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Any foundation stage buffs out there?

(16 Posts)
TheOneWithTheHair Thu 20-Sep-12 19:29:52

I wonder if you could explain the reasoning behind this to me please?

Ds2 has just started preschool nursery where dd went. It's a lovely place and ds2 is very happy there. On Tuesday evening there was a meet the teacher event at school and while I was talking to the TA I said how ds loves to do work sheets. (Match the dogs, circle the spiders kind of stuff)

The TA said I'd better not mention this to Mrs X who's the head of foundation stage. When I asked why the TA said they don't do work sheets and Mrs X was very against them.

I understand that you can't put pressure on a three year old to do them but why not just have a few out for the children to choose if they want. He was allowed to do them in play group and I don't understand why they don't have the choice in nursery.

Is there something I'm missing here?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 20-Sep-12 20:09:20

No idea, DD loves that kind of stuff in magazines but she's never done them in preschool. It doesn't really bother me, she did well at pre school and has just moved up nicely to reception.

Octonauts magazines are the best I find.

AGoldenOrange Thu 20-Sep-12 20:10:37

No idea but it does sound strange. If its something that he enjoys and learning in the process, isn't that a good thing?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 20-Sep-12 20:13:07

I will check with my friend - primary school teacher. She is my guru.

TheOneWithTheHair Thu 20-Sep-12 20:21:24

Thanks Unexpected.

I agree with AGoldenOrange

Level3at6months Thu 20-Sep-12 22:47:34

I would guess that the reasoning behind it is that in the Foundation Stage, children are supposed to be initiating their own learning. By giving them a work sheet, the staff would be restricting them in their thinking and creativity. As a Nursery Teacher, I could put a selection of work sheets out in the writing area - lots of children would enjoy them. I'd rather spend time planning activities that make them really, really think and move on with their learning. There's nothing wrong with him doing worksheets, but there's a lot more exciting stuff to do in his preschool year.

Level3at6months Thu 20-Sep-12 22:48:49

Tired teacher syndrome - not a great answer & not sure it made sense reading it back.

TheOneWithTheHair Thu 20-Sep-12 23:01:24

Thanks level3 it does make sense it's just that there seems to be nothing for them. There seems to be nothing on the writing table but blank paper.

The only reason it bothers me I suppose is that ds has told me he wants to do them and also number/letter playing.

I know they are still settling them in as it's only week two so maybe it's just not apparent to me yet how they do things. Dd was in the nursery 5yrs ago so I expect a lot has changed.

Should I leave it a couple of weeks and then ask about it or should I see if ds still keeps asking? I'm unsure what to do really.

Level3at6months Thu 20-Sep-12 23:21:33

If he keeps asking, let him do them at home. At Nursery, he'll have opportunities to make lists, signs, write instructions, make books... Lots of things which start with blank paper. Giving worksheets is easy, creating opportunities for children to really learn, understand and practice writing isn't!

TheOneWithTheHair Thu 20-Sep-12 23:30:00

Ok thanks. I have done them at home if he asks. (he likes to pretend he's doing homework) grin

I think I understand. It's different methods of achieving the same level of interest. One more subtle and imaginative than the other.

Does that make sense?

teacherlikesapples Fri 21-Sep-12 17:45:02

They are just a very outdated approach to teaching, there are far better alternatives to teach the same information. Also in the wrong hands they can be very bad- which is why people are so strongly against them.

The situation you have described where the children freely choose them as part of a range of options is ok. Not awesome. But not massively damaging either. No different from choosing a puzzle. Except they are far more limited in their teaching/learning scope.

The current EYFS encourages active learning and exploration. It is more about promoting learning dispositions and 'how to think' instead of only 'what to think'.

Worksheets are very limited in that they usually only have one correct answer, only one use, there is no context or opportunity to engage with others about what they are seeing.

Early childhood is also a very sensitive stage of development, a time when we want to teach children that making mistakes is an important part of how we learn. So we want to provide activities that encourage them to persist with difficulty and try again. Not "oh dear you were wrong- you may as well throw it in the bin".

So a better choice of activity (that would promote the same literacy and problem solving skills could be:
blocks, floor puzzles, matching games, sorting activities, blank pieces of paper and pens.

The advantage of choosing any of these over worksheets is that they could also encourage social interaction & other skills such as spatial awareness of physical skills.

It was also a bit unprofessional for the TA to both offer that activity and tell you what she did considering her colleague feels the way she does (and with good reason)

TheOneWithTheHair Fri 21-Sep-12 17:59:17

Thank you teacherlikeapples I found your post very interesting. Maybe I shouldn't do them at home either.

The TA didn't offer work sheets she just suggested that if ds wants to do them then do it at home. She then went on to tell me that the head of foundation strongly disapproves of worksheets.

I just couldn't understand why that was the case and she didn't explain.

TheOneWithTheHair Fri 21-Sep-12 18:02:35

I just reread you post and it really is so full of sense. Given that the head of foundation won't use them and doesn't have them it makes me feel even better about his nursery now so thank you so much. grin

teacherlikesapples Fri 21-Sep-12 18:36:18

Sorry I totally misread your post! I read it that the TA was offering them, now that I reflect on that understanding it was crazy of me. Hehe.

I can totally understand why parents go for them, they want to help their children as much as possible. So they seem like a good option and honestly, if he is just choosing them occasionally because he likes them- no real harm done. I used to enjoy them when I was a kid to, same with the other evil- 'colouring in'.

They just give the wrong impression in an early years setting, so I would be disappointed to see them in a nursery.

If you do want to abandon them completely and are feeling ready for the brave new world of open-ended free-play EYFS style approach- the best resources you can make available are things like:
Various mark-making tools: pens, chalk, paints, charcoal. Various paper -colours, shapes, textures. Scissors, glue. Make your own matching games. Ask if he will make one for you to try. Or just muck around experimenting and see where the resources take you.

Play together, talk together, listen- more than you talk, sing, be silly, be creative. Encourage imagination, encourage critical thinking & problem solving, being messy and making mistakes. These are the things that help academic success smile

TheOneWithTheHair Fri 21-Sep-12 18:48:54

Not sure I'm ready to have that mess at home every day grin.

I will and do do most of these things organically anyway iyswim. It's only when dd does homework and he wants to as well. Maybe I should give him some paper and ask him to draw me a treasure map os something. Then he can tell me what is on it and we can go on a treasure hunt. Then at least he is sitting at the table with pencil in hand like his big sister.

You have no idea how helpful you've been. In some ways I have become more pfb with each child I have had. blush

gabsid Mon 24-Sep-12 17:10:24

We always have a pile of paper, all sorts of pens, magazines and activity books on the table.

My DD (almost 4) likes the activity books where you have to do different things, e.g. spot the difference, match items (e.g. where animals live), count things, colour.. and those magazines (Angelina Ballerina) where you do similar things and there are also games to cut out and stick sometimes. She sits there at least an hour each morning asking me what you have to do.

At the same time she often just draws, writes her name, letters and then makes a picture out of it, cuts, glues ...

We do all the other stuff too (games, domino, rhymes, singing ...) and I get your point about colouring in - but I loved to create a nice colourful picture when I was little. And when we do the activities we chat, discuss, count, read and she loves it.

Sometimes I feel a blank sheet of paper can get a bit boring too and its nice to have some other ideas from somewhere else - but then I might have more ideas if I was an Early Years specialist.

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