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Year 4 DS(9 Posts)
DS is to start year 4 after the summer holidays. He works hard at school (when he wants to!), is very quiet and polite and his strongest subject is maths. Due to work my family and I moved across the country over a year ago. The only school place available in the local area was at this school which unfortunately isn't very good. It's in an incredibly deprived area (which doesn't bother me in all honesty as many of the kids are lovely and parents seem okay), but the school's performance in SATs is very poor. It also has other issues such as poor leadership and not dealing with bullying effectively.
I feel like DS is not getting the right support at school. How can it be that at the start of year 3 we are told by his teacher he is bright enough in Maths to possibly register as G&T, and by the end of year 3 we hear nothing but negative remarks about DS's Maths level, that he needs to try harder. (He loves maths and would happily learn numbers all day). Surely the failure in any progression lies with the school then? He was at a maths academy previously and they recognised his ability in maths. DS feels teacher disliked him and is glad he won't have her next year.
I'm not sure what to do. Changing schools isn't an option as he is settled and has made friends finally. Besides all other local schools are similar academically, primary as well as secondary. There is a couple of grammar schools which I am hoping he could qualify for with 11+.
The only solution I feel for now is to support him at home, then find a tutor in year 5 (when we can hopefully afford it). My DSIL is a teacher and feels he is bright enough for a grammar school (otherwise I would never have considered it). My question is, what English and maths books would any teachers/parents/tutors recommend for now, in year 4, that would also help when he starts 11+ tuition? Bond books? what other steps can I take to support him as his confidence has dropped recently.
Oh no, apologies for the mammoth post!
Tricky, it does sound like his current school have failed to recognise his ability in maths and are leaving him bored and unfocused. I think your plan of supporting him at home sounds good. Have the school sent you any material which could help you identify weak areas? There are websites like mathlletics and schoolbo that help with fluency. The maths books you suggest are also fine work through them with him and make sure he understands each of the topics. Given his high ability I'd also recommend using material that will stretch him (this will help him for 11+ too). Perhaps you could work through primary maths challenge papers together (he'll probably require support for the later questions). There'll be a danger that he'll loose his enthusiasm for maths if he's bored at school.
Thank you for the reply IceCream It does worry me that being bored and unfocused may affect DS's overall performance in school not just in maths lessons. He was told off by his teacher for being arrogant (for waving his hand eagerly to answer every question and for trying to work out maths questions in his head). I told him it's important to show his working out method if the teacher asks but I can see why he felt disconnected with his teacher. His physical tics have worsened this past year and it could be due to his confidence.
No we have not had any information on his weak areas, so it's a case of going through workbooks ourselves and identifying what we need to work on. I will look at mathletics, thank you, he currently uses TT rockstars which he enjoys. I have had a quick look at KhanAcademy which seems interesting.
That does sound frustrating for you and him both. I'd recommend having a google of afterschooling for more recommendations and ideas.
Doing just the practices of Khan Academy can be a good way to see his strengths and weaknesses in the subjects they have like maths and grammar. I tend to have mine do it for reviews over the summer. For a child who really likes maths, the new Beast Academy online app might be a good fit to make maths fun while stretching him (their books have been around years with rave reviews particularly for those talented in maths, they released an online app quite recently so has fewer reviews).
English is harder as it's really so many subjects wrapped up in one. CGP and Collins both have pretty good books if you want a workbook that covers all of them but if you have concerns on a particular part of English, it might be easier to find something that fits that need better than a general product. Like, I use SpellingCity to aid with spelling and the book Write On! has a lot of ideas and examples for helping with writing.
It does sound like a clash with the teacher. Does your DS know next year's teacher and have an opinion on him/her? Is it worth trying to speak to the new teacher early on in the term, to explain that your DS's enthusiasm for maths is waning and to ask for suggestions as to how to help him to engage in a way that is not interpreted as 'show-offy' in any way? I do think there is every hope that things will be better, if it's just a personality clash.
Have you looked at IXL maths? uk.ixl.com/math/ (originally recommended to me by a frequent contributor, Irvine)
You can only do 10 questions per day for free, but I don't think it's expensive to subscribe if your DS likes it. The good thing about IXL is that it follows the national curriculum and is set out by year and subject, so it is really easy to pick a topic and see how your DS is getting on in that area. He can also, confidently, move ahead if he's ready. I've found it useful with my DD who doesn't have a great deal of confidence in maths, although she doesn't struggle. She can 'see' that she is on target or ahead in certain areas.
Thanks for the replies, very helpful and I will check out Beast Academy as well as IXL maths. DS is okay in English and spellings are no problem, but he hates writing and I've had complaints over the year about sloppy writing and rushing through creative writing. It's something we are slowly working on!
Yes LetItGo he has met his teacher for next year and said she seems nice. I will see if I can arrange to have a word with her early on. I agree it probably is a personality clash and I understand its impossible for teachers to like all pupils equally. He's quiet and well behaved but can be daydreamy, and unresponsive (due to anxiety he becomes tongue tied), and over the years it's been nothing short of frustrating for his teachers. Only one teacher truly 'got' him and his personality reminded me so much of DS. He is also a maths whizz Must be a thing.
A good school will share what they intend ot teach in the forthcoming year. So at the beginning of term they give out information for all the subjects so you know what the curriculum will look like. Often it is on their web site. Can you ask for an overview of the curriculum so you know what he will be covering? They should be assessing his progress about twice a term so they should be able to pin point any areas where he is not making enough progress. You could ask if this information can be communicated to you.
The SATS passes may truly reflect the neighbourhood and the children. They may be making good progress to get 99 in SATS. The other problem might be is the lack of bright maths sparks to work with. Is he an outlier? Is the school going to find that challenging when they have other problems to deal with in the classes if so many are not getting 100 plus in the SATS? They should be up to teaching him at the required level, but it can be easy to not bother too much and blame the child.
I think the "trying harder" comment is a bit of a throw away line for "boring lessons". They should be able to set harder challenging work for those that need it, to keep him engaged, and not allow him to switch off. I do think he needs to meet the teacher half-way with remaining interested because then they will give him harder work, but he has to prove he can do it. So daydreaming, slowing down and not engaging are not going to help with that. Suggest that he finishes his work quickly and asks for more!
Firstly, if you are thinking of getting a tutor for 11+ in year 5, I'd advise you to find out names of good ones and getting him on the waiting list now. Working through the age appropriate Bond or CGP books ( CGP do age appropriate books working towards 11+. Get these rather than their standard national curriculum books) will help and it would be a good idea to get him used to verbal and nonverbal reasoning questions. You need to know what papers the grammar schools you are interested in do. They will all do maths but some do English, others it do verbal reasoning instead, others do both etc. Then you don't waste time practising things that aren't needed. See how things go with his teacher this year plus Bond/CGP books. If you can actually sit down with him and go through books together ( especially to start with) rather than leaving him to work through stuff on his own, this is often more beneficial.