Inhibiting children's creativity - is this normal in reception class?

(29 Posts)
aufaniae Fri 16-Nov-12 23:31:04

I was at a school open day the other day, I saw this in reception class, what do you think?

A group of children sitting together on a table were doing an activity on a sheet, as part of numeracy hour. They had to trace round the number 5, then draw their hand and colour it in. They were doing this sheet before morning break. The group came back to the same task after playtime, and had to finish it before they were allowed to go and play in the home area.

One boy asked the teacher if he could go to the home corner, he'd finished the number tracing and had coloured a bit of the hand yellow. She said "no, you haven't finished colouring, we have to do our jobs before we play don't we?" He said "but it doesn't matter" She then told him he was colouring it the wrong colour. She took the yellow crayon out of his hand and gave him the pink crayon. She then looked at the black child next to him (the only black child on a table of otherwise white children). He'd coloured it the same pink colour as his friends. She told him he was doing it wrong too, and gave him the brown crayon.

I felt really sad for the children involved as:

1. At only just 5 (or younger) they should be learning through play more than sitting at tables doing formal work IMO (the EYFS curriculum supports this doesn't it?)

2. I feel very strongly that she was surpressing their creativity. The activity was to do with maths, what does it matter what colour the hand is? The hand is there as it has 5 digits, that's the maths bit! The colouring's meant to be the fun bit surely?! What colour it is has no relation to the number 5!

3. I didn't like the way play seemed to be being used as a reward, rather than being used as part of their education.

4. I felt sorry for the little boy who had obviously had enough of this very dry task, which they'd been doing for ages. I didn't like the way he was told he was wrong, when he had been colouring and had nearly completed the task.

5. I really didn't like the way the black kid was singled out for being different to all the others. I mean, really, what does it matter what colour he uses for the hand in a maths exercise? DS (4) calls people "the white person" / "the blue person" because of the colour of their clothes, skin seems to be meaningless to him so far! Why force the issue so young? That boy may not see himself as different from the others in a predominately white class - yet - as skin colour may not be important to such a young child.

Would this kind of approach be normal in many schools do you think?

ninah Fri 16-Nov-12 23:33:26

sadly more common than you'd think
look at another school

tethersend Fri 16-Nov-12 23:38:34

It doesn't just inhibit their creativity, it's completely at odds with the EYFS.

Himalaya Fri 16-Nov-12 23:38:46

:-( yuk. Yes I'd look elsewhere.

ninah Fri 16-Nov-12 23:41:35

numeracy hour in itself misnomer for ey
sounds dire

5madthings Fri 16-Nov-12 23:45:55

That souns bloody crap!
And what tethersend says.

I would kick.up a huge stink and find a different school.

ThisIsMummyPig Fri 16-Nov-12 23:49:57

I think you may have just explained why my DD doesn't seem to be gaining anything at all from school.

Still shit though. No advice, know nothing. Sorry

aufaniae Fri 16-Nov-12 23:55:23

Phew! I'm pleasantly surprised and relieved! I half expected to be told I was BU and that it was totally normal.

The whole school seemed pretty formal to me. I left feeling sad.

Luckily there's another school down the road which is lovely and values creativity. They let the children guide the topics, and build lesson plans around the children's interests. An example: one class had a group of boys into wizards and magic. The teacher made them into "the wizard's group" and used it as a platform to teach them maths. (Measuring potions, counting ingredients etc).

We'll be putting that school down as DS's first choice!

Strangely (IMO) the very formal school is rated outstanding, and the lovely creative one "only" good.

ninah Fri 16-Nov-12 23:59:31

when I was solely a parent outstanding might have swayed me
now I am a teacher as well I have seen too much - I'd aim for a good every time
I love your wizard school!

aufaniae Sat 17-Nov-12 00:09:16

I love the wizard school too smile I really hope DS gets in!

ThisIsMummyPig I'm sorry your DD's not enjoying her school. sad How old is she? Would you / could you change schools?

aufaniae Sat 17-Nov-12 00:31:32

ninah, can I ask. Do you mean you actually prefer "good" to "outstanding"?

Are you perhaps saying the teachers / school have to sacrifice to much to obtain "outstanding" or am I reading things into your post which aren't there?!

ninah Sat 17-Nov-12 00:37:51

The best school I ever taught in was a good
the ones that strove for outstanding were under a lot of pressure to standardise, and children are not standard
I have become very cynical, that's all! looked round a lot of schools on my training year and they varied so much from one to another
ofsed is looking, in the main, at stats

radicalsubstitution Sat 17-Nov-12 08:07:06

teachers / school have to sacrifice to much to obtain "outstanding"

Sadly, I think that's true. At our school we are under increasing pressure to maintain the new outstanding just in case Ofsted make the call. The detail required in marking and individual pupil progress tracking is not sustainable given current teaching loads and pupil numbers. Something has to give.

There are only so many hours in the day. For me, planning new and original and creative activities has suffered. I could spend more time planning if I wasn't spending so much time target setting and assessing.

Good would definitely be good enough for me.

mrz Sat 17-Nov-12 09:29:17

Numeracy hour has never actually existed apart from in certain schools where the head hadn't actually read the numeracy strategy document.
It's unusual for reception classes to have playtimes rather than continuous access to outdoors and the colouring in activity you describe stopped being even loosely linked to numeracy once the had drawn around their five fingers - so anyone with the slightest knowledge of maths would grade the lesson inadequate (Learning activities are not sufficiently well matched to the needs of pupils so that they make inadequate progress.)

Cat98 Sat 17-Nov-12 16:54:49

This would absolutely put me off the school.

ThisIsMummyPig Sat 17-Nov-12 17:11:27

My daughter has just started reception, so it's very early days, but she seems to be in a group with three naughty boys (from her description, and from playground gossip - it all centres around these three). There is one other girl, but I have never met her, or her parents. The other girl has been invited to at least four parties, but never replied, and never came. (There was a school nursery as well, which my DD, the other girl, and one of the three boys went to.

She has been taught about 10 letters (she knew them all at age 2.5), and as far as I can make out nothing else. She gets point and say books, although she can read simple phonics. She is generally averagely bright.

She does struggle with forming letters, and doesn't enjoy drawing or craft, so doesn't do it. I think this is why she is in the group she is.

The rest of the class have done all their letters, and come home talking about all sorts, my daughter and her group just don't seem to be doing anything.

Sorry, I think that was a bit more than you wanted. All the other local schools are over subscribed. I actually chose this school as it seemed friendly.

Very common. Which is why I and some of my friends left our DC in (a fantastic creative) nursery for their Reception year. And then were very careful about choosing schools. Because, if the Reception year is that uncreative, the rest of the school will be the same.

I agree about the pressure to be outstanding as well. Especially now that the government have brought down the age at which various maths targets need to be attained, making more rote learning and drilling almost inevitable, since many children are required to perform at a level for which they are not yet ready. (I am a primary teacher.)

pointythings Sat 17-Nov-12 18:06:35

My DDs went to a primary which, when they started there, was rated Satisfactory (DD2 is still there). It was, and still is, an amazing school. They were rated Good against OFSTED's tougher criteria, and I hope they never jump to the hoops to Outstanding, because the way they work really fosters a love of learning. The teachers are amazingly responsive to the children's individual needs, and the feedback we get is genuinely personal. I could not wish for a better school and as a result would always go with my gut over whatever OFSTED said.

learnandsay Sat 17-Nov-12 18:19:31

That would have been my first and last visit to that school.

mummytime Sat 17-Nov-12 20:38:26

Not all schools are this uncreative! Even some outstanding ones.

ninah Sat 17-Nov-12 22:21:00

mrz would you say an official playtime in EYFS is poor practice? the school I am in insists on it and I am stuck with it - I am finding it really odd
We don't have a lot of outside space to run in, so I can see that is a factor.

mrz Sun 18-Nov-12 08:23:17

I think lots of schools had problems with outdoor provision when EYFS was introduced because classrooms didn't give easy access to secure outdoor areas, so practice is somewhat dictated by practicalities. I do think however that a set 15-20 mins playtime isn't appropriate for children this age and not in line with EYFS. Staff should be planning activities for indoors and out not just taking children out to join in the big children's playtime.

Sassyfrassy Sun 18-Nov-12 08:58:10

That sounds awful sad they r four and five its supposed to be fun not "sit and colour for an hour. Ur doing it wrong ..." how long did they think it would take to colour in a hand sad

TuftyFinch Sun 18-Nov-12 09:09:29

We moved DS from a school that sounded exactly like this one. It was Outstanding. Creativity was stifled and DS was miserable. He is now in a Good school which is like the wizard one. He is thriving.

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