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Question
Posted by: Purple | 2012-06-15

school

Hi CS

Hope you are well.

I need your wise opinion.

My son is 8. He is intelligent and creative and reads well and his teachers always tell me how much they enjoy him and his enquiring mind.

He gets through his homework easily, in less than the allotted time, its always all correct. They tell me he battles to concentrate at school, but I don''t see this at all - as he concentrates fine during homework and when we are doing science experiments or building things, or even if I ask him to watch his baby sister while I bath (he''s quite a mature 8). So when I get told this I ask if he can then be given things to extend him at school.

Now, my concern is that when we have friends to play and I do homework wtih them, they stumble through their reading, play the fool while doing homework and are clearly not coping as well as him - yet they are in the top reading and maths groups. I don''t know whether to take this up, or just leave things be, as he does read far more advanced books at home than they do at school, and he does take part int he schools extended reading programme for the better readers (which some of the kids in the top group don''t yet do). Its just an odd situation. It was last year and this year. Both teachers have told me he is doing well and that he will really shine when he gets to grade 4 and the focus changes from learning to read to reading to learn.

Also, when I''ve done homework with other mothers, they seem to spend hours drilling in spelling and so on. I don''t, I just let my son go through it once. Homework is just a recap of what they do at school, there is also great value in play and soon the workload will increase hugely and I want him to enjoy his afternoons and evenings. I''ve also read that whether children do homework in primary school or not, there is no difference in the ability to knuckle down on reaching high school when homework has a true benefit (the benefits at primary school are apparently debatable). Some kids do fine at high school and some don''t and it doesn''t seem to be related to them spending hours on homework in primary school - there focus level is apparently independent of this.

I know every mother likes to think her child is gifted, but I had a look at some of the information on web sites for gifted children, and he does meet most of the characteristics. However, there is no way we could afford one of these schools.

I do however suspect he is not really stimulated enough at school, but feel that I''m doing what I can to nurture his other interests. I feel schools cater to the masses and so all parents should be spending time nurturing their childs other interests. We read things up, we visit the library, we google things, we build things, we test theories out, we do sport, we watch TV to relax and escape but also history and discovery and national geographic etc, we visit interesting places. I''ve always felt that intelligent people don''t get bored because you find out more, you look deeper into things if you want to, but I''m worried that he is bored at school and this is why he ends up in a lower reading group despite reading far better than children in the higher groups. I''m also concerned that because I don''t drill his spelling etc while doing homework that he is perhaps not doing brilliantly in the assessments which decide the level group. He is at a school that has a heavier academic than sporting focus, though the sport is good and he does plenty of sports.

I''m just worried I''m doing him a disservice somehow.

Do you think I need to change my focus to conform more with what others do in terms of homework?

He keeps asking me to home school him, but I work and I just don''t think I would have the patience to do this adn I don''t want to give up my job and although I know that many people really like the idea of home schooling, I feel there are many skills that are learned in a school environment too and that a variety of teachers is better than me whose knowledge and style might well be limited and stifling rather than broad (I don''t think the odd bad teacher int he overall mix does much damage).


Now, my question is this.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Maybe, like some really intelligent children, his problem at school isn't so much lack of ability to concentrate, as boredom, if he is ahead of the class, and feels he's having to mark time ?
Fro your careful observations when seeing him and other children in his class doing homework, maybe they just have different techniques in dealing with homework - he's more focussed, maybe wanting to spend the exptra time thus created on something more enjoyable.
I tend to think that the vaue of homework at primary school is modest, and mainly related to acquiring the habit of homework, of working at something that may be unstimulating and unchallenging, even tedious, but which the system requires you to do - more an issue of acquiring self-discipline than of learning remarkable new stuff. Not worth all the boredom it can induce, but maybe of some small use. And maybe it's different for less able kids, as they need to learn and practice basic skills he gained more quickly.
A special school for gifted children may sound tempting, but I'm not actually aware of much evidence from proper evaluations ( or indeed convincing anecdote ) to convince me they're worth the extra costs.
And however gifted the child, and however much they may appreciate the various forms of extra stimulation, sometimes they may also need the chance to just dumb down a bit and watch cartoons or kick a can about.
Its interesting that home schooling in a way suggests that trained teachers have nothing more to offer than a keen mom, which kinda undercuts the whole idea of their training. Some teachers, definitely add no value to the process, but presumably some do.
I suspect that children are so resilient ( fortunately !) and especially bright kids, that trying to micromanage the entire process may not be as useful as one might want to think

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2012-06-15

thanks so much CS and Maria.

I think I''ll keep him where he is. He does sometimes mention that he should be in the other group as he reads better, but it doesn''t seem to worry him. Perhaps he enjoys not having to work so hard in the other group.

I''ll just keep at what we''re doing.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Maria | 2012-06-15

Is he worried about being in a lower reading group? It''s really not a big deal, the important thing is that he can read well which clearly he can. My daughter also reads way head of her peer group, and it shows now that she is in grade 4. She is studying much more independently than the other kids appear to.

I agree that a lot of the homework is utterly pointless. For some reason my daughter is getting a lot less homework now than in grade 3. I feel it is important though to make sure that they know things like tables and spelling.

The extra stimulation is a problem because as you say, they cater for the masses. We do pretty much the same as you do, read a lot at home, look things up etc. I also think my daughter might be bored at school but I will kill her if I had to homeschool, LOL! There are other options though - I have friends who homeschool and the rule is no longer that you have to personally homeschool your child, although you are ultimately responsible. If you can find a homeschool group that has kids from a couple of families that might be an option. Also you can get him a tutor, however I would be worried about social development then.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012-06-15

Maybe, like some really intelligent children, his problem at school isn't so much lack of ability to concentrate, as boredom, if he is ahead of the class, and feels he's having to mark time ?
Fro your careful observations when seeing him and other children in his class doing homework, maybe they just have different techniques in dealing with homework - he's more focussed, maybe wanting to spend the exptra time thus created on something more enjoyable.
I tend to think that the vaue of homework at primary school is modest, and mainly related to acquiring the habit of homework, of working at something that may be unstimulating and unchallenging, even tedious, but which the system requires you to do - more an issue of acquiring self-discipline than of learning remarkable new stuff. Not worth all the boredom it can induce, but maybe of some small use. And maybe it's different for less able kids, as they need to learn and practice basic skills he gained more quickly.
A special school for gifted children may sound tempting, but I'm not actually aware of much evidence from proper evaluations ( or indeed convincing anecdote ) to convince me they're worth the extra costs.
And however gifted the child, and however much they may appreciate the various forms of extra stimulation, sometimes they may also need the chance to just dumb down a bit and watch cartoons or kick a can about.
Its interesting that home schooling in a way suggests that trained teachers have nothing more to offer than a keen mom, which kinda undercuts the whole idea of their training. Some teachers, definitely add no value to the process, but presumably some do.
I suspect that children are so resilient ( fortunately !) and especially bright kids, that trying to micromanage the entire process may not be as useful as one might want to think

Reply to cybershrink

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