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Very uneasy feelings about ds1's new reception teacher........

(21 Posts)
Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 13:59:45

This may be because I am a teacher myself, but I don't think so.

Took ds1 for his introductory visit this morning. IMO, this should be a relaxed informal affair designed to put small children at their ease.

So, ds1 is happily wandering about, having a go on the computer, looking at a book with me and some other children etc etc.

Then, we are by the literacy corner, she comes over and shoves word cards in front of his face and says, "what does this say, and what does this say", really putting him on the spot. He's a very confident child, but immediately grabbed me and buried his head in my legs - he hasn't done that since he was about 18 months.

As it happens, ds1 has been reading for about 3 months and in a familiar supportive environment can sound these kind of words out (black, sack, dress, mess from what I remember). But jeeeeeeeez, I NEVER grilled any children I taught on their FIRST VISIT in this way.

Rant over.

Gillian76 Tue 12-Jul-05 14:05:22

I know what you mean. I did a spell of supply teaching in the school at which my dd is about to start. Worst thing I could ever have done! I have just made the decision to give up teaching for the meantime. Children are all quite young and it's just too stressful for me just now. But I found myslef analysing every detail of the curriculum and the staff.

I would have felt very uneasy in your situation too but I do think we can sometimes be over critical. Is she a new teacher? Did you say anything to her? Did ds say anything about it?

Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 14:17:44

He said "I can't do it, I don't know" poor lad whilst clinging to me. She's an experienced teacher and I was just dumbfounded that she would ask a nursery age child this kind of question. It's guaranteed to make the majority of them feel fairly inadequate.

I said to her that perhaps it was a bit ambitious for a first visit!

bee3 Tue 12-Jul-05 14:27:29

Well I would be very , and probably is this happened to my ds. I was a Reception teacher (it feels like in a previous life, but only last year!) and I would NEVER do that.

The only explanation I can think of is that the school is under pressure to perform, and she's already panicking about 'baseline' assessments (recording where the kids are when they arrive at school). Or is she very inexperienced? Or very old-fashioned? What was the general feel you got for the school - creative and lively, or quite traditional and strict?

It certainly seems a very bizarre way to interact with children on a settling visit. I don't think there's a lot you can do just at present. Is there another session before the end of term, where you could get a second look? Certainly keep a close eye on things in September, and be in like a shot if your poor ds doesn't seem to be happy.

bee3 Tue 12-Jul-05 14:28:26

sorry! crossed posts.

Is there another introductory session?

Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 14:31:43

There is another one early in Sept bee - I'm hoping it's just a one off blip - I'm usually v laid back about this kind of thing, deliberately so, because the last thing I want to be is the pushy parent who thinks she knows better .

tamum Tue 12-Jul-05 14:35:04

Completely inappropriate and unacceptable I would say. Even in the first week, but let alone on a visit. They did some kind of baseline testing in the first week at my children's school, but it was all designed to be very unpressured. Dd said "I had to go and tell some words to one of the cooks", it was the deputy head teehee. The only thing I would say is that I have come across teachers before, as I'm sure you have, who really don't react very well to the children until they have got to know them, presumably though shyness, but who are fab in the end. I realise it's non-ideal in reception, but maybe if your ds can ride it out for a couple of weeks things will improve?

coppertop Tue 12-Jul-05 14:37:50

Ds1 had an introductory visit last year before he started Reception. His teacher explained that she used it as an opportunity to get to know the children and their personalities. She certainly didn't start quizzing them on what they knew. There was a booklet for parents to fill in about the kinds of things their child enjoyed and what kinds of things they could do. The form was optional and was designed so that the children (and parents) didn't feel any pressure.

bee3 Tue 12-Jul-05 14:39:24

If this happened to me I think my main concern would be me questioning the teacher's sensitivity (or lack of it)and nurturing of young children, and how they learn through positive experiences.

However,that's a big judgement to make from one small incident, so I do think you'll have to wait and see. She may have just been having an off day (not so surprising considering we're nearing the end of term, probably just completed bloody foundation stage profiles/parent meetings/sports day/summer fair etc etc) - I'm trying to be kind to her here!

Are you happy with everything else about the school - ethos, feel of the place, Head etc?

Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 14:45:55

I know I've had "off days" when teaching - it's a tough job and I don't want to get negative before he's even started there. I did spend some time helping in another reception class last year and unfortunately noticed that out of the 4 classes in the same area - hers was the one where a lot of "stressed out" shouting was going on.

I'd hoped today that some of my fears might have been settled, but not so far .

Caligula Tue 12-Jul-05 14:49:55

Have you spoken to any of the other parents whose children already have her as a teacher?

Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 14:52:02

We like the overall ethos of the school - it wouldn't have been our first choice, but we were 1 house away from the catchment area of our ideal choice, so this was the only option really, although still overall a good school IMO and he's been v happy in the nursery there.

We'll have to see what pans out.

Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 14:52:38

Caligula - I think I'll try to do that in the hope that it might put my mind at rest.

singersgirl Tue 12-Jul-05 15:32:18

DS2 just did colouring and playing with farm animals at his introduction - no testing at all. I thought that schools generally used the first few weeks to 'assess' the children. I'm surprised that they would expect nursery age children to be able to read. Even though of course some of them can, like your DS, I'd guess (from my recollection of DS1's class when he started) that most of them can't. Your poor DS!

PeachyClair Tue 12-Jul-05 16:39:09

I've been to two of these days, bothr elaxed paly- and - meet events, with a story to conclude (different schools). teacher might be a bit keen, but eek!

Chances are she will calm down though.

firestorm Tue 12-Jul-05 20:34:42

i really feel for you & your poor ds reception year is supposed to be a gentle introduction to school life, not the french inquisition
my dd had a simliar bad experience in reception with two teachers (jobshare, in itself highly inappropriate for reception) both didnt have a clue about the needs of very young children, both highly insensitive & one was nothing but a complete b*h i spent the entire reception year toying with whether to change her school or not. but knowing that we would be moving area in the next year or so i couldnt put her shattered confidence through 2 moves of school in such a short time. luckily dd was largely oblivious to the problems, but as i helped out in school i knew full well how they behaved towards her & other children who were not their favourites
by the end of the year dd had developed obsessive compulsive disorder & refused to be left with anyone other than me (she wouldnt even be left with her father or grandmother) these problems miraculously stopped in the summer holidays & luckily dd has had a fabulous year one teacher who has transformed her into a different person she is now looking forward to starting her new school in a different area in september with enthusiasm.
mine is a pretty extreme story luckily, but if a teacher is not in tune with young childrens needs then she never will be so look into other options incase it doesnt work out. is there not another reception class at the school he could go in instead? or could you put his name down on the waiting list for your prefered school incase things go wrong? then youve got a back up plan.
heres hoping that this was just a one off for this teacher & your son settles happily into reception.

Puff Tue 12-Jul-05 23:17:31

Me and dh have had a looooong talk about this tonight, plus I've bent the ear of my best mate (also a teacher, although still at the chalk face, unlike me currently) who will always be straight with me when I ask her if I'm being an hysterical over reactive parent!

She thinks we should make an appointment with the Head and outline our concerns, diplomatically . If he is able to be moved to another class (unlikely as the school is usually over subscribed), then good. If not and he stays, and things get ugly, them at least our concerns will have been aired before ds really set foot in the door.

Firestorm - what a rotten time for your dd, v glad things improved.

firestorm Wed 13-Jul-05 20:22:27

hi Puff good luck on your meeting with the head, & let us know how it goes. hopefully your mind will be put at rest.

SofiaAmes Thu 14-Jul-05 00:39:17

Puff, I think that you should trust your instincts. Having a teacher that your child is comfortable with is sooo important.

My ds is in nursery at our local state primary. He has a 1/2 day place and then goes on to the afterschool club at the school. Since he started in September ds has not ONCE said "my teacher said..." or "we did X in class today." However, he is constantly telling us about things that happened in the afterschool club. Then ratio of adults to children is about the same and he spends exactly the same amount of time each day in both places. Ds is a friendly happy child who gets along with everyone and is extremely comfortable around adults as well as children. I have been saying for awhile that I think there is something odd about the fact that he NEVER talks about nursery. Other parents have told me "oh, that's just boys" or other similar things. I was sure that it was more than that. (Personally I found the nursery teacher pleasant, but really boring and uninspiring). Then unexpectedly (not to her I think) the nursery teacher left before the end of term and the nursery nurse has taken over for the last 5 weeks. On Monday, ds said to me "we learned all about farms and sheep at school today." And then tried to tell me that the cotton shirt he was wearing was made out of virgin wool. When I said it was cotton, he said "but Miss Y says...." It was the very very first time he has mentioned anything to do with school and his teacher. I am now convinced that he was just completely uninspired by the nursery teacher and just mentally checked out for the year (he is prone to daydreaming). Unfortunately I have only found this out 3 weeks before the end of term, but boy will I trust my instincts next time when ds is completely silent about his day at school. By the way, if you asked him what he thought of teacher X, he would always say she was nice.

pabla Sat 16-Jul-05 11:18:57

Puff, it seems a very odd thing for the teacher to do. My ds has just been into his new school for a couple of introductory sessions and his teacher couldn't appear more different. I had to go into the classroom with him for a few minutes to settle him so I got a good feel for what she was like. The first thing she said to the kids was that they were going to have lots of fun. I think she did get them to do a few things so she could assess their abilities- but she did it in a way they would not realise she was assessing them - she had some cards with each of their names on and got them to try to pick out the one with their name. They also did some cutting with a scissors. At the second session she came and spoke to the parents afterwards. She said the most important thing in terms of preparing them was to try to get them to practise changing into their PE kits! She said it doesn't matter to her what they can or can't do in terms of reading/writing, etc as they will deal with that when they start. She has three young children herself and seems to be very in tune with kids.

lucy5 Sat 16-Jul-05 11:57:39

Does she know you are a teacher? I have had teachers perform for me because of this. Is she newly qualified and trying to show off her skills? I think you should trust your gut instinct and see if you can get him moved. My dd had to start very quickly with no preparation in the middle of a term (due to difficult school places where we live. She was put in the wrong year group, due to differences between Spanish and English requirements. Anyway the point of my waffle is, that her techer has been absolutely fantastic at putting her at her ease and not pressuring her. My dd is very shy and I was so worried but I have come away trusting my child in this teachers hands. If you feel that something isnt right you should act on it.

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