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Writing in reception - where are your children?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by MissASmith, May 29, 2011.

  1. I am an NQT in reception in an outstanding school. My end of term assessment last week was on writing a recount, the children were working completely independently. 2/3's of my class wrote 5 sentences in beautifully formed cursive script. They applied the diagraphs and trigraphs from phase 3, and included tricky words. My tops used many additional tricky words such as 'there' and 'some'. Many included full stops and capital letters and extended their sentences with 'and', all used connectives correctly. The remaining 1/3 wrote three sentences. About 3 children were using only initial sounds for some words yet used tricky words for fluency.



    The phonics planning is excellent and from the very first phoneme we have been reviewing, practising and applying on the carpet. This is then transferred to the children's independent activities on the writing table and with me in the guided sessions.



    All sounds very lovely.



    I feel as though my whole year has centered around writing. I feel under intense pressure to keep raising the standard which to some extent must have filtered down to the children. I do not have time to engage in sustained shared thinking, play alongside my children and observe them, get to know them properly. Any extra moment I have will be used for improving writing.



    This is not what I expected in reception! I despair because I spend half my week with my guided writing groups and children are writing until they tire. Often this is for 30mins. Will these high achievements really be carried with them through their primary schooling? Do you think it's really worth it? Is this what is expected and what they should be doing? I would love to hear where your children are and what you think is best for all reception children.
     
  2. fulloffun

    fulloffun New commenter

    This is the catch 22 situation isn't it? It's getting the right balance.
    In a group of 15 children I have 3 children who will go and write on their own volition.The little girl who has a reading age off the scale 10+ ( did the salford test and it only goes to 10+) doesn't go near any writing opportunities but can write sentences with punctuation and does so when she comes to the teacher led writing table.
    We do need to provide a balanced curriculum for the reception children and whilst your class may be excellent writing as you say they have perhaps missed out.It could be said that the children need lots of experiences to draw on for when they do their writing and of course reasons for writing.
    So ,could you put writing into the role play,outside area etc whiteboards pens,little books,making posters ,etc so they are using lots of different reasons for writing,letters,lists ,poster,books,labels etc
    unfortunately working in an outstanding school has put the pressure on you to get the results.
    Learn from your first year and try get a variety of writing experiences going next year,,the assessments should be 20% teacher initiated and 80% from child initiated.
    you sound to be a dedicated teacher good luck .
     
  3. I found your post really interesting, and a little scary! I am just writing my reports and going through all the scale points and targets (info has to be in next week - argh! Don't headteachers realise that these children will made great steps in the next 7 weeks?!)
    Anyway, I have 3 children who are still at scale point 1 and 2 for writing, which scares me a little. We have just started doing guided writing each day (in my opinion, we should have been doing this since before Xmas...but team said no (read other threads!)). I have 3 or 4 children who write ALL the time and can now write full sentences with punctuation.
    The others tend to only write when it is adult focused, some can write a few tricky words, but don't seem to use their phonic knowledge.

    It sounds like your children are doing extremely well. How are their reading and their language skills?
     
  4. Fulloffun you're absolutely right about finding the right balance. I do feel that the balance is tipped heavily towards writing and although indoor and outdoor provision and carpet sessions cover the remaining 5 areas well, the writing takes precedence in my guided time.



    I always ensure there are writing opportunities in the role play area and outside and another table will have phonics games to develop reading skills. I also have a variety of writing going on in sand trays, magnetic letters, small whiteboards and pens, sentence trackers, the children's mini whiteboard or on ICT programs, or on the carpet on huge pieces of paper etc. They know they can make books whenever they want to and we mix in letters and lists and captions regularly.



    I feel your pain in report writing geniegirl! I'm panicking under the pressure that everyone has to be at point 6 or higher! I was told last week by my year group leader (we are 3 form) that 6 is the national average? And where reception children should be. I will have a fair amount of 8s and 9s but am worried about some of my lows.



    I do agree with you about starting guided writing early on but disagree with the length of time and pressure on my children to produce so much.



    Language skills are excellent due to our supportive parents and the experiences the children came to us with (middle class area). Reading is also fantastic, I already have about 10 children on profile point 8. And the rest are not far behind with a couple of EAL exceptions. Guided reading is weekly as is guided numeracy (if I can fit it in after writing!).

    It's good to hear what's going on in other classrooms. What I'd love to know is whether my children will be achieving any differently in year 3 or 4 or 5, and whether this pressure is so necessary so early on when we're setting the foundation of a love of learning that they will take with them throughout their entire educational experience.



    I think my gut instinct is telling me this emphasis on producing writing isn't quite right. However as an NQT I don't have the experience or knowledge to justify my reasoning which is why it's so great to hear from people on here! So thanks for your replies.
     
  5. Honey Loop

    Honey Loop New commenter

    I have 20 reception children - 16 are boys who will not write unless I am leading an activity and even then it's under duress. Of the 4 girls, 2 are in the early stages of acquiring English, the other two write if they have something they want to label, but without intensive support, no-one is anywhere near independent writing, let alone sentences or punctuation!
    They are a very developmentally delayed cohort, as are the current Nursery, and we are in a very deprived area where parents churn out children as an excuse not to work. I still have Reception children who cannot speak in full sentences, despite targetting these children all year. One of the Reception has only just given his dummy and bottle to the Easter Bunny...
    I only have 2 children who are working on ELG.
    Nothing like the same issues you are describing but I worry about my children and how they will cope in year 1.
    As a previous poster said, there has to be a balance but I don't know how you will achieve that if your school is so achievement driven. If the children enjoy the writing activities they do, all well and good. If they find it tiring, then that's very sad.
     
  6. No the independent assessed writing is for their assessment books and all of their independent work informs their profile point. We ensure we have several pieces of independent evidence before entering a particular point.
     
  7. mancminx

    mancminx New commenter

    'The phonics planning is excellent and from the very first phoneme we have been reviewing, practising and applying on the carpet.'

    What sort of phonics planning do you use and could you pls share it?

    Thanks
    samanthahornby@hotmail.com

     
  8. mancminx

    mancminx New commenter

    My class are a bit like yours from the sound of it.
    What are you doing in 'guided writing' at the moment?
    Thanks

     
  9. I'm still experimenting with guided writing to
    see what works best. Everyday I model a
    sentence on the board- either from their news,
    a story or our topic. I then get a few unconfident
    writers to help me in front of the class- it
    really seems to boost them!
    Then I want to take a group each day to do
    some guided writing at a table, but we don't
    do this at the minute!
    What do you do?
     
  10. me too

    juliasp_12345@hotmail.com



    THANKS
     
  11. I am reading through this thread with a mixture of great interest and great dread.
    I have been teaching in foundation for many years and been through all the early developments of the EYFS, EYFSP, CLLD and the teaching of phonics. But sometimes, especially hearing stuff like this, I think I really don't know what I'm doing.
    I use a tremendous amount of knowledge of the children, their knowledge, skills and understanding of LSL, Reading and Writing, when assessing their scale point scores on the EYFSP. In fact I will give them a 'final number' before I actually look at what I have or am going to highlight for them, based on what I know. I encourage my Reception colleague to do the same, then we sit down together and moderate what we're giving, whilst looking at whatever evidence (including that evidence we're carrying in our heads) thagt we have for a selection of the children.
    This seems to work well enough to provide the HT with results that he can predict KS1 (and later KS2) SATs extremely accurately.
    Also our average score for writing has improved year on year since the introduction of the FSP. I know children's phonic knowledge on leaving Reception is also better each year as our teaching of phonics continues to improve and Y1 teachers continue to comment on this improvement. Our previous two OFSTEDs were outstanding and children's writing was specifically mentioned.
    Something must be going right.
    But I don't think I'm doing anything like any of you and it feels quite scary out here on my own!!
     
  12. JAM1954

    JAM1954 New commenter

    Hi
    I think that as always there is so much conflicting advice out there.
    We recently had a L.A. Audit prior to an expected OFSTED. The advice was that by the end of reception 'Expected' levels should be an A4 piece of independant writing with full stops and capital letters.
    Can someone tell me where this has come from!
     
  13. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    Certainly not from exemplification materials!
     
  14. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    Certainly at our moderation last year with schools across the region, it was stressed that using punctuation was a year 1 objective. Some practitioners from other schools had given children still using a palmar grasp an expected level at ELG since they were writing sentences which could be read by others and all words were spelt in a phonetically plausible way. Our moderator agreed with their assessment after we all discussed and looked at examples of work.

    In our school we are just finishing set 1 RWI sounds with about half the cohort, another group is closing in on finishing set 1 and the LA group are still working on the first 10-12 sounds and identifying initial sounds in words as well as attempting to ascribe meaning to their 'writing'. Some of these children are not yet even writing recognisable letters or their name. Some of them simply aren't ready and it will take all of the year to get them ready for reading and writing. Some of these children entered reception working at 22-36m in most areas and even lower in some areas. Our very best writers are now able to write simple sentences using phonetically plausible attempts at all their words as well as using some tricky words (although we have only really begun introducing these in the last half term). These writers are choosing to write simple sentences independently and on a regular basis. Children not quite at this level but still considered to be making great progress in our classes are independently labelling things they make and pictures they draw using all their knowledge of phonics and some sounds such as sh,ch, th, qu etc. Using the exemplification materials, what the OP describes is above and beyond what we would consider reception children to do by the end of the year in our school.

    We try to give our children the time now to grow as little people, develop their skills and independence as it won't be too long before they have to really knuckle down. Our children come in very low and our catchment area is particularly deprived. Our children need a wide range of opportunities to develop in all aspects, writing being only one of them. If they don't have language, how can they write?? The EYFS curriculum has 7 areas which have always been stressed to me as being equally important although obviously as the year progresses we push literacy and maths more as these are the hardest areas for our children to achieve across the curriculum.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  15. JAM1954

    JAM1954 New commenter

    I totally agree and actually showed her the material and she asked me what they were?

    Unfortunately the HT agreed with her and the judgements she made on the Early Years even though we have consistently been judged good or outstanding.

    It is so frustrating and when HT themselves have limited knowledge of Early Years it seems to be a constant battle for practitioners in some settings.

    The fact remains this advisor is still judging practitioners using that benchmark and if you are inexperienced and do not have a HT that has a clear understanding and vision for Early Years careers and confidence can be damaged.
     
  16. JAM1954

    JAM1954 New commenter

     
  17. JAM1954

    JAM1954 New commenter

    I would say that your post reflects where our children are at this stage and I totally agree with everything you have said regarding the provision and up until the point when the School Improvement advisor delivered her judgments the HT was like minded.
    The school is due an OFSTED so I am hoping that it judges the setting to be too formal. I have read some recent reports and think this is a strong possibility, but once again depends on the individual, although they should have Early Years knowledge now.
     

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