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how hard do you push?

(78 Posts)
dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 15:38:35

My 6 yr old is at a first rate London day school but not a hot house type. She is a confident and accomplished communicator and does really well in written and read English. She is about middle of the year in Maths and most other subjects. Her mother and I have the view we should allow her to be who she is so no extra homework and tutoring.

We are just beginning to think about London day schools and boarding. As far as we can tell at this early stage she might want to board. It looks like she is a bit below Cheltenham Ladies College standard, for example, but she is a bright kid and can probably raise her game with a bit of extra focus and some help.

I am very nervous about adding pressure. All the girls who got into St Pauls this year did so without tutoring and none of those who were being tutored got places. Speaks volumes!

Any thoughts about raising the game or just letting our children be who they are?

happygardening Sat 26-Mar-16 15:48:35

I agree leave her be, my DS2 didn't even go to nursery/school till yr1 he couldn't read or write when he started, but quickly caught up with no extra help he has always done very well and he's now in his final year at Winchester. We've never pushed him just allowed him to be what he naturally is. She's only little wait and see what sort of person she's going to become before deciding what senior school is right for her.

VegasIsBest Sat 26-Mar-16 15:55:08

Completely agree with the previous poster. Just let her grow up and enjoy life together as a family. With kids you definitely need to remember it's all about the journey not the destination. If you gently encourage her to find what she's interested in and pursue those interests over the next few years the rest will come naturally.

eyebrowse Sat 26-Mar-16 15:58:52

Perhaps if you should be looking into developing some other strings to her bow e.g. dancing, music, rainbows/brownies, sports, nature club. Also important she has time to relax and develop her own interests and have friends around at home. Particularly important you enjoy your time with her now if you are thinking of sending her off to boarding school

littledrummergirl Sat 26-Mar-16 16:09:59

She's six! She should be learning that school is fun and that experiencing new concepts and ideas is an amazing experience.

I think you should wait a few years before worrying about the next stage and let her enjoy exploring her world at her own pace.

LIZS Sat 26-Mar-16 16:12:12

Ambitious parents often end up disappointed once their dc are old enough to have a say! At 6 you can't possibly assess her potential and earmark future schools.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 16:16:12

Thank you @happygardening,@VegaslsBest and @eyebrowse for your lightening reflex posts.

We are inclined to leave her alone, but want to test this as it's exactly what my parents did. It worked out pretty well but I am lazy as hell and I wondered how much more I would have achieved with a cotton wooled stick at my back.

@eyebrowse (what a great username btw) I completely agree with you - we have really worked on her non-academic qualities. She is not naturally gifted in sports but she seems to be able to ski well - a few gentle blacks already..... and she loves to ride. She has a pony now and spends most weekends mucking out, grooming and riding. She is just beginning electric guitar - not going so well!!!

Thanks for the advice

Baffled dad.

needastrongone Sat 26-Mar-16 16:19:02

Enjoy your little girl, first and foremost, from someone with teens. I was horrendously pushed, so I am completely the opposite with my DC. They are self motivated enough, for themselves. It seems to work.

needastrongone Sat 26-Mar-16 16:23:53

From someone with a teen with a pony......who is pretty much DIY in terms of livery. The commitment and dedication and hard work and sheer love than my DD gives hers has taught her a great many life skills in terms of her attitude to her school work. She knows she has limited time, as the pony takes up so much, but also wishes to achieve at school. She finds a way to get everything done to the best of her ability, but hasn't much time for social media.

I am sometimes in awe of my DD. I think all the extra curricular things you are doing will provide such an advantage for her in terms of maturity etc.

I am far less well off than I might otherwise be though...

Lurkedforever1 Sat 26-Mar-16 16:24:49

I agree with pps, leave her to find her own level for now and learn other things. I do see why parents will push borderline dc closer to 11+/13+ entrance, but I think too much, or in your case too young is counter productive. Firstly because they'll struggle once at the school of they aren't really that level, but more importantly it must be pretty miserable for the child.

At 6, there's no way of knowing what she'll be like academically at 11, and if you start pushing now you won't have any way of knowing whether you've just hot housed her to a false level she can't maintain, or whether she would have got there naturally.

Fwiw my dd (12) is an outlier academically. But maths aside, if she'd been at a selective primary rather than one with a low achieving cohort, she would just have been somewhere in the top half of the class at age 6 in literacy. All that changed was her maturity/ development and interest, rather than outside influence.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 16:26:44

@littledrummergirl we chose her current school because of its extraordinary enthusiasm for fun. I agree with you that this is what souls matter, ideally at any age.

The school is surrounded by hot house alternatives but my DD loves almost every minute of every day there. It's a genuine privilege to pay the fees.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 16:32:40

@LIZS we don't really care if she is PM or a poet; we just want to make sure we do our bit to help her get the most out of her life for her.

It's bonkers that we are having to think now about what she is going to do at 11, but some schools lists are getting pretty full; especially the less academic ones who don't use grades so much to filter applicants.

Thanks for your thoughts. It all helps to keep what's important in perspective.

Drinkstoomuchcoffee Sat 26-Mar-16 16:44:16

DCs change a lot between 6 and 11. We mistakenly put DC 1 down for 7 + entry to competitive London day schools. We were abroad at the time and so out of touch that we had not realised that they were supposed to be able to read and write and do formal maths for the exams. blush We withdrew him before the exam as at 6+ he could do none of those things. He had no difficulties getting in to "competitive" schools further down the line - and if he had had they would not have been the schools for him.
If she is not having much luck with the guitar - hard for a 6 year old - I would strongly recommend the banjo. It's much easier and little ones pick it up very quickly. Once they enjoy playing an instrument it is much easier to get them to progress on to other things.

happygardening Sat 26-Mar-16 16:48:58

Definitely let your DD enjoy life, do lots of things with her concerts plays art galleries make up ridiculous stories together talk/debate lots of things also let her play in the sand on the beach, throwi stones in a river, climb tees play in the local play ground most importantly laugh. I did all if that with my DCs DS2 has full boarded since he was 7 we are incredibly close, I think the wonderful times we all had together when they were little helped them to develop into easy teenagers and also contributed massively to DS2's academic success.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 16:56:20

Thank you for all your very helpful posts. This is my first mums net outing and every reply has helped.

We are firmly committed to allowing our DD to be who she is. Our only concern is that we haven't given any real thought to pushing her academically. We know lots of parents who only think of Wycombe Abbey or St Pauls, neither of which we will encourage our daughter to consider.

Are there any substantive arguments for pushing your kids?

The reasons for not doing so are obvious and certainly in line with my view, but is there a different view worth considering?

happygardening Sat 26-Mar-16 17:12:25

My MIL pushed and pushed and pushed my DH nothing was ever good enough. When he left home (st the earliest opportunity) he barely spoke to his mother for 10 years now he still remains distant from her, seeing her only really on birthdays Xmas etc.

thesandwich Sat 26-Mar-16 17:24:08

Have a google of carol dwek mindset stuff- Ted talk I think.
Key to success- whatever that means - is resilience- and learning to bounce back. Worth a look.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 17:46:01

Thank you @thesandwich I will check that out.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 17:51:51

@Drinkstoomuchcoffee A big LOL about banjo. Love that idea. I think we have been far too ambitious with the electric guitar, but she likes Jack and Dianne and also Hells Bells. Her 'drum exercises' as she calls them, we're just too much to live with. Banjo might be a good plan.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 17:56:12

@happygardening that's a real shame. It can be difficult to recover lost relationships. Perhaps there is still time but a salutary lesson.

randomparent Sat 26-Mar-16 18:40:11

I agree with others that age 6 is the time for DCs to enjoy discovering the world in a carefree way and for parents to cherish this all-too-brief period. But parents can help their children's development (as you appear to be already doing) by seeking to broaden their horizons - via sports, music, museums, travel, reading together and discussing different topics, etc - and providing encouragement.

Echoing the posts upthread, DCs change a lot between 6 and 10-11. Looking at my DD's progress over the years, she probably would not have passed the 7+ (she read well at that age but her maths comprehension came about more gradually) but at age 9 or so, her ability to absorb and process information, concepts, etc expanded rapidly (I would imagine many other DCs experience the same).

When my DD was 6 (she's now nearly 12), we didn't think about a specific secondary school (it seemed so far away) but sought to nurture her curiosity and expand her horizons via the activities discussed above. When we decided to do the 11+ (we had also considered alternative routes), we applied to a range of schools because we didn't know where DD would fit in best. Through the 11+ preparation and exams, we (and DD) learned that an academic environment suited her so that's the direction we took.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sat 26-Mar-16 18:40:36

I find language skills are very important for her to develop

For example - telling time - how can you learn time without having the language - quarter to half past etc?

Increase her vocabulary- use over the top describing words -

Take her to the farm museum so she has experience to back up her views

Let her hear your stories

Read to her

They are all little things that really add up.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 19:11:03

@randomparent you make some excellent points. I especially agree with your message about expanding horizons.

It's a bit early for my 6yr old but she is subscribed to The Week Junior, a current affairs weekly digest specifically aimed at the 8-14 group. The stories range from children using too many exclamation marks, people who are too poor to eat a balanced diet in Africa are eating protein rich bugs; all dogs must be microchipped and the route Syrian refugees are taking and how fighting has stopped in Syria. She is sitting by me now reminding me of the stories from 2 and 3 weeks ago. Astounding! I cant recommend this magazine highly enough for stimulating conversation and broadening horizons.

We go to Disney in Florida in a few days via Washington. Travel is such a catalyst for opening the mind. She will have context for the US Election from our DC visit, even if she doesn't understand why I am throwing her toys at Donald Drumf on TV she will have an interest in the White House.

happygardening Sat 26-Mar-16 19:21:22

If you DD is lucky who th to have grand parents get them involved my mother was evacuated she told terribly sad stories about her experiences, we still have her ration cards etc, she then worked for a famous photographer we have some of his pictures she met all the 50's film stars who she loved to talk about, but she also had friends who were imprisoned post war for being gay, communists and one in WW2 who was imprissoned for being a consciousness objector we have the letters he wrote to his wife from prison. In this day and age it's hard to imagine such things, but change often need to know this sort of thing happened to stop history repeating itself. Don't be afraid to discuss your beliefs, I come from a long line of political activists, and my grand parents in the war helped protected and helped Jews escape. My parents from an old army age encouraged me to speak out against injustice I've encouraged mine to do the same.

dadwithadaughter Sat 26-Mar-16 19:23:31

@Sallyhasleftthebuilding - Yes, I wish we had helped her more with languages. She speaks a bit of French but does not yet feel very confident speaking it when we are there. It's a complete contrast to her mastery of English in which she is over-achieving, much to my swelling pride.

We are big on 'words' in our family - she has run with this. On top of the 20 words a week the school gives her (last week - quarter, quantity, quality, etc) she likes to play with words for fun, looking for colourful metaphors, similes, onomatopoeia, homophones and homographs, which she has studied this term.

Any pointers are welcome - its a strength of hers that we want to support

Can you tell me about the Farm Museum?

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