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to ask why more parents don't seem to care about play based learning being replaced with more formal learning in nurseries?

(86 Posts)
teacherlikesapples Sat 06-Jul-13 16:02:35

I am at the end of my professional tether. I love my job, I love supporting children to reach their potential and helping parents understand how their children learn, so that they can support their learning as well. One of the most important aspects of my job is creating an 'enabling environment' where children play & learn.

With the Government's shift towards more formal learning, this approach is under threat.

Ignoring the tonne of evidence & research to say that would be a huge mistake (and that they should in fact be extended the play based curriculum to older children! )

This feels like a massive tragedy to me. Not only will thousands of children be missing out on some really vital experiences, on a real personal note- I cannot in all good conscience continue to teach in an environment that I consider to actually be harmful to children. So it looks likely that I will leave a job that I love.

I'm just wondering- why aren't more parents more upset about this issue? Do they consider formal learning at this young age a good thing?
I would really love to speak with someone who holds that belief. I need to understand it.

I have read that the more structured approach can get some initial gains with some academic skills. So sure, if the most important thing to you is that your child learns to read at age 4, then perhaps a case could be made.

I am not aware of any real advantage in learning to read early, as long as children make steady progress acquiring literacy skills throughout their time in nursery and any issues are flagged up early & dealt with, it all works out the same. I don't see why teaching these skills earlier is worth sacrificing other important learning opportunities.

Formal learning in the early years, is essentially telling children 'what, how and when' to think. When compared to a play based curriculum it is nowhere near as effective in promoting independence, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, social skills... the list goes on.

It is IMHO a leftover approach from the Victorian era when children should be seen and not heard.

Am I being unreasonable to think parents should care about play being filtered out from UK nurseries?

Ok rant over. Does anyone care?

Blu Tue 09-Jul-13 21:36:12

I care, OP. The whole thing makes me boiling wild.

I don't even think we should be encouraging 'learning through play' in nursery, with targets and a curriculum and achievement monitoring. think tiny children should simply play. And be offered high quality play oportunities which give them lots of scope for imagination, creativity, building, finding out, seeing, balancing, speaking, using their hands, physical games.

Through which they happen to learn things.

But it is the quality of play that should be kept up to scratch, and play for play's sake should be sacrosanct in the life of a 3 year old.

teacherlikesapples Tue 09-Jul-13 22:03:59

Blu- I think you hit the nail on the head there with the phrase 'high quality play opportunities'

If the Government instead focusing on staff recruitment & training. Making sure the adults working with children understood child development and worked hard to plan and set up an environment that encouraged their learning.

As a teacher I am happy to do more training, I am happy to be observed, inspected, held up to scrutiny. I am happy to work alongside parents, to do paperwork that is meaningful to parents & children. I am happy to work long hours, research in my own time and put everything I can into my work- so that by the time holidays arrive, I am so worn out the first week of holidays is spent sleeping & catching up on every other part of life. I don't mind any of that. All I ask in return is that we have parents working with us, trusting us & supporting us. That the Government pays attention to the mountains of science & research that has been done in this field.

This whole thing is really getting me down sad

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Jul-13 22:05:08

I must be boring to you all again but here we go....

The right of a child to play, is right up there on the Convention of Human Rights and if I remember correctly it was the Geneva Convention.

Just saying grin

I care too.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Jul-13 22:15:33


You are very narrow minded if you don't believe the children you talk about will level to their peers.
What does it matter when you learn to read.
An education is a marathon not a sprint.
As a H.ed parent I have read about dc who have ended up taking GCSE's very early, having only wanted to learn to read and write at 9, 10 or later.
If we allow dc to have fun whilst learning their education and what they learn will be fondly memorable, more so than if they are forced to do things when they are not ready.

teacherlikesapples Tue 09-Jul-13 22:15:50

morethanpotatoprints - I'm a big fan of your work! So nice to know I'm not on my own here smile

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Jul-13 22:25:26


Ah thanks I can't do much really but feel passionately about kids playing.

I feel so much for you in your position. You must feel like you are fighting a losing battle.
I don't know what the answer is and just wish more people could see it.
My dd loves reading and was always average but didn't want to do it heavily unless cajoled. She is reading a book a day atm and is hungry for knowledge which wasn't her personality at school at all.

ha, she could also write, sing and compose music, before she could read and right. She still struggles with spelling and blending loads of words, but she'll get there.
Maths has improved because she does the grocery shopping with me in tow. It has taken a while but through play she is really improving.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 09-Jul-13 22:27:23

write, sorry. I'm dyslexic and hate spelling words wrong arghhhhhhhhhh
Please excuse my writing and typing, as I use 2 fingers to type. sad

northernlurker Tue 09-Jul-13 23:35:10

Thing is hamster most children can learn to read and write and end up on broadly the same page (pun intended). Doing it at 3 or 4 confers no advantage - so why do it?

dianashaw Tue 22-Oct-13 02:26:19

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

SatinSandals Tue 22-Oct-13 06:32:56

I agree with you OP. If I had young children I would just vote with my feet, the forest schools sound lovely to me.

anchovies Tue 22-Oct-13 06:56:36

I am a governor of a nursery that recently received outstanding from ofsted on the basis of it's attitude to early years play based learning. The inspector whole heartedly agreed with everything the nursery was doing and especially liked the forest school and outdoor areas. They take a novel approach to mark making and numeracy, finding opportunities in play. The headteacher in completely commited and training focuses around this approach and also importantly how she can document progress whilst still focussing on every child as an individual.

Despite all this, the nursery is nowhere near full and is facing closure in favour of attaching another nursery to a local primary school because parents in this affluent area choose a more formal education for their three year olds. I find it heartbreaking!

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