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Skills needed if starting reception later?

(22 Posts)
ksld Thu 11-Sep-08 16:22:27

DS was 4 in August and is due to start Reception in January with 5 others, the bulk of the class having started this month. His life so far revolves around play and I have been very happy with this.He is very resistant to anything I say that he construes as teaching him anyway, so I have stopped pointing out letters and numbers on the way home from school or telling him phonic sounds etc.

Today at Pre-School the teacher called me back in to say she is concerned about him - he does not know his letters, doesn't hold a pen properly and doesn't know all his shapes. I thought he would learn all this in Reception?

Now I am concerned too - I don't want to be a pushy Mum, and anyway DS won't let me 'teach' him any of this myself. But does this mean he is going to get left behind already? Are the other children already in Reception learning this, so he has to at Pre-School so he can fit in?

My main concern for him was that he would understand how to make and keep friends and join in in the playground, and just generally have fun at school. I am now worried that all the teaching will be beyond him from the word go, and he will find it too hard so just nod and say he understands (which he does already) and switch off.

What would you do?

onwardandupward Thu 11-Sep-08 16:31:13

So much pressure! (not from you, from the pre-school teacher)

This is a just four year old, right? When she says doesn't hold a pen properly... he'll hold a pen properly when he's ready and interested to have beautiful handwriting. Not something which needs drilling into children (and what better way can you imagine to destroy a child's enjoyment of making marks on paper than to stop them just holding writing implements in whatever experimental ways occur to them, and start making them self-conscious about how they are holding them)

And shapes - what she means is, he isn't prepared to tell her the names of the shapes when she attempts to drill him. That's a very different thing from not knowing your shapes (there's a great Brainy Baby DVD called Shapes and Colours, probably Colors, actually, pretty American in style, but if your child really doesn't know what a square is, then that might be a fun way of assimilating some of that)

And knowing your letters at 4 - some do, some don't. What's the hurry?

You're doing just the right thing in backing off. I think I'd firmly tell the pre-school teacher that this child is only just 4, that he doesn't need any pressure thank you very much, and that you would prefer it if she would take things at his pace rather than some preconceived idea of what a just-4-year old ought to know. But I'm a bolshy cow

(and disclaimer: for my own family, I'm really anti- putting academic pressure on small children, so much so that we home educate at present)

Anna8888 Thu 11-Sep-08 16:35:57

Can he not go to Reception now? Wouldn't be easier in the long run?

littlestrawberry Thu 11-Sep-08 16:39:56

I think the pre-school teacher is provably being a bit hasty. He is only just 4 after all.

DS1 started school just before he was 5 and he really struggled with holding a pen and had no idea of the alphabet when he was 4. He came on so much in his last year at pre-school but to be honest they didn't do much about teaching them letters.

DS2 starts school monday, he was 4 in july and he can't write his name. Reception really don't expect that much from the kids, they give them loads of opportunites to write and make letter shapes using their fngers in sand etc to help develop their skills.

I really wouldn't worry. His teacher will let you know if she has any concerns. He is only just 4 ffs.

It won't be teaching from the word go, the teachers at my boys school have always emphasisd that reception is about fun and play, learning through play and getting the kids usd to the routine of going to school.

Please don't worry. its not worth it.

Fennel Thu 11-Sep-08 16:40:35

I have this slightly, my dd3 is a summer-born 4yo, 12 of the class have started reception a week ago, and the 4 summer children including mine are at preschool til after Christmas. And I do feel a little that they are just going to be held back and at a disadvantage. I don't mind her just playing for 4 more months (she doesn't know all her letters, the preschool deliberately does very little with them), but I do think it's going to be a bit hard for just 4 of them to start learning it all a term behind the majority of the class.

but am not doing anything, just telling myself that dd3 is happy playing at preschool and it'll probably not matter very much in the end.

Lazycow Thu 11-Sep-08 16:41:44

Why would starting reception now help?

Your ds isn't ready to lern letters/reading yet. He truly isn't and from the sound of it probably won't really be ready for another year or so at least.

I would ignnore the pre-school teacher and I would also make sure I spoke to the teacher at the reception class he is joining in January in the next few weeks to ask what their expectations of Augsut born children are. If nothing else it will put your mind at ease for the rest of the year.

pagwatch Thu 11-Sep-08 16:44:03

reception is supposed to be about getting used to school, to listening and attending and exploring.
We were told absoloutely not to try and teach anything but, if they could go to the loo independently and have some abilities in terms of changing for gym then the teachers would be really really pleased.

I wouldn't worry. The only thing she has raised that I would look at was pencil holding.

ksld Thu 11-Sep-08 16:51:18

The pre-school is attached to the school so I was assuming the pre-school teacher was working with the reception teachers to be sure everyone was up to speed as it were come January. Do you think that was a wrong assumption?

Anna - There is no option to start school now (and I really don't want him too - he's too immature IMO) because the school have dictated who starts when, and in the same way he doesn't have to start until term after he is 5, I can't insist he starts when I want him too (if I did want him too ifyswim).....

As he will be going to this Pre-school for the rest of the year, and loves it there, I'm not sure how to ignore her when she's asking me to help him out at home to ensure he can recognise letters and shapes?

Anna8888 Thu 11-Sep-08 16:54:18

Gosh I find that a bit shocking - that summer born children will only get two terms of Reception before going into Year 1.

My daughter is November born and since, here in France, children enter a school year in the calendar year of their birthday, that means she is the equivalent of a July birthday in the UK. I think that means she needs extra teacher time, not less, to achieve the same goals.

malfoy Thu 11-Sep-08 16:58:26

Our primary school has all children start reception in september. They no longer have a jan intake.

My DS is a july baby so will see how he goes. He knoes some letters. Not great at holding a pen.

pagwatch Thu 11-Sep-08 16:59:54

I remember DS1 starting pre prep aged 4 and two months. Poor wee boy
Long socks and garters and a proper tie to cope with.
<<fatty over thinny, fatty round again...>>

Lazycow Thu 11-Sep-08 17:03:17

Oh absolutely Anna, two terms of reception for a summer born child before starting year 1 is appalling but extra teaching for a child who is NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY READY to learn reading and writing is useless. All it does is make the child learn to fail earlier.

If a 4 year has not reached the appropriate stage of language developpment they are just not ready for the leap to using representational symbols. This is a developmental stage and not really much to do with 'teaching' per se.

Some 4 year olds (obviously not all of them) are not at that developmental stage yet and are actually not capapble of reaching the same reading/writing goals set for a 5 year old. Extra teaching won't help with that, time and a bit of patience will.

What a lot of these children need is an extra year in preschool or reception but of course they don't get it.

Anna8888 Thu 11-Sep-08 17:07:17

Indeed, that's a good point and here in France Primary school with reading and writing only starts in the September of the calendar year in which a child has his/her sixth birthday (ie between 5.8 and 6.8).

In my daughter's school there are three parallel classes and one of those three classes in grande section (the third year of pre-school and the year before starting Primary) is a "reading" class for those children who have already learnt to read.

sarah293 Thu 11-Sep-08 17:10:25

Message withdrawn

Lazycow Thu 11-Sep-08 17:23:59

Well Anna that sounds much more sensible. the reality here is that in year 1 (the year after reception), prooper formal learning begins and children are expected to start y learning to read and write (if they haven't already). Many children are only just turned 5 years old when they go into year 1.

So a child can be 5 on 31st August and go into year 1 at the beginning of Sept.

Lazycow Thu 11-Sep-08 17:24:50

Riven didn't you homeschool some of yours or am I getting mixed up with someone else?

ksld Thu 11-Sep-08 17:32:12

Lazycow - you have hit the nail on the head - he is just NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY READY to learn reading and writing. He doesn't 'hear' the phonetic sounds, and doesn't want me to teach him because he is not 'getting it' so is bored. I want him to like school, and enjoy learning, not 'learn to fail' at 4!

So what should I do? Don't want to annoy the teacher by not complying, but feel she is expecting too much of him. But perhaps he is behind the others in his year? The DCs I know are all older and can all hear phonetics/spell a bit/write/know letters.

onwardandupward Thu 11-Sep-08 17:44:57

Well, one possibility is to remove him from formal education until such time as he is developmentally ready.

Lots of people on the continent think the British pressured attitude to early literacy is absolutely lunatic.

If you want him in a formal environment but not an environment which is pushing formal education, how about a montessori nursery? They go up to 7 (and are opposed to pushing children into early literacy - they keep the learning through play going much longer, and I think they follow the individual children's readiness, where in a Steiner school writing is seen as just wrong till 7, whoever the child. But my understanding of Steiner is only slightly less limited than my understanding of Montessori)

And if not bothered about having him in a formal environment? Join the rest of us early years Home Educators in the world of muddy puddles...

ksld Thu 11-Sep-08 17:49:23

Onward - how many DCs do you have that you are HEing? I LOVE the idea of it, but don't know if I have the patience in reality. Having DS at pre-school has meant I get a break from his constant questions, and helps me be more patient when he gets home. Plus I have DS2 (18mths) to look after.

I haven't looked into Montessouri because I thought it cost money to send them there? It sounds awful as I want the very best for my DCs, but we don't have the money to pay for education of any sort. I know nothing about Steiner apart from the angry threads on here about whether or not it is a cult??..Has put me off even googling it...

onwardandupward Thu 11-Sep-08 17:51:44

Yeah, Montessori is expensive.

People HE with families from one child to erm... biggest family I know personally has 6 children under 11. If interested in early years Home Education, I'd start with muddy puddle and join their mailing list and start asking lots of questions! It's a really friendly and supportive mailing list.

sarah293 Thu 11-Sep-08 17:53:04

Message withdrawn

asteamedpoater Thu 11-Sep-08 19:43:25

ksld - I think your pre-school teacher is unnecessarily panicking you a bit. Reception year is all about learning through play, anyway - not much more than an extension of pre-school, but getting used to a larger pupil:teacher ratio and having lots of bigger kids around you. They don't sit the kids down in rows and get them to practice letter writing all day - the children can move round the classroom, trying different activities in different parts of the room (a shame for my son, who would probably be happy with a more rigid structure!!!). I think you are right to put your focus more on wanting him to settle in socially - even if he goes to school without recognising all his letters, numbers and shapes, he won't be the only one. Best if he can recognise his own name when written down, though, as he'll need to be confident at finding his peg to put his coat on.

If you can find ways of making letter recognition fun, that would be a bonus, but don't stress him out too much about it. And don't worry too much about the pencil holding thing - plenty of children at 4 haven't decided which their dominant hand is and have a variety of unorthodox grips. In fact, I'd only worry if you think your son not recognising letters, etc, yet, is down to something more than a lack of interest on his part - otherwise, he's likely to catch up pretty quickly.

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