I recently had the great pleasure of being invited to tea by one of our ex pupils. This was very special to me and I was very keen to find out how he had enjoyed his first year in Reception, what he told me was, ‘all we do is write, write, write!’ I suspected that this was an exaggeration so challenged this, ‘I think you probably do lots of other things that you enjoy?’ ‘Oh, yes’ he agreed, ‘we don’t write at playtime and dinner time’
I am not suggesting, for a minute, that this is an accurate assessment of the teaching day in the Reception class but it is the overwhelming perception of this five year old boy. Children in the Reception Year are subject to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which I am extremely familiar with, and which all children from birth to five years of age are subject to.
I accept that learning to write is important, as are phonics and mathematics, but it is HOW we teach that really matters. How these topics are introduced to very young children is crucial in ensuring that children learn and are not turned off to learning.
At the Prepatoria it is no secret that we take a formal approach to learning but this means ensuring that there are no missed opportunities, it means ensuring that children are invited to participate in exciting activities that are planned around their interests and it means that adults must be skilful in introducing themes, knowledge or information to children in ways that engage children.
I have many friends who are teachers and ex colleagues, from my time teaching, who complain about the way they are compelled to teach small children because they know that there is a better way.
And we are proving, with each cohort that leave us, that our teaching methods work. This year’s cohort is starting school in September with the Early Learning Goals already achieved in many areas of Learning and Development, but more importantly these children are excited and motivated to learn. I only hope they do not suffer the same fate as my little Afternoon tea friend.