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I am a useless parent. How much 'extra' do you do with your child?

70 replies

tortoiseSHELL · 01/10/2007 17:18

I am feeling a real failure - I really haven't done much 'extra' with ds1 outside school as regards academic work (he is Y2) and I think all his friends' parents have. We've obviously done his reading books and he is a good reader, but now I find the others have all been having coaching of one sort or another - some Kumon, some just extra work at home.

Now I feel like I've let him down - I've got him some workbooks which he loves doing (and tbh he HAS done this sort of thing before - the Gold Stars type) - he's doing the Letts ones. Dd is reception - should she be being coached???

I really don't like the idea of them having to work hard at home as well as school, but what REALLY worries me is that the 'coached' 'kumon' children are put in a higher group because they're naturally a bit further on, having had more teaching, and they then get stretched more, and ds1 misses out on what he COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Any advice? The G&T threads on here recently haven't helped either - really make me feel like I should be doing more for the kids. Their out of school activities tend to be gym, swimming, music etc.

OP posts:
seeker · 02/10/2007 06:06

It's also possible that the teacher will look at the kids on the "top" table and think "well, that lot are there or thereabouts already - lets see if we can chivvy these middle people along a bit" It's also possible that your ds, like my dd, will realize that they are on the middle table and decide himself that he wants to concentrate on getting himself moved "up" Anyway, I would see what he gets in his KS2 SATS. Maybe if you're not happy with his scores, and you still want to go down the coaching route, year 3 is the time to do it?

niceglasses · 02/10/2007 06:51

Nothing either.

I do feel guilty sometimes too but then think back to my childhood and really we did nothing and I was allowed to have a childhood.

I am contemplating French as its one of my regrets I can't speak a lang and I think on the whole its taught badly - but I don't know if they will stick at it.

I sometimes help my Yr2 boy with his writing but thats because its deplorable.........

Don't feel guilty. I once had some company come to the house (not Kumon but something like it) to show me their CD based learning support and it was pretty dull too - couldn't see them sitting down twice a week to that. Plus it was BLARDY expensive!!!!!!!!!!!

tortoiseSHELL · 02/10/2007 08:41

My worry isn't really what 'table' he's on (they don't do tables fortunately, but have groups for maths, english etc), more that he might just sink into a comfortable 'coasting along' because the teacher doesn't rate him as 'as bright as the ones who are so far ahead'.

I'm sounding horrifically pushy, I'm not! But I just want him to have a fair shot really.

OP posts:
ahundredtimes · 02/10/2007 09:03

No not pushy but you are sounding very, very anxious. Why? Are you in a grammear area, do you have the 11 plus looming Torts?

It sounds as if all the parents have jumped on some horrific competitive treadmill round your way - and so early on too -am just wondering why!

Fennel · 02/10/2007 09:37

Is it really a problem if a primary school age child "coasts"? Whether or not they're particularly bright? They don't need to learn everything at this age, there's lots of time when they're older.

My 7 and 6 yo do various out of school activities, but only the ones they want to do. the only things we've pushed have been swimming, and recently recorder lessons (cos DP and I are so unmusical that if we did have a musical child we'd be oblivious to it).

We do lots of outdoorsy casual stuff, lots of beach trips and cycling and picnics and camping. I would far prefer my children to remember playing in their childhood than to remember it as a stream of lessons and coaching sessions.

Creole · 02/10/2007 09:41

I know exactly what you mean and am going to disagree with the majority.

My son has been described as very bright by all the teachers he has had so far (and including a lot of the mums in his school, well, because their kids tell them).

However, because of my relaxed approach (I wouldn?t do any work at home with him) he wasn?t achieving his full potential and I felt a bit guilty too. When it comes to writing (he doesn?t have writing problems), he finds this very boring (his words) and it would take him hours to write anything down or would produce the bare minimum ? so as a result he wasn?t achieving his full potential.

In his report his teachers said he is capable of working to a very high standard, but he wasn't. Every year he keeps going down a group - he's in yr 2 now and am worried it will get worst.

So, at the beginning of this year, I started doing a bit of work with him after school ? nothing heavy just revising his number bonds, times tables, reading, spellings etc. We allocated about an hour for what we call ?school work?, which really is to teach him to sit down and get his work done.

The actual work takes roughly about 15 mins, but the rest we use that for reading to each other and playing his fav game at the end.

I really don?t think a little bit of work is going to affect their childhood, my son now has more confidence and he is producing more work at school now, which his teacher has commented on. So in a way, he is slowly realising his potential.
He gets to play a lot after school with his friends and attend his tennis and guitar lessons weekly.

Sorry written an essay, but just to say, 15 mins a day (that is if you think they need it) is not likely to affect them, it becomes a routine after a while.

kslatts · 02/10/2007 09:48

I listen to my dd's read each evening, however if dd2 (YR1) is too tired I read the school book to her as her bedtime story instead. Dd1 (YR3) reads every evening and practises her spellings, she also has 2 pieces of homework at the weekend. We don't do any other academic work with them.

DD1 also goes to Brownies, Irish dancing and swimming, dd2 goes to Football, swimming and Irish dancing. They both really enjoy doing these activities.

I think it's important they get time to relax at home, I have never even considered doing extra academic work at home and wouldn't unless they were really struggling to keep up at school.

winnie · 02/10/2007 10:08

tshell, imho you are beating yourself up unnecessarily. Ds is in year two and we have really noticed that homework has increased quite dramatically this year. Ds is exhausted at the end of the day and just needs to chill out and play. We listen to him read daily and I always read to him at bedtime because we both enjoy it and xh or I sit down with him whilst he does his homework. This and one extra curricular activity is enough.

Ts, you've mentioned secondary schools and I know which city you are in and I am aware that the secondary schools there are not good. Your concern about children wanting to learn and enjoying education is something I can relate to. My daughter loved school until secondary school

In my job I meet children all the time who should be staying on at school but because the school they attend has not inspired them they don't. They are simply desperate to get out of school as soon as possible. I am not really helping you but your comments are certainly making me think.

winnie · 02/10/2007 10:10

I think I just contradicted myself then
Thanks for the food for thought ts

tortoiseSHELL · 02/10/2007 12:20

ahundredtimes - there isn't an '11 Plus' as such, but there is competition for private schools/scholarships etc because the secondaries round here are REALLY dire. Our 'local' secondary (which my children will go to over my dead body) currently has about 15% of the children getting 5 GCSEs, a friend of mine used to work there as a probation officer. There is simply no way my lovely sensitive kids are going there. And I know that is socially negligent, but there it is. So I think that is fuelling the parents. Also ds1 is in a very bright class, which is GREAT, a really good peer group, lovely lovely kids, really nice parents, which should be good, but I want him to feel an expectation from the teacher that he works hard and achieves well, because that is what will motivate him - he is that sort of child, very reluctant to 'have a go' but once he realises he can do something, is passionate about it - take drawing, he wouldn't draw because he said he couldn't do it, wouldn't colour or anything, then suddenly discovered he could, and now draws 40 or 50 pictures a day.

So yes, I am anxious about it - I don't want him to be pushed at school, but for him to feel that he is doing well. He quite often comes home and says they did writing, but he only did a little, because 'that was all he needed to do'.

Creole - that's a good idea - there are one or two 'spots' in the week where we do extra reading etc (waiting for dd's gym lesson etc), when we're out of the house and can't really do anything else.

I don't want to be a pushy parent, but I equally don't want the children to be left behind because I've not taken the time to help them enough. THanks for all the responses - they've really helped!

OP posts:
Carbonel · 02/10/2007 12:21

This is such a tricky subject and I understand exactly where you are coming from Tshell.

I think a lot depends on the individual child - you can 'teach' them a lot through their own interests wihtout it appearing 'work' Frinstance dd and I went to the Georgian Museum in Bath recently - tied in with their school topic on houses which she took to enthusuiastically. She demanded the little 'question pack' from the curator and carefully looked in every room to answer all the questions, really enjoying finding out about things and looking at all the exhibits, making up stories about the people that lived there and when she got home making a pretend sedan chair for her dollies etc.

If I had taken ds to that museum he would have run through the house in 5 mins then gone elsewhere to run around and play. BUT I can do different thibgs with him through play - we do 'big' snakes and ladders which is teaching him addition and counting etc, lots of stuff on the trampoline tied in with couting, patterns etc and he is learning without realising it. I have books all round the house and in the car and he generally picks one up and will read it to his toys - if i tried to 'make' him read he refuses!

Dd and i also used to do 30 mins Jolly Grammar at wekends - only becasue she asked me for it and did so without fail every week.
Both also do swimming - I insisted becasue dh cannot swim and almost drowned them when they were little so I see the consequences of not - and they love it and it's good exercise

The trouble with a lot of extra curricular activities is that they, too, are competitive. I would love to find dancing classes for my two but they all seem to be focussed towards exams / shows not fun

I think if you are worried about him 'coasting', which is a real possibiltiy unless you are lucky enough to be in a school which stetches every child, I would do things with him that he thinks are play but satisfy your need to extend him - get the best of both worlds

there is loads of stuff you can download from the interenet too eg the power rangers colouring sheets have done wonders for my ds' pen control

seeker · 02/10/2007 13:34

have you mentioned these concerns to you ds's teacher?

tortoiseSHELL · 02/10/2007 13:37

seeker, I'm waiting for parents evening, which is usually sometime after half term - I think she might suspect I am a bit neurotic as it is - I had to speak to her twice in the first 2 weeks - once because ds1 was REALLY unhappy about school, and I just wanted to check he was ok AT school (which he was, and is much happier now), secondly because they were starting swimming, and I wanted her to be aware that he had taken a year to build his confidence, and that if he started worrying, not to crush him with a 'don't be silly' response, and that he'd witnessed a drowning in the summer,and was still a bit anxious about it.

So I don't really want to go in with ANOTHER worry!

OP posts:
bozza · 02/10/2007 14:02

Two concerns aren't all that many. And I think this is a very legitimate thing to bring up at parents' evening - otherwise what is the point of having a meeting with the teacher?

I don't do anything extra-cirricular with DS academic wise because he doesn't really need it (he is Y2). So he does beavers (it is fun, good socially and he loves it), swimming (it is taking him years to learn to swim but DH can't swim and we are both determined that both DC will learn), and football (he loves the sport although he doesn't show any particular apptitude and I think it is better for him to be playing it as well as watching and reading about it). He has also asked to go to Art Club after school, which I have agreed to because I think it is mainly just sitting and drawing pictures (infants only club) and is on the same night as football so means he gets a gentle sitting drawing time before his football.

DS is academically strong. He struggles with physical things (swimming, riding bike etc) and is not a good drawer. So really all his activities are geared towards his weak points. Actually I would have preferred him to do recorder than art club, but need to have some give and take on these things.

bozza · 02/10/2007 14:03

I do however make sure he practices his spellings 4x a week (currently he has 100% spelling record this term), reads daily (ish), and does his homework over the weekend.

tortoiseSHELL · 02/10/2007 14:39

bozza - yes I agree, it's something for parents evening. We've concentrated on the more physical/creative things out of school - swimming (ds1 is VERY poor at this!), gymnastics, orchestra etc But it's now that all the 'extra maths' things are starting to pop up, which is causing my panic!!!

OP posts:
seeker · 02/10/2007 14:48

Remember SATS this year - you'll know if he's being taught all he should be being taught from them.

seeker · 02/10/2007 14:49

And two concerns since the beginning of term doesn't seem much at all to me. Particulalry such legitimate ones.

bozza · 02/10/2007 15:09

Well I think you are doing the right thing. I really don't think most state schools can be relied on with swimming especially for a child who takes a while to get going with it (like your DS and my DS) so that is important. I suppose I am lucky that the parents in our area are not as pushy or I think I would be suffering a wobble, like you. I have that type of personality.

bluejelly · 02/10/2007 15:17

Tortoiseshell don't panic, kids that each really don't need extra tuition. I think this is often a reflection of a parent's insecurity than a genuine need

( Sorry if that offends anyone)

Concentrate on enjoying your time wiht your son, taking him to fun activities like swimming. And reading to him in the evening.

Leave the academic side to the teachers.

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