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5 year old boy struggling with school

(13 Posts)
Mumup Wed 26-Aug-09 17:44:53

DS is 5 (6 in December). He is currently starting Year 1. He's a bright little guy, very interested in science and math and the world around him, and very articulate.

However, he has no real interest in learning to read (he is still working on phonics, and sounds out simple words). Getting him to write anything is a struggle; he really doesn't want to know. His school sits him down with a workbook, and 40 minutes later he will still be playing his coloured pencils, not having touched one to the paper. His teachers say he's a clever boy and fun to have around, but he often won't pay attention in class. It seems to be less a question of whether he CAN do the work, but he certainly doesn't want to!

I'm finding all this really depressing. And not because I'm particularly worried about his writing and reading (of course I am, a bit!). I just think it's a shame he's being hassled, when it's pretty clear he's not ready to read and write. I feel like he's going to spend the next year with written work beneath his nose, trying to pretend it's not there.

Anyone with any experience of this? Any thoughts or advice?

hocuspontas Wed 26-Aug-09 17:48:14

Is this a state school? Do they really sit down and work for 40 mins? In our year 1 20/25 mins would be the maximum.

Mumup Wed 26-Aug-09 17:59:48

I'm not in the UK, but.. No, I don't think he was expected to work for 40 minutes. It was one of those 'everyone's engaged in their own activities at their tables' things and it was 40 minutes before they noticed him lost in thought over what should have taken 10 minutes. Quietly daydreaming on the job!

lljkk Thu 27-Aug-09 10:13:44

How you describe him sounds completely average for a 5yo who just finished reception, ime.

moosemama Wed 02-Sep-09 17:13:19

Hi, I know I've come across this late, but thought I might be able to offer some support, if not help.

Your ds sounds exactly like mine (currently 5, 6 next April) he is bright, articulate, intelligent and very interested in everything but just not that keen on reading or writing. Your comment about it not being a question of whether he CAN do the work but rather that he doesn't want to, really struck a chord with me.

On top of that, he was very, very ill last December and as he was already not doing that well in class, when he came back after a hospital stay followed by the the holidays, he had literally forgotten everything he had learned, couldn't even write his own name or read easy 3 letter words, as a result he was put on the special needs register, given an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and was 'supposed to' get additional help in class.

We found that despite all this, he still didn't make much progress and I decided to do some work with him at home and try to make it more interesting and focussed on what he was interested in.

First of all I bought him a couple of sets of more interesting phonic reading books from red house books Biff and Kipper just aren't that interesting to a 5 year old boy imho. I also bought a couple of cheap exercise books from Tesco for him to practise his writing.

Each day I wrote out his name, plus four words from the Reception high frequency word list in his exercise book, starting with the short, easy ones. After school he would come home, have a snack and then copy his name and the four words, then he could choose up to four more words on any topic he was interested in for me to write and him to copy. I sat with him each time and helped with letter formation and size/position of letters etc.

It was tough getting him intererested at first, but his writing definitely improved and then he started to get interested enough to think of the words he 'wanted' to write the next day. By the end of the summer term he had written all the high frequency words three times (by this time I was letting him help me chose which words to write and this also helped his reading skills) and I no longer needed to write his name for him to copy, he could just write it himself at the top of each page.

I also encouraged him to draw pictures of whatever he wanted and then write a 'title' word at the top and his name at the bottom of each one.

When we had his learning review they said he had met and exceeded his targets and was now ahead of quite a few of the other children in his class.

Reading has been a tougher nut to crack, he wants to be able to read, but finds it hard work and generally is quite 'lazy' for want of a better word, with regards to the effort he needs to put in. However, I bought him this set of phonic reading books at the start of the summer holidays and he has really enjoyed them. They are really well structured, introduce the key words and sounds etc before each story and the stories are not too long so he doesn't lose interest half way through. They also recap the important words at the end of each story to reinforce the learning.

We are definitely not there yet with the reading, but I find just 20 mins a day with him reading one day, writing the next has made a massive difference to his skills and with each success comes greater motivation. Also, choosing things that he is interested in to read/write about has really helped to keep him motivated.

Sorry to ramble on, like you said, its early to be worrying about his reading and writing skills - they will come when he is ready, but if you did want to help him along a bit I hope I have said something useful in here somewhere. blush

MrsMagnolia Thu 03-Sep-09 10:25:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Carmel206 Mon 07-Sep-09 17:42:39

I'm so glad I found this - my DS is not reading at all after his reception year - and his writing is non-existant -his new teacher is terrifying and I am so worried he will just switch off..when we try to do some reading at home he cries becasue he is too tried /just doesn't want to do it - he is actually quite bright and very interested in laods of other things just not reading and writing - I don't want him to get the idea he is bad at somet thing as I think this will cause bigger probelms later. I already feel like a total failure following my parent/teacher meeting and last years school report..but I don't wan tto oush too hard in case I turn him against school - any ideas????

smee Mon 07-Sep-09 21:00:55

My DS isn't reading or writing much yet either (just started year one too). His school don't push it at all and it's obvious he's just not clicked yet. Lots of his friends are the same, especially the boys. I think it's normal and sad if the school stresses them. After all in lots of countries they don't even start formal education until they're 6 or 7.

Carmel206 Mon 07-Sep-09 21:56:07

Do you really think this happens a lot- I don't want him to fall behind - they have already pretty much classified him as towards the end of the scale , and not meeting any of the goals for last year and tell me he has problems concentrating but this is not the child I see at home - to be honest I feel like crying when I think of him in this environment. He hasn't created much of a fuss but his behaviour at home since term started again is difficult - tonight he sobbed from the time I got home from work util we went to bed -together! He won't talk about it -just says everything is "fine". I hadn't really anticipated any of this - it is all so upsetting.

smee Tue 08-Sep-09 13:22:56

No I don't think it is unusual at all. I know several very, very bright kids - brighter than mine am sure smile who weren't reading properly until end of year one/ year two in one case. Your poor poor boy though. I'd make an appointment pronto and go into the school and talk to them. How he's feeling isn't acceptable in any way. Something's making him upset and if it's low self esteem or something else you need to know what. If they won't see that, or help you, I'd move schools tbh. He's far, far too little to be labelled like that.

Carmel206 Tue 08-Sep-09 13:49:29

I'm glad to know we're not the only ones.I met with the principal at the end of last year to discuss concerns and will set something up again with his teacher in the next few days. To be fair they are very willing to meet -we just never really get anywhere.
I know what you mean though - I am really considering moving him - but he is quiet and very shy so I am trying to balance my worries here versus the impact of a new school /new children ( which I don't know if I would even get a place in yet) - this whole situation is heartbreaking. I have to own up to also feeling very angry that there is so little nurture and care and so much (over) emphasis at this very young age on literacy and standards - wouldn't it just make so much more sense to try to foster a love of learning and to focus on the children's wellbeing at this stage and ease off the pressure?

smee Tue 08-Sep-09 14:07:47

I really think you should look at other schools Carmel if it's like that. My son's has put zero pressure on him, other than quiet encouragement and phonics, etc every day. He really hasn't a clue about reading, and can do some key words, but I'm sure that's just recognition. The school aren't put more emphasis on the fact that he's settled in, has friends, is happy, joins in, and has a very vivid imagination. At the end of reception we were told he's bright and though he's not reading he's top end of the academic range as far as they're concerned, which they judge on other things alongside reading development. Sounds v.v.different to how your son's being treated.

Carmel206 Tue 08-Sep-09 14:26:12

Thank you for all this - I've had more advice here than from the school! I will find out about places in another school and also meet with teacher. You are right -he is not being treated the way I want and I can't get it our of my mind -should be working right now but sitting here trying not to get upset - I think you hit on it your school can see beyond the reading targets - and therefore can encourage all the other skills that are there - ours are too shortsighted to look past the obvious.

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