When our children start school we often worry a lot. Are they settling in? Have they made friends? But mostly, how are they getting on academically?
Unless you’re a teacher or have older children to compare them to, it’s very hard to work out how they’re getting on compared with expectations. But for some children, like N, they’ve just not interested in learning – in particular reading and writing.
N is a prime example. He’s good with practical learning. In reception that meant he spent as much time as possible in the outdoor learning area, playing. Yes he was learning his phonics in class but he wasn’t excited about reading and his progress was very slow going.
As a parent who found school easy, and picked up reading straight away, having a boy who didn’t care and would avoid practising reading, it was pretty hard to understand. And to try to encourage him without putting him off.
But don’t lose faith. Here’s reasons why you shouldn’t worry about it too much if your child is falling behind at school in reception (or even year 1):
1, If the teacher has kept you information and given encouragement and tips
They’re the teachers, and they know how kids progress at different rates. If you’re worried talk to the teacher. If the teacher has no idea about your child’s avilities or learnin preferences, then be concerned and ask questions.
2, They enjoy and are happy at school
Even if they’re not currently focusing on school work, if they enjoy school, they’re not closed off to absorbing learning while they’re happy. If they’re not enjoying school dig around and find out why, as this could be a barrier to learning.
3, They like to learn in different ways
Each child (and teacher) just needs to find their best way of learning that works for them. It can take time, and they may need to adapt if their preferred way is different to those taught in school.
4, They like books and stories even if they won’t read themselves
One day their reading will take off. They might just prefer reading other items, like food packets or road signs.
5, The time they can focus on one task is gradually increasing
It takes time but by the end of the 1st year you should have seen a big improvement
6, They ask questions
They are interested but maybe on their terms. It can take time for children to understand that they need to be interested and questionning things at school as well as at home.
7, They can recite what people at school are saying and what they’ve been doing
Children take information in, but they might need to still learn to tune in to the teacher rather than just their friends all the time.
8, You can see their development in other ways
Overall, N didn’t seem to progress much in reception wih his reading. But if I looked at everything else he’d learnt – confidence, frindships, maths and other subjects – he was coming on fine. It’s just the reading and writing is often what parents see with homework.
Year 1 was slow progress, but it was year 2 where the focus was getting them to reach their potention and being well prepared for the SATS exams that his progress leapt forward so fast.
Sometimes you just need to give children that time to be ready to learn and progress. And trust that the teachers are on watch and ready to support your child in the areas that they need.
It’s definitely hard not to worry if your child is behind in school. Talk to the teacher. If the school hasn’t the methods or people available to give boosters or specific support then maybe look into a tutor or help them more outside school if they’re willing to be engaged. But remember most children will ‘get’ it at some point. For N it just clicked in year 2 with focused boosters from teacher and TAs.
How to help your child
- Ensure they see school as a positive place and experience
- Get a good teacher and supportive school
- Encourage different types of learning outside of school with day trips, activities and walks so they learn and gain interests in other ways.
So if you’re concerned about academic progress once your child starts school, try not to worry. It al evens out in the end although it might be painful to watch on the way.
If your children are past their first couple of years in school, how did they get on reception? Did you have any worries?
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