32:06

Thanks all. I am certainly not claiming my child is exceptional, just that I think she may be "brighter than average".

Half of children are brighter than average smile

Your daughter no doubt fits into that group, but based on your posts she is likely to the oldest in her year and you've obviously spent a lot of time working with her on academic subjects. This gives her a head start, but doesn't mean she'll stay ahead if she doesn't have natural ability.

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