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Summer born boy struggling in Y1 - ideas, inspiration, options?

17 replies

changer22 · 26/05/2008 11:49

We've had a few behaviour problems over the year, nothing major - boisterous boyness - and we decided to let that settle down rather than be on his case about his behaviour and school work. He was getting reluctant to go to school, getting told off when he was there, and we seemd to be on a downward spiral. Fortunately this has calmed down now, he likes school, is popular and it seems to be going well so we have decided to pick up the school work.

We've always been on the non-pushy side of education, but with DD (18 months younger) charging along and about to start Reception, we've decided to check out exactly how DS is doing and it's not good. He can't read a thing. Doesn't know some of his letters, names some, sounds out others - it's a bit of a mess. Plus his interest and attention are low.

I'm pretty sure the way he is being taught is pretty old-school (blackboard, carpet, TAs hearing him read,etc.) and he has been turned off the whole reading thing. It seems this year there are some who are streaks ahead and I'm worried he's decided not to join in (a kind of subconscious can't lose if I'm not in the race thing).

I'm not looking for fantastic results but I want him to enjoy books as DH and I do and enjoy learning and get more out of school. I'm going to talk to his teacher next week but I'm not sure how far that will get me. She has already told us he is well below average and should reach below average in Year 2 (there's encouraging!) and she's pretty defensive.

There's a lot on here about summer born boys doing well but what about those who don't and what have other parents done about it? I've read a lot about Montessori schools in the US which sound perfect for him and while I can use some of their methods at home, I want his experience at school to improve. I'm wary of changing schools as most of the private schools around here are academic and he would flounder at the moment. Plus he loves his school for it's social opportunities - football - and we really don't have the finances at the moment.

OP posts:
mloo · 26/05/2008 12:02

www.starfall.com? There are good basic maths games/websittes too, I reckon.
Gotta make letters and numbers fun, whatever you do,
Pop to the shops and other Orchard Toys games are good for basic literacy & maths skills.
I have a summer-born boy too -- not yet in school, though.

fsmail · 26/05/2008 12:03

I went through the same thing with my DS in the early years and was worried. Then he turned 7 decided he was going to read and can now read everything in sight at the age of nearly 8 (June). He did not even like to try to read prior to this and I think this may be quite normal. I did try and get him to read a couple of pages most days of the ORT books though and really practised his sounds but thought it would never come. He now reads over my shoulder, books, newspapers etc and loves Hiccup Horrendous the Third books. Great for boys. Try reading him these.

changer22 · 28/05/2008 20:27

fsmail - Did you talk to the school? Did they come up with suggestions, a different approach?

I'm concerned that he's going to miss out on things by always being behind. I was talking to another mother of a summer born DS the other day and she said there were various things he just hadn't picked up. He is now in Year 7 and doesn't get capital letters! She said there were really big gaps in his literacy and she thinks it's because he was always playing catch up.

OP posts:
jennifersofia · 28/05/2008 21:31

Yes, I think you are doing the right thing to address this now. How is his phonics? Does he know his letter sounds? How is it taught in school? The teacher should be able to tell you exactly what the school is doing to help your son. How are they working to help him with his attention span? What are they doing to help him learn his phonics? How are they making it positive for him so he feels he is able to succeed, even just a little bit? Does the school offer the ELS scheme? If so, can your son get on it? If the teacher can't enter into this kind of conversation, I would take it further and say that you have real concerns.
I say this as a Y1 teacher, btw.

changer22 · 29/05/2008 21:35

Thanks for the encouragement. I will discuss it with his teacher next week.

What is ELS? Extra Literacy...? He said the ones 'with a good memory' are being pulled out.

OP posts:
whippet · 02/06/2008 22:08

changer - I empathise here, and in fact was just about to start a similar thread.

DS2 is an Aug born boy (also in Yr1). He is average/ below average academically and I have been worried off and on over the last year.

Both DH & I are pretty academic, and DS1 (8) is shockingly bright (photographic memory!) and I just FEEL so for DS2, who struggles so much with the things we just took for granted with DS1.

I also feel guilty/ impatient/ ill-equipped to know how to help him either. My heart breaks for him when we 'read' a word on one page, and he's forgotten it by the next .

I also went to talk to his teacher, and she wasn't too worried, and said he would catch up. But, like you, I just feel that is he doesn't get the 'basics' cemented in his mind, then he will not be able to 'build' from there.

DS2 also has very poor self-esteem . He keeps saying that he's 'stupid'; gives up on things because he 'won't be able to do it'; gets really upset/tearful about being the youngest in his class; always gets frustrated that he can't kick a ball as far, hit a ball, or swim as far etc.

I'd also like some advice about how to cope with this.
I've tried not to push the academic stuff, and to try to teach him basics through things he enjoys doing, but I really am hopelessly impatient, and I'm sure he senses that .
We also just try to praise & praise him when he achieves something (however small) but he often responds negatively.

I just wish I could find something he is REALLY REALLY good at to build his confidence.

LavendersBlueDillyDilly · 02/06/2008 22:20

whippet I could have written your post.

Only difference is my DS is in Reception. But I knew he wasn't ready for school, he hasn't been intersted in learning this year, his confidence is decreasing and I am concerned that he is just going to struggle even more in Yr1.

I feel so sad for him that he has started his eduction at a disadvantage, and that he will now spend the whole time lagging behind, finding it hard, and trying to catch up.

I went to visit a private school last week, to investiaget him starting again in reception this year, so effectively been a year group behind, but at what I feel is the right level for him. They were very taken aback at this suggestion and didn't seem to think it was a good idea.

I don't know what to do, I feel I just have to accept this disadvantage he has, but I feel so sad for him.

I don't think more work at home is the answer. I read with him, but think anymore is just adding to the pressure. I have a house full of educational resources, but don't feel this is the answer, time is what he needs and what he has lost.

ChazsBarmyArmy · 02/06/2008 23:00

My DS1 is a late Aug bd and is currently in reception. He is in private school so he does have the benefit of small classes. However, he is still a bit behind the others and I am wary of pushing him too hard. I have been doing a bit of homework with him most nights but only in the form of fun workbooks with lots of stickers and gold stars etc to boost his confidence. I have had him doing join the dots to help his number recognition and bought simple books on topics he likes e.g. dinosaurs.
I have made the tough decision to make him do a bit of this homework throughout the summer holidays (i.e. 10-15mins 3 or 4 times a week). My logic is that most kids who do no work fall back during the summer so if I can maintain his current standard or even slightly improve it he may well be on a par with his peers after the holidays and that will do wonders for his confidence.

[ducks flaming brands thrown at supposed hot housing mother]

I think with DS some of the issues are confidence & maturity and I hope that if he can reach a solidly average position by the start of year 1 then he will believe in himself and his abilities.

whippet · 03/06/2008 08:53

Chazs - I agree with you, and think that the bits and pieces of 'work' etc throughout the holidays are a good thing.

I am also trying to find as many games & fun ways of trying to embed the things he should know by the end of Year 1.

I just really want him to get his reading developed to a point where he can begin to read things for himself. He COULD read simple books now if he wanted, but he's very resistent . I find it so hard, as the rest of the family are all complete bookworms!

LavendersBlueDillyDilly · 03/06/2008 09:17

One of the things that does reassure me whippet, is that i refused to read until I was 8, then 'one day', litrally, discovered i could read, and have been a bookworm from that day on.

Just because it doesn't happen early deosn't mean it won't happen.

the book I discovered I could read BTW, was The Magic faraway Tree, I'll never forget the experinec of 'discovering' books.

whippet · 03/06/2008 10:09

LBDD - I'm hoping this will be the case for DS! I think he has just decided himself that he's not ready for some of this stuff.

He has said "I will read when I'm six..!

I've seen so many changes in the last year though, there's no telling what can change in the next. Age 5-6 seems full of milestones:

  • learn to swim
  • ride bike properly
  • legible writing


I've also changed our strategy with reading. we used to read his school book at bedtime, which was hard, as he was too tired and didn't find them that interesting. So now we do it as 'homework' when he comes in from school, and at bedtime we have a more snuggly story which I mostly read, but get him to do odd sentences I know he can read.

Just recently he's started asking me to 'show him where I am' (on the page) so he's obviously beginning to follow the words, which is great.
ChazsBarmyArmy · 03/06/2008 11:18

I do the homework/reading with DS1 after he has had a snack and a wind down whilst dinner is cooking. He sits at the kitchen table and works whilst I am cooking and feeding DS2 (10months) that way its not a big formal event. I then read him a bedtime story.
I also try and get him to read signs, packets in shops, bus numbers etc so he can read if a door says push or pull or watch for the bus number we need at a stop and see a purpose to being able to read.

jennifersofia · 03/06/2008 12:04

ELS is the 'Extended Literacy Scheme' (I believe) and is usually done in groups of 6 children to 1 specially trained teacher or TA. They do a daily 20 minute session that works specifically with the mechanics of reading, eg phonics, blending and so on. The programme is really designed to help the children who are just at the beginning of reading up to speed to become competent readers. It is a good programme.

ChazsBarmyArmy · 04/06/2008 10:12

DS's reception teacher has arranged from him to see their SENCO so she can assess if he needs a bit more help with his reading next year. Initially, I felt a bit down about this but now I have had a chance to think it through properly I am quite pleased. I want to make sure he gets the basics fixed in his mind asap otherwise everything else he learns will be on shaky foundations.
Changer has your DS been offered extra support?

Ecmo · 04/06/2008 10:23

I have a summer born DS who is in Yr2. He is only just starting to try to read. He often doesnt want to though. He still doesnt write much and can't read some of the first words. He has just done his SATS have no idea how he did. I am expecting below average.
I hope when he decides to do it he will catch up quite easily. He has a vivid imagination and isn't stupid. He is just scared of failure so doesn't like to try anything he thinks he might not be able to do well.

However his behaviour is better than last year, He was very figity, stubborn and uncooperative. It is hard to see him struggling but I console myself with the fact that he isn't even 7 yet and they don't even start school till 7 in some countries!

He is at a small school of about 70 pupils.
He will be the first year that stays on till 11 as they are phasing out middle schools here. I hope they will provide them with some of the facities he would have had at the middle school.

fsmail · 04/06/2008 22:55

My DS, late reader now nearly 8 goes to bed every night reading dinosaur or animal encyclopedias and I hear him reading. He loves reading and is more fluent than my friends child who read from a young age. The school were good and really did help with extra lessons for the young ones *state school'. My DH and I are both academic and the amount of times MIL was down at the school about DH's reading when he was younger. He preferred non-fiction as does DS. My DH has a physics degree. Late reading is not a sign of a child being backward just a sign of a child not interested. Encourage, encourage and praise that is all I can advise and take every help the school offers without being too proud. My DD (July baby) starts school in September so the hard work begins again and it was hard work but now he has definitely caught up and done better than his older peers.

Madsometimes · 05/06/2008 10:57

Year 1 is a very hard year for children, particularly summer borns. Five year olds really learn best through play and often year 1 is sit down at your table and learn formally.

When I was in this position with my daughter I opted to pay for extra help. I chose Kumon, but tuition would also have been an option. The problem is that if children have not picked up on the basics then it can be demotivating for them. My husband and I are both educated to degree level, but we are totally clueless about how children learn. We are far to inclined to pitch things at too high a level and then everyone gets cross.

Now we just pay for Kumon and I am guessing from your post that if you could just about afford private school, then you could probably afford state school plus extra help. With Kumon (and probably tutors) the child is set work for their ability, not their school year, so all the basics are covered. However, getting a reluctant child to do the worksheets is not easy

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