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High maintenance focus group

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by PRHPxo, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. PRHPxo

    PRHPxo New commenter

    I'm an NQT in Reception. I find when working with my writing focus groups, I have such high maintenance children! They all need my constant attention, even in the second term. If I work with other children I find they have scribbled on their work in the time I haven't been there! I only work with 4 children at a time!

    Help please?
  2. curtism

    curtism New commenter

    What are you making them write about? The only sitting-down-with-me writing I do in Reception is guided writing which has previously been modeled during a whole class input and is closely related to our theme or topic (currently space) - today we watched videos of rockets lifting off, astronauts in their cockpits, looked at some information books about space then did drawings of what we might see out of our windows on a journey to the moon - these were then labeled with a single word (for the lower ability chn eg. moon, star, alien, rocket) and for the higher ability children, they wrote a sentence (I can see a moon, star...) - they loved doing it. I never work with more than 3 at a time, usually mixed ability.
    But the real writing in Reception is what goes on in the room independently - making signs for our role play area or shopping lists for our trip.
    Do they happily come to the writing table? If not, you might need to think about relevance - most children don't want to write unless there is a reason - I usually get good writing when it comes to making present lists for Father Christmas! Speech bubbles to go with pictures from a book you are reading also work well - speech bubbles for super hero/disney characters are also popular. Using lovely paper or supporting them to make a class book always draws them in. A colleague got some Star Wars wall paper from Homebase recently and rolled it out on the floor together with loads of speech bubbles and the boys were all over it!
    Think about what you are doing when you are with them writing - they should not be reliant solely on you as they should be starting to have phonics skills. Have you got alphabet charts out, sentence stems to copy, key words accessible? Really your role should be to support them in coming up with words or a sentence to write, getting them to repeat it about 10 times, then leave them to get on with it. As they work you need to prompt letter formation, rereading and correcting with each child.
    Don't make writing a chore - celebrate success and effort - have them show their work to other classes, bring to assembly, pin it up in the hall way for everyone to see, make them proud.
  3. missrturner

    missrturner Occasional commenter

    I had this same problem with my lowers towards the end of last year, they would much happily run back off to their trains or draw on the paper the second my attention was turned to another child. Things like alphabet charts, phonic charts, keyword mats with visual aids etc really helped this, especially my highers. They thrived off the independence and had things to look at and use when I wasn't focused on them specifically.

    I also found that their attention drifted away more when the writing wasn't about them. What the Ladybird Heard was probably the most difficult for my group because we were no longer writing 'I can see...' etc, it was about the ladybird (for example). Remember children at this age are still quite egocentric and love anything to do with themselves. I have to agree that celebrating their work worked wonders with all my groups. I had their work photocopied so that they could take it home, I created a 'star writers' display very quickly during my lunch hour with just some backing paper and stars against a blank space in the room. I took down all of my printed out signs in the classroom and had the children rewrite them and used their own signs instead. I really made it feel like their writing wasn't just going in their book or on a wall, it was going to be appreciated and a part of their classroom.

    One extra trick from my placements that I still use today is before turning away to another child I will set the expectations "I would love to see this word/sentence finished by the time I'm finished with X". It's only a small little trick that does not work with all children, but I've found my highers love to please and this may work with your high maintenance group. Good luck!

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