Is this in the interests of children with un-involved parents?

(69 Posts)
Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 00:47:57

DD is in the nursery of a primary school in a very deprived area of London. School is Satisfactory on Ofsted, around 45% FSM and around 60% EAL.

She gets two books a week which have to be read at home, and I have to make comments in her 'Reading Book', parents are asked to come into class on the book switch days and help chose a book.

Once a week they have 'Show and Tell'.

As of next term, they start maths and will have maths homework in their 'Maths Book' once a week and writing homework once a week.

There will also be a holiday project at Xmas and at Easter to be completed for the beginning of term.

There are also numerous sessions during the week that parents can attend plus class assemblies, plays etc

All this is great for MY DD, who is bright and positively thrives on being pushed. I have the time and interest to make sure that the books are read on top of the normal bedtime stories, that she has something fun to take for show and tell and that she will have the maths, writing and holiday projects done properly along with all the museums, art galleries and general MC aspirational trimmings.

However, when I went to her parent's evening a couple of weeks ago, I ended up getting over half an hour instead of 10 minutes (much spent talking about things other than DD or school - am not quite that PFB) as the parent scheduled before me hadn't turned up and the 4 scheduled after me hadn't bothered either (we had 3 weeks notice and the option to change times to one of several different days).

I can't help thinking that this level of parental commitment is fine in the private sector or in ultra-leafy areas, but must be detrimental in an area like this where children will quickly divide into those whose parents do and those whose parents don't. Also a lot of pressure for parents who may not have had much schooling themselves, or who may not speak English, single parents who lack time etc

Surely it is better for all 'education' to be classroom based with this type of cohort? Or is this a way for a school to quickly detect which students have uninterested home lives and offer extra-support within the classroom?

Mashabell Tue 11-Dec-12 06:45:21

I wonder who taught the children to read and write before school.
Nobody. The children would have taught mainly themselves, as they do to walk and to speak.

They would have been taught some songs and poems. They would have been read some stories too and noticed that parents did so by looking at the squiggles on the pages of a book and started to ask questions about them.

Because u are so immersed in the way learning to read English has to be taught, u seem to find it difficult to grasp that with a consistent spelling system which uses just 38 graphemes for 38 phonemes learning to read takes very little effort and needs minimal help from adults.

Children just need to get the basic idea that letters spell sounds, and a one-page illustrated chart on their bedroom wall, e.g.

picture
of a - apple
apple

picture
of ai - r*ain*n.
rain

and they can teach themselves to read in no time at all, if they want to.

Having letters with different sounds (an - any, able, father; rain - said) makes learning to read English incomparably more difficult. It can be done. (Even a foreigner like me managed to do it.) But it takes very much longer.

A couple of Canadian researchers, one of whom is of Estonian origin, tried to compare reading development in primary schools in Canadian and Estonian children and what assisted it. (They reported at a US reading conference in 2008.)

They found they couldn't do it, because the Estonian children could read everything after learning just a couple of weeks. The English progression via levels was just not applicable to them.

Instead of starting school in September, I was unable to start school in Lithuania until the November of the year I turned 7, and the children in my class therefore could already read by the time I started. With a little help from my grandmother, I caught up in a couple of weeks, although I had not set eyes on a single Lithuanian or any other book before starting school.

learnandsay Mon 10-Dec-12 19:50:56

I'm not sure which hairs we're splitting here. But from what I gather it isn't the parents in Finland who teach the pre-schoolers to read and write it's the qualified staff in the Finnish kindergartens.

mrz Mon 10-Dec-12 19:47:22

Masha you are obviously unaware of the fact that many Finnish children enter school already reading or with basic reading skills.

Of course they do.

perhaps you recall this earlier statement

In Finland parents are discouraged to help with learning to read, to make the playing field more even.

I wonder who taught the children to read and write before school hmm

baublesandbaileys Mon 10-Dec-12 17:04:05

we have "homework" in state preschool classes here
plus they bring in photos from midterms/holidays/new siblings to talk about

its just a couple of library books a week, I see it more as getting into the habit of sitting down to do a little homework than anything else. You don't even have to be liiterate IMO as sitting for 5 to chat about the pictures still gets the kids interested in books and introduces the habit of homework before they go into primary

telsa Mon 10-Dec-12 17:00:02

That is absurd for a nursery school. Never had any homework at the 3 my children attended.

On the wider issue, the inequalities generated are precisely why the French are abolishing homework and instituting an extra 30 minutes for all in the school day.

Speedos Mon 10-Dec-12 15:12:38

My son never had any homework in nursery in a private school! Sounds a bit ridiculous IMO.

Pyrrah Mon 10-Dec-12 15:04:08

orangeberries - yes, these are 3 year-olds.

Two reading books, writing and maths every week, plus the holiday projects is a lot I think. (If a friend told me she was giving her 3 year-old DC maths, writing and reading work to do every week I would be looking a bit hmm and wondering if they had already paid the entrance fees for the 11+)

TheReturnOfBridezilla - I'm suprised, I checked with my relatives and friends with DCs of the same age and only one of the pre-preps and one other state-primary had anything at all. Are you based in London?

DD also goes to the private nursery she has been at since she was 2, three times a week after school nursery. They have no homework of any kind, not even reading books.

lingle Mon 10-Dec-12 13:41:30

Masha, I do take your point about graphemes/spelling simplicity. Now I think back, Czechs would occasionally correct my spelling but only a couple of the vowels - (you could have a "hard i" or a "soft i" and people's regional accents, esp. Prague accents, did make those hard to spell right if you were learning by ear). But genuinely there was nothing else that was ambiguous in the spelling. Just imagine all the lesson time that must have freed up.

However, maths and science are obviously no easier in Finnish/Czech so that's where Mrz's points have to be taken on board, I think?

noramum Mon 10-Dec-12 10:42:01

When DD started Reception both the teachers and the head asked us to let the children do their homework. Support them but do not overburden them or even "perfect" it. Yes, we are supposed to see that homework is done and the child tries its best but the point is not to let homework get into the joy of learning. Most times it is small and entertaining enough for DD to actually asked to do it.

I know that in Juniors it will be different and I agree with that.

It is vital for parents to take an interest in school and homework but I think parents are not support teacher to help what is missed in school.

What you describe for nursery is what DD gets in Year 1. Reception was similar apart from Maths.

I think just because you don't see parents or some may not have been able to come to a parents evening that they don't care. My DH and I work, we try our best to go to as much events as possible but we try to go to the important ones like assemblies, plays and Parent evenings (subject to us being able to leave work early or find a babysitter as we aren't allowed to bring DD with us).

We don't have reading days during the week, I can't really see why such lessons are necessary for the parents to attend.

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Dec-12 10:06:23

It seems a heck of a lot for a nursery child/ their parent. I have nursery children in a similar area (higher EAL and all free school meals). All work is done in school. They don't get homework in reception either.

And yes, I think the parents are disinterested if they make a parents' evening appointment which they don't keep.

catinhat Mon 10-Dec-12 10:02:32

Our school has similar levels of deprivation, although we're not in London.

The school's homework policy was specifically created to ensure no children would be disadvantaged by their parents. E.g. one piece of homework a week, from year 2, able to be done with no input from parents. Not a project!

However, parents are also expected to listen to their children read every evening in infants. Plus, the school is always inventing reasons to get parents in!

I'm still expected to sign the reading log of my year 4 daughter, even though she is probably a better reader than my husband!

Tgger Mon 10-Dec-12 09:56:01

Does sound like a recipe to put off about 80% of the children, or maybe at least 50%. shock. It's stressful for parents remembering to do it and for parents trying to catch their charges in the right frame of mind to do it- and why should they when they are 3 or 4? Fine if they want to do some of that stuff, but that should be as and when they and their parents want to.

orangeberries Mon 10-Dec-12 09:09:12

We are talking about 3 year olds here right?

It is absolutely bonkers to expect a 3 year old to be doing maths, reading and projects in this way. Fine if they want to do it at school and are encouraged to do so, but setting homework?

If it was me I would be one of those parents not turning up and not signing the books. Surely this isn't even what the EYFS is all about..?

TheReturnOfBridezilla Mon 10-Dec-12 06:41:45

All sounds quite normal to me. We have reading books home and holiday project work at my son's nursery and parents are encouraged to help out/attend class assemblies. I immediately liked their way of working and didn't think any more of it tbh.

Mashabell Mon 10-Dec-12 06:20:55

Masha you are obviously unaware of the fact that many Finnish children enter school already reading or with basic reading skills.

Of course they do. With just 38 graphemes for 38 sounds, learnining to read is so easy, that many pick it up without trying. And those who do not do so incidentally before starting school have no trouble doing so in a few weeks once they start formal schooling. With an easy spelling system, learning to read is not an issue and does not lead to endless debates about how to teach it.

A spelling system that uses 205 graphemes for 44 sounds, 117 of which are random, presents a completely different challenge, for pupils, parents and teachers alike.

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 20:34:33

In Finland pre-schoolers have access to subsidised pre-school education which includes optional reading and writing tuition. There is an extremely high take up of these programmes. (I've heard 96% of pre-schoolers.)

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 20:33:11

Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html#ixzz2Eaa1OxiW
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

lingle Sun 09-Dec-12 20:31:31

"we were asked to try and take them somewhere that they could talk about at circle-time on Mondays in the latest leaflet"

I agree Pyrrah, that does seem naive. Firstly, it should be translated. Secondly,when things are kicking off/going wrong in a family (as used to happen in the family in which I grew up) school needs to be a sanctuary, not somewhere where you have to air all the problems in public.

Re the Finland thing - the discussion may have gone on to a related issue about "do they really not read until 7" perhaps? Is it not generally accepted that English is a hard language to spell compared with others? I learnt Czech 20 years ago and once you've past the beginning stages you can basically write down what you hear and your spelling will be correct. If it's incorrect, someone will just say "no" and say the word aloud with lots of emphasis to correct you - they genuinely don't have to spell it out to you....

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 20:18:28

Masha you are obviously unaware of the fact that many Finnish children enter school already reading or with basic reading skills.
A study that followed 61 Finnish kids from infancy to age 7 found that 30% were precocious readers. Another 43% were classified as emergent readers. If these numbers are representative of the population overall, it would seem that only a small minority of Finnish children start school with no reading skills.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 19:45:52

confused

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 19:24:36

biscuit

Mashabell Sun 09-Dec-12 19:22:10

children will quickly divide into those whose parents do and those whose parents don't. Also a lot of pressure for parents who may not have had much schooling themselves, or who may not speak English, single parents who lack time etc

That is one of the main costs of the irregularities of English spelling. Inconsistencies like 'an / any', 'on / only', 'sound / soup' make learning to read English (and to write even more) exceptionally difficult and time-consuming. Individual help at home makes an enormous difference to children's ability to cope with them. That's why schools put parents under pressure to help as much as they can. It makes a difference to their standing in the league tables, but it's tough on the children whose parents won't or can't.

In Finland parents are discouraged to help with learning to read, to make the playing field more even. Because they spell their 38 sounds with just 38 graphemes (single letters or combinations like igh used to spell a sound), and learning to read and write is easy and takes little time, they can afford to do so.

Because the 44 English sounds are spelt with 205 graphemes, 117 of which are completely unpredictable (e.g. speak, seek, shriek, seize, scene...) and 69 have more than one pronunciation, both learning to read and write takes a long time, and therefore there are far greater literacy pressures on schools, parents and children.

Tgger Sun 09-Dec-12 16:11:43

How strange.. do they know about the EYFS? I find homework at Y1 a bit odd, but DS does it once a week for 15-30 minutes and it's quite creative generally. In nursery? Peculiar!

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 16:00:28

There are much easier ways to identify involved parents than to set inappropriate homework

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 15:17:02

The nursery is attached to the primary school. So, if it's as many suspect, a fishing exercise to identify the involved parents, then the educational value of it all is probably a mute point.

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