Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features

AIBU? be annoyed by suggestion that children joining reception are getting weaker and weaker at doing what should be expected of them ....

215 replies

MoreVegLessCake · 08/09/2015 21:18

.....because basically parents are rubbish????

I am a trustee of a grant-making charity and today we had a presentation from an organisation that runs nurture groups in local primary schools. We have already funded them, and they were reporting back on their work, though suspect they would like to get more funding for the future.

I am 100% supportive of work in schools to support the (hopefully fairly small percentage of) children who struggle for whatever reason - family difficulties etc. But the language used by the presenter and the way the whole issue was discussed really irritated me.

As parent of children still in/just out of KS1 I found myself feeling very cross at the message that the current generation of parents are more crap than those of even the recent past. Quoting from memory, we were told something like "children when I was teaching 10 years ago did not have nearly so many problems" cited were not being able to use a knife and fork, do up buttons, hold a pencil, concentrate for long enough, share toys, communicate in sentences.

We were told that nationally 40% of 5 year olds fail to meet the expectations of the EY Foundation framework, and in our town last year 47% did not. I get it that some families really struggle, as do some DCs, some parents probably are a bit crap, and extra help for all these kids is brilliant but if nearly 50% of kids don't meet the expectations at 5 years old, surely the expectations are too high??!!! It makes me feel really sad and cross that so many kids should be labelled as failing to achieve at such a young age.

Didn't help that my fellow trustees are either parents of adults or don't have children so they seemed to lap up the "feckless parents" talk Angry.

So am I getting unreasonably upset or not?? Views from teachers in primary schools particularly welcome - I do really want to know.

Thanks in advance.

OP posts:

clam · 08/09/2015 21:22

So, did this organisation refer to "feckless parents" (or similar) or is that your interpretation of the message? I have to say that it seems to be the opinion of many of my Foundation colleagues that more children are coming into Nursery/Reception unable to do many of the tasks you mention, for whatever reason, than previously.


Katymac · 08/09/2015 21:23

If the expectation are for an average child......then by definition nearly half won't meet this level

But it's OK as the government have decided that all children must be 'above average'

How they achieve this mathematical impossibility is up to those of us that work in Early Years Hmm


clam · 08/09/2015 21:25

And some of those things you mention wouldn't be down to "feckless" parenting anyway. Some are more likely to be from, say, over-zealous parenting perhaps (dressing/doing up buttons, for instance).


CatThiefKeith · 08/09/2015 21:26

They aren't five though are they? Some have only just turned four!


MoreVegLessCake · 08/09/2015 21:27

No they didn't use those words themselves. I would have been really AngryAngry then!! That was more the interpretation of my colleagues.

There was some talk about parents not preparing children for school, also not sending them to pre-school, nursery as preparation, not potty training them (fair enough to consider that bit a bit Hmm I guess)

I think it is really interesting if it is really true that kids are learning less of this at home. The only thing I can think of which has really changed in the last 10 years is the prevalence of personal screens.....

OP posts:

Lottapianos · 08/09/2015 21:30

I'm not a teacher but I work with Early Years children. All the teachers and SENCOs I have spoken to about this issue would broadly agree with the speaker you mention in your OP. They're not talking about children with additional needs either.

My own experience is that a lot of parents put far too much responsibility for their child's development on their nursery or school. If a problem is identified, their attitude is that the school will sort it out and its not really anything to do with them. This is not all parents, but a significant minority.


TheTroubleWithAngels · 08/09/2015 21:30

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoreVegLessCake · 08/09/2015 21:32

CatThiefKeith I think the stats were referring to "achievement" when they leave rather than join reception (i.e. at 5), though much of the comments in the presentation were about their capabilities on joining nursery and/or reception.

OP posts:

Namechangenell · 08/09/2015 21:32

DM (retired primary teacher) often used to say something similar. She taught early years and in more recent years, was often amazed at 5 year olds who didn't even know what scissors were, let alone how to hold them!

The thing that I can't quite understand though is that with the 15 hours free that children get now, you'd think the instances of this kind of thing would have reduced compared with, say, 30 years ago. The opposite seems to have happened in reality!


Lottapianos · 08/09/2015 21:33

Very much agree with Trouble's point about the impact on language skills of having such frequent, sometimes unregulated, access to screens. The impact on attention and listening skills is huge too


clam · 08/09/2015 21:34

So, you were presented with some facts and statistics (which, for the sake of argument, we'll accept as accurate) about children not meeting certain milestones at 5, and you have become annoyed as you think there was an inference that parents are to blame? Even though that wasn't said, but you and your colleagues interpreted it that way?

What exactly are you cross about?


coffeeisnectar · 08/09/2015 21:34

To be fair the use of screens probably does mean a lot of kids can't hold a pencil or concentrate (without a screen).

Too many parents baby their kids and do everything for them including doing up buttons, zips etc. Because if they don't they think they are failing as a parent. We seem to have a lot of parents now who think being good is doing everything for their kids and never saying no and giving them things which aren't really suitable such as phones, ipads, laptops etc.

Not all, but a lot.

I volunteer in year 2 and there are children who need help dressing, children who only talk about x box games and seem obsessed with them. And flipping minecraft rears its ugly head far too much.


definiteissues · 08/09/2015 21:36

I don't understand what there is to be annoyed about?
10 years ago the majority of kids starting school could do xyz. Now nearly half can't.

Since the standards have not changed, there is obviously something going wrong somewhere which they need to look at.


steppemum · 08/09/2015 21:37

well, I started teaching more than 20 year sago in London. Our borough had nursery school from age 3. they were very unusual at the time, (state nurseries that is) as so many children entered school unable to hold knife and fork, having never had a story read to them etc.

So the idea that kids are not prepared for school is far from new.


mabythesea · 08/09/2015 21:38

It does seem over the last 10 years that there are more children in mainstream schools who struggle with the basic communication, social and self-care skills.

Partly this is maybe more children with SEN in mainstream schools, partly more children who come from non-English speaking homes or who have English as a 2nd or 3rd language.

Partly I think it is increasing social inequality, poverty and deprivation and huge cuts to state services (like children's centres, HVs etc) which mean children are not getting early intervention. For example children who 10 years ago might have been seen by SaLT at 3, now aren't getting seen til they are at school, if at all.


SacredHeart · 08/09/2015 21:40

Unsavoury thought but as well as screens an increase of two income households.

While childcare is great for some skills (sharing, interaction with other children) one-on-one time is reduced compared to a stay at home mum.


Lilliana · 08/09/2015 21:40

We have found similar issues to your speaker. At our nursery (3+) last year we had 20 children that were not toilet trained - this used to be only a couple with particular needs. Speech and language is under massive strain due to the number of children needing referrals and we're actually training up one of our members of staff to solely deliver speech and language interventions. I do work in a very deprived area but yes, I would say there are certainly more issues now than when I started teaching there 13 years ago for a huge number of reasons and not just in the nursery but throughout primary (and I'm guessing that also impacts on secondary)


MoreVegLessCake · 08/09/2015 21:41

Interested in all these comments...

Lottapianos - what sort of problems are you referring too? My perception is that modern parents think a lot more about the process of parenting than previous generations have done but maybe I'm wrong

TroublewithAngels - do you mean the parents emphasise attachment theory or the schools?

Does anyone think some of this comes from schools being put under more and more pressure to get certain results by certain ages? So that they have to have little children hitting more milestones? I think maybe the % reaching the EYFS expectations is a slight red-herring because as others have said, if that is meant to be an average then we can't all be meeting it. Surely the key is that everyone is at a reasonable minimum so that they can access the curriculum at school?

OP posts:

sweetvparsley · 08/09/2015 21:45

I had my children 20 years ago and back then it was more common for there to be a SAHP and I spent a significant amount of time in parent and toddler groups. I began to see how important that type of environment was in teaching parents to parent.

I was actually quite sad when Sure Start centres began springing up because, the old toddler groups began to decline and the collective memory about parenting was lost. The groups I went to had women who were now grandmas who would make the drinks and lead the singing of old nursery rhymes. They were on hand, just gently leading the way in how to talk to children. Now children are often in "professionally run" settings but the staff may have only done a college course in childcare but are not really steeped in the skills that are needed.

I think that you are right that it is not parents that should be blamed but the whole environment that the current generation are asked to parent in.


Lottapianos · 08/09/2015 21:45

MoreVeg - the issues I was referring to were things like not being toilet trained, not being able to feed themselves with a spoon, not being able to put their own coat on, as well as not being able to sit still for any length of time, not being able to accept adult direction, expecting to get what they want immediately without ever having to wait for anything.

I'm a speech and language therapist and I very much agree with other posters that communication difficulties are on the rise and all Early Years services are creaking under the weight of the extra need


clam · 08/09/2015 21:45

I may get flamed for this, but some of the incentives for getting children, say toilet-trained, by the time they start school have been removed. Schools, quite rightly, can't deny entry on these grounds, as it would be discriminatory to those with SN or medical issues, but I suspect there are a few more children whose parents might have tried even harder, had they known they wouldn't be able to start school unless they were fairly reliably' trained.'

Disclaimer: I'm not talking about 3 yr olds starting Nursery here, but we have a number of NT children starting Reception who are nowhere near 'dry.' That would have been the exception, years ago. Now it's very common.


TheDowagerCuntess · 08/09/2015 21:49

I'm not a teacher but I work in education, and anecdotally, children's oral language skills (the basis for literacy) have declined in the last decade. I don't know if there has been any major research into it, but it's certainly a recurring theme being reported by teachers. These kids are on the back foot from the start.

I'm a parent of young DC (6 and 5), and I sit up and take notice of this sort of thing, rather than get defensive and deny it. If you don't think it applies to you, then (kindly) there's no need to take it personally. However, denying a phenomenon because you don't like what it says about our generation of parents isn't helpful either, I don't think.


TheDowagerCuntess · 08/09/2015 21:50

  • That is, oral language skills on school entry.

JeremySpokeInClassToday · 08/09/2015 21:50

Sacred - please don't turn this into a SAHP vs Working parents thread .


MoreVegLessCake · 08/09/2015 21:53

Thanks for all the comments, hadn't seen them all after the last post.

For those who asked why I was annoyed - I think part of my irritation stemmed from being the sole person in the room (apart from the speaker) with any recent experience of bringing up children so part of me felt (irrationally really) defensive on behalf of my fellow parents.

But another part of me felt that perhaps the issue was being a bit over-egged for the purposes of the presentation.

I know lots of local parents - whose children and their schools must feature in these statistics/anecdotes, I have lived in the town since my kids were born and I haven't seen the kinds of issues being described at the level which was being suggested. But I do recognise that many of the issues may be invisible to the untrained eye.

Also, as someone said though, access to pre-school education seems to have expanded massively in recent years, which ought to have helped address some of these issues.

That said, I do genuinely want to understand the scale of the issue more and also think about what we might be able to do locally to address the issues before children reach school - difficulties in accessing SALT for example, HV support, family support, which others have mentioned.

OP posts:
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?