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Pre-school Reading!


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This happens this time of year regarding the parents of the children moving on in July. Parents start to complain about the lack of worksheets/tangible proof of learning.

 

They begin to become concerned at our lack of teaching in areas they feel we should be concentrating on. Writing (we have writing materials around the pre-school all the time, and we encourage them to write their names on their pieces of work. To discover writing in their environment etc Today was just complaints about most aspects of the Pre-school.

 

Well anyway I could go on. Recently a new child arrived at the pre-school. We looked through the info from the old Pre-school and they were teaching her to write sentences in her work book! I discussed with the parent regarding the foundation stage curriculum. The stepping stones etc and the areas of learning. She informed me that her child was begining to read as well. I informed her that that was something that wouldn't be happening as I am not trained to do this and could possibly do something innadvertantly that the teachers would have to relearn that style of teaching. The child will also be BORED as the class don't begin to strart to read until January 2006.

 

The local school works on the sound that the letter/word makes, which is what we do. We have also liased with them regarding other issues and have gained greater insight about aspects of learning that I had not considered.

 

This parent is frustrated and is making her feelings known to others and as this is a grammer school area are very keen to get their children into them, they acually pay for personal teachers from as young as 5 in order to do this. They are getting into a bit of a tizz regarding this and I am sick to death of constantly hearing complaints.

 

To this end we are having a parents evening. We will set it up for the next days activities. The parents are going to come in to play and a staff member will be discussing what they are learning from that particular experience. They will be able to have access to all areas of the Pre-school. And must abide by the same rules. Hopefully this will challenge their perspectives of life within a pre-school and perhaps they will see and come to terms with our ethos of LEARNING THROUGH PLAY.

 

Angie

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Angie,

I am very sympathetic. You may have seen my post recently about trying to convince parents of the benefits of keeping their children with me for their preschool year. They have a perception that the children will be doing more formal 'work' at the nursery when I know for a fact that they will not! I have one parent who is totally obsessed by worksheets :o and another who thinks that a 15 minute adult led activity is not enough for her 4 year old. xD And if I have one more parent say that their child needs to start to learn how to sit and work in readiness for school instead of playing I think I will scream! What you are proposing sounds like a really good idea. I will be interested to hear how you get on. :D

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When I did an open evening ( same play set up as you Angie) I started by asking the parents what they remember playing when they were 4 yrs old, I listed their thoughts and then linked these to the foundation stage curriculum ( a lot of memories were of outdoor play). I then asked them what they disliked most about their infant school days, maths was top of the list, followed by PSE things such as not having friends, changing for PE, school dinners, etc, one dad described how he hated "formal" writing lessons, having to be neat between the lines.

 

We then went on to play and we again linked activities to the FSC, they had lots of fun exploring the art area ( after getting over their initial reluctance to let go of the need to have an end product). We held 2 story session, the first one I made it clear they had to sit still and listen, the second I involved them by asking questions What do you think will happen next etc, I even changed one characters name to that of a parent etc.

 

I left them to come to their own conclusions of what point I was making. I also asked if more parents would like to come in for "play" sessions with their children and from this evening we have had a lot more "support" from parents in what we do.

 

I think that parents are so wrapped up in doing what they think is best for their child, through "extra" learning experiences, that they lose / forget the concept of what it is like to be a child. I just try to remind them of this, I also remind them of how many more years their child will be in the "education system". :o

 

Peggy

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Don't you think its so sad that parents feel they need personal tutors for the children at the age of 5? Talk about pressure!

 

I like the sound of the open evening you've planned, Angie: lots of opportunities to educate adults about what the FSC covers, and the learn through play ethos. It will be interesting to see how they react.

 

I also loved Peggy's activity for working with parents - and the spin-off of having more parental support is brilliant!

 

One boy who is leaving at Easter is already reading independently - with intonation, exclamation and interest in his voice. Present him with any text in the pre-school and he will read it without hesitation. His concept of number is sound, and he makes the most astounding statements and observations. He is such a special little boy, and his parents are really happy with the academic progress he has made. No-one really knows where these skills have come from: the parents say they haven't taught him, and we certainly haven't. He hasn't been with us for that long, so we haven't seen these skills develop.

 

That said, he finds interacting with other children difficult, and the parents have been keen to work in partnership with us to improve his social skills. Wise parents indeed: they realise he will be in school for many years to come, and really value the time he has spent at pre-school.

 

On the whole our parents are supportive of what we do for their children, but it must be terribly soul destroying to have to hear a barrage of complaints.

 

Keep your chin up, and good luck with the parents' evening!

 

Maz

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Parent open evenings and parent groups are a great way of addressing issues that parents raised either by comments to staff or what we found in our ''suggestions box''. My parent pack clearly defined what we as a playgroup represented and how our setting was run. This included a parents board, which was only used for issues and items for parents. It had all our Foundation planning etc on it as well as leaflets, websites and information sheets. On a monthly basis we sent out our parents newsletters and tried to address issues that had been brought up.

 

I recall one very successful parent evening on ''Emergent writing'' What now and ''Do work sheets really work?''. We looked at some of the things Peggy talked about (looking back to things we liked to do as children and what we was not so keen on) Funny how our own memories are so short lived when we need them.

 

When we looked at Emergent writing we explained about how children learn to write and the importance of being able to have had lots of opportunities to use a wide variety of mediums (crayons, pencils, felt tips etc), which in turn produced the stages of first marks on paper (or walls come to that) up till their first recognised letter or number. This was shown in our series and stages of a child learning to write book (made by the staff). It clearly showed first stage to last stage with age differences and taking in to account special needs- english not being the child's first language etc. From a visual point of view this worked really well.

 

But the most interesting bit came when I introduced them to writing or how some children are given work sheets or expected to start copying letters etc before they are ready.

 

On our writing table on the wall we have a wipeable alphabet chart one in upper and one in lower as well as several others in languages other than English. When the parents came I proved a wipeable alphabet in Chinese (we did not at the time have any Chinese children and this is one of the most difficult letters to write.) There was a large selection of pencils, chunky crayons, felt tips and paper. I asked each parent to write any letter of their choice from the Chinese alphabet but with the hand they don't write with. You won't be suprised to learn that many of them had a great deal of difficulty. We went on to talk about how difficult it was not only for children to learn how to recognise the alphabet (WHICH TO THEM IS A STRANGE NEW LANGUAGE) but also how to write it.

 

We finished off by showing parents the many interesting ways we covered learning to write through play with such wonderful things as drawing shapes and marks on sand trays. Chalking and painting, matching games and lots more fun things. When given a choice to learn their alphabet doing worksheets or the option of play, 8/10 parents agreed that playing was the favoured choice.

 

By keeping in close contact with our parents and covering important issues often raised by them and backing up what we said with written documents has proved worthwhile and rewarding. Least we forget that first and formost ''the parent is the child's main educator and it is us that they intrust to help them''.

 

Sorry to ramble on :o

 

Carolann

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Here, Here Poshprincess.

 

Your last paragraph has reminded me of a poem I found on this forum when I first joined. It is about a Teacher and a Parent, working together to "Sculpture" a childs mind.

Hopefully someone can direct you to it (If anyone remembers / understands which one I'm referring to :D )

 

Peggy

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Well done Mundia, I hope poshprincess likes it, and Sue, I wasn't trying to keep you on your toes, promise. :D

 

Peggy

 

p.s. I shall also like to remain ignorant on how to do those links, so please, don't anybody tell me how to do it :oxD (otherwise Sue and Mundia may feel redundant)

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:):):) Thank you everyone,

 

I feel inspired by the poems, thank you Princess for the link (it was just what I needed). I am going to print them and display them about the Pre-school, as well as the PLA learning through play cards and some nursery world articles.

 

Penny Tassoni said a very similar thing to a parent that approached her regarding his childs lack of writing skills. I've absolutely got to put that in as well, thanks for the much needed reminder.

 

More work to do over the holidays. I've to get petty cash up to date. Write my TMA, do the planning for next term and try to forget a horrible scene with the deputy on the last day.

 

We've set the date for late April. I'll let you know more about it when it's finished.

 

On a different subject there was a meeting regarding appraisals, which we currently do not have, it was decided by the deputy and the manager, that the assistants and deputy would get together and write up what they think my weaknesses and strenghths are (I am supervisor of a pre-school) as some of the staff do not have my best interest at heart I was rather alarmed. How do others in a Pre-school setting do theirs? (This probably should go somewhere else Steve so apologies in advance) xD:):o

 

Angie

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Hi Angie88

 

I can well understand that you felt alarmed by that. We have annual appraisals, and my boss sees it as an exercise in praising what we do well, and identifying how to tackle areas we feel less confident in. She concentrates on the 'praise' part of 'Appraisal', and sees the whole exercise as a way of providing positive feedback, not as a way of undermining our self esteem and confidence.

 

We are also able to identify sources of additional support - whether it is training, clearer communication, or clarifying roles and responsibilities.

 

Good luck to you, not least with the amount of work you have to do over the holidays - am trying not to think about the length of my 'to do' list!

 

Maz

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