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I have got a child in my class this year who is reading and writing easily within level 1. She can also do basic addition and subtraction. She has been reading since she was 3, writing soon after and came to school using the formal + and - signs. A few years a go when her sister (who's now in year 4) came through our school, reception was more structured, with mainly teacher directed activities. Her mum feels that the school has let this younger sister down because it isn't structured enough. As some of you may know, my colleague and I spent a long time in the summer setting up the year R unit into learning areas for CI learning. The mum seems to think she is bored but this girl finds it very hard to push herself on. Other children will go and write stories about things, letters to different people, captions to go with pictures, their role play shows their thinking skills etc.... This girl hardly ever chooses to do anything of the more academic nature. We have tried using challenge cards to give her ideas of things to do but she prefers to play schools, play outside, go on the computer, or draw on the whiteboard. Personally, I do not have a problem with this - she is making progress which I proved to her mum and dad at parents evening, and works hard when doing a teacher directed activity. My question I suppose is, how can I strike a balance between what I believe is right for reception children and keeping mum satisfied (happy might be too much to hope for) that her daughter is doing 'work'. Any ideas would be great!

Edited by SP61HJ
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Aaarrgh!!!!!! :o

 

Some people just don't understand the importance of the PSE, KUW, PD and CD. xD

 

I am really sorry I have no advice for your situation.

 

Totally! I explained the importance of developing all the areas and the dad did accept this but as for the mum ...

 

Thanks for your support.

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Hi, I don't really have much to offer except to say your Reception unit sounds really great. Could you challenge her when she is playing at schools. Maybe she could write a story to read to the children in the 'play school'. I think you sound like you are doing a great job and your reception class sounds like a great place to be. mrsW.x

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Hi, I don't really have much to offer except to say your Reception unit sounds really great. Could you challenge her when she is playing at schools. Maybe she could write a story to read to the children in the 'play school'. I think you sound like you are doing a great job and your reception class sounds like a great place to be. mrsW.x

 

Thanks MrsW for your words of support. We do truly believe we are doing what is right for the children. I've just finished my 2nd night of parents evening and all the parents were so positive. "They love being at school. They never want to stay at home etc..." It's just a shame it was tainted a bit by one. Out of 26 parents, it was the only negative one, the others really couldn't be happier, but one negative comment really hits you hard especially when it goes against everything you believe in.

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a few years ago we had a chinese boy at pre-school who could read and write - he had been pushed into these by parents as soon as he could do them .however he had no social skills and couldnt interact and socialise with other peers or staff. he spent all his time writing and reading. when he moved onto school they struggled too - said although he could write he had no imagination and therefore couldnt write a story because he had no imagination.it was so sad.

perhaps because she has been pushed academically at home she is now finding other areas such as socialising etc more inviting

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We are in the same position as you with a child at the moment. She prefers to spend all her time in the workshop. I always think of many years ago when we had a child enter reception reading (we tested her at 9 years) We had a terrible tantrum when we first did some writing. Its was about the Hungry Caterpillar between sobs she was screaming 'I can't possibly write such a long word as strawberries' Luckily mum agreed that her emotional development was at 4 and was her area of development.

 

 

It's tricky when parents have high expectations of their child and staff-stay calm and stick to what you know is right for the childs whole development.

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I think it is lovely that you are so concerned to keep the parents as happy as possible.

 

You are offering a wide range of opportunities for learning and this little girl is picking out what she needs at the moment - and so she should.

 

She's obviously bright and will do well. The last thing she needs is to be pushed so hard that she gets switched off.

 

My five year old asked this morning "when we take something away where does it go?". All learning needs a context and this little girl needs to explore the context for herself.

 

Have you tried asking Mum to try thinking of a peice of writing that doesn't draw on any other area of the curriculum? The other areas are just as important to underpin writing as anything else. If academic development is her steadfast focus show her how the other learning supports it?

 

Does this make sense or am I rambling?

 

Good luck, she sounds like a hard nut to crack!

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Thank you for everyone's support and advice. It really helps :o

 

I had quite a long chat with my head and he is totally behind what we are doing. He said that if we were to do what the mum wants then we would be going against something that is statutory, let along something that we believe is best for the child's whole development. I have also talked to my colleague about it and she agrees that she is being pushed at home. She always seems happy so she either is or she's a terrific actress!

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Just to update you on things. We follow the Read Write Inc programme and will be mixing with year 1 after Easter. Anyway, my initial assessment showed this child and 2 others in the group above the other more able children in year R. Anyway when I looked at the level of this groups reading books compared to this child's I thought she would be above them. The next group up was quite a big group with a few behaviour issues so I then went to the next group up. She is on a similar reading level to most of that group without having been taught any of the more complex sounds. I tried her on the books they will be reading and she was fine. I then tried one of the other girls that had originally been at the same level but whose mum is just happy for her to progress at her own speed etc... and guess what she was even better. Therefore they are both going into this year 1 group working at level 1b-1a. This should challenge them both in their reading and writing. I will make sure this mum knows! The other child that was going to be with them would easily be able to cope with the reading but would find the writing side too much of a challenge and he really freaks out at the unknown and anything too hard. I'm going to have to tread carefully to get him into the group above mine! His parents are so great though and trust that whatever I do will be in his best interest, whether that be he stays with me doing something that he finds relatively easy but is happy, or goes somewhere for more of a challenge but go through a bit of a panic for the first few days.

 

Anyway I've been thinking about this first child. I think I will have another meeting with the mum and perhaps talk her through our timetable so she sees what we are doing at different times and what we expect of the children. My colleague suggested that I started a home school book and wrote in her child's achievements. She had the older sibling in year 1 and we feel it is perhaps mum not feeling in control of what her daughter is doing. When it is worksheet based it is very obvious to see but that goes against our ethos in FS and my ethos as a teacher!

 

Oh well, you can tell I haven't got a voice at the moment as I've really enjoyed that ramble!

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Nothing worse than an unenthusiastic teacher! As for me, my aim at the beginning of each year is for every child in my class to be happy - happy children always make the most progress. If I have happy children, I have happy parents - I suppose this is where this particular parent has got to me so much because I honestly do believe her child is happy. I just want to shake the mum to make her relax. I better not though - could be a sackable offence!!!

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Guest Mrs Tiggy Winkle

Ok this is my third attempt to reply to this - I blame the wine!!

Each time it doesn't say quite what I want to say!

I wish parents could come at this with the benefit of hindsight!

If I had known what I know now when my children were young then maybe I would have done some things differently - or maybe not!

We have 3 children - our 2 sons were reading at 3, and they largely taught themselves. Our daughter learnt to read in her Reception class at school.

With hindsight I think I regret putting my first child in for scholarships at private schools - I'm pleased now that he never went, because although he passed their tests with flying colours, the amount we still would have needed to find was way above our means! I think perhaps I was too pushy with him in his early years. That said he now has a masters in chemistry and is working for the National Audit Office and all being well should soon qualify as a chartered accountant. On the other hand he was always very self motivated and inclined to push himself too hard academically when he was younger, s maybe it came from him not us/me?

Conversely I wonder if our second son shouldn't have been pushed harder when he was younger - he is currently in his 4th, soon to be 5th!! year of a 3 year degree course in Physics. His problem I think is that he sailed through to A levels without any need to do anything more than turn up to the lessons and take the exams! He has never developed any kind of self motivation or work ethic and just coasts through life in a very laid back manner. Finally I think the penny may be beginning to drop that he does actually need to put some effort in all year round!

Our daughter left school with 3 reasonable A levels and took a gap year, which has run into 2 and will probably become three. If and when she decides to go to uni I have no doubt that she will do very well - once she makes up her mind that she is going to do something she usually does!

 

So what was it I was trying to say in all this rambling? I guess I wish there was a way to get through to this parent that her child will achieve at her own level, but needs also to be able to fit in with her peers, needs time to discover her own personality and where she 'fits' in the world. and that although all of this seems really important to her parents now, it will seem less so in 20 years time...

... or maybe some things you just have to work through for youself??

 

Ok this post has turned into mindless rambling with no clear point yet again... but since I have already had 2 attempts and then deleted them I will post this one anyway! :o

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not rambling, very valid points and views on your own experiences. It is often with hindsight that we see these things.. but don't realise the effect of future consequences at the time.

 

It is hard to get some parents to appreciate that the child will learn at their own pace and often progress faster if allowed to do this.

 

All Parents want what is best for their children and we need to find ways of allowing them to believe the children will learn at own pace and will get there in the end.

 

Inge

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I think most parents see reading and writing as the best guage of their child's progress.

 

The children in our village school have to spend two years in one of the classes and this year all of year one have stayed in class one with the reception class.

 

I was really pleased that my daughter could spend year one in a play focussed environment but quite a few of the other parents wanted their little ones to be sitting at desks doing 'proper work'. Apparently it would be mean they do better in their SATs (don't get me started on that one!).

 

I feel very lucky to be learning the theory behind it all so I can see how the freedom and extra time to play is helping her.

 

I think the other Mums just think I'm a bit bonkers.....

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Hi - hope you don't mind me adding to this very interesting discussion (I'm pre-school not school).

 

I have recently been lucky enough to spend a day in the reception class at our local Primary school (part of a scheme funded by our LA - reception teacher also spent a day with me) - extremely interested in what I saw - please know that I have great respect for this teacher - but I was so disappointed to see that she hasn't 'embraced' the E.Y.F.S. - i.e. very formal teaching - lots of whole group activities for letter and number, very little CI time etc.etc.

 

My own grandaughter will start at this school in September 2010 - I would very much prefer her to be with someone with an approach like yours.

 

Her reason for not following E.Y.F.S. - in her words "this is school, not pre-school, I need to push these children on, and until SATS are dropped this is what I will continue to do" (she didn't say "so there" - but I could certainly feel it!).

 

Interestingly they have recently had their Ofsted and all went well - I suspect she 'ran' her class in a completely different way on that day.

 

Hope this has been of interest - 'stick yo your guns' - hope others will begin to look at/understand the positive changes (as I see it) that the E.Y.F.S. offers.

 

Sunnyday

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Thank you again for all your replies. I've been away for a few days and it was great to come home and find more messages of support. I now feel even more confident that what we are doing for this girl is the right thing. I think after the holiday I might invite her in for another meeting and show her a sample of planning to show that there actually is quite a bit of structure (although in a different way to what she may want). I just wonder if she can't cope with the unknown and if we give her a bit more knowledge she may see what we are trying to do. One thing is for sure, I will keep in my head how happy the other 25 sets of parents, with some glowing with admiration and than ks for all we've done.

Edited by SP61HJ
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Guest LornaW

SP61HJ I know exactly how you feel and you are not alone but please do not compromise your principles.

 

I had an amazing confrontation at a parents evening with all YR parents when this dad completely disagreed with me as regards play and also boys needing to have the opportunity to follow their interests outside. He flaty refused to believe me and in the end I told him he was entitled to his point of view but that my philosophy was based in solid research. I have also asked parents in the past to trust me and give me a term and then come back and see if their child has not made progress. So far has always won them round as the child has come on leaps and bounds as they do in a term!

 

You are so right to keep reminding yourself that 25 sets pf parents are very happy!

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I wonder if this Dad would argue with his GP in the same manner.

 

I guess not.

 

I suppose it is all part and parcel of working in partnership with parents.

 

Perhaps you could suggest he takes a look at in the local library for some books on child development (very nicely of course). A bit of Tina Bruce might sort him out!

 

Well done for keeping your cool.

 

You know you are doing the right thing and so do the rest of the parents by the sound of it.

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I wonder if this Dad would argue with his GP in the same manner.

 

I guess not.

 

I suppose it is all part and parcel of working in partnership with parents.

 

Perhaps you could suggest he takes a look at in the local library for some books on child development (very nicely of course). A bit of Tina Bruce might sort him out!

 

Well done for keeping your cool.

 

You know you are doing the right thing and so do the rest of the parents by the sound of it.

 

That is so true - people accept what doctors say and respect their opinion even if it's the virus line - people don't tend to argue with what's been said.

 

Why is the same respect not given to teachers? When I was a child, and I'm not that old, parents would accept that as long as their child was happy the teacher was doing a good job particularly in the early days. The only time I remember my parents complaining was once my brother was at secondary school and they didn't agree with how the maths was being taught (I don't blame them - it was rubbish), but in primary, particularly infants they wouldn't have said anything unless we were upset.

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Just wanted to add that I think you should stick with it and feel proud of how your setting has developed with the EYFS - as someone else mentioned not all reception classes are run in this way and it is such a shame as the children are missing out. I love teaching in reception and love the freeedom it gives you to follow the children's ideas and how much better I know my class than some of the teachers in other year groups. However it doesnt ever stop me worrying that I am not doing it correctly or that I will not achieve the results needed for Yr 1 and 2. However it sounds as if you have a very supportive head (as I do) who appreciates and understands what you are doing with your reception children. Could you perhaps invite this parent into school for a day to see what you do and so you can really show her what goes on each day and the opportunities for learning that arise?

Ems x

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Just wanted to add that I think you should stick with it and feel proud of how your setting has developed with the EYFS - as someone else mentioned not all reception classes are run in this way and it is such a shame as the children are missing out. I love teaching in reception and love the freeedom it gives you to follow the children's ideas and how much better I know my class than some of the teachers in other year groups. However it doesnt ever stop me worrying that I am not doing it correctly or that I will not achieve the results needed for Yr 1 and 2. However it sounds as if you have a very supportive head (as I do) who appreciates and understands what you are doing with your reception children. Could you perhaps invite this parent into school for a day to see what you do and so you can really show her what goes on each day and the opportunities for learning that arise?

Ems x

Please come and work at our Primary School - I would love to think that my darling grandaughter would have a teacher like you!

 

Sunnyday

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Interestingly they have recently had their Ofsted and all went well - I suspect she 'ran' her class in a completely different way on that day.

 

I wonder if there are still some Ofsted inspectors who love the more formally run reception classes? I have my suspicions that this is the case...

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