What to ask for in maths for DS5?

Posted by: ColinsMum

What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/10/09 03:17 AM

DH and I have been summoned to the headmaster :-) Seriously, a secretary rang up and asked us to make an appointment "to discuss DS". Probing got me "well, didn't you know the head of maths had been looking at him?". Nope... Anyway, we have a bit over a week between now and the appointment to work out how to approach the meeting. I am fairly confident that it's going to be a friendly collaborative "how can we all meet his needs?" meeting, not one to slap our wrists for letting him get ahead. I'd appreciate thoughts about what to suggest.

DS is 5y6m old, in his first year of schooling (called P1 here). Areas where he's far ahead are reading (he was an early self-taught reader, and can now read pretty much anything, though he has very low tolerance for scariness and mostly sticks to non-fiction) and more recently maths (he finished ALEKS Mathematics Level 3 today, having started it late March). OTOH, while his writing is coming on nicely, I'd say it's age-typical, not advanced (his motor skills all along, gross and fine, have been ND). He's somewhat emotionally mature for his age, not especially social, but gets on well enough with both age-peers and older children.

He has a really nice teacher, who's handled his advanced reading well, I think, with a good mixture of reading suggested by her and things DS chooses for himself. In maths she is, I think, a bit too focused on speed rather than concepts; I don't mind if they drill him a bit on speed with basic number facts, but one of the things I'd like to ensure is that they'll be prepared to let him work on advanced concepts alongside. He seems to be quite happy with the topic-based format of the P1 classroom, though he's repeatedly complained about maths being boring.

At one time I wondered whether having him skip P2 and go straight on to P3 might be good. However: he's basically happy with the P1 group; he'd struggle with the writing demands of P3; and he would still be ahead in both reading and maths; so I no longer think that would be a good move at this point.

We could ask for him to take maths with a higher year. My reservation on that is that he goes so fast, and need so little consolidation, that I doubt it would help for long; I think he'd soon be bored with the amount of consolidation work the higher class would do. Also, I'm not sure whether he'd cope with the non-mathematical demands that would be made of a suitable class, like speed of writing or prolonged silent work (given that the ALEKS course he just devoured is aimed at US 3rd graders, I think he'd need to be joining a class 3 or more years ahead for him to be learning new stuff, and that's quite a social expectations jump). So that tends to make me think that just setting him his own work in the normal classroom might work better. On the other hand, I do think he'd benefit from some chance to do maths collaboratively with other children, so I'm torn. If they had a recreational maths club he could join, I think that might be ideal, but I don't think they have. (Maybe they could start one? :-) So I dunno: some kind of "visiting rights" arrangement with a higher year, short of joining that class for every maths lesson?

In summary, I'd very much like to hear your thoughts, especially if you've BTDT! Feeling a bit overwhelmed...

Posted by: Floridama

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/10/09 06:06 AM

Quote:
My reservation on that is that he goes so fast, and need so little consolidation, that I doubt it would help for long;

I am having this issue with my DD6. I never taught my child what a hexagon was or how to flip, slide & turn a shape, heck I did'nt even now that stuff. So she was placed in regular math this year because she had not mastered 90% of the grade1 curric going into the year.
NEways the problem is that being placed in the reg math class is slow for her, they have been slugging through 2 digit add/sub for weeks when my kid got it the first day.
I think you are right in assuming that moving him up is a short lived solution. My DD learns new stuff in school all the time, but she has the ablility to learn it faster the the rest so often becomes bored with the repetition.
I don't have the right answer but I do wish you luck!
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/11/09 07:13 AM

Originally Posted By: Floridama
Quote:
My reservation on that is that he goes so fast, and need so little consolidation, that I doubt it would help for long;

I am having this issue with my DD6. I never taught my child what a hexagon was or how to flip, slide & turn a shape, heck I did'nt even now that stuff. So she was placed in regular math this year because she had not mastered 90% of the grade1 curric going into the year.
NEways the problem is that being placed in the reg math class is slow for her, they have been slugging through 2 digit add/sub for weeks when my kid got it the first day.
I think you are right in assuming that moving him up is a short lived solution. My DD learns new stuff in school all the time, but she has the ablility to learn it faster the the rest so often becomes bored with the repetition.
I don't have the right answer but I do wish you luck!

Thanks, we need it! I'll update after the meeting, at any rate.

It's interesting that you had problems with your daughter being a very fast learner but not knowing all the facts that might have let her be accelerated. I suppose one of the reasons I've been quite happy for DS5 to do ALEKS and get ahead is that I could see that he was learning maths the way 1yos learn language, like a sponge, and reckoned that it would actually help if he'd covered all the topics normally done up to age X, rather than having spottily advanced knowledge. There's something to be said for trying to arrange that, if they're in need of differentiation, they're obviouslyin need of differentiation!

Repetition in maths is a real problem, though. I mean, I can see the problem for schools: it's difficult or impossible organisationally to let everyone go exactly at their own pace, but that is what's needed. I don't know how to square that circle.
Posted by: Floridama

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/11/09 07:40 AM

Quote:
I don't know how to square that circle.

LOL
Luckily for us our school plans to use this year's POST testing as a means for placement in next years accelerated math class.
Plus we will have gifted pull-out for science
~ Lots of Luck
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/11/09 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: CFK
Since you don't want to physically subject accelerate him you could ask for him to do independent study (Aleks?) in class.

The only thing that we felt ever really worked for us was to hire a private tutor to teach our son at his level and his speed at home.

Yes, I've wondered about whether he could do ALEKS at school. I think that might be good, although provided they give him *something* at an appropriate level in class I don't think it necessarily has to be ALEKS. Since when learning new stuff he needs some level of individual attention at present (he's not quite at the point where he can teach himself maths from a book, I think), it may be best that he's doing review, but that could be achieved by sending him in with ALEKS worksheets, which review things he's already done at home. It's suboptimal for him to learn new stuff only at home, but it would be OK. Or they might feel it easier to set him stuff from their normal workbook series, which could also work, I think, provided they'd let him skip review bits once he'd got the idea.

You say the only think that worked was hiring a tutor at home - does that mean you tried the independent study in class route and it didn't work out? For now, I don't think a tutor would add anything - DH and I have enough background in both maths and teaching, and we haven't yet hit problems of DS being unwilling to be taught by us, though I suppose we may as he grows up. In fact, although it sounds as though EPGY, CTY etc. may have some advantages over ALEKS, part of what puts me off is paying more to have access to a tutor we don't need for now.
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/11/09 08:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Floridama

Luckily for us our school plans to use this year's POST testing as a means for placement in next years accelerated math class.
Plus we will have gifted pull-out for science

Glad there's a plan that sounds hopeful - good luck!
Posted by: Grinity

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/11/09 10:51 AM

Originally Posted By: ColinsMum
At one time I wondered whether having him skip P2 and go straight on to P3 might be good. However: he's basically happy with the P1 group; he'd struggle with the writing demands of P3; and he would still be ahead in both reading and maths; so I no longer think that would be a good move at this point.


You are exactly correct in your idea that ND motor skills will slow a child down quite a bit. And that further subject acceleration in Math and reading will probably be needed, but I want to encourage you to 'give it a try' if offered.

I think of it this way. A child doesn't need to struggle in every subject every year. So if the writing becomes a challenge, that uses up some of his 'challenge needs' and will make him more content in Math. If they offer the skip, I would take it, and remind them that if he still needs subject acceleration in Math and Reading, that you are going to still want it. One of the great things abut gradeskips is that the school becomes more 'aware' of your child in a good way, and more willing to 'think outside the box.' So it might be a way to 'open the door' to more individualized planning.

Is partial homeschooling an option? If not, then I think that the challenge of being with older kids might be your 'least worst' option. My son is a 'summer birthday' plus single grade skipped, and although it isn't enough for his 'smart brain' it is more than enough for his 'dumb fingers' and so the combination is a pretty good 'least worst' option. Our son also is ND in the gross and fine motor, if not a bit behind! As far as the emotional maturity goes, I find that he tends to act like whoever he is with. Weirdly, there are activities that I would like to invite him to bring a friend, where I would be horrified to bring one of his age-mate friends, but happy to bring one of his classmates. I'm glad he has so many choices in the friendship department.

My son found that Alex was great at locating new material to learn, and inspiring him to learn it, but that I had to do some teaching to get it in there. I guess I would suggest that they let him continue Alex at school with you teaching the new topics at home and him practicing during school hours. The big problem with elementary school mathmatics is that there is so little 'math' in it. Our 3rd grade is mostly about memorizing the times tables - which is an important skill, and wonderful for streaching the memorizing muscles - but not really math, in my book.

They might be willing to start a recreational math club. Our school got one going in 5th grade, that our son was able to attend as a 4th grader. It totally made his week!

Don't give up. It's amazing how the little things can make a big difference.

Love and More Love,
Grinity
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/11/09 11:53 AM

Thanks Grinity - lots I want to respond to, and I'll do it out of order so as to end with the longest witters:
Originally Posted By: Grinity

Is partial homeschooling an option?

Only in the sense that we're already doing it by supporting his interests outside school (helped by the fact that this is a no-homework school - that *really* helps, btw, as there is a substantial amount of time not eaten up by school). Can't homeschool in school hours; DH and I both work full-time, and in any case I've literally never heard of the concept of partial home-schooling in the UK (home-schooling of any kind is a much smaller minority here than in the US) and can't imagine the school would accept it.

Originally Posted By: Grinity

If not, then I think that the challenge of being with older kids might be your 'least worst' option. My son is a 'summer birthday' plus single grade skipped, and although it isn't enough for his 'smart brain' it is more than enough for his 'dumb fingers' and so the combination is a pretty good 'least worst' option. Our son also is ND in the gross and fine motor, if not a bit behind! As far as the emotional maturity goes, I find that he tends to act like whoever he is with. Weirdly, there are activities that I would like to invite him to bring a friend, where I would be horrified to bring one of his age-mate friends, but happy to bring one of his classmates. I'm glad he has so many choices in the friendship department.

I had a feeling I remembered your son was similar in that respect, cognitively advanced but motor ND. Yes, DS also fits in which whoever he's with - I think socially he'd be fine with a skip, it's more that the social stuff isn't positively an incentive to do a skip.

Originally Posted By: Grinity

You are exactly correct in your idea that ND motor skills will slow a child down quite a bit. And that further subject acceleration in Math and reading will probably be needed, but I want to encourage you to 'give it a try' if offered.

I think of it this way. A child doesn't need to struggle in every subject every year. So if the writing becomes a challenge, that uses up some of his 'challenge needs' and will make him more content in Math. If they offer the skip, I would take it, and remind them that if he still needs subject acceleration in Math and Reading, that you are going to still want it. One of the great things abut gradeskips is that the school becomes more 'aware' of your child in a good way, and more willing to 'think outside the box.' So it might be a way to 'open the door' to more individualized planning.

Hmm... I'm not sure what we'd do if the school actually offers a skip. Probably go with it, yes, since if they were offering it that would be a vote of confidence that he'd cope with the writing, and they know better than we do what the demands actually are.

I am still really hopeful that the school will see him as an individual from now on with or without a skip: we chose the school because they seem to be good at that kind of thing. We'll see now, of course...

A reason for being wary of it that I didn't mention (my original psot was getting too long) is that it would limit our options for the school after this. I know, act on what we see today: but the difference in future could be important. We are on the fence at the moment about whether he'll go to a boarding school for senior school (age 13-18) or to a local day school. If we're prepared to consider boarding schools (e.g. Westminster, Winchester), we'll have a much better chance of him having those years surrounded by kindred spirits and teachers who get them and opportunities to take part in team challenges like the maths/science Olympiads etc. (I know, he's 5, I'm looking a long way ahead, but I feel I have a responsibility to.) However, we certainly wouldn't send him to board unless he was keen on the idea, and we think that's far more likely if he's being asked at the usual age, not unusually young, and we'd be unwilling to send him away much younger than his peers at the new school. So we could end up stuck between a suboptimal local school choice and having him repeat years at this school; both could easily be worse than the no-skip alternative, I think (no, he couldn't go on to senior school here and then switch to one of the boarding schools later, the system wouldn't work for it, will save space by not explaining!). I know, too many ifs. But I think the difference in his senior school experiences would be really significant, enough that it's worth thinking about.

Originally Posted By: Grinity

My son found that Alex was great at locating new material to learn, and inspiring him to learn it, but that I had to do some teaching to get it in there. I guess I would suggest that they let him continue Alex at school with you teaching the new topics at home and him practicing during school hours. The big problem with elementary school mathmatics is that there is so little 'math' in it. Our 3rd grade is mostly about memorizing the times tables - which is an important skill, and wonderful for streaching the memorizing muscles - but not really math, in my book.

Absolutely!

Originally Posted By: Grinity

They might be willing to start a recreational math club. Our school got one going in 5th grade, that our son was able to attend as a 4th grader. It totally made his week!

I think we will definitely ask about this, and suggest that they consider it if there isn't one. I do think it would really help C, and it would probably help many other children there too.

Originally Posted By: Grinity

Don't give up. It's amazing how the little things can make a big difference.

Love and More Love,
Grinity

Thanks :-) I won't give up.
Posted by: Tiz

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/12/09 02:22 AM

Hi ColinsMum, We are in the process of making a decision on a skip for my DS7 - but we are very lucky because the current school is great and working with us. They are currently looking at whether a 1 year or 2 year skip is best. DS has been to classes 2 years above to do some subjects (they have just been seeing how he copes with the work and the older children). This has put my mind at ease to a degree because at least I feel that he has been able to "trial" before anything is decided. The Head has also contacted the next school and is in the process of discussing everything with them to ensure that they would be willing to take DS at a younger age. It is a day school so I am not too worried, but if it were boarding I would share your concerns. Are you able to ask if your DS can trial a few of the classes at the next level? Also, would the Head of your school consider making enquiries on your behalf? We still haven't made any firm decisions and it is starting to get to me!

A Math club sounds good, also does your DS play any instruments or could he do an additional language (such as Latin) at school to give him more challenge? I totally understand when you say that the senior school experiences will be significant and you want him to be able to get the most out of it. Is he generally happy at school, does he complain of boredom? If he is generally happy maybe you can keep him in his year group with additional challenges - if the school are able to accommodate.

I hope that the meeting goes well and keep us posted! smile
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/12/09 06:26 AM

Originally Posted By: Tiz
Hi ColinsMum, We are in the process of making a decision on a skip for my DS7 - but we are very lucky because the current school is great and working with us. They are currently looking at whether a 1 year or 2 year skip is best. DS has been to classes 2 years above to do some subjects (they have just been seeing how he copes with the work and the older children). This has put my mind at ease to a degree because at least I feel that he has been able to "trial" before anything is decided.

Yay for a good school working with you!

You make a really good point about trying out the new class: in fact, if it should happen that they do suggest a skip, maybe a good response is to ask for him to be accelerated to the new group in maths for a while first, and then reevaluate whether moving to it for a base (and maybe up again for maths) is a good idea. I doubt if they will suggest it, though. (And DH is strongly against, but that's another post.)

Originally Posted By: Tiz

would the Head of your school consider making enquiries on your behalf? We still haven't made any firm decisions and it is starting to get to me!

Are you by any chance an over-planner, like me? I started thinking about where we'd send DS for his first school before he was born, and although I've tried hard to let him get through his first year at school before I think about his senior schooling, you can see I'm not doing too well at it... But yes, the Head will definitely be involved in talking to possible senior schools: in fact, one of my reservations about the system here is how much senior school admissions rest on what the first school head says about the child. I can see that could be a real problem if, for example, a child was bored and non-compliant in their first school: if that gave the Head a bad impression, it could damage the child's chances of getting into the right next school too. Hopefully in DS's case the system will work in his favour though. I am definitely hoping for advice on which of the local day schools would suit DS best if we go that way.

Originally Posted By: Tiz

A Math club sounds good, also does your DS play any instruments or could he do an additional language (such as Latin) at school to give him more challenge? I totally understand when you say that the senior school experiences will be significant and you want him to be able to get the most out of it. Is he generally happy at school, does he complain of boredom? If he is generally happy maybe you can keep him in his year group with additional challenges - if the school are able to accommodate.

He is generally happy, thank goodness. He doesn't play any instruments yet, but may start next year, and yes, there are other possibilities too. We'll see how he feels - there's a danger of over-scheduling him, and he does like to have time to do his own thing, which I think is important too. In fact, I don't really think he lacks challenge in his life, overall (he's just started judo, he's learning French at school, he's mad on chemistry, there's ALEKS, etc.). Actually if he simply didn't have to do maths at school at all, that would probably also be a solution, but probably not one the school would go for! (In fact that's pretty much how I feel about school in general at this age, i.e. younger than Scandinavian children start school at all: if they had him doing free play all day, it would be fine by me, but if they insist on his doing work then it should be not-boring.)

Good luck with your DS7's skip, and I'll report on how the meeting goes!
Posted by: Tiz

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/15/09 07:05 AM

Hi ColinsMum, have you had your meeting yet? We were meant to have ours this afternoon, but it has been re-scheduled for Tuesday frown I guess I just like certainty and find all the waiting hard!

Hope all goes well for your meeting.
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/15/09 07:44 AM

Nope, ours is not till Wednesday. Good luck with yours!
Posted by: Tiz

Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/21/09 02:40 AM

ColinsMum, did you have your meeting yesterday and if so how did it go?
Posted by: ColinsMum

UPDATE Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/21/09 08:17 AM

So we had our meeting yesterday and < happy sigh >. We seem to have found a good school, indeed.

That said, nothing was all that concrete, so we'll have to see how it pans out - but as we went in not very keen on the obvious concrete step, having him skip a year, that's fine. The Head's approach and attitude was everything I could have wished. There was no mention of any need to concentrate on DS5's accuracy or speed or ability to write numbers the right way round, for example. The Head did seem to get how maths is for DS; it was he, for example, who said that DS didn't need much if any repetition of things. They'd had the head of maths and the special needs teacher talk to DS and consider the year-skip option carefully; the Head opened the meeting basically by warning us that he thinks DS will need to skip a year at some point, but not right now. Apparently this does not necessarily mean that he will come out the other end of this school a year early. For arcane reasons I won't go into, the final "year" of the school is already multi-age and flexible enough to allow some children (and most of the brightest) to be there more than one year; if DS "arrived" there early, he could stay there for 3 years if that was the right thing. (Or not - but at least he wouldn't *have* to leave this school because he'd got to the fixed end of it.)

So no year skip for now, but probably next year. For now, the head of maths will work with DS's class teacher to make sure he has maths that challenges him, and may also talk to him and give him puzzles etc.; the head may also get involved, he sounded keen :-) They don't currently have a recreational maths club, but starting one was on the agenda anyway and they will try to get that going. If that's not possible (or maybe anyway) they'll look at putting DS with a higher year maths group ("we'd put him with the top set obviously, no point otherwise") either sometimes or systematically, next year, so that he gets a chance to work with other people at his level.

No problems with us continuing with ALEKS at home as long as it interests DS; I handed over a worksheet and mentioned the possibility of DS doing them in class, so we'll see, but I'm not bothered what it is he gets to do in class provided it's not boring to him, and that seems assured. Some useful discussion of senior schools, too.

Phew :-)
Posted by: Tiz

UPDATE Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/21/09 09:32 AM

Great new ColinsMum - sounds like a productive meeting and a flexible school (I especially like the sound of the final "year"!) smile

Have they arranged to meet with you again to discuss progress etc. or is it all quite relaxed and you feel like you can request a meeting when you see the need?

Now you can relax and enjoy the summer...
Posted by: ColinsMum

Re: UPDATE Re: What to ask for in maths for DS5? - 05/21/09 09:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Tiz

Have they arranged to meet with you again to discuss progress etc. or is it all quite relaxed and you feel like you can request a meeting when you see the need?

It's all quite relaxed. There'll be a brief meeting with DS's class teacher anyway towards the end of this term, I think (we have half a term to go - a week off next week, then school till mid-July), and if that doesn't give us enough information I'd be happy to request a meeting. The head is going to follow up the meeting in writing, he said. If he hadn't said that I'd have been following up in writing to him instead; I guess if his letter leaves out things we think are important we can remind him of them in a friendly reply. A race to get one's letter in first seems unseemly :-)[/quote]