To think reception classrooms shouldn't have 30 chairs with desks...

(103 Posts)
SexDrugsProfiteroles Tue 12-Jul-16 08:42:31

Watched 'b is for book' on the bbc last night, and it made me think about early years practice.

Out of interest, how many of you have children in a reception class where they sit down at desks with books daily for work tasks?

A few years ago a class I worked in introduced writing books for reception, a big thing then but enjoyed very much in small groups by a number. Some hated it though! The room had lots of play areas, a few table for putting bits on, tables used for regular small group work (phonics/ counting activities with an adult). Large areas were forts/ book corners with cushions/ lego areas.....free play basically reigned. We'd call 5/6 at a time on a rota for focused work while the rest played.

More and more I see, particularly in areas of 'deprivation', a model where all of reception sit down to formal learning together (rather than just carpet time phonics/ stories etc) at their tables. Some of the children in the programme were not ready, as were many (most?) I've taught. Frankly it looked like a miserable start to reading for many. I know my own little boy would be unlikely to have absorbed anything said to him as a just 4 yr old in reception, let alone actually learn in a class size group.

We used to provide opportunities for able/ advanced pupils to write and extend learning, but we certainly had more play. It does make me wonder how some of these children will be with creative writing later on when you look at the methodical approach to their learning early on and the sheer relentlessness of intervention for the more immature pupils.

KittyandTeal Tue 12-Jul-16 08:46:52

I think those school that do more formal 'teaching' in reception with not much child initiated time would get ripped to shreds by ofsted, surely.

We try and write daily and atm we do it as a whole class (because we only have a teacher and no additional adult) as a good way to prep them for Y1 but that's only a 20 min session out of the day

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 08:50:11

Yes they all have own desks. They write or use their own desks daily even though it's not all day. They are expected to all be able to read and write and maths at a basic level by the end of reception.

SexDrugsProfiteroles Tue 12-Jul-16 08:53:00

My son would have still been 4 at the end of reception, he developed a tripod grip at just over 5. Many I taught were similar, surely this still happens?

venys Tue 12-Jul-16 08:57:08

Our school has free play and no desks. Granted the classroom is tiny for the number of pupils but they often go elsewhere. The playground is amazing and a model for other schools. My son is SEN so he goes to the centre for phonics etc - he is not really into that. But all the rest of the learning is more physical and tactile rather than book based. The school is in the lower end of the socio economic scale and it is rated Outstanding.

80sMum Tue 12-Jul-16 08:58:27

"They are expected to all be able to read and write and maths at a basic level by the end of reception."

Does this apply even if some children in the group are 25% older than some of the others?? That surely can't be right?

SexDrugsProfiteroles Tue 12-Jul-16 08:58:50

My son was home educated, reading just hit all at once at 5 and three quarters. In a month from poor blending to fluency in normal picture books, it would jar on the new standards we would be 'exceeding' if he'd been born in September, yet 'emerging' where his birthday is.It would have destroyed his confidence/ love of books completely early on. Writing came with it in the following few months. I honestly believe it wouldn't have hit sooner simply because of where he was developmentally. Yet by the end of year 1 (if he'd been) he was reading and writing very well for his age....

OrangeSquashTallGlass Tue 12-Jul-16 09:00:43

Where are you Art? I'm imagining you're not in the UK, or if you are you're not state?

branofthemist Tue 12-Jul-16 09:00:58

Dd is 12 (was a July baby) ds is 5 (March born)

Both their classrooms had desks and chairs for every student.

However they were mainly used for painting, drawing etc. And the children weren't sat down for all, or even most, of their day. Yes occasionally ( a couple of times a week) they would sit for short periods to do learning, such as writing. But that has been towards the end of year.

I don't see the issue myself. They love around loads, do lots of learning through play, carpet time and activities. And also a small amount of sitting at a desk.

Both kids (even Dd who was youngest in her class) was fine with it.

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:01:02

Yes- ds2 has just finished reception. He was only 5 in June.
Without being at a basic level in reading, writing and maths they would really struggle in year 1. My other son has just finished year 1, and he was expected to be doing much harder maths, spellings, story writing, projects pretty much from the start in September. If he couldn't do the basics he would have had no chance

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:01:58

Orange - I'm in London. Private, but non selective. School and classes are full of all abilities

SexDrugsProfiteroles Tue 12-Jul-16 09:02:38

'no chance' - a four year old. A little bit grim no?

WhispersOfWickedness Tue 12-Jul-16 09:03:53

OP, my DC's reception classroom is as you described in your OP, a couple of group tables, but mostly open space for free play, dens, a home corner etc. It is a small class though (combined reception and year one, there are 17 of them altogether), so they only need a couple of tables for each year group to be all sat down, so maybe that makes a difference?

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:05:02

Well they would just always be last in the class. How can they do a maths exquations of say,

' John has five apples, Jane has 3 apples. How many all together?' If hey can read the basic question?

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:05:12

* if they can't

80sMum Tue 12-Jul-16 09:08:34

Why does everything change once children start school? Before school, they are assessed for development against peer norms. But once in school, they are assessed against a set standard?

So, does this mean that a 3-year-old (born on 30th August) might be assessed in March as being developmentally on track, when compared with the average 3-year-old, then 6 months later on 5th September, that same child, now aged 4 years and 5 days, is expected to be able to cope with the same tasks as a child who is 5 years and 1 day old (born on 4th September)?

Can any teachers reassure me that the above does not happen?

Vagndidit Tue 12-Jul-16 09:10:22

I work in the Reception classroom and it's a playschool dream. Loads of nooks and corners for play, cozy cavelike areas for reading and rest, large tables for work, piano/music room, large indoor/outdoor play space. It's everything that EY education should be, imo. Not a desk in sight, even the teachers go without a desk.

OrangeSquashTallGlass Tue 12-Jul-16 09:13:06

80s teachers absolutely take age into account, especially in the lower key stages. There's reams of research into the attainment of Summer born children for example. Government expectations however are a sadly very different.

OrangeSquashTallGlass Tue 12-Jul-16 09:15:52

Art, it makes me a but sad to imagine them all with their own desk. But in reality I imagine you also have all the key areas (construction, outdoor, etc) for them to learn through as well? Are the desks all seperate/individual or are they joined together so that they can be used for group play as well?

SexDrugsProfiteroles Tue 12-Jul-16 09:21:10

In teaching, excluding SEN, no system should leave a child always last in the class Art. I've seen many an immature little boy with speech delay go on to be at the top of the class in year 6! But maybe in some schools....

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:25:07

They desks are in groups, like 4-6 child per desks I think.
They don't have other areas in that room, but stuff like toys based on their lesson are brought out on the desks. I think desks are moved around. And they have a rug and small book area

They then have seperate rooms art room, music room, library, computer room, plus outside spaces. But go to those rooms and places just for each allocated slot
i.e. Tuesday's art 10-11am or whatever in art room. They would do stuff like drawing and sticking in main room at desks, but painting and clay or anything super messy would be in seperate art room

steppemum Tue 12-Jul-16 09:26:23

our reception class is exactly as OP describes.
Our school has won an award for its Early Years work, and is a beacon school (is that the current expression?) for other schools. We get visiting teachers in to see our good practice.

The children are expected to have a basic level of reading and writing by the end of reception. And all those who can do. But it is a ridiculous myth that you get that by whole class lessons with all children sitting at desks.

Sorry ART but your school is a model of bad practice.

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:28:02

It's one of the top schools in the country, outstanding from ofstead.

Artandco Tue 12-Jul-16 09:29:05

I didn't say they spend the whole day sitting at desks, I said every child has their own desk to work at

Justaskingnottelling Tue 12-Jul-16 09:29:52

I kind of agree with you OP. At my son's infant school, when a child was struggling in reception and year one, they just seemed to spend more time doing the same thing: extra formal reading and writing tasks. It seemed counter-intuitive to me. If something's not working, surely try other things rather than keep doing more of the same? He really struggled with the physical act of writing, and I think it would have benefited him hugely to do other tasks that built up his dexterity, rather than making him keep writing, which didn't work. Also, he struggled writing a large amount of material. Rather than helping him to work through how to put more detail in, they just gave him lots of writing tasks and told him he needed to write more confused.

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