DS's 'objectives' at playschool - need some perspective!

(40 Posts)
notjustamummythankyou Mon 11-Mar-13 14:09:14

My DS is 3.7 and goes to a lovely playschool which has a great reputation. He is an August birthday, and will be starting school in September.

Playschool has been really good for him. He is sociable and loves getting involved in messy play, role play, junk modelling, etc. He is very curious about the world around him, and always asks loads of questions about how things work and 'what happens next' (as he puts it!).

The only things he seems to stumble on are his letters and numbers. At this playschool, children are often gently pulled to one side so that various objectives in the Early Years framework can be assessed. DS seems to have an inbuilt radar for this and, as soon as he senses he is being 'tested' he simply won't play game. The playschool leader has mentioned to me several times that she can't 'tick off' until she's seen him do certain things, whether it be counting, number recognition, or whatever.

Several of these things I know he can do as he does them at home, but she seems to be very concerned because she hasn't seen them herself (or, at least, not to the level she needs for her tickboxes). As he is an August birthday, she has told me that she is concerned he won't be 'ready' for the stage he needs to have reached when he starts school in September. She has, however, commented positively on the interest he shows in the world around him and the skills he shows in making things and imaginative play.

The Playschool leader is very experienced and definitely has the children's best interests at heart. However, I can't help but feel that he has fallen victim to some over-zealous box ticking to some extent. But, also, should he really be further along than he is at the moment? He shows very little interest in mark-making, for example, and is certainly not at the stage where he is starting to form letters and numbers like other children in his group.

I always said that I would never be one of those parents who gets overly concerned about things like this and, as long as I give him the opportunities, he will get there in the end. I'm even rolling my eyes at myself!

Should I just smile sweetly and then ignore the playschool leader? Or is there something here that I should be working on?

Either way, please knock some sense into me. smile

insancerre Fri 15-Mar-13 18:43:41

If you were in my setting, teamedward, I would let you use your knowledge of the children to tick the box
we use the steps on the slide to observe 35 and 36 (it's a big wooden one with a big bridge, luckily, as we have no stairs grin )

TeamEdward Fri 15-Mar-13 19:04:51

Oh, apparently the climbing frame steps don't count, as they're not actual stairs...
I used to be a teacher, but it seems as though 12 years in KS1 still doesn't mean I know how to tick an EYFS box hmm

TeamEdward Fri 15-Mar-13 19:05:30

(Sorry! That was a terribly constructed sentence. I hope you got my meaning!)

insancerre Fri 15-Mar-13 19:14:24

who says they are not stairs? confused
that is just barking
we use parents' comments in our settting, so would be able to ask parents about their children's stair climbing abilities
parents are recognised as the child's main educator after all grin but sometimes their knowledge of their child is not good enough

TeamEdward Fri 15-Mar-13 19:27:10

My supervisor is a bit "old school". They like the EYFS funding, but not the associated paperwork, planning, assessment etc. In her an ideal world, all we'd do all day is piss around with playdough and sticklebricks.

FreakoidOrganisoid Fri 15-Mar-13 19:50:26

Hmm. I'm inclined to say it isnt the preschool workers fault. Although the eyfs supposedly isnt about box ticking, there is an awful lot of pressure from ofsted and the LA to pigeonhole children into a best fit age band and to evidence this through, well, boxticking.

I have also come across pressure from several parents to write things in the learning diaries because they tell me that so and so can do whatever it is. I've lost count of the number of times I have had to explain that I need to have seen it and have evidence to put stuff in.

We do have a separate section for parents to record stuff and we then use that to try and get our own evidence.

Like you say though it isnt all about reading and writing age three and we try and get them to mark make in other ways than handing them a pen and a piece of paper and telling them to write their name!

nailak Fri 15-Mar-13 20:52:27

hmmm My mum is a reception teacher and always says that she doesnt need to have seen it for it to be written in learning diary. Parents viewing something is evidence, as much as a teacher seeing something!!

Otherwise just tell the parents to take a pic/video and then you have seen the evidence, but it does seem ridiculous that the parents observations are dismissed, as they are recognised as the primary educators and major influences.

For each age band and area there is 3 levels, emerging and I forget the names of the other two, presenting this info to the LA is enough.

notjustamummythankyou Fri 15-Mar-13 23:10:37

Wow - haven't been on here all day, and there's been a sudden flurry of activity!

insancerre - thank you. I haven't seen the EYFS criteria before. I'll take time to have good read of those (sickly 3 1/2 year old permitting!). And, yes, I think you can take the MN Cup for the longest post ever! smile

Freakoid - I do absolutely understand why the playschool leader feels the need to fulfil the 'tickboxes' in the way she does. The pressure from OFSTED must be huge. I do think, though, that there should be some sort of mechanism for encouraging parents to contribute to assessment, for want of a better word at this age. Of course, I can see that this wouldn't work if it were compulsory but, as Nailak says, it is a shame that what we know about our children doesn't always seem to count for much.

My ds's playschool doesn't have a mechanism such as a learning diary to enable parents to record their own observations. The staff do make themselves readily available at the start of each session, but it's not really an appropriate time to discuss how our child might be getting on.

stomp Thu 21-Mar-13 20:57:08

Of course the important thing is the key person knowledge of her/his key children, it is therefore not necessary to take children aside to 'test' them. If the key person 'knows' a child can do 'such and such' that is good enough to 'tick' the box (not that every 'box' has to be 'ticked', the DM statements are a guide of what a child might do at a given stage, it is not a list of things that must be witnessed).

It sounds like he is doing just fine anyway smile

On every page of the Development matters Guidance it says "Children develop at their own rates, and in their own ways. The development statements and their order should not be taken as necessary steps for individual children.
They should not be used as checklists. The age/stage bands overlap because these are not fixed age boundaries but suggest a typical range of development."

HSMMaCM Sat 23-Mar-13 08:06:31

Part of the idea of working with parents is so that we could put in a learning journey 'on x date y's mother observed him forming letters with Lego bricks and then converting them into dinosaurs' or whatever, to build up a full picture. Children should definitely not be pulled to one side and tested.

MajaBiene Sat 23-Mar-13 08:15:22

Sounds like they have really misunderstood the EYFS, and what Ofsted want from them. Pulling aside 3 year olds and testing them on developmental levels is utterly ridiculous!

MajaBiene Sat 23-Mar-13 08:20:14

In fact, I would ask her why she needs to see your DS do these things - is it just for the sake of it, to tick a box?

The whole point of observing children and noting what they can do and what their interests are is to plan appropriate activities for them. If she suspects he cannot count, then why isn't she providing lots of opportunities for him to be exposed to counting and have a go during activities he is interested in - there are loads of opportunities for counting and number recognition during role play and junk modelling.

bubblesinthebath Tue 26-Mar-13 10:15:03

My Dd is almost 4 and she also doesn't like being a performing monkey. Just the same as if she knows you are trying to gain any information about her she will just say she doesn't want to talk any more and toddles off. Her EYFS were the same as your Ds's but I wasn't to bothered because I know that she can do the things which weren't ticked and has been for some time. The one which made me chuckle the most was the fact she hadn't got a tick for using the tripod grip (which she has been using since she was 2) although I had looked through her little 'work' book and there was lots of letters and marks which the teacher had translated so I knew what it said so someone must of been with her when she wrote it. For the time being so long as my Dd walks through those doors at the end of the day covered from head to foot in paint, with a big smile and shouting goodbye to her friends that's good enough for me. I will only begin to worry if there are no ticks when she gets to reception class because someone must of seen it by then. My Ds knew his letter sounds, could count to 20, write his name when he entered nursery but at the end of reception class his targets were to count to 20, write his own name, and to learn all of his letter sounds.

notjustamummythankyou Tue 26-Mar-13 19:53:32

Hi - OP here. Thank you so much for your further thoughts on this (crikey, that sounded formal! smile ).

In the preschool's defence, it does plan lots of different activities for the children to freely enjoy and observation (not testing) does regularly take place. Parents do 'duty' every so often, and I have seen this happen.

I think what is also happening is that the leader pulls children to one side to perform activities on a one to one basis if she feels she doesn't have enough 'evidence' - and this bothers me. I know she sees guidelines for achievement in each age group as a set of 'objectives' to be ticked off, as she pretty much said this when taking me through my DS's progress file.

There is no method at the moment for us, as parents, to communicate what our child has been doing away from playgroup. It would be great if this could be incorporated somehow. Can anyone suggest any ways in which this could be done?

Finally, should I bring this up with preschool leader? And could I do it without causing severe ructions?! (Preschool leader has been doing the job for over 20 years, has close working relations with the local school, is a fine and upstanding member of our local community, etc etc).

dribbleface Thu 28-Mar-13 15:17:33

Ways in which parents contribute to our learning journeys:

* They take home an observation every 6 weeks or so, on the back they can write their own and we use their info as evidence of development
* We have a wow board in each room, parents can place a wow sticker on the board with their child's achievements, this is transferred to the learning journey
* Parents take home the learning journey book and add to it.
* Parents give feedback at parents evening/2 yr check on our pro-formas
*Parents can sign off development matters statements on starting, at parent evenings and reviews

I agree with everything said above re:testing the children, but won't recover old ground, only to say observations should be unobtrusive and play/activity based to get a good idea of development.

Yes discuss with pre-school leader, Ofsted are hot on parent involvement at the moment so she needs to start to think about this anyway.

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