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?

IndigoBelle Sun 09-Dec-12 02:38:38

Yes, if reading and maths records aren't signed school then assume parents aren't helping kids and give them extra support at school.

With 45% FSM they'll get a fair amount of pupil premium, some of which they'll probably spend on an extra TA to read etc with these kids.

rhondajean Sun 09-Dec-12 02:45:47

I'm miles out of London but this is average for homework tbh.

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 03:10:34

I was quite suprised there was homework at all in a Nursery class! Is it really that common?

We3bunniesOfOrientAre Sun 09-Dec-12 07:21:23

No homework in our state primary nursery, reading books start in reception and maths etc in yr1. Sounds a bit excessive, great for your dd who sounds ready to learn, but not so good if a child, regardless of background is less ready. Parents evenings, shows etc are par for the course though.

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Sun 09-Dec-12 07:24:29

It sounds like the homework is for you, not your child at all.

dishwashervodkaanddietirnbru Sun 09-Dec-12 07:31:28

mine never got homework at nursery (no reading books home and no projects) - bit OTT really. We did have a parents night.

BeehavingBaby Sun 09-Dec-12 07:33:10

That is the level of homework in yr1/2 for dds and I had had the same concerns. Seems like a test of my organisation skills more than anything. For nursery it sounds bonkers.

lunar1 Sun 09-Dec-12 07:46:33

Not too keen on the project work as let's face it even if the child
Most of the project, all of the organising will be done by parents.

The rest is fine though. It is sad that so many children have disinterested parents but the answer to solving that does not lay in holding others back.

I think we have real issues in this country with striving to be the best you can be. We seem to prefer to bring everyone down to the lowest level rather than trying to improve things for those who need extra support.

PeppermintCreams Sun 09-Dec-12 08:04:29

My son is in a fairly similar school. It's a very large outstanding infants with a wide catchment and lots of different socio economic groups. And it's not always the parents that you might expect that can't be bothered. I've overheard Mrs 4x4 saying she can't be bothered to help son with homework, Mrs NHS worker saying she doesn't think 4 year olds should be reading, while I've had single mum from council estate chatting to me worried about her daughters reading level - yes I am stereotyping but you get the picture. The EAL families are the ones I see at story time at the library, and the families send them to childminders to help with English.

In nursery homework was 10 mins on homework website a week, and colouring a letter of the week worksheet. Plus a reading book if they had started.

In reception it's about 15 mins on the homework website plus reading every day, plus optional show and tell on a Monday and optional holiday projects. Which I don't think it a lot. The homework on the computer is recapping what they are learning at school that week, and I think it's more to show the parent what they are doing so they can do things at home with them. They are expected to read every night. A book a night at the very early levels.

The school does get a lot of funding and has floating TA's that work with children in smaller groups out of the classroom.

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 08:06:52

has it occurred to you that many of these 'disinterested' parents may be working, and unable to pop in constantly?

you have no idea what is going on in people's lives.
as a teacher, i plan lessons and activities for the children i teach, not their parents - someone should not be prevented from learning or being successful because they don't have a parent dossing around just waiting to do the work for them

i wouldn't say that is was bringing everything to the lowest level hmm rather ensuring that people's ability rather than their privilege is the source of their success.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 09-Dec-12 08:12:54

This sounds more like DS's Yr 1/2 homework, not nursery. But agree that it's not always the parents you expect who don't support their children's homework, for whatever reason.

lunar1 Sun 09-Dec-12 09:26:08

Ooh chibi that is not how I meant my post. I was trying to say that I think stopping homework just because not everyone will get help was a bad idea.

My only frame of reference for homework is for ds who is 4. He is asked to do 5-10 mins reading/blends per day. There is no way he could do this independently, he's 4!

Ds is in the kg of an independent school. Many of the parents chose not to do the reading as that is what they pay for! But I guess that's a whole other story.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Dec-12 09:29:21

Gosh, I greatly disagree with project work in the early years of primary anyway. If children cannot read or write they cannot realistically do any sort of meaningful project.

chicaguapa Sun 09-Dec-12 09:40:15

I agree with OP that school education should be classroom-based. But it works both ways as I live in a middle class area and my experience of DC's school is that they rely on the parents to be actively involved in bringing on the DC and those whose parents aren't make significantly less progress.

I speak from experience as a FT working mum who stupidly thought her DC were being taught at school and that homework was to consolidate what they were learning at school, not to actually teach it!

simpson Sun 09-Dec-12 09:47:17

I would hate to do project work (as its usually the adult that ends up doing it).

DD (now reception) got sound books (jolly phonics), a sheet with a letter on to colour in and maybe some tricky words to read when she was in nursery...

I go in and read with KS1 kids and it does make me sad how many of them seem to get zero support at home and are struggling....

PartridgeInARustyBearTree Sun 09-Dec-12 09:48:39

One of the judgements on school management is how well the school "engage parents in supporting pupils’ achievement, behaviour and safety and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development"

If OFSTED had concerns about the level of parental involvement at their last inspection, they may have made it a target to improve it.

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 10:09:12

Chibi - I offered a few ideas as to why the parents may not be able to put in the time that were not just a lack of interest. However, there are big issues in the local area with children who have parents who really don't care, so I imagine there are a fair number in the class who fall into that category.

Lunar1 - I totally agree with you, dumbing down to the lowest common denominator isn't good for anyone and certainly not good for the country. From what the staff have told me, there are a couple of kids like my daughter who can write their names, count objects, read a few words etc but the majority can't yet recognise their names. I am very happy indeed that they have plans to push her ahead on everything (especially as they have been hauled over the coals by Ofsted a couple of times for not challenging able pupils)

I was just a little suprised that there was so much call for parental involvement at this stage in a school that is receiving a significant amount of pupil premium and considering that there seems to be a political move towards being the most disadvantaged into school as early as possible in order to 'narrow the gap'. As far as I can see it widens the gap - and is also sad for the children whose parents can't attend things. DD has already been upset because I can't go for the 2 mornings a week when parents can come and join in - and neither can any other working parent.

My post stemmed more from a discussion with DH who thought it would be a way of picking up on those children who needed more support - I wasn't so sure.

Interesting to read everyone's views.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Dec-12 10:12:39

"But it works both ways as I live in a middle class area and my experience of DC's school is that they rely on the parents to be actively involved in bringing on the DC and those whose parents aren't make significantly less progress."

I do think that some schools (and I include my DD's school in this) have such involved parents that they become a bit complacent about ensuring they are covering all the ground necessary for DC to make progress. Hence DCs whose parents - for whatever reason - are not heavily involved getting a rather bitty educational experience.

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 11:11:23

children who have parents who are interested, and able to devote their time to moving their learning forward will always have an inbuilt advantage over those who don't, and there is nothing to be done about that i guess

however, to design a school system with activities that compound that advantage seems really unfair

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 11:13:17

Ds is in year 4 at prep and had his first ever project to do this part of term. If he had been given a project in nursery I would have told nursery what to do with it. How on earth is a 3 or 4 year old supposed to do a project by themselves? confused

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 11:23:42

It all seems very OTT to be honest

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 11:43:08

Isn't there a difference between compulsory and not? I'd imagine that the parental comments in the reading/maths diaries and probably some sort of support with the handwriting are compulsory. The choosing of reading books, plays, songs and whatever else don't look compulsory to me. There is also a difference between a child-done project and an adult driven one which the child has occasionally been allowed to contribute to, (perhaps signing their name to it after the parent has had it professionally laminated.) So, I'm not sure that I'm seeing a school system designed to compound inequality, any more than all school systems do. (Western education does by its nature. It's inspired by the Ancient Greeks where only the sons of the wealthy had time to sit around discussing nothing much in particular.)

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 11:49:41

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

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 11:59:24

I'm always getting into trouble for not signing ds's homework book and I am educated and can write. However I sometimes struggle to understand what homework ds has and what bit of the random jottings in his homework diary I am supposed to sign. At least at aged 8 he can communicate to me exactly what he is supposed to be doing. He definitely couldn't do that in any detail at the age of 3 or 4.

Other than reading I am firmly of the belief that homework set in primary school is purely for the benefit of parents so they can see what their dcs are doing at school.

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

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


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


mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 20:18:28

Masha you are obviously unaware of the fact that many Finnish children enter school already reading or with basic reading skills.
A study that followed 61 Finnish kids from infancy to age 7 found that 30% were precocious readers. Another 43% were classified as emergent readers. If these numbers are representative of the population overall, it would seem that only a small minority of Finnish children start school with no reading skills.

lingle Sun 09-Dec-12 20:31:31

"we were asked to try and take them somewhere that they could talk about at circle-time on Mondays in the latest leaflet"

I agree Pyrrah, that does seem naive. Firstly, it should be translated. Secondly,when things are kicking off/going wrong in a family (as used to happen in the family in which I grew up) school needs to be a sanctuary, not somewhere where you have to air all the problems in public.

Re the Finland thing - the discussion may have gone on to a related issue about "do they really not read until 7" perhaps? Is it not generally accepted that English is a hard language to spell compared with others? I learnt Czech 20 years ago and once you've past the beginning stages you can basically write down what you hear and your spelling will be correct. If it's incorrect, someone will just say "no" and say the word aloud with lots of emphasis to correct you - they genuinely don't have to spell it out to you....

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 20:33:11

Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around.

Read more:
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learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 20:34:33

In Finland pre-schoolers have access to subsidised pre-school education which includes optional reading and writing tuition. There is an extremely high take up of these programmes. (I've heard 96% of pre-schoolers.)

Mashabell Mon 10-Dec-12 06:20:55

Masha you are obviously unaware of the fact that many Finnish children enter school already reading or with basic reading skills.

Of course they do. With just 38 graphemes for 38 sounds, learnining to read is so easy, that many pick it up without trying. And those who do not do so incidentally before starting school have no trouble doing so in a few weeks once they start formal schooling. With an easy spelling system, learning to read is not an issue and does not lead to endless debates about how to teach it.

A spelling system that uses 205 graphemes for 44 sounds, 117 of which are random, presents a completely different challenge, for pupils, parents and teachers alike.

TheReturnOfBridezilla Mon 10-Dec-12 06:41:45

All sounds quite normal to me. We have reading books home and holiday project work at my son's nursery and parents are encouraged to help out/attend class assemblies. I immediately liked their way of working and didn't think any more of it tbh.

orangeberries Mon 10-Dec-12 09:09:12

We are talking about 3 year olds here right?

It is absolutely bonkers to expect a 3 year old to be doing maths, reading and projects in this way. Fine if they want to do it at school and are encouraged to do so, but setting homework?

If it was me I would be one of those parents not turning up and not signing the books. Surely this isn't even what the EYFS is all about..?

Tgger Mon 10-Dec-12 09:56:01

Does sound like a recipe to put off about 80% of the children, or maybe at least 50%. shock. It's stressful for parents remembering to do it and for parents trying to catch their charges in the right frame of mind to do it- and why should they when they are 3 or 4? Fine if they want to do some of that stuff, but that should be as and when they and their parents want to.

catinhat Mon 10-Dec-12 10:02:32

Our school has similar levels of deprivation, although we're not in London.

The school's homework policy was specifically created to ensure no children would be disadvantaged by their parents. E.g. one piece of homework a week, from year 2, able to be done with no input from parents. Not a project!

However, parents are also expected to listen to their children read every evening in infants. Plus, the school is always inventing reasons to get parents in!

I'm still expected to sign the reading log of my year 4 daughter, even though she is probably a better reader than my husband!

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Dec-12 10:06:23

It seems a heck of a lot for a nursery child/ their parent. I have nursery children in a similar area (higher EAL and all free school meals). All work is done in school. They don't get homework in reception either.

And yes, I think the parents are disinterested if they make a parents' evening appointment which they don't keep.

noramum Mon 10-Dec-12 10:42:01

When DD started Reception both the teachers and the head asked us to let the children do their homework. Support them but do not overburden them or even "perfect" it. Yes, we are supposed to see that homework is done and the child tries its best but the point is not to let homework get into the joy of learning. Most times it is small and entertaining enough for DD to actually asked to do it.

I know that in Juniors it will be different and I agree with that.

It is vital for parents to take an interest in school and homework but I think parents are not support teacher to help what is missed in school.

What you describe for nursery is what DD gets in Year 1. Reception was similar apart from Maths.

I think just because you don't see parents or some may not have been able to come to a parents evening that they don't care. My DH and I work, we try our best to go to as much events as possible but we try to go to the important ones like assemblies, plays and Parent evenings (subject to us being able to leave work early or find a babysitter as we aren't allowed to bring DD with us).

We don't have reading days during the week, I can't really see why such lessons are necessary for the parents to attend.

lingle Mon 10-Dec-12 13:41:30

Masha, I do take your point about graphemes/spelling simplicity. Now I think back, Czechs would occasionally correct my spelling but only a couple of the vowels - (you could have a "hard i" or a "soft i" and people's regional accents, esp. Prague accents, did make those hard to spell right if you were learning by ear). But genuinely there was nothing else that was ambiguous in the spelling. Just imagine all the lesson time that must have freed up.

However, maths and science are obviously no easier in Finnish/Czech so that's where Mrz's points have to be taken on board, I think?

Pyrrah Mon 10-Dec-12 15:04:08

orangeberries - yes, these are 3 year-olds.

Two reading books, writing and maths every week, plus the holiday projects is a lot I think. (If a friend told me she was giving her 3 year-old DC maths, writing and reading work to do every week I would be looking a bit hmm and wondering if they had already paid the entrance fees for the 11+)

TheReturnOfBridezilla - I'm suprised, I checked with my relatives and friends with DCs of the same age and only one of the pre-preps and one other state-primary had anything at all. Are you based in London?

DD also goes to the private nursery she has been at since she was 2, three times a week after school nursery. They have no homework of any kind, not even reading books.

Speedos Mon 10-Dec-12 15:12:38

My son never had any homework in nursery in a private school! Sounds a bit ridiculous IMO.

telsa Mon 10-Dec-12 17:00:02

That is absurd for a nursery school. Never had any homework at the 3 my children attended.

On the wider issue, the inequalities generated are precisely why the French are abolishing homework and instituting an extra 30 minutes for all in the school day.

baublesandbaileys Mon 10-Dec-12 17:04:05

we have "homework" in state preschool classes here
plus they bring in photos from midterms/holidays/new siblings to talk about

its just a couple of library books a week, I see it more as getting into the habit of sitting down to do a little homework than anything else. You don't even have to be liiterate IMO as sitting for 5 to chat about the pictures still gets the kids interested in books and introduces the habit of homework before they go into primary

mrz Mon 10-Dec-12 19:47:22

Masha you are obviously unaware of the fact that many Finnish children enter school already reading or with basic reading skills.

Of course they do.

perhaps you recall this earlier statement

In Finland parents are discouraged to help with learning to read, to make the playing field more even.

I wonder who taught the children to read and write before school hmm

learnandsay Mon 10-Dec-12 19:50:56

I'm not sure which hairs we're splitting here. But from what I gather it isn't the parents in Finland who teach the pre-schoolers to read and write it's the qualified staff in the Finnish kindergartens.

Mashabell Tue 11-Dec-12 06:45:21

I wonder who taught the children to read and write before school.
Nobody. The children would have taught mainly themselves, as they do to walk and to speak.

They would have been taught some songs and poems. They would have been read some stories too and noticed that parents did so by looking at the squiggles on the pages of a book and started to ask questions about them.

Because u are so immersed in the way learning to read English has to be taught, u seem to find it difficult to grasp that with a consistent spelling system which uses just 38 graphemes for 38 phonemes learning to read takes very little effort and needs minimal help from adults.

Children just need to get the basic idea that letters spell sounds, and a one-page illustrated chart on their bedroom wall, e.g.

of a - apple

of ai - r*ain*n.

and they can teach themselves to read in no time at all, if they want to.

Having letters with different sounds (an - any, able, father; rain - said) makes learning to read English incomparably more difficult. It can be done. (Even a foreigner like me managed to do it.) But it takes very much longer.

A couple of Canadian researchers, one of whom is of Estonian origin, tried to compare reading development in primary schools in Canadian and Estonian children and what assisted it. (They reported at a US reading conference in 2008.)

They found they couldn't do it, because the Estonian children could read everything after learning just a couple of weeks. The English progression via levels was just not applicable to them.

Instead of starting school in September, I was unable to start school in Lithuania until the November of the year I turned 7, and the children in my class therefore could already read by the time I started. With a little help from my grandmother, I caught up in a couple of weeks, although I had not set eyes on a single Lithuanian or any other book before starting school.

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