Visit to local school today - don't know what to make of it(16 Posts)
This is my first post. My DD will be 4 in August and is due to start reception in September. I went to visit my local state school this morning. It recently moved up from "satisfactory" to "good" so I went there feeling quite optimistic. In fact, I left not really knowing what to make of it. I was really shocked by the level of noise in the reception classes. There were 30 children there with two adults who were working with very small groups. The rest of the children were working by themselves in small groups, chatting to each other, hence the absolute din in there. Now I am going to sound very old but, "in my time", we would all sit at tables facing the blackboard and had to be quiet. I remember it quite clearly.
I left the school with a feeling that the reception classes lacked structure and really wondering how children are meant to learn anything in such a noisy environment?
are our children's classes noisy to the point that you would find it difficult to follow a conversation with someone standing relatively close to you? How do our children cope with that?
Thank you in advance.
This is normal for some of the day, IMHE. But some of the day will be carpet time ie whole class teaching, sitting quietly facing the front.
I was surprised too by the noise when i helped out in DD1's classroom- it is not just the school you visited. But DD1 is happy and learning and I understand that teaching styles change in Y1 and above.
A lot of what children are learning in reception has nothing to do with sitting at tables doing work, it is about things like social skills and appropriate behaviour and most of their learning is through play. The class you visited sounds perfectly normal.
"In my time" children did not start school until they were five rather than just turned four (in many cases), most of those children would have still been in nursery even ten years ago.
Just out of interest why are you only visiting schools now as you should have applied back in January for a place in September.
Reception is about gradually getting them used to a classroom setting. Its not supposed to be sitting at desks and facing the blackboard. Theres plenty of time for that.
You perhaps need to go round a few schools, so you can find out what is inherent (noise and movement etc) and what is excessive (constant, loud, chaotic noise, uncontroversial movement etc), and then you'll have a better feel of "normal".
And do bear in mind that Reception is part of the Early Years programme, and look at Key Stage 1 (yrs 1-2) and Key Stage 2 (yrs 3-6) as your pre-schooler will be that size in the blinking of an eye (no matter how remote it seems now) and those are the parts of the school she will be in for longer.
Particularly by KS2, you will find a more recognisable classroom.
I help out in my dds reception class. It can get quite noisy at times, but I have come to realise it is incredibly well organised.
small children really do learn better through play, so the class should have lots of practical and play activities going on. If you think of a nursery or pre-school, this is one step up, so more focused and more structured, but still play based.
for example in dds class, they start on the carpet (quiet and focused) they might then split into groups for literacy (eg phonics) Then they go off and do ''yellow spot learning''
At different places round the class are set up activities (written on a yellow card circle) related to their theme, or their literacy/numeracy activities. These might be role play, art, writing on the white board, sand pit, building something with blocks, designing something etc
After play they will have a focused numeracy time, and then more yellow spot learning.
The adults go round and make sure they are on task, and they take completed activities to an adult. They use things like photos to record what the kids are doing.
I hope that makes sense, the class is busy and active and yes at times noisy, but it is normal and the way it is supposed to be.
Just be sure it is hubbub and not christened chaos
DD1 is in reception.
That sounds pretty normal to me. They have structured parts of the day and some learning through play times too.
DD's teacher told me last week that Next term they will starting on more 'formal' learning to prepare them for yr 1 when more structured learning takes place.
Reception classes are noisy - but there is a real difference between "noise for the sake of noise" and the hubbub of children being busy. The first would worry me, the second is lovely to hear.
The key is to take a moment to get yourself used the the noise, then to focus on watching just a couple of the children to see if they look engaged and if they are moving around with purpose. Otherwise it can be overwhelming.
I went to state primary in the 1970s and we didn't sit at quietly at desks during our first year.
All activities in EYFS are designed to carefully integrate into a whole picture of learning in 6 areas. Independence in learning and learning through play is hugely important and encouraged and expected. 'Formal' learning is also included, but reception year is effectively extended Nursery and Year 1 is when some would say it becomes more 'academic'.
I think how very sad it is to remove the fun and play from learning as our children grow older. Even adults learn better when they are inspired and given a chance to have fun! Sad too that in the UK the children are forced into school so very VERY young.
But that is another thread altogether....
Meant to add that the Foundation Stage profile from your child's nursery should follow them to their new school and will be completed by the end of Reception year.
Meditrina's advice about looking at the KS1 and KS2 provision to give you a better idea of the school is excellent!
OP - have you applied for school already? Is this the school you have put on your application?
If your dc is due to go in September, then you should have already filled in the forms in January? Are you in England?
Thank you for your answers. All very helpful. Steppemum, your summary of a typical school day has completely helped me make sense of what I saw. I thought they were working in small groups all day but now realise that's not the case, of course. I have been very stressed with work and am obviously not thinking straight! Thank you very much!
At my school when the head shows prospective parents around she takes them all round the school and into every class, so they can see how things differ as the children move up.
I did apply in January, yes. We live in London, zone 2. Did leave the visiting bit a bit late for various reasons, mainly work-related.
And yes, I do agree that play-based learning is best for the little ones. I had never seen a class organised in this way. Now makes complete sense. Tks again.
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