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What can a pre-school teach?

(47 Posts)
putmeashape Thu 16-Jul-09 20:25:39

We are having problems at our pre school with what parents seem to think should be covered and what the staff say they can do. What are they allowed to teach? We have been told they cannot even have colouring sheets because it stresses the kids out if they cannot stay within the lines. This sounds ridiculous to me, but is it true? hmm What level of structure do the other pre schools have?

misshardbroom Thu 16-Jul-09 21:50:58

All preschools are required to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. If you Google EYFS, there's plenty of information about it.

The biggest difference (so far as I can see, anyway) between the EYFS and previous curricula is there is now far more emphasis on being led by the needs of the unique child, rather than a one-size fits all approach. What this means in practice is that the staff are required to keep detailed observations of each child, and use these observations to inform their planning for future activities.

purepurple Fri 17-Jul-09 07:19:33

I hate colouring in sheets as it limits children's creativity.
We now only have plain paper for the children to use and we have all been astounded by the level of creativity and artistry that the children are capable of.
Even the boys, who normally give the mark making area a wide berth, are all fantastic at drawing their own pictures.
The troulble with colouring in ready drawn pictures is that it is a very low level activity, the children are occupied but not really learning anything.
Giving a child blank paper opens up opportunities, the possibilities are endless. they are not confined to somebody else's idea of a house, for example. They can draw their own, use their imagination, their own life experiences and can express their thoughts and ideas, feelings and their own personality. They are making sense of the world through their art.They get a tremendous sense of achievement about what they have created, especially wheh the pictures are displayed on the wall. It inspires them.
Ditch the colouring in sheets (and the templates/stencils too). You will be pleasantly surprised.

Ripeberry Fri 17-Jul-09 10:14:34

The only structure our pre-school has, is a circle time first thing, where we take the register and the children answer. Then we have some laminated name tags for the children to find their name and put it on our 'Who's in the pre-school today?' board.
Then the children have a little sing-song and they are asked what area they would like to start in?
We have some toys out (most activities are out all the time), a table set up with an adult lead activity, water play, sand play, outdoor play.
Basically, we are lead by what the children want to do.
We don't get everyone round to the adult lead activity if they don't want to.
Later on we have snack time and a 'special' child each day gets to help prepare the snacks.
We then have a 'buffet' style table, where each child comes up with their plate and chooses what they want to eat and drink.
Then we have a 'traffic light' system later in the day, where we have green fro 5 mins until tidy up time, then amber for 2 mins until tidy up time, then red is start tidying up!
At the end of the day, they have a storytime, bit of a dance and the last 5 mins is spent on their 'mat' having a lie-down listening to some relaxing music.
Our session is quite long 9am-12.30pm so by then the younger ones are ready for a nap.

misshardbroom Fri 17-Jul-09 10:33:21

sorry to hijack this thread, but Ripeberry, how do you go about funding your 3.5 hr session? Do parents have to pay for the additional hour?

Ripeberry Fri 17-Jul-09 10:41:38

Yes, the ones who have the Nursery vouchers pay £3 per session and the others pay £10 per session.
We have tried to reduce the hours but all the parents did not want it to change even though it would be cheaper as that xtra hour does make all the difference.
Also it makes us different to all the other pre-schools around us.
It's one of our selling point smile

putmeashape Fri 17-Jul-09 11:16:08

Ours is run as you said, but that is the problem. Parents are unhappy with this system because it is mayhem. Parents want colouring in sheets as the kids don't bother with blank ones. It is silly to say that there is no imagination because it is already on the paper. The kids don't care one way or the other as far as I can see, and it isn't as if they are thinking 'No, B&Q doesn't sell that colour for a house so I won't use it'.

The parents at our pre school seem to think this lack of structure is the problem.

Anyway, the question wasn't how is your pre school run, but what can they do? Does it have to be such craziness with the kids running riot, or are they allowed to have more structure? Everything that is suggested to the staff is answered with 'Ofsted won't let us'. If it is so restricted then it should not be called pre school. It is just playgroup for longer and free.

misshardbroom Fri 17-Jul-09 11:36:46

Well, I think the staff have a point when they say 'Ofsted won't let us', because as I said earlier, they are required to deliver the EYFS, and the EYFS is built around being child-led.

But the EYFS extends into reception too, and so the concept of children being free to choose activities will happen in school too.

My personal opinion, though, is that being child-led doesn't have to mean children running riot. The staff can still instil certain 'house rules', e.g. no running, no shouting, sitting properly at the table when it's snack time rather than wandering around with food.

I'm guessing from your post that you're a parent who's concerned about how your child is learning in preschool? What would you like to see them doing?

putmeashape Fri 17-Jul-09 11:44:22

I am on the committee, but my son finishes today. We have had complaints from parents who do not like the child led system as life is not just a bunch of choices to do what you want when you want. My child has had no problems there, but he never does. Some kids need more structure, and of course there are pushy parents who think they should be being taught how to read or write. I think the real problem is that most feel it shouldn't be so focused on the child doing as they want. The restrictions are a bit silly. I don't expect my child to be taught how to read at pre-school, but I do expect he will learn something different from what he will get at a soft play area.

Ripeberry Fri 17-Jul-09 12:10:34

The EYFS is a new thing, they are in the process of trying to get childcare professionals to get used to it and in the longer term, all parents need re-educating.
I suppose the brought in EYFS because years of research has shown that the way they have been doing things is not working that well, so they are trying to copy the system in other countries.
Most European countries children don't start formal schooling until 7yrs old.
Starting too young is of no benefit in the long run as the 'early reader' then gets bored waiting for his peers to catch up.
But that shows the basis of EYFS, each child is unique.
I know some parents from our pre-school are going to be annoyed about reception as they are automatically thinking they will be sitting there learning letters and numbers by wrote (like the good old days hmm).
The most important things they learn in reception is how to keep to the school rules, interactions with their peers and older children and bringing out their confidence and 'potential'
There is plenty of time for formal learning.

purepurple Sat 18-Jul-09 08:43:05

putmeashape
"Parents want colouring in sheets as the kids don't bother with blank ones. It is silly to say that there is no imagination because it is already on the paper" hmm
Surely you want your child to develop their own imiganation and not be lead by somebody else.
Your reply shows that you really know nothing about child development and need to do some research before you write such nonsense.

Ripeberry, you speak a lot of sense.

putmeashape, have you ever heard the phrase " it's the process that's important, not the end product"?
That phrase is the key to early years education.
Children learn by doing.

littleducks Sat 18-Jul-09 09:21:51

I have never heard such anti colouring in feeling! Cant the kids do both? Though im not sure how much dd does at preschool, i give her lots at home blush

DD's preschool is quite structured and planned out i think, we get a list at the beginning of the half term which details the topic (Air transport?/Maths focus/Sports day practice) the colour and number of the week. They discuss the colour and number at carpet time (nine claps,and point out blue things in the room for eg) They is also an activity for each morning and afternoon of the week, singing/music time/PE? (not a day she goes)

They have activities to choose from and free play time, they also have an outside play time. They do teach things, like how to use a ruler (dd brought home a picture of a 'car park' where she had divide the paeper up a bit like squared paper) and explained clearly to me about how you can measure with one two (i obv have never seen a ruler [wink and cutting with scissors

In their observation book their are a few pages where they check if children know their colours, can recognise shapes and recognise the digits 1-5 and count groups of objects numbering 1-5. They 'tested' dd when she started and she knew the colours/shapes so they are marked off, the third page she is learning, i think mostly from the 5 min discussion every day at carpet time

What do they do at your preschool? what do the parents want?

littleducks Sat 18-Jul-09 09:23:32

please excuse spelling keyboard is sticky atm and it was supposed to read

i obv have never seen a ruler wink

purepurple Sat 18-Jul-09 12:58:10

little ducks, it was a bit of a rant wasn't it?
I just feel quite strongly about some things and I resent being called silly
IMHO, pre-school is not about teaching children, it is about facilitating learning. Which is a different thing entirely.The best resource a setting has is it's staff.

llareggub Sat 18-Jul-09 13:14:01

Our pre-school seems to be very calm. I don't see any children running riot!

I don't think they teach anything, as such, but seem to guide the children through fairly structured play. DS tells me he does nothing at school at all, but I know from his diary that he does in fact do quite a bit.

He "helps" with snack time, he does role-play, he feeds the animals, does a bit of gardening and plays outside a lot. He particularly likes the climbing frame. They go on nature walks around the grounds and watch the binmen go past. They've also been on a trip to the fire station which he talks about all the time, particularly the mode of transport. I never knew buses could be so exciting! They also read books at circle time.

That's about it. He will be 3 in October and has been going for 6 months and I've seen a definite improvement in his language and behaviour, although that might have come anyway with age.

I don't particularly want him to be taught anything there. Really I'd like him to get the opportunity to learn how to chat to the other children, and play lots of games.

putmeashape Mon 20-Jul-09 15:01:34

Well, from what I have read it sounds as if the pre-school my son went to (he finished last week) was indeed slacking. We were given observation sheets about his time there that were just blank sheet after blank sheet, with a few meaningless numbers filled in here and there. If they bother to give us these sheets with the different things they can do then they should do them.

I am sorry if you are offended by having an idea of yours called silly, but life is not always peachy and full of praise. It is silly to say they don't learn anything from colouring in sheets. You never learn nothing from doing something, even if it is just how to stay within the lines.

I didn't want him to learn anything there, my question, which is once again being ignored and hijacked by people who think they know it all, is what are they allowed to teach. One mentioned numbers and colours-the staff at ours says they can't even do that because of Ofsted. The question isn't whether you want your child to be taught at pre-school, but what CAN they teach?

lou031205 Mon 20-Jul-09 16:06:26

putmeashape you are being quite rude! If you want to know, why don't you google "EYFS" and read the documents! Instead you are telling people that they are being know-it-alls.

Pre-school is not formal education. Any concepts such as colours or numbers should be introduced as part of the children's experiences, not as discrete concepts. So, for instance, our preschool counts how many children are at each session. They don't teach counting by rote.

lou031205 Mon 20-Jul-09 16:08:42

Ofsted do require that preschool offer free-flow play for at least half of each session. That doesn't mean that there can't be clever planning, just that the children should be able to choose their own activities.

putmeashape Mon 20-Jul-09 17:07:42

I have tried reading the guidance and it seems to completely contridict what everyone says can or can't be done and obviously isn't meant for understanding. The few suggestions that I have got on here have all been said to be illegal under Ofsted to do by the preschool.

I am allowed my opinion, just as you are allowed yours. I think it was silly, you think I am rude. Too bad for us both. sad I am not going to be dwelling on it.

llareggub Mon 20-Jul-09 17:13:28

Does it matter if your son has now left? As a committee member yourself I'm surprised you know so little. Anyway, I'd come back to answer your question but considering your stroppiness I now can't be bothered.

madwomanintheattic Mon 20-Jul-09 17:30:07

have you had your yr r transition and school visits?

make sure you ask the yr r teacher at the earliest opportunity so that she can explain eyfs properly if you can't get a grip of the online stuff.

fwiw, our yr r teachers love eyfs and it has been implemented fully this year in our infant school. i had my reservations (with two older dcs who were 'taught' more in yr r/ p1 i was a little set in my ways). and as a school governor i was concerned about how it was going to be implemented and how it was going to affect the overall learning of the children up to the end of KS1... (particulary the 'bright' children who are more than ready for formal learning at the beginning of yr r.)

however, my fears have proved unfounded. although the classroom looks like chaos and it hurts my elitist sensibilities for children to 'miss out' (lol) on more structured education, the children themselves are thriving, and have ended the year a more outgoing and confident cohort that are potentially even more ready for the KS1 curriculum than previous more traditional year groups. obviously it will not be really apparent for another two years, but it looks fine so far.

it does seem to be parents of more able children, and those parents who place value on more traditional education (and i include myself in that number whilst having a remit to ensure that all children reach their potential) who have the most problems with eyfs tbh.

so far, so good <but waiting for end of KS1 reports in two years lol>

putmeashape Mon 20-Jul-09 17:32:26

The point, obviously, is that they don't share with the committee and/or (it seems) just can't be bothered to tell the truth as that is too much effort.

I am not going to get into a fight with you guys, as that is obviously what you are looking for.

putmeashape Mon 20-Jul-09 17:35:38

Thank you, madwomanintheattic. That is the most useful answer I have got on here. As I said, I am not bothered, but was curious as there have been complaints at the pre-school. From reading about other pre-schools, it seems that either our practitioners are really lazy or misunderstand what they can and can't do. As a committee member, it concerns me when people pull their kids out or say they won't be letting their younger ones go do to this or that issue. I only want to know if the issue is over expectations from parents or lack of imagination from the staff.

madwomanintheattic Mon 20-Jul-09 17:36:39

?
seriously - ask the yr r teacher to explain. eyfs is so new, lots of parents are having issues with it... including me at the beginning of the year (and me a governor lol)

i was convinced it was barking mad and a waste of a year in my daughter's life. but hey ho, she has survuved and is no worse off for it. the yr r team truly believe (and their records back up) that the cohort is no worse off than any previous year, and in some areas (particularly confidence and social skills related) they are better off.

but hey ho.

i really wouldn't waste your time worrying about the nursery. let it go.

madwomanintheattic Mon 20-Jul-09 17:37:32

ah, x post smile

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