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I am teaching a year 1 class this year which i am not particularly enjoying. We have a meet the teacher night next week and I would like some advise. I know I will get lots of dreaded questions like 'When will they get homework' etc. I want to convince them that children in year 1 still need lots of hands on play based activities.It seems to me that parents think that when their chn get to year 1 they are capable of so much more regardless of whether they have developed the necessary skills for effective learning to take place. Any advice much appreciated.

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oooh, difficult one, parent pressure!,


All I can suggest is that you focus their attention on what the children ARE doing and how this benefits their overall, long term development and more importantly "disposition" to learning. With my preschool parents I always remind them that the children will have another 11+ years in education and how this would feel for the child if they were too pressurised too soon.( I ask them to consider how many people they know who have managed to stay in a job for this long without getting bored etc).

Let them know that you are happy for them to provide input at home, such as reading and everyday learning opportunities, through shopping for example, and ask them to feed back to you their childs progress gained from their input.


Good luck.



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You could do a little research, or (my preference) be a little vague...

Tell the parents that in places such as Sweden, where children don't begin formal education until age 6 or 7, research has shown that by age 11 they have caught up academically with their British counterparts, thus proving that sitting children at desks all day every day from an early age doesn't necessarily make them learn more/faster. What these children do until age 6 or 7 is play in kindergarten settings so that the play is structured to an extent. Whilst we are required by law to teach children from age 5 in this country, it doesn't stop us making it as interesting and fun as possible to keep the children motivated & enjoying school & learning.


Point out all the great things that playing does for children: developing interpersonal skills; developing active imaginations through role-play; numeracy skills where board games etc. are used; developing physical skills. The list is endless.


The transition from FS to Y1 is hard enough, without children being expected to do desk work all day!

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Guest alisonjayne

Completely agree Marion, I work in a Nursery and a parent came up to me this week concerned that her child would become behind because " they do work sheets in Class 1"!!!! Where she got that from I have no Idea as our school doesn't use work sheets!

We have photos, videos.. to show the parents what they have been doing, and try to explain that children learn so much through play and at self chosen tasks.


Rocket do the children take home books to read? this could be classified as homework.


Good luck with the meeting by the way

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Parental pressure as Peggy has said - a difficult one - and even more difficult if you only have a short period of time. Are you seeing these parents individually and going through with them the children's progress or are you there to generally impart information to everyone. I guess its the first - if so - it might be worth at some time setting up a meeting/presentation and telling them all about life at school for a Yr 1 child. Although it might take a bit of time to get it together it may be a good thing to do on an annual basis. Parents will feel much more confident if they understand the reasoning for not pressuring the children, that children still need to create and problem solve and that actual reading is a fairly low level exercise on its own. I always think of one of my staff in this - she has a very, very autistic child, who is on the surface a very able reader, but has no understanding whatsoever. Parents seem to want their children to be able to read very early on as they think it gives them an advantage in life - quite why I do not know as there is so much evidence to suggest otherwise. I think there are a lot of misconceptions and these need to be highlighted. What about a child's self esteem? Parents are continually assessing children both formally and informally and parents may judge their child, either intentionally or unintentionally in relation to things written in books or to test scores comparing information. By doing this there may be an impact of their self esteem and motivation if not handled correctly - self fulfilling prophecy and all that (Millam 2002).


Anyway I feel for you - it can be very hard trying to allay parents fears. As Peggy said knowing where a child started and where they are now is important. As you can see I get on my soap box about these issues as I really do think it is sometimes it is the parents that need a bit more educating. Children are so small for such a short period of time - let them be children for as long as possible - problems at this age I think are relevant to their height - jsut wait till they reach their hormonal years of being a 6ft teenager and then they will really have something to worry about.


Sorry if I have gone on it does strike a really raw nerve.


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Got this from another thread, quite apt I think, School and Parent working together:


Unity Poem

I dreamed I stood in a studio

And watched two sculptors there.

The clay they used was a young child's mind

And they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher, the tools she used

Were books, music and art.

The other, a parent, worked with a guiding hand

And a gentle, loving heart.

Day after day, the teacher toiled with touch

That was deft and sure.

While the parent laboured by her side

And polished and smoothed it o'er.

And when at last their task was done,

They were proud of what they had wrought

For the things they had moulded into the child

Could neither be sold nor bought.

And each agreed they would have failed

If each had worked alone.

For behind the parent stood the school

And behind the teacher, the home.

Author Unknown

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We have begun to have 'Open days' where parents can come to school and take part in lessons (last year was our first year) maybe this would help them see the learning actually taking place?



We do this as well and it certainly has opened the eyes of many parents. Definitely to be recommended!

I agree wholeheartedly with Peggy about encouraging parents to make the most of everyday learning opportunities (counting out cutlery to lay the table, spotting letters on number plates, visiting interesting places etc etc.) rather than looking to do formal homework.

Do you have a homework policy that you can refer to? I assume it is school policy not to set homework in Y1 other than sharing a book and maybe practising some sounds and sight vocab?

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