Is this in the interests of children with un-involved parents?

(69 Posts)
Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 00:47:57

DD is in the nursery of a primary school in a very deprived area of London. School is Satisfactory on Ofsted, around 45% FSM and around 60% EAL.

She gets two books a week which have to be read at home, and I have to make comments in her 'Reading Book', parents are asked to come into class on the book switch days and help chose a book.

Once a week they have 'Show and Tell'.

As of next term, they start maths and will have maths homework in their 'Maths Book' once a week and writing homework once a week.

There will also be a holiday project at Xmas and at Easter to be completed for the beginning of term.

There are also numerous sessions during the week that parents can attend plus class assemblies, plays etc

All this is great for MY DD, who is bright and positively thrives on being pushed. I have the time and interest to make sure that the books are read on top of the normal bedtime stories, that she has something fun to take for show and tell and that she will have the maths, writing and holiday projects done properly along with all the museums, art galleries and general MC aspirational trimmings.

However, when I went to her parent's evening a couple of weeks ago, I ended up getting over half an hour instead of 10 minutes (much spent talking about things other than DD or school - am not quite that PFB) as the parent scheduled before me hadn't turned up and the 4 scheduled after me hadn't bothered either (we had 3 weeks notice and the option to change times to one of several different days).

I can't help thinking that this level of parental commitment is fine in the private sector or in ultra-leafy areas, but must be detrimental in an area like this where children will quickly divide into those whose parents do and those whose parents don't. Also a lot of pressure for parents who may not have had much schooling themselves, or who may not speak English, single parents who lack time etc

Surely it is better for all 'education' to be classroom based with this type of cohort? Or is this a way for a school to quickly detect which students have uninterested home lives and offer extra-support within the classroom?

rhondajean Sun 09-Dec-12 12:04:41

I'm so sorry, I missed the "nursery" last night, skipped over that and thought it said in primary! It does seem a lot for a nursery age child.

Chibi, every part of a child's life is hugely influenced by their parents though. Their ability to learn is heavily dependent on parental involvement from birth onwards. It's a sad fact of life that there will always be some children who will be disadvantaged in their education and in many other aspects of their life because of their parents. Have a look at the research around the PEEP programme (parents as early education partners) to see the effects involved parenting has on children.

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 12:11:10

From when ds started school aged 4 in reception and had homework to do I have always had battles with him. It got to the point in year 1 where I informed his teacher that I would ask him to do his homework but if he refused I wouldn't force him. It stayed like that until the start of year 4. Now he does his homework willingly as he sees a reason for doing it that he didn't have before. He has just grown up a bit in the last few months. My lack of insistence or involvement has had absolutely no detrimental effect on his education other than not being a 'free reader' in year 1 compared to most of his peers. Now his reading ability is above many of those.

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 12:15:01

i totally agree, rhondajean, and that is why i think schools need to not be making parental involvement a necessary precursor for learning.

if the expectation is that children cannot be taught to read, or write, or learn unless they are growing up in a very specific set of circumstances with a very specific kind of parent, why send children without these advantages to school at all?

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 12:20:26

This is mad for nursery and makes me wonder what on earth they are covering in school tbh, particularly as it doesn't seem to be working longer term (satisfactory). Personally at this age I would be concentrating on pre-reading and pre-literacy - eg Phase One phonics and lots of fine motor skills. I would also be working with children's interests and ensuring that learning was fun rather than a list of tasks.
I strongly disagree with categorising musuems and art galleries as 'MC aspirational' - self perpetuating myth; some of the most cultured people I have met in life have been self educated, and do these things from a passion rather than because they have some kind of bourgouis tick list. I'd certainly be doing school trips to these places.
As for show and tell, we have it regularly and it doesn't require adult input - a child just brings a piece of work they have done that morning and we discuss it as a class - I don't see why this needs home preparation (unless you are talking about competetive model building where all the parents vie for the best papier mache pagoda - are you?hmm)

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 12:42:28

"what is your parents are illiterate and can't sign or write comments? What if they live chaotic lives? Tough luck kid, maybe next life you'll have the good sense to be born to parents who can make sure you are educated?

it is not acceptable for a child's progress and experience of education to hinge on who their parents are, and i don't give a shiny shite how many educational systems are run this way, it still blows.

If, as a teacher, whatever i am trying to teach them is only effective if their parents are doing a lot of the teaching and reinforcing at home, i am doing it wrong. I say this as an actual teacher fwiw"

^ this

Show & Tell - child needs to bring in something from home according to the leaflet that was sent home. It can be anything, but it still relies on a parent remembering a child needs to bring something that day, helping to choose it and putting it in a book-bag.

I am the first to admit that I will be doing everything possible to get DD into good schools - if it means playing the system to get a place at a great primary, hiring tutors for x number of years to prep for the 11+, moving house for a naice comprehensive etc then I will do it. But I'm shocked that a State primary is already making a child's progress so dependent on parental input at this incredibly early stage - and despite the money that is being poured in to this school to try and level the playing-field a little bit.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 12:49:24

my N children are pretty much the instigators of bringing stuff in from home and are confident in choosing ... the culture in your school does indeed seem v adult dependent
It's not your dc you are concerned about, it's the others, right? so what do you think can be done about it? are you prepared to give time to go into school, run an art club etc? ideas? or is it a general philosophical point?
your op comes across as quite smug to me. My family is wonderful, shame about the poor people. And?

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 12:50:26

Do we know what kind of reading/maths provision is available at the nursery in question for the children with parents who can't read or write?

lingle Sun 09-Dec-12 12:51:39

there's lots of evidence about the benefit of parental involvement I think....

teachers have lots of expertise on engaging unengaged children, but they can't also be experts on engaging unengaged parents. There are loads of different reasons why parents don't engage with the school - lack of interest in one's own child is going to be a rare cause...

I think if I were the school, I'd be thinking "right, the parents' evening didn't work - what can we do instead?" I'd start by making a list of who picks up then finding an excuse to "grab and chat" with chosen parents at pick-up. The content of the chat would be a pretext: Something - anything - to give them a positive experience of the encounter and get to know a tiny bit more about them.

I appreciate that we have to judge parents in a way we wouldn't judge children but at nursery age I think it's good to invest in parents.

lingle Sun 09-Dec-12 12:52:39

to put it another way: if you were to ask each of those parents why they haven't supervised the homework, how many would answer "because I am not interested in my child". I think none.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 12:53:17

yy lingle totally
verbal communication would be important - no point sending home letters that can't be read

hoodoo12345 Sun 09-Dec-12 12:57:17

I can't believe the amount of homework some children have in Nursery!
Mine had a library book to share and a ABC writing practice sheet and that was it,i was happy with that,and it certainly hasn't held them back as they've got older.

insancerre Sun 09-Dec-12 13:06:01

I am wondering how the idea of homework and project work fits in with the ideas of the EYFS being play-based and tailored to children's individual learning styles.
There is no need for this level of homework for nursery aged children. Sounds like a desperate attempt at engaging parents in their children's learning.
Matbe someone at the nursery should read about some of the work being done at Pen Green.

lingle Sun 09-Dec-12 13:13:15

Pen Green?

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 13:28:53

Pen Green is an award winning nursery/family centre in Corby. I heard Margy Whalley speak at an EY conference a few years ago their work is very impressive

www.pengreen.org/

Levantine Sun 09-Dec-12 13:34:39

That sounds very ott to me. Ds went to an amazing community nursery in a very mixed part of London. He didn't get any homework - it wouldn't have occurred to me that he should.

Dromedary Sun 09-Dec-12 13:37:21

I find primary school a bit of a faff - the parents are expected to remember a million things - not only homework but dress up on book day, bring in charitable contribution a zillion times a year, clean water bottle every day, return reading book, help with difficult craft projects, etc etc etc. They also expect you to sign an agreement that you will attend all school events, eg church services. I have enough to do and remember without all of this - seems to hark back to the days when mothers didn't work and were totally focused on their children's school. Some of this also puts unnecessary pressure on the children. My DC actually gave up reading to avoid the anxiety of having to record it in her reading diary.
I don't mind a bit of homework if the children can do it on their own, and it has a clear purpose. But some homework is just given for the sake of giving them something, and is a waste of the spare time they don't have enough of anyway - eg DC is often required to draw a historical figure she is learning about, or a ship or whatever. There's also a lot of copying information off the internet. I'm not very keen on spelling lists either - would prefer them to learn by reading and writing.

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 13:50:02

blackcoffee - I run my own business, plus I am not a teacher. I may well opt to help with various things once my daughter goes to Primary school proper - but since this is a CofE school which she will not be offered a place at since we are atheists and do not go to church, I am not minded to use my small amounts of spare-time to help an institution that will discriminate against my child at the end of the year.

Both my husband and I are school governors in the area and have been for years - I'm at a Secondary school, so I don't have experience with what goes on at primary level. I was also a borough councillor for many years, so gave up ALL my spare time. You may read my OP as smug - I was actually trying to convey the fact that I am not complaining about my little darling being forced to do homework at such a young age or how much of a faff it was for me - but that I could see big negatives for some children in the class who do not have the same advantages.

I was merely expressing suprise that so much parental involvement would be expected in an area with known deprivation issues, when the school are offered extra money to compensate for what is lacking in a child's home life, when politicians are offering extra hours at nursery and other child-care situations at increasingly younger ages to deprived children in order to 'narrow the gap'. It is constantly stated that a child's home-life is the biggest indicator of success.

Is it really good for very young children to be the ones who haven't got the homework done, who haven't done anything fun at the weekends (we were asked to try and take them somewhere that they could talk about at circle-time on Mondays in the latest leaflet) - when this year should really be about playing and socialising?

My husband suggested that it might be a way of identifying which parents are not engaging - I wondered if people shared his view... it seems that many here do think that.

learn&say - I've never seen anything advertised in terms of help for parents in the office, or in the double-sided A4 leaflets that we get at least twice a week. The majority of children in DD's class have parents who are not mother-tongue English. Quite a few of those who drop-off and pick-up the children appear to be grandparents who have no English at all. I might make some subtle enquiries as there are council services that could be involved if there aren't.

rhondajean Sun 09-Dec-12 14:58:48

The thing is though, all parents do have a responsibility for their children's education. It's not just down to schools.

It's been proven tht children with more involved parents do better academically too.

So surely it's not about removing all responsibility for children's learning from parents, but more about finding ways to suppo the parents who for one reason or another aren't involved.

I'm not in your area op but I'm heavily involved in providing adult learning programmes, including parenting skills, literacy etc, and the national strategies in Scotland target them at the most disadvantaged communities. We work very closely with schools and social work to identify parents who need extra support.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 15:13:53

I find it surprisingly that so much parental support is required for all of these dc - and am sceptical about the benefits of such a high proportion of adult led activity in EYFS
This would be poor provision in any area, imo

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 15:17:02

The nursery is attached to the primary school. So, if it's as many suspect, a fishing exercise to identify the involved parents, then the educational value of it all is probably a mute point.

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 16:00:28

There are much easier ways to identify involved parents than to set inappropriate homework

Tgger Sun 09-Dec-12 16:11:43

How strange.. do they know about the EYFS? I find homework at Y1 a bit odd, but DS does it once a week for 15-30 minutes and it's quite creative generally. In nursery? Peculiar!

Mashabell Sun 09-Dec-12 19:22:10

children will quickly divide into those whose parents do and those whose parents don't. Also a lot of pressure for parents who may not have had much schooling themselves, or who may not speak English, single parents who lack time etc

That is one of the main costs of the irregularities of English spelling. Inconsistencies like 'an / any', 'on / only', 'sound / soup' make learning to read English (and to write even more) exceptionally difficult and time-consuming. Individual help at home makes an enormous difference to children's ability to cope with them. That's why schools put parents under pressure to help as much as they can. It makes a difference to their standing in the league tables, but it's tough on the children whose parents won't or can't.

In Finland parents are discouraged to help with learning to read, to make the playing field more even. Because they spell their 38 sounds with just 38 graphemes (single letters or combinations like igh used to spell a sound), and learning to read and write is easy and takes little time, they can afford to do so.

Because the 44 English sounds are spelt with 205 graphemes, 117 of which are completely unpredictable (e.g. speak, seek, shriek, seize, scene...) and 69 have more than one pronunciation, both learning to read and write takes a long time, and therefore there are far greater literacy pressures on schools, parents and children.

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 19:24:36

biscuit

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 19:45:52

confused

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now