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to expect ds's reception teacher to focus more on social skills than writing skills

(55 Posts)
lecce Fri 14-Oct-11 20:38:13

I will admit to feeling a little deflated and therefore emotional after ds's first parents' evening and I would appreciate some opinions on what dh and I intend to say in a follow-up appointment we have arranged for Monday.

ds (4.7) is very vocal and loud at home and with people he knows. He began speaking in sentences at 18 months and has not shut up since! He used to go to pre-school but he didn't like it and didn't seem to be mixing well with other children so we took him out (dh is a sahd so it seemed silly to have him there if he wasn't enjoying it.)

We don't know people nearby with dc of a similar age apart from one girl who dh and the dc met in the park 6 months ago and have been meeting up with ever since - my point is ds doesn't have many friends. Since the age of 2 he has been keen to play with other children in playgrounds but has had many setbacks - at first children his own age were so much less verbal than him that it put him off when they didn't reply to him.

More recently they have caught him up but he seems to have built up some sort of social anxiety and, though very keen indeed to play with other children, gets anxious about how to begin and is very upset if he perceives rejection. Despite this, many times he does manage to hook with some random child in a park and then he has a whale of a time and becomes loud and excited (just the right side of excited, I think.) What I am saying here is that he likes other children and enjoys playing.

For these reasons we were happy to think of him starting school because we hoped he would make some friends. We were also aware that he may be at a disadvantage to others in this area as many children his age already seem to have lots of friends. Since he started, I have asked him about the other children and he has mentioned a few names but not much detail.

At parents' evening the teacher seemed concerned that he cannot write his name, asked us whether we have pens and paper in the house shock, asked us whether we have the telly on loudly all the time shock but was unable to tell me about his social skills. When I asked her who he plays with she called him over to ask him - I've done that myself ffs. AIBU to expect her to be able to comment on this herself? He mentioned one name of a child he plays with and she said, "Ah yes, another silent one!"

I am so worried that the two of them have been allowed to shut themselves off from the rest of the group while the noisy ones get all the attention. AIBU to think the teacher should be encouraging the whole group to intergrate and not just accepting that the quiet ones will go off on their own? I am not at all concerned (well, maybe just a little bit when I saw some of the other's work grin) that he cannot write his name as I know he will do so in time, but I am getting increasingly worried about his social skills.

WWBU to tell her we are not worried about his writing but would like to know what they are doing to help him intergrate with the rest of the group?

Sorry for the length of this - would love some advice!

ScaredBear Fri 14-Oct-11 20:58:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Purplegirlie Fri 14-Oct-11 20:58:05

I agree that at reception age the emphasis should be on social skills as much as academic ones. The teacher sounds a bit abrupt and cold TBH. I would write a list of your concerns and any questions you have and maybe ask the teacher for another appointment after school one day to discuss the issues.

lecce Fri 14-Oct-11 21:02:44

But why do they need to learn to write now? In other countries they wait until later and have better longterm outcomes. He can write his name btw, knows all the letters and the order - it is just the physical element of writing he struggles with. Despite this, his name was legible and I think anyone would have recognised what it said - though many she showed us were incredibly neat and his looked poor next to these.

anothermadamebutterfly Fri 14-Oct-11 21:04:29

YANBU - I think the teacher should have a vague idea who your DS plays with at school at that age, and her comments about pen and paper and the TV in your house are just plain patronising and silly. But I would give her another chance at the meeting on Monday, it could simply be that she didn't see any reason to note who he was playing with because he seemed fine socially.

redskyatnight Fri 14-Oct-11 21:07:05

I would think it must be fairly common at this stage of Reception for children to be playing with a whole mix of others (if they didn't know them before they started school).

We actually asked the teacher about who DS played with at his first Reception parents' evening and she couldn't really tell us - however she said she would monitor it over a week. At the end of the week she gave us a list and DS had played with basically everyone in the class with no real names sticking out as more frequent than others - I can see why it was hard for the teacher to tell us who he played with - he was normally happily engaged with "someone" but no one consistently. I really wonder if this is the case with your DS?

I found a good way to encourage friendships was to invite children back to play after school - maybe try inviting some of the children DS has mentioned?

Sirzy Fri 14-Oct-11 21:07:43

Why would it be a bad thing if he was friend with another "quiet one"? Perhaps that is where he feels more comfy.

I have never felt comfy with the boisterous outgoing group and would feel much more able to be myself with the "quiet ones"

Minx179 Fri 14-Oct-11 21:08:18

You might be better off posting this in the education forum. You will probably get more feedback

troisgarcons Fri 14-Oct-11 21:10:50

Ummmm - education is a rather rounded thing - and if he doesnt have social slkills - ie because you have been unable to socialise him, then that falls squarely on your lap.

WWBU to tell her we are not worried about his writing but would like to know what they are doing to help him intergrate with the rest of the group?

Both things go hand in hand. Have you taught him to write his name? You clearly don't seem worried he hasn't got any basic literacy skills.

squeakytoy Fri 14-Oct-11 21:14:44

this is school, not a playgroup.. as a parent surely it is down to you to teach your child basic social skills, as well as help him to read and write...

aldiwhore Fri 14-Oct-11 21:15:53

Tricky. My 3/4 year old is at preschool (foundation stage one, attached to reception) and has a freaking marvelous vocabulary (better than mine, he doesn't say 'freakin' for a start), is a very confident child, I cannot name any of his 'friends' and he cannot write his name.

He is 'happy' socially, that's the general verdict. He doesn't have named friends as such but doesn't shy away from interaction either. We've just had a parent's evening too, and though I realise you child is in reception, the age difference isn't so great....

I think this. Your son cannot write his name yet, that's no great shakes, its an observation and something that 'needs' working on academically (for this country, in state education) and the teacher was right to flag that up, though I don't believe its anything to worry about.

She cannot name your child's 'best mate' because maybe he isn't vocal/hasn't chosen one. My sons' teacher maybe dealt with this better by saying 'he has no specific best friend as yet however he has no obvious difficulty in interacting with all the children and adults in the room' - doesn't that sound better?? My own SON can't name his 'best friend' or rather that name changes daily.

My son plays mostly with the other 'spirited' child (I don't read anything into that, if he was naughty - and I asked if that's what she meant - it would have been flagged up) people in general are attracted to those who share the same characteristics, or those who offer the opposite (my eldest's best friend is the exact polar opposite to him) so I can't see too much to be concerned about.

RE the pen and paper... pffft. Its just a question. Its a silly question, but if she didn't ask, and it didn't happen, she'd be held responsible for not flagging it? Maybe she needed to find something that needs improvement, even if its the bleeding obvious!

lecce Fri 14-Oct-11 21:22:23

Wow, thanks for that. We have been unable to socialise him, really??? I have said that he goes frequently to parks, where he is often , though not always, able to gel with a child he has never met before and have a really good time - how does this suggest that he is unsocialised? Have you gone out of your way to seem as bitchy as possible? Are we really the only people in the world who don't have a host of similarly-aged friends on tap for our dc to play with?

If you read my second post you would know that he can write his name, just not well, but I have obviously taught him the letters. If I encourage him to improve the letter formation he becomes upset and frustrated and I see that as counter-productive.

He has got basic literacy skills - he plays eye-spy brilliantly (what a boast grin) and he adores books - in fact I think loving books so much has held him back as learning to read is so boring compared to someone actually reading you a really good story - which is what he loves.

Ireneiswaiting Fri 14-Oct-11 21:24:34

I have very limited experience of this, DS is only in nursery and will be 4 in a couple of months and we had his first parents evening last night. His teacher was able to tell me what I thought was a really full range of his abilities from numbers, letters, physical stuff like throwing and his emotional maturity and friendships. I was very impressed with her. I would say that yanbu to expect a more rounded approach to his development from school as academic stuff isn't the whole picture at that age.

Did you get to see photos of the kids at school? The nursery had loads on slideshow for the parents to see while they waited for their time slot. From them it was obvious to me who DS was playing with most of the time.

lecce Fri 14-Oct-11 21:27:12

Squeakytoy we have done our best to teach him social skills but he is now at school all day most days of the week and we are not with him. How is it unreasonable of me to expect the school to take more of an active role on this?

FFS, we will of course continue to go to playgrounds, talk to him about how to talk to his peers and dh takes him to the park in the way home with other kids from the school most days. However, he is in school all day and, imo, if he is not mixing well the teachers should be addressing this.

dannyblanchflower Fri 14-Oct-11 21:27:24

The majority of Reception assessment should be through observations. I would be able to tell parents of children in my class exactly who their child was playing with and if I couldn't remember off the top of my head, I would be able to look at a whopping file of observation sheets or pick up his learning diary and tell you.

Sirzy Fri 14-Oct-11 21:27:42

The thing is though if he has never been in a social situation of being with the same friends regularly then of course it is going to take him longer to develop those skills when he starts school than it would a child who has attended pre school/nursery and has already had opportunities to develop those social skills.

In the long run it most likely wont be an issue but at the moment he is still getting used to everything.

troisgarcons Fri 14-Oct-11 21:30:24

Don't get narky - I only commented on what you wrote.

It's not a schools job to socialise him - that is a parents job - a schools job to reinforce social aspects. Parents have to take responsibility and stop expecting a nanny state to bring their kids up.

Meanwhile if you are happy for him to functionally illiterate - then wow that's a whole new parenting slant I've not come across because I do have a completely functionally illiterate child and it pains me greatly as I value education - but even I gave up after 8 years of rows and tears - I knew there was nothing more I could do. I would never class my self as not worried I was frantic with worry.

Madmartigan Fri 14-Oct-11 21:30:48

I think you're going to get a hard time here now, which is not what you need if you're a bit down already.

My DS's nursery have leaflets around about how toddler scribbles everywhere lead to handwriting and saying if you get after them all the time to be really neat they can lose confidence and stop trying. If you google "mark making" I think you'll get some tips on how to support him develop now.

Harecare Fri 14-Oct-11 21:30:55

My DD has just started reception. Like you, I am more concerned with who her friends are than anything else, but... she is incredibly sociable, I know this and am not worried about her making friends, I just want to know who they are! I mentioned at parent's evening that she didn't seem to know many kids names and says she sits on her own at lunch. Her teacher, who I like and trust says of course she doesn't sit alone, there isn't even space! She encourages them to play with all the kids rather than have small cliques.
I am planning a halloween party for about 4 of her friends so I can meet them and their parents - I'm new to the area so need a few Mum friends too. I do think it is mine and her teachers job to help her make friends. I think the only way the teacher can do this is by making sure everyone is respectful and gets the chance to play with different children at different activities in the day while she gets through the curriculum. We're quite enjoying doing the jolly phonics sheets we've been given.
Can you invite a few friends over to play? Do you get the chance to chat with other parents at the school gate? They might think the same of their kids. The teacher always has a class of 30, you have the opportunity to give DS some friend making time away from school. Can he join a club? Dance or football?

TeamEdward Fri 14-Oct-11 21:33:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Harecare Fri 14-Oct-11 21:35:23

Are you sure you aren't worrying over nothing though? Just because he can't tell you who his friends are it doesn't mean he doesn't have any. Is he happy going to school? Is he happy when you pick him up? If he isn't then you can worry, but if he's happy but just doesn't know the other kids names yet (like my DD) I really wouldn't worry.

redskyatnight Fri 14-Oct-11 21:36:37

If your DS was on his own looking miserable every day, the teacher would have noticed. He's not. He'll have to do some activities in groups (so will be "forced" to interact with other children), will sit with different children at lunch etc. Lots of school have friendship benches, or appoint older children as play leaders to encourage children who are feeling left out to join in at playtimes - does your school do anything like that?

Lots of children can't write their own name when they start Reception - my DS couldn't and it was one of his first targets when he started - I think this is also fairly common. I suspect you are over worried that your son does not have any friends or is being ignored whereas the reality is he is perfectly fine, he doesn't have any particular friends yet but the teacher is not worried about him from a social point of view - so she's focusing on first steps of things he can do academically.

dannyblanchflower Fri 14-Oct-11 21:38:55

Functionally illiterate due to not writing their name in the first term of Reception - I've heard it all now hmm.

Where else but MN?

MrBloomsNursery Fri 14-Oct-11 21:45:42

TBH, I think nursery is the best place for a child to develop social skills, and you chose to take him out of nursery because he "wasn't mixing" with other children, so you didn't really give him a chance. If you had stuck at it, he would have settled in eventually. At the same time, I think some children are either social or not. Maybe he doesn't want to socialise?

I think school isn't a place for teachers to push social skills. I was quiet throughout school and none of my teachers forced me to mix or talk out loud.

Well it's a no win situation really for the teacher- you have parents on one end of the spectrum saying teachers don't teach enough academia, and then others like you saying they don't teach social skills. I think writing is very important at that age. Maybe you could get him to join a club or something so he can meet and socialise with other children his age?

lecce Fri 14-Oct-11 21:49:23

troisagarcon I'm sorry, I can't agree that it is not a school's job to socialise a child and I do think it is the most important role it plays with reception age children. For reasons beyond my control we have not been able to provide as much social interaction for ds as we would have liked - I really don't like the implication from you, and a couple of others, that we are remiss as parents for this. What do other working parents do? Of course I don't want him to be illiterate but I see no reason why he should be just because he has not been drilled into writing his name yet, unlike so many others of his age.

Madmartigan thanks, we have already had advice from MN on how to encourage him to write and he has progressed hugely over the summer - before then all he had ever done was scribble grin.

I probably am being silly over this, I just didn't expect to get such a negative vibe from the teacher of such a young child, so early on in the academic year. I suppose I think he's the bees' knees and am a little shock that she didn't seem to think so grin

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