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Headmistress as nursery teacher - I'm concerned

(10 Posts)
Earlybird Sat 22-Jan-05 11:47:56

Last term, I met with the headmistress of dd's nursery school to talk about her progress and to discuss upcoming school assessments for entering reception. The headmistress mentioned that after Christmas about 6 of the older children would be moving up to the class she teaches. She said that dd was likely to be included in this group, and implied that it was a bit of an honor to be in this special group.

Sure enough, dd was moved to the headmistress' classroom in January. But, I am not sure I'm happy about it. The headmistress stands at the front door and greets all the children/parents as they arrive/depart school. This means she is not in the classroom as the children settle in each morning. She also answers the phone when it rings - even during school hours. Additionally, she has the duty of showing prospective parents around the nursery when they come to look at the building/talk about the school. All of these things take her away from the classroom.

At one point last term, the Headmistress proudly told me that she had arranged for her own friend (who is training to be a teacher) to be a teaching assistant in the classrom, as the head office didn't intend to provide her with that much needed extra pair of hands. She seemed quite proud to tell me of her resourcefulness at getting what she needed even though head office didn't help when asked.

It appears to me that dd is probably learning less being in the headmistress' class, so it's not an honour at all - and could be affecting her learning. Often when I ask dd if they did letter work that day, she'll say "no, Miss X was out of the room alot". Miss X's assistant is of course there,(so the children are not left alone), but the assistant is a quiet, passive, dreamy girl who doesn't speak English very well.

I'm concerned that following the Christmas break, dd should be refreshing what she knows in order to do well at the upcoming assessments. That doesn't seem to be happening - though of course, you take what a 3.11 year old tells with a grain of salt. I don't know what to do next. I'm concerned for dd, but don't want to insult the headmistress. By the way, I'm sure that the headmistress is a very good teacher, just think that perhaps she's expected to juggle too much at the moment by her superiors. Advice would be much appreciated. And thanks for wading through this long note!

Caligula Sat 22-Jan-05 12:02:40

At 3 years old, I would have thought that there would have been a lot of play in the nursery day. So if the headmistress is showing people around etc., maybe that's the time the children do their much needed unstructured play?

Why are you worried about her doing well at her upcoming assessments? Is she dependent on them to get into a particular infant school?

Earlybird Sat 22-Jan-05 13:00:07

Caligula, you may be right about the unstructured play, which is valuable and much needed for such a young child. However, we (and most of her other classmates) have assessments coming up (in the next 3 weeks) that are all for schools that are very hard/competitive to get into. As I understand it, she will be asked about her letters, observed for pencil control, problem solving, etc. If she does well, she may be offered a place. I wish we lived in an area where the state schools were desirable, but sadly that is not the case. It does seem a ludicrously pressurised situation to put a child in who is not yet 4.

jampots Sat 22-Jan-05 13:03:16

How long does she spend at school earlybird? Can a lot of these skills required for the assessment for her next school be learned at home?

Twiglett Sat 22-Jan-05 13:05:30

your child is under 4 and having to learn for assesments

Twiglett Sat 22-Jan-05 13:07:20

sorry not and at you .. just at the state our education system has got in so that parents HAVE to put their children through assesments at 4 ... different discussion I know

lockets Sat 22-Jan-05 13:12:22

Message withdrawn

Earlybird Sat 22-Jan-05 19:41:30

Jampots - she's at school daily from 9 - 12.15. Normally I don't work with her much at home because it seems ludicrous at such a young age, and because supposedly she's being taught at school. We did spend about 30 minutes this morning practising letterwork. We also try to learn other things in a fun way - for instance, this week we learned the days of the week in the correct sequence.

Twiglett, I agree that it's wild to have to consider these things at such an early age. However, fully half the available spaces at our potential schools go to siblings. That means the few spaces available are even more hotly pursued.

Lockets - wish I could simply put her in one of the state schools, but they are downright scary in our area. Her current nursery is across the street from a state school, and every day I thank God that I have the ability to pursue other options.

lockets Sat 22-Jan-05 19:44:08

Message withdrawn

Ellbell Sat 22-Jan-05 20:04:19

Dear Earlybird

My dd was also in the headmistress's class at nursery school, but she loved it, and there were always other teachers around if the head needed to be out of the classroom doing 'office' type work for a while (as she inevitably did). This was at a state nursery school btw.

Personally (and PLEASE don't take offence, because this is only my personal opinion) I think that at 3 the most important things that your dd will learn from being at nursery school are things to do with socialisation, cooperation, friendship formation... just the stuff that 3-year-olds need to do. Three is too young for school to be a regimented learning process. At that age children need to play and they need freedom.

If you feel that your only option is to put your child in for such a competitive primary school (and I do understand why you might... thank goodness we have good state schools nearby, but I wouldn't judge other people for whatever decision they make for the good of their kids) then I feel that at home is the best place for you to do the necessary 'formal' learning work that will be required. At home she is with someone she knows well and trusts and is less likely to feel pressured by the insistence on 'work' rather than play. There will also not be the distraction of other children around, so it should be easier for her to learn. I don't think you can really put all the responsibility for getting your dd into your chosen primary school onto her nursery school. There may well be other children there who are happy just to play for now, and indeed who are simply not ready for the more formal learning.

Just my opinion, though.

I'd be a bit worried about the head getting her friends jobs in the school to cover for staff shortages, however. Doesn't sound quite right to me....

Good luck with the assessment.

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