Living in Wales, where there is no 11+ and no grammar schools, it has really struck me just how much pressure there is on children and parents to achieve this level or that by this age or that so that the ultimate achievement of 11+ and a good grammar place can be obtained. In some areas it's really frightening and I imagine this website is invaluable to so many people.
For contrast, here is my experience from an environment where there is no pressure at all at primary school, however, teacher assessed levels are given out as some indication of progress / achievement.
DS started full time school aged 3 (in the term rising 4) at a very small village state school (less than 30 pupils in the whole school!!). He was considered bright, particularly at maths and when in reception class (age 4/5) he was allowed to take maths with year 1 & 2. At the end of year 1 he took the SATS paper that year 2 pupils would have taken and scored a level 3 - although the teacher had to read out the questions to him as his reading ability was not up to it LOL
SATS were abolished after this in primaries so he never took an official SATS test.
When he was in year 2 we were told that his reading was quite below average for his age. We said to him "look, you really have to try hard at reading". No extra time reading at home (on top of what we already did) - no panic. Six months later the teacher announces that his reading age is +10 months but his writing and spelling are appalling. So, we said to him "really well done with your reading but now it's time to work very hard on writing and spelling" Again, no extras at home - no panic. Six months later the teacher announces that his writing is unbelievably improved.
Year 3 we moved him to a larger primary school (230 pupils) due to his old school closing.
Fast forward to year 4 and once again there were concerns about his reading. Reading age was assessed as being almost a whole year below. By the end of year 5 it had improved to +14 months.
Now in year 6, he has passed entrance exams for independent schools and been offered academic scholarships. We did not home tutor in any way beyond a couple of example papers and very last minute NVR familiarisation. His scores for english were far higher than for maths, which were average. His SATS teacher assessments are all 5as.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that children develop different abilities and show different strengths at different times in their lives and stressing about what level they are on at what age then comparing this to other children around you is not good for the blood pressure! With our son, he was marked out age 5 as being 'gifted' in maths and the teachers couldn't stop expressing their amazement, age 9 and he was put into remedial reading class, age 11 and he is obtaining scholarships, pretty solid in maths but certainly no maths genius and scoring very highly in english with a talent for creative writing. Who would have predicted that? And this may well change again during senior school!
What we have done is:
- always have family meals together where we talk about all sorts of things and encourage / value DSs contributions
- always try and answer DSs questions about anything
- restrict TV, computer games etc to a reasonable amount
- watch educational programmes / documentaries together and talk about them afterwards
- be honest about where DS needs to try harder - but one thing at a time.
- ensure plenty of fresh air, exercise and good sleep