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Does a child's lack of participatioin in whole class activites automaticallyy mean,,,,,,,

(28 Posts)
FAQinglovely Fri 10-Jul-09 16:13:59

that they're not making an effort?

I'm in 2 minds about this.

DS1 all through infant school has never been keen on contributing to whole class discussions, he's been fine in small groups and one to one with other pupils and teachers, but whole class has just been something he doesn't like to do.

I never like it when I was a child either.

His report which I've just got he's been given an "acceptable" for effort, with lots of comments dotted through it for about his lack of contribution in whole class discussioins.

Do you think it's possible for a child to make a good effort at school without this whole class contribution??

I don't think it's fair that it's being picked up on in such a negative way - surely there are always going to be people who aren't comfortable in large group situations - but still work hard?

Or is contributing in large group discussions a vital thing that I've somehow missed the point of?

AMumInScotland Fri 10-Jul-09 16:23:35

It doesn't mean they're not making an effort, just that they don't find whole class discussions their kind of thing. My DS has always been a very hard worker, but he'd have chewed off his own arm sooner than do things in a whole-class situation. I don't recall him ever being marked down for effort, just comments that it was something the teacher was trying to encourage him to do more.

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 10-Jul-09 16:28:08

I don't know much about how things are in education nowadays but when I were a lass (long time ago!) I was very reserved and rarely got involved in whole class discussions, I hated putting my hand up to answer questions in front of the class, but I was really conscientious and made a big effort with my work. It was always pointed out about my lack of participation which made me feel worse and more self conscious, I wished teachers would realise people learn differently, some are comfortable with joining in and some work better alone or in small groups.

Maybe they point it out to try to make children more 'rounded' or something, I don't know. But IMO I don't think it matters.

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 10-Jul-09 16:29:43

And I got all As and Bs in my GCSEs [preens] so it couldn't have mattered that much that I didn't join in with big groups.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 10-Jul-09 16:31:46

They're criticizing an infant for not participating in discussions?hmm I agree with you, at that age there are loads of shy kids (and loads of motormouths).

With DD it was managed the correct way round - positive comments when she started to come out of her shell, in juniors.

FAQinglovely Fri 10-Jul-09 16:43:16

well he's in his first year in Juniors now (YR3) so still relatively young.

It was brought up briefly down at teh infant school - but a discussion with each of his teachers it was agreed with them it wasn't a huge issue as that's just the way some children are.

I have to say I haven't been overly impressed with his teacher this year.

At a parents evening earlier this year I noticed in his work LOTS of unfinished tasks, and lots of comments telling him to work quicker. Fair enough - when the numbers 1-10 are written in a book and only 3 questions have been done - yes he needed to work quicker.

Open evening a week or so ago - I looked at his books and I could see a huge improvement, not everything finished but instead of only 3/4 questions finished it was more like 8/9. I asked his teacher (wasn't "proper" parent teacher appointments just as chance to ask brief questions) if he'd improved with being quicker at his work and was told "hmm, well yes I suppose a little bit" shock. It was blatantly obvious that while he still has some way to go to completing the tasks he's given he'd made a huge effort to get more of the work done and I was left rather bemused by the whole thing.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 10-Jul-09 16:44:43

Better luck with next years teacher!

FAQinglovely Fri 10-Jul-09 16:54:50

thanks - I've been rather disappointed really as it's an excellent school with great results - but this teacher is relatively new to the school and tbh doesn't seem to be as good as the rest of them.

Heard great reports about his teacher for next year so fingers cross she'll be able to get the best out of him. smile.

mrz Fri 10-Jul-09 19:04:20

Is it his lack of participation in class discussions or class activities that is the issue?

I wouldn't expect every child to be confident enough to stand up and speak in front of the class but I would expect them to join in a class activity such as singing or number rhymes etc as part of the group.

cornsilk Fri 10-Jul-09 19:13:35

But some children find it really hard to join in with whole class activities surely?

mrz Fri 10-Jul-09 19:52:49

Some children find maths hard, some children find reading hard, some children find painting hard, so should we as teachers say never mind don't try?

FAQinglovely Fri 10-Jul-09 20:46:37

no he joins in with activities - it's just the whole class discussions he's never been keen on participating in.

FAQinglovely Fri 10-Jul-09 20:50:59

mind - i've also noticed a few more slight discrepancies in it having read again.

"needs to work on his multiplication tables"

hmm - that's funny they had a timetables quiz at school about a month ago and he got 26/30 correct (his test included one or 2 of the ones he hasn't actually learnt yet). Admittedly no he can't stand there and fire the answer back at you - so we need to do work on the memorising of them and becoming "second nature" - but he's certainly not totally hopeless at them.

Then there's the "acceptable" for his behaviour.........start of the week he brought home one of the school "merit" Certificates...........for good behaviour! Crikey I never thought he'd get an excellent (that would be the wrong child LOL) but on their reports "acceptable" is akin to "satisfactory" in OFSTED........

He apparently also needs to work on handling and sorting data - so this afternoon I set him on the BBC Bitesize website - specificially on the handling and sorting data bits - no problem.

start of the year she mention he needed to work on his telling the time (he still does grin) - but not a word of it in his report.

To say I'm slightly at a loss of what to make of his report is an understatement hmm.

cornsilk Fri 10-Jul-09 22:08:54

No you don't say 'never mind' as it is the teachers job to help children to overcome their difficulties.

FAQinglovely Fri 10-Jul-09 23:04:05

this school report is becoming more hmm that more I read it

She's ticked the box to say that his spelling is "above average".........yet she describes his spelling as "reasonable and needs to practice them more".

oh gawd the whole thing is full of contradictions. I have to say I've been quite disappointed with my experience of his first year at Juniors.

Cornsilk - do you know what she told me at the parents evening when I first noted the initial TOTAL lack of effort in finishing his work

"well I think he's doing ok but I don't really know as he doesn't finish his work or contribute in class"

that and "oh he needs to work on telling the time".

and basically that was it! I ended up getting advice here on MN on how to help him improve his speed at finishing work as when I asked her how I could help him she couldn't offer me anything.

cornsilk Fri 10-Jul-09 23:58:57

Sounds to me like she doesn't really know your child very well at all.

FAQinglovely Sat 11-Jul-09 00:12:56

cornsilk - that' just how I feel.

You know if he'd got "acceptable" for everything and mediocre comments to match then I'd think "fair enough he needs to pull his socks up at school and get on with it".

but telling me his behaviour is "acceptable" in the ticked boxes, and then "DS1 is quiet and polite" -.

fingers crossed the teacher he's got next year is as good as I've heard she is. tbh I don't think she's really engaged him (his current teacher) at all this year. Only another week left with her and then onwards and upwards to year 4 smile

cory Sat 11-Jul-09 18:31:53

Do you not have a proper parents evening following the report? We do, and I think that's a good idea as it gives the teacher to explain what (if anything) she meant.

Ds (Yr 4) also got the comment that he needs to contribute more to class discussions and the suggestion that his mark would go up if he did. But that's fair enough, he's in Yr 4 and oral presentations and discussions is something he's going to have to learn to do eventually. Or at least accept that the highest marks will go to people who can do this one too. I was also pleased to see that they had noted that his mark is affected by his inability to write- so I'm going to use that to lean on the school to provide extra support next year.

FAQinglovely Sat 11-Jul-09 22:43:30

No we didn't.

We had a parents evenin about 6 weeks after they started at the junior schools (at which she told no less than 12 parents of children in DS1's class that they were "above average" - which is funny as some of those parents openly admit their children are struggling with quite a few subject areas).

We then had one just after Christmas.

Then the reports (2 weeks after an open evening were we could look at their work - but no actual parent-teacher meetings).

DH read it properly today (he was a teacher in Zimbabwe - went through teacher training college etc) - and he read it, went, ermm ok, and put it down. He found more stuff that just didn't add up.

I managed to get through all of my schooling with good grades without talking in front of the whole class/participating in whole class dicussions grin

FairyMum Sat 11-Jul-09 22:49:04

"Do you think it's possible for a child to make a good effort at school without this whole class contribution??"

YES!And I personally would ignore comments from primary teachers as they tend to have a lot of hang-ups and seem to not always realise they are teaching very YOUNG children who are still developing.

cory Sat 11-Jul-09 22:53:42

"I managed to get through all of my schooling with good grades without talking in front of the whole class/participating in whole class dicussions"

Yes, but these days oral presentations is part of literacy and something they will be required to do in secondary school. It's part of the curriculum. So he will either have to do it or accept that those who can do everything get the higher marks. Though of course the school should support him in getting there.

FAQinglovely Sat 11-Jul-09 22:58:19

Hey I'm not that old LOL.

I had to do oral presentations - I just didn't have to do them in front of the whole class. grin.

And I don't see how oral presentations are the same as whole class discussions. Oral presentations surely can be prepared in advance surely and practised - it's not the same as opening your gob.........and then wishing you hadn't as you get the answer wrong and everyone giggles

FAQinglovely Sat 11-Jul-09 23:02:01

actually thinking back I don't think I did any of my oral presentations for my standard grades/highers/csys's (I was in Scotland).

What part of the exam is that part of?

cory Sun 12-Jul-09 10:25:03

Oral presentations are not part of the GCSE afaik but it is an integral part of the curriculum; something everybody is meant to learn. Seen as an important skill these days, the sort of thing you will be expected to do if you get a business job, and of course very useful preparation for interviews. So whether it is actually part of the exam or not, it's certainly part of the other marks assigned by the school.

It does seem unfair on the shy ones- but then writing tasks seem unfair on the uncoordinated ones; there's always going to be something.

cory Sun 12-Jul-09 10:27:47

Since class discussions are an important part of teaching these days, they naturally need to encourage children to take part: a class discussion where nobody joined the discussions would be about as useful as a PE lesson where everybody refused to run- and of course there are always going to be children who feel very uncomfortable about their running skills. I think you need to relax a bit about this and not project your own experiences of class discussions. It may well be that with tactful encouragement from the teacher your son can learn to enjoy them. I reckon mine could if pushed tactfully.

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