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School Ready ? .


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So here we are - again, that time of the year when instead of feeling slightly smug that the last two years of offering child initiated activities, oodles of opportunities to be social, imaginative, independent learners with countless 'teaching in the moment' moments (yep) We find ouselves wondering - where have we gone wrong???

 

Our Reception teacher was briefly in today ( not a transition visit) and she remarked that 'last years cohort have been awful' apparently none of them are exceeding because they are 'scruffy' (writing - not dress sense : ) So I said, well your going to love the next group as none of them are 'writing'. ( 13 boys)!

Well she couldnt have been more horrified!!! I told her well, they have lots of other lovely skills and talents and have had plenty of mark making opps etc etc. Anyways basically she practically begged me to 'call them over and say this is your name - and get them to write it'! So guess what we're doing for the rest if the summer term........."Mind The Gap"!!!

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That is a disgraceful comment. I'm sorry but it is not and I repeat not our role to sit any of our children down to uniformly write their names or anything else for that matter in our pre-school.

If a child is showing an interest that's fab, but we provide a rich and stimulating environment to make marks in lots of different ways, with lots of different tools to gain strength in their hand, wrist and upper arm.

As you can tell I'm not an advocate of formal teaching at such a young age, but we have to work with what we have, in the best creative, stimulating way we can.

Sorry rant over.:(:(:(

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think i'd be inclined to go back with a comment about her being able to show lots of progress over the year then as they are all coming in at such a low level! ...reminds me of our local head some years ago saying to me (the supplier of 75% of her cohort that year) that the children came in below expected levels.....I was furious!. I'm sure these things just come out of peoples mouths and they just don't think...often schools are not aware of how much we have put in place before they get the children (toilet training behaviour/sharing /turn taking etc etc) I know many teachers who have no knowledge of children's development below school age (same as social workers!!!!! :o but that's another issue!)

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We had a meeting with the Reception teacher two weeks ago, who had been on a course, Early Years talk and wanted to cascade the info to the local pre-schools and day nurseries. The resources for this by the way were £400 and £700 for the training.... yet she didn't even know what ECAT was! We have been sending this to school for years, so it is obvious all our hard work writing reports, tracking etc falls on the blind.

 

During this so called info meeting, she showed us the baseline assessments from last year and basically told us all the children were coming in too low. They are expected to know and read the words, sun, boot and flower. I was horrified by this to say the least and told her so. I also reiterated that the majority of ours would not be coming to school at that level and I didn't care how much she jumped up and down. I also reinforced what I thought school readiness was... as we all agree, being able to listen, follow simple instructions, put their coat on etc and this is what I concentrated on and would continue to be doing.

 

Last week she did her first induction visit and brought the Head with her. (I think this a ploy as they are awaiting their Ofsted inspection and want it to look good, as I have been at my pre-school 11 years and this is a first!) Anyway, I told him how mortified I was about theses assessments and again reinforced my idea of school readiness. He told me they were now going to assess the children on their induction day. Wonder what the parents would think of this? Maybe this is because some of the children will be scared, shy, not so confident at being alone at school for the first time and this will make them look like they have made really good progress? Makes me sick.

Edited by MegaMum
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Well thanks everyone! I know it and you know it - I just wish school knew it!! WHY oh WHY is the gap still a gulf for some schools and their feeder settings???

 

A few of our boys are Autumn born but as it happens they also have difficulties with Listening and Attention and Behaviour !! Have been 'sorting' that out for her in preparation for Transition - if only she knew.....

 

We shall meet her half way with more fun 'lines and circle' finger gym etc activities.......think its her job to get them to put them together......

 

Just hate the fact that the attitude is 'they just play all day'.....grrrrrr

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I am a reception teacher and my idea of school readiness is just like yours Megamum! I always tell parents the most important part of my job is ensuring that they are happy to come to school, make friends and to get used to routines of a school e.g. lunchtimes etc. Obviously I want children to progress, but it's all about them being ready. I'm fortunate in the fact my Head Teacher has let me get on with how I want to and I haven't followed schools in our cluster that have gone for more formal literacy and maths sessions daily with no outside or freeflow. Having said that we now have a new Head Teacher so things might change...fingers crossed that they don't.

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During this so called info meeting, she showed us the baseline assessments from last year and basically told us all the children were coming in too low. They are expected to know and read the words, sun, boot and flower.

 

 

Good job baseline isn't being enforced this year then!

 

Reading 'boot' and 'flower' would come along with being secure in Phase 3 of 'Letters and Sounds' -about where the majority of my children are when they leave Year R, so wonder where her expectations came from?

 

You could also point out - if you can swallow the bile - that it is in the school's interest to have children 'performing below expectations' as then they can, as you say, show good progress from their starting points.

 

I know it's no consolation, but we have the same kind of discussions between Key Stage 1 and 2 - Year 3 teachers tear their hair out every year! - and between Year 6 and Year 7 - transition is never easy, but luckily the children seem to manage it.

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I feel your pain.

 

However, as an ex Reception teacher, we are expected t make so much progress with our cohorts that unless the children come in doing some of those things we can not meet our targets either. Teacher pay progression is now dependent on progression/ attainment of the cohort.

 

Dont blame the schools/ teachers, they want the best for the children too but its easy to be blinkered when the hoops you have to jump are so high.

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Ahhh - it's summer and the season of transitional teacher bashing commences.

 

Tidyness isn't a part of the writing exceeding descriptor so the teacher is making a stupid comment but it's not about writing actually. They could be exceeding and not be neat writers. The Moving and Handling descriptor is the one that focuses on beginning to write on lines with control over letter size.

 

Personally, I don't think it is unreasonable, when they leave nursery, for children to have developed an awareness of print and be able to differentiate between drawing and writing, or indeed being able to write their own name (which in all honesty, children leaving my nursery class could do pretty much because noone would ever write their name for them - if they wanted their name on something they had to write it themselves!). Undoing poor pencil control because there has been no focus on retracing vertical lines and moving anticlockwise as a skill to be aquired in order to be able to write later is also real pain - because obviously it can't be done until the child is in 40 - 60...sometimes the slavish use of Dev Matters get in the way of the long term teaching of skills across time in nursery AND reception.

 

It's not impossible for children to be able to use writing to communicate and also have an awareness of sounds and be able to differentiate between them orally and aurally when they leave nursery but it requires input from adults to be shown how that all works, in appropriate ways - noone ever said it has to be forced labour.

 

It's all our responsibilties to ensure children are able to attain the skills described in the ELGs through the statutory educational programmes (as part of the statutory Framework for any provider) so identifying gaps in their learning and doing something to support them is all our jobs - not just the Reception teacher who has to make up for the gaps in experiences previously.

 

 

Cx

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Thanks Cait that was interesting and i certainly was not intending to generalise on the transition gap - just my own frustrating day!!

I do get your point that teachers are under pressure to reach targets. We shall certainly be re-jiggling our objective planning to help next years cohort achieve more skills in writing. We already do all the pre-writing activities etc but maybe raise our own expectations!

Was interested in how you encouraged name writing - you see we always model write it for them - but maybe thats why they are not attempting it......letting us do it for them! Shall give that a go......

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Thanks Cait that was interesting and i certainly was not intending to generalise on the transition gap - just my own frustrating day!!

I do get your point that teachers are under pressure to reach targets. We shall certainly be re-jiggling our objective planning to help next years cohort achieve more skills in writing. We already do all the pre-writing activities etc but maybe raise our own expectations!

Was interested in how you encouraged name writing - you see we always model write it for them - but maybe thats why they are not attempting it......letting us do it for them! Shall give that a go......

My expectation was that adults wouldn't write the names as it wasn't the adults' work and the responsibilty for making sure it was labelled was the owner of the work! I didn't mind if it was a scribble or their name but there were name cards in every main area, e.g. in the creative workshop, in the writing resource area, outside in the mark making toolkit and so on. Children were expected to label their work in different ways, by writing on a label for models (we had a display area made from shoe boxes attached to the wall) -this was extended into captions when they were ready, or on their paintings or drawings. "What's missing?" - "oh, my name" was a familiar conversation! But it worked. They also had to locate their own name cardto self register in the morning so there were lots of opportunities.

 

Cx

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Sooooooo, can I ask the question (she said ducking behind the table) how do we 'teach' children to write their names with good / correct pencil control? We all know we provide activities and opportunities for building and strengthening muscles, mark making etc but .....

I have heard people talking about tracing, joining dots, copying etc. We also have had feedback from schools in the past about writing names, correct letter formation and pencil grip. Advice please, what do you do???

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Children draw before they write, so need to be able to put their name on their drawings before they have learnt the correct formation of lowercase. Uppercase is easier to form, so we encourage children to write their name in capitals on their drawings, copying our writing on another piece of paper. This is to avoid that they get into habits that may be difficult to unlearn, such as to go clockwise and lift the pencil instead of retracing lines.

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Ahhh - it's summer and the season of transitional teacher bashing commences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cx

now Catma behave!!! this is not about bashing teachers it is about THIS teacher and her badly expressed views and opinions.

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Sooooooo, can I ask the question (she said ducking behind the table) how do we 'teach' children to write their names with good / correct pencil control? We all know we provide activities and opportunities for building and strengthening muscles, mark making etc but .....

I have heard people talking about tracing, joining dots, copying etc. We also have had feedback from schools in the past about writing names, correct letter formation and pencil grip. Advice please, what do you do???

This is how I feel. I wouldn't know the first step to teaching writing. I can provide everything to support it but I don't feel confident moving forward to all out teaching it, I'm just as likely to get it wrong and allow bad habits to form as any parent with good intentions.

Luckily, we haven't been asked for writing by our schools and long may it continue ?

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We haven't been asked to, but I know ours will be behind incomparison to the children who have attend the school nursery, it's the same with reading too, school nursery children have had reading books since Christmas.

Well to be honest Thumper I'm only going all-out to appease as we have a Nursery opening locally in September and I don't want 'this teacher' making comparisons in their favour if they go to school 'all singinging, all dancing'!! Tough enough staying afloat - without misplaced bad press!! ( even though we feel we have it covered - if it's what the school wants.......)

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Sooo -

 

I shall be feeding to 10 different primary schools this year and all 10 will have a different take on what school readiness means to them and I suspect that the individual teachers in the reception classes of the 10 schools with have their own take on school readiness too. For example at one meeting one reception teacher advised that she would be pleased to have children that could sit and listen to a story, were clean and dry, could put on their coats and perhaps get dressed/undressed for PE - no mention of pencil control, mathematical skills etc.

 

That being said - With regard to toilet training - I do not see it as my or my staff's job to toilet train children in isolation - 99% of children at my term time setting access 15 hours per week - if they're parents are not toilet training them at home then the success rate when they only spending 9% of their week with us is understandably low. I am dinosaur enough to remember when children with no developmental difficulties or delay were expected to be clean and dry before they could start at a pre-school at (usually) 2 yrs and 9 mths. When that was accepted practice we would never have turned away a non-toilet trained child with additional needs. There was a "certain impetus" for parents to grasp the nettle so to speak and get toilet training underway. Now it is not unusual to have children joining us at nearly 4 years old with only three terms of attendance to go whose parents have never attempted toilet training.

 

With regard to the TES article and language delay - in my area there is an approx wait time of 26 weeks between a referral and a child receiving any speech and language input. It therefore doesn't surprise me that children enter school with poor language skills

 

In my area - By necessity (we are told because of the heavy demands on the service and staff shortages) - it works this way

 

I and my staff team monitor the children on entry to our pre-school - if the children joining us in September are only going to be with us for three terms before they go to school then by the first half term of the school year we put in a referral.

If children will be with us for 2 years (because of the demands on the service) we are "put off" SALT referrals with the preferred option being Children's Centre led groups promoting speech and language.

 

Once a referral has gone in there is usually a week wait before parents get a response acknowledging the referral. The response is that they will get another letter in about 13 weeks time to say whether their child will be assessed. That letter will tell them that the assessment appointment will be a further 6 weeks on. (So far 20 weeks) If the assessment shows that the child would benefit from SALT input then the child will be put forward for therapy with another 6 week wait before that happens. (So far 26 weeks) So including the first few weeks of the year where we let the child settle, get to know them, maybe if it is EAL wait to see if it just the "silent period" or not we can add another half term so say 7 weeks making it a total of 33 weeks e.g. the school year is almost at an end before the child gets their first block of SALT - is it therefore any wonder that children are entering school with delayed language - and that's for the ones that go to an early years setting!

 

With respect to "writing" - In my setting the children do lots of mark making and have name cards and name plates all over the place and there is an expectation that they will "write" their name - we value all attempts and over time the children who started with a squiggle here and there build up their skills - our age range is 2 to 4 and not one of them has "enforced writing practice time". There are lots of different mark making opportunities using big and small marks and a range of tools from water squirters to pencils. It is all done with a matter of course type approach e.g., If Jonny wants to do a painting then he is invited to "write" his name on the bit of paper that he chooses - in the role play area the children "write" their menus, shopping lists etc. - By the time they leave most of the children can recognise and write at least their first names - I don't get too hung up on their surnames especially as a significant number seem to have hyphenated surnames now just to make their early attempts at writing just a little bit harder - LOL.

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Ahhh - it's summer and the season of transitional teacher bashing commences.

 

 

 

 

I'm really hoping that is 'tongue in cheek' :wacko:

 

I for one am not into 'teacher bashing' - I firmly believe we are all on the same side.......

 

I only feed one primary school and wait for it - smug alert - the reception teacher always says "I could tell, without knowing, which children have been with you" :1b (she means 'in a good way') :lol:

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I only feed one primary school and wait for it - smug alert - the reception teacher always says "I could tell, without knowing, which children have been with you" :1b (she means 'in a good way') :lol:

Hahaaa, well I did have one triumphant moment during our conversation.....as the reception teacher listed all those in her bottom 2 groups I was able to say.........no, not been with us! So must be doing something right!

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I'm finding this discussion intriguing...would it not be normal for your children to be writing some things before they start school then?

I do 'teach' writing to those who want to give it a go, and similar to Catma we ask them to name their creations...even my little ones who do a squiggle and say proudly "look I've written my name!" ...which of course indicates to me that they know print carries meaning. It's not long before they start to look at their names and have a go at forming the capital letter, we then start to teach the other letters in bite sized pieces over a period of time. We teach as they are written so upper and lower case along with the information from the majority of schools (upper case only can sometimes be an issue because we have so many from other countries who do this). We don't go heavily down the pencil grip line until they are REALLY ready as pressure problems are much reduced by this and most will naturally progress to tripod after a while of getting it right. If they need grip correction I try to do this for the majority before the last weeks of term but most have got it before then. There is no formula for teaching writing ...we go with what works for the child and in which ever media they chose (often the edge of the sandpit!)

I'm sure lots of you will disagree with me but thought i'd give you my take! ;)

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Ooo really feeling bad now!!! No seriously, previous years many have gone into school with 'good attempts' at their names.

 

And yes finsleysmaid we do all you mention in supporting name writing. However, as I say we have a cohort who have'nt yet shown massive interest - yes they will 'squiggle' for their names and some are doing the first letter - all recognise their name.

 

But not one is 'writing' their name! Boy and summer born heavy - but thats not an excuse its just that the interest hasn't been shown and we have not insisted - encouraged but not insisted!! Shall be next year...... : )

 

Again if someone has a magic method - be happy to hear it! : )

Edited by Rafa
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Yes fm mine will (if there is no Sen) be writing their names before they leave me

actually all my children with additional needs are WAY ahead of the game! struggling to keep up at the moment ::1a but I know what you mean ;)

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