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Parents' consultations for reception class

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by mystery10, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    What information will you be giving to reception class parents at any consultation evenings you have later this term?
    Just asking as a parent so as to know what roughly to expect.
  2. I think probably the only information that SHOULD be shared relates to whether your child has setled in well, has made the transition in their own terms from their previous setting. How? By noting whether they participate, in class, freely, with enthusiasm? or are they wihdrawn and uncertain. Do they feel confident to talk about things in class, to choose playmates, to collaborate in play, is she showing independence and initiative, does she have particular friends, what are her favourite activities? how is her speaking and listening- does she like, suggest, initiate discussions, questions, stories, songs, play scenarios, does she show delight in language activities? including all or any of letters, sounds, words, signs and symbols in general , book, posters etc. Does she repaet storeis, does she tell )and the teacher listen) about things form hoome and are they included in the discussions and dialogues in that classroom community. Information which personalises your child and the teacher might even mention in more detail things she has said or done. And if at all possible examples of any child-initiated work in art, drawing, modelling, painting, early writing, projects, play scenarios - investigations, participation that influenced the class. Maybe some photographed or but best of all just simply mentioned (so that you know time is going on interaction not on assessment and evidence gathering) . I say child intitiated where possible because that is usually far more revealing than the set-peice 'excersise book' whihc has its place but what you often see is more the teacher scaffolding put in place than the learning child beneath.

    In addtion I think I teacher would want to know FROM YOU what your child thinks herself, gleaning an understanding of what she feels about the class and what is happening. A happy child is a learning child, a child who is stimulated to talk will talk about her expanding general knowledge horizons and the explanations that are being given to her in school about the myriad aspects of life in school should show both parent and teacher likely pointers for learning and eveidence of a real connection and motivation to learn.

    HOWEVER what you might get is a stilted, uneven, forced conversation based on skills- phonics, reading and numeracy largely and observations of attainment against pre-detrmined scales. Or an inexperienced or uncertain teacher might feel that is what they are supposed to give to you. It is such an important two way opportunity that if I were you i would try to shift everything away from this skills based type of very limited communication to a much wider all embracing view of your young child in that setting every day. I would want the teacher to realise that that is far more important at this stage than any well-intentioned but ulitmately premature focus on the detils of narrow skills. Of course the latter is often easier, retaining the appearance of security and authority on the part of the teacher ( who might not want to show the necessary space and openess necessary for an individual child to grow into and then begin to influence and orientate their teaching dynamic ) and reduces the parents to a more receptive role.

    Of course you want to know that she is not bored, and that the class has sufficient depth, breadth and variety to offer scope for indpendence, be it in choosing reading books or following up general knowledge interests, general interest corners or intersting displays - intersting not neat or meticulously, laboriously constructed by the teacher; that is to say that the pace of class learning is not dictated by the rigid application of termly planning which may be communicated to you as if it were a clearly written map to a destination. Rather you might want to get a sense that the adventure of early childhood is alive and well in the classroom and the only 'plan' is one that is becoming clearer as children and teacher are engaged by the sights, sounds, routines, events and experiences of their everyday life. I hope you get that sort of meeting - if you want it- but it might be up to you to show the teacher that that is what you want. - or that you are able to have.
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We won't be having a parent's consultation this term.
  4. We have one every term, over two nights each time. I hate the smile that has got stuck on my face, and the headache at the end, but I find it really useful to talk to the parents without the hustle and bustle of the start or end of the day. It's a good chance to look at the learning journeys that I spend soooo long doing, and to bring up any concerns or offer advice for how parents could help to enhance the learning experience at home. I am lucky to work in a school where most parents are very supportive, but I would love them to contribute to the learning journeys and most won't! That's my next mission.
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We have open days when parents can come in and spend the day seeing what their child does and join in
  6. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thank you all, that was very helpful. What are the learning journeys to which some of your refer? Do all schools do them?
  7. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Mystery10, I'm amazed that you don't know!
  8. Learning journeys record the journey of a child's learning. Each setting is different in the way they present them, and some may be in books, some on the wall, some on the computer... Mine are all these but each child has a book that I use to put photos, notes, short observations, long observations, next steps, children's work, assessments, references to EYFS etc etc in. They are time consuming, but a good way of sharing information with parents.
  9. ...forgot to add... the children love to look through them too. They help me to plan their topics etc and so they can look through to see what they enjoyed, and often come up with new ideas from talking about them. They should be accessible to children and parents to look at any time.
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It really makes me sad that observations are seen as something to share with children or something that parents will want to treasure in the future [​IMG]
    I can understand sharing pictures and notes and models - when it happens but the obsession with producing portfolios of observations ...[​IMG]
  11. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    What could you have done with the time that was consumed?
  12. I think those detailed long, written observations are nothing short of Orwellian and really unnecessary.
    Think how many thousands of words and interactions take place ordinarily and yet we spend precious time and energy writing down some snapshot minutiae to provide some evidence.
    I believe it is a diminishing notion - and to misunderstand how adult teachers and carers should relate to, spend time with, get to know and to observe in a natural way and understand the child.

  13. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    OK we had something like this at nursery school; it was lovely to look at, and my daughter enjoyed looking at it for hours afterwards as it had photos of her and her friends at nursery school. I was never quite sure what the purpose of it was as the written observations did not reach any conclusions (certainly on the file I received as a parent - presumably there were some secret conclusions sent on to the school?) but for me it showed that my daughter had a lovely time at nursery school, and made and related to friends well.
    I'm not sure whether they do anything like this at school at all? They certainly make observations, but no parent has seen any this academic year so far. Each child has a kind of diary which they can put something in each weekend if they choose, but very little from school goes in it other than a note from the teacher saying a little about the theme covered that week.
    So should I expect to see observations, learning journey, profile points etc at the parents' evening or is it not like that generally?
    I know my child is very happy at school and has lots of friends so I don't need to be told that at parents' evening. Do you think I should spare the teacher some time and not go?

  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It depends on the school. I certainly wouldn't be sharing observations. I would give a brief outline of how the child had settled, strengths and difficulties if there are any.
  15. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Thanks - how would you define a strength? Relative to what?
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I might say "she is very good with number ... " or "she shows a talent for art" or "she's a great storyteller"
  17. I think what mystery10 is fishing for here is something along the lines of a real -personalised learning agenda for her child. I think she is all too aware that she thinks her child is well beyond the simple curriculum framwork of her class because she herself, from the fruit of her own teaching and mothering experience, has given her a lot of input at home and she wants the school to validate the specialness and cleverness of this last child going through the system . I sense a hint of anxiety underneath the inocuous questions of 'what to expect'. I sense a lack of confidence in the teacher of her child, or the system or both, and also I sense a cutting to the chase- that a lot of the EYFS is sound, but is too trite and simple for mystery10's daughter. AND I WOULD SAY SHE IS proabably RIGHT. However by not turning up, or by avoiding conflicting conversations with the teacher lest she sounds a pushy over-anxious parent, albeit one who is very familar wth the system and knows how to press the right buttons and pull hte right leves of influence, she is perhaps avoiding the reality, or the conclusion that the education system is a lowest common denominator equaliser.

    I don't want to be too pessimistic but unfortunately - I think school will not do what you want it to do, it is still and will always be down to you. The classroom, the state-organised curriculum, the conformity of teachers held hostage to a rampant OFSTED and league table system that has increased the stakes, will never bring the radical, risk-taking, exhiliarating risk-taking individualising of education that she seeks. I sense perhaps she knows this underneath but has a naive belief that for her child the experience will be different. Well I don't think it will. The freedom that children and teacher once had to 'go with the flow' of individual children is now so laboured by obligation to keep records, to provide statistics and to keep to whole school policies that I think curously enough, in an age of greater resources and technology, the simplest most enduring and long-term benefit comes from a mother/father who believes in love above all academic postulations which they take anyway with a pinch of salt. This parent pours love and talk and experience and connection into her child, gives her a stability and a belief that mean yes parents evening are a waste of time. Except that they are not a waste of time if they give you a chance to show your agenda to the teacher and offer the poor bewildered, harried teacher beset by stepping stones and early learing goals and profile points, a chance to bask in the eternal wisdom of unconditional love for children which only parents can show, but which can - and believe me I know this from personal experience- open windows in the closed skylights that roof so many of our teachers and schools at the moment.

    Of course I could be wrong or have had one glass of wine too many this carnival saturday evening, but there could also be some truth in what I say and I would hate not to say anything at all.
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Yes I know what mystery10 wanted but without knowing her child it isn't possible to give the response she wants. I have obviously read mystery10's opinion of her child's ability and needs but as parents we aren't always able to be objective are we...
  19. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    There's a middle way between wishy-washy vagueness and obsessive attention to scale points and clipboard evidence etc and I don't blame parents for being confused.Pre-schoolers need to be happy to thrive. We all know that, mystery included. We also, if we're perceptive and [probably] experienced, know when our children are roughly par for the course, struggling, or somewhat in advance of their age.We know this without having to do the assessments and making our judgments on the strength of them. That's not to say we shouldn't be able back up our claims -in whatever way - but it's not rocket science to know whether a child is highly articulate with a rich vocabulary, can speak in simple sentences or finds it hard to string one together.

  20. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    So the question is, how do you tell IPOD mummy that a little conversation with her child might do wonders for their development?
    That is often the sort of thing that gets [or should get] discussed with parents in my sometimes sad experience.

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