To think nursery age children don't need to be "school ready"

(226 Posts)
adsy Thu 03-Apr-14 09:08:11

Beyond being toilet trained, able to put on shoes/coats and recognising very simple numbers and shapes.
Head of OFSTED says that nurseries and childminders are failing children as they are not getting them school ready. he thinks there should be more structured learning for 2 and 3 year olds.
I am a childminder and see my role at that age is to ensure children can sit attentively for a few minutes, can use a knife and fork etc.
As it happens, I do also make sure I do lots of reading/ number games/ colour recognition etc. but I disagree that this should be in a structured environment as he suggests.
He says the good nurseries are those attached to schools, dismissing the thousands of excellent nurseries and childminders around the country.
I think that children already start school very young and if they only start to learn simple arithmetic at 4 yo, then so be it.
2 and 3 yos should be learning through play, the word structured fills me with dread in relation to what are essentially toddlers.

Retropear Thu 03-Apr-14 09:36:50

I do have a problem with nurseries for 2 year olds.I do think the abundance of young poorly educated staff will of course have an impact.

However I think kids being in their own home setting,with gran or a good childminder who have access to some good quality pre- school hours at 3 would have the best of both worlds.

I was a former teacher and then Outstanding childminder.Creating a home from home stimulating environment was my priority.Play,happiness and security was my biggest priority- I taught social skills,numbers etc by singing,modelling etc just like I did with my own children.They then went to the school pre-school at 3 for a few hours a week which I took them to and picked up from.All are doing very well and the vast maj of parents could provide the same themselves in their own home.

You don't need to stuff 2 year olds in an all day school nursery for them to be ready for school.My 3 would have hated it.

blueberryupsidedown Thu 03-Apr-14 09:37:17

I also want to know how many children who fall in the category of 'not ready for school' have been in commercial nurseries and registered childminders, as opposed to those who stayed at home with parents. I think he is barking up the wrong tree.

And RafaIsTheKingOfClay, as you commented on my post, Sir Michael Wilshaw wants to see 'greater emphasis on structured learning', which is neither teacher led play nor child led play, it's STRUCTURED LEARNING.

IncognitoErgoSum Thu 03-Apr-14 09:37:50

On Radio4, Michael Wilshaw said that 2yos need "structured learning". He did not go into details of what he meant by this (although he did mention independent toiletting). I'd love to watch him formally teach a 24mo to use a toilet... He obviously sees no difference between 24mo and 35mo (all are 2yo).

What percentage of 4-5yo start reception unable to use the toilet? How does that correlate with the list of factors provided by blueberryupsidedown? (And, BTW, correlation still does not imply causation - early years setting does not necessarily cause inability to behave as required in reception; the factors are interrelated and complex.)

blueberryupsidedown, I do agree with most of what you say but what do you mean about "discos"? I hope you mean dancing around to children's CDs, not flashing lights ...

Its a load of crap, and the 'fun' is being taken out of playgroups and preschools.

I am the chairperson of a preschool and recently had an OFSTED visit. One of our recommendations was to get rid of the indoor climbing frame and sticking table and have quieter, working tables instead.

Children should be able to look after themselves - take themselves to the toilet properly, be able to dress themselves, recognise their name, but beyond that, preschool should be about learning to socialise and interact with other children.

The problem is that there is so much stuff crammed into the foundation stage that most children need a head start.

And as Cory said, the inspector was quite astonished that we didnt have much ICT provision, bar one laptop and an Ipad which are put away after snack time. She suggested a bank of computers that would enable the children to have 'freeflow play'.

Retropear Thu 03-Apr-14 09:42:55

A bank of computers!shock

Yep. She suggested 4 or 5.

When we explained this just wasn't possible, funding wise as well as space wise (plus our own personal feelings that playgroup should be for playing!) she looked at us like we had offered her a shit sandwich and made mention of the fact that this wouldn't be overlooked at our next inspection.

RiverTam Thu 03-Apr-14 09:45:54

it's nonsense - isn't Reception Year meant to be about getting them ready for their formal schooling to begin at Year One?

Bardette Thu 03-Apr-14 09:46:51

The man's an idiot. However, just because everyone on here is a brilliant parent doesn't mean that every child has that advantage. At one of the schools I work in, at the start of the school year the reception class had 5 children who were not reliably toilet trained, many who could not use a fork and spoon, or dress themselves, over 50% who had speech and language levels of a 2-3 year old, and at least a third who could not sit still and listen to an entire story being read. For the first half term the staff have to concentrate on basic self care, social and learning skills. They had to teach some of the kids how to eat an apple!
Yes, this is the parent's responsibility, but for whatever reason parenting is not happening here. Getting the children school ready is not always about academics.
Oh, and after all the teacher's hard work Ofsted came in and criticised her for not doing enough handwriting practice hmm.

RiverTam Thu 03-Apr-14 09:47:05

DD's nursery is outstanding rated and as far as I'm aware she has never looked at a computer or anything like that in the nearly 2 years she's been there! What a load of nonsense.

thebody Thu 03-Apr-14 09:47:09

Gossamer yes so take away the physical play equipment and let the toddlers sit at a computer screen.

obviously that will solve the obesity crisis

you couldn't make it up could you!

blueberryupsidedown Thu 03-Apr-14 09:48:17

yes of course it's discos with 'bah bah black sheep' and 'old mcdonald' music, not will.i.am, and musical instruments appropriate for their age, not electric guitars. Come on.

But it's also music and movement where children choose what they do, what movements to make, not me telling me what to do.

Retropear Thu 03-Apr-14 09:49:01

I would be livid if my 3 wasted precious pre school hours in front of screens and funds(which could have been spent on play equipment)had been eaten up by several computers.

Enb76 Thu 03-Apr-14 09:50:24

My CM did an amazing job with my child and carried on with what I had been doing at home.

Wilshaw was correct in saying that many parents do this stuff already with their children, recognising numbers, know colours, being able to count to 10, holding a pencil correctly, having some language skills, etc… I'd expect all of this from a 3-4 year old and you start when they're tiny (well before 24 months) with things like colours and different animals etc.

The problem is that there is a proportion of children, often coming from low socio-economic backgrounds that have none of this learning (basic, basic stuff) and that it disadvantages them through their whole school career. I don't think they're saying that these children should not be playing but they should be learning at the same time.

cory Thu 03-Apr-14 09:50:35

If general socialising is all that Wilshaw means by structured learning, then he will need to give clear instructions to Ofsted.

He also needs to instruct the Telegraph as they seem to have got the idea that "Ofsted will also:

� Call on nurseries and childminders to regularly assess children�s abilities in the three-Rs to identify those infants struggling with the basics who may need extra help"

There will also be a need for clear instructions to Ofsted about the age differentiation of nursery school children: as other posters have pointed out, there is a massive difference in developmental terms between a 24mo and a 35mo, in a way there isn't between older children.

The fact is that Ofsted are already criticising excellent CM's and nurseries for not sticking to their own rigid conception as to what constitutes learning.

ExcuseTypos Thu 03-Apr-14 09:50:44

Incognito he did mention specifics.

"That means they can't hold a pen, they have poor language and communication skills, they don't recognise simple numbers, they can't use the toilet independently and so on."

juneau Thu 03-Apr-14 09:50:48

I do think the abundance of young poorly educated staff will of course have an impact.

Yes, this concerns me too. Most of the staff at DS2's nursery aren't exactly the most intelligent or well-educated people. I'm guessing that most left formal academic education at 16 with a few GCSEs (if that), and then did some kind of childcare qualification instead of A levels. If anyone is going to teach my DC, as opposed to just caring for them, reading to them, leading play, etc, I'd like them to have a teaching qualification, otherwise who's to say they'll do it right? Teachers have qualifications for a reason!

thebody my mum and nan were the same. Nan lived across the road so my sisters and I would run between the two houses, playing with all of the kids. Mum treated the charges as her own and we still see them regularly now as adults, man treated her charges like her own, thre were photos of all of the kids in both houses. Then when posted came they didn't care that the kids were happy and learning, they wanted proof of observations that hadn't been interrupted by buy crying, and the daily spoken contact mum had with parents needed to be written down. One idiot asked my nan to transcribe conversations.

They all came expecting to see different things too, with different opinions on things, so one thing that was perfect one would be something to be improved upon by the next assessor.

It's all bollocks.

Retropear Thu 03-Apr-14 09:51:46

Bardette but that was 5 children,why do all children have to be afflicted with formal education at 2?

Wouldn't it be better for HV to identify and target these type of families with parenting classes alongside some pre school hours at 3.I assumed that was happening.

juneau Thu 03-Apr-14 09:54:33

And on the subject of ICT, this is offered at my DS's nursery - for an extra charge, of course. He's not even three yet and I've been encouraged to sign him up as 'the children really enjoy it'. Um no!

Even weirder, French is also offered. French FFS! Most state schools don't offer French at age 4. I mean, I applaud the sentiment, but how fucking pointless. My DS is delayed with his speech and is only just starting to speak clearly in English, let alone French. Bonkers!

Its madness at the moment. I personally know of 3 childminders seriously considering quitting.

One has recently been inspected and the inspector downgraded her from outstanding to good because she refuses to fit a paper towel dispenser in her family bathroom. Lack of ICT provision was mentioned to her too. And the inspector didn't like nap provision. Couldn't really say why just didn't like it.

When my friend pointed out she was a home childcarer with the emphasis being on home she was told that she needed to try to be more like a nursery.

Oh and her paperwork was was pulled up as her planning was not extensive enough. She's an ex teacher ffs.

Juneau, my DDs nursery attached to the primary school teach French, the kids love it!

Shouldn't say that or we'll be lambasted for not teaching the children 4 languages next!!!

cory Thu 03-Apr-14 09:58:24

Bardette Thu 03-Apr-14 09:46:51
"The man's an idiot. However, just because everyone on here is a brilliant parent doesn't mean that every child has that advantage. At one of the schools I work in, at the start of the school year the reception class had 5 children who were not reliably toilet trained, many who could not use a fork and spoon, or dress themselves, over 50% who had speech and language levels of a 2-3 year old, and at least a third who could not sit still and listen to an entire story being read. For the first half term the staff have to concentrate on basic self care, social and learning skills. They had to teach some of the kids how to eat an apple."

I fully understand that. But how would taking away the sandpit, installing a computer bank and regularly testing toddlers in the 3 'Rs actually help with any of the things you mention?

What I would like to see is a more outdoors based, more hands-on type nursery provision, of the type they have in Scandinavia, where the children are involved in preparing their own meals and helping with everyday tasks. That would prepare them for apple eating (or at least teach them how to cut up an apple if they prefer it that way).

But that is not what Michael Wilshaw has in mind. He wants little mini-office workers who can do splendidly in their SATS.

IncognitoErgoSum Thu 03-Apr-14 09:59:06

ExcuseTypos, I agree he did mention some specific items.

"That means they can't hold a pen, they have poor language and communication skills, they don't recognise simple numbers, they can't use the toilet independently and so on."

But did he mean at age 2 or at the end of EYFS (31 August after 5th burthday, according to DfE)? He also said that 1000s of non-schol settings are failing children and that parents ("mostly parents with money") are raising children who can do these things. If that is not ignorant and prejudiced, I don't know how else to describe it.

cory Thu 03-Apr-14 10:00:05

And for the record, my 4yo was not able to hold a pen or use a knife and fork despite having eaten every meal of his life at the family dinner table surrounded by adults with good table manners and given every help and instruction. He simply wasn't developmentally ready.

And if you start putting targest on 2yo potty training the same thing will happen. Some just won't be ready.

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