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#1 GenWhy

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:25 AM

My kids have started at a new school this year. It's a public school and the only one in our town. I've never really been involved with how schools run before aside from helping in kindy and pre-primary in my DD1 and DD2's old school. Loved their old school and couldn't rave about it more. Teachers, curriculum and facilities were great and I never had any issues I needed to address.

A few days before school began we had a meeting for kindy/pre-primary where we were informed they'd changed kindy from full days to half days (3 hours each morning). They invited people to see them privately for any questions which I did. I had an issue with the changes and the late notice as I work and study and had organized my care arrangements around the full days at kindy. There's no before and after school care here and if I could get daycare to collect my DS from kindy, I'd have to pay a full day fee of $90 as the pick up time was 30 mins before the half day fee applies. I was told bad luck and to complain to the education department if I didn't like it. So I did. School was told they couldn't change the class around and they needed to change it back. Good news for me I thought.

My DS had been at kindy for 2 days (he's 3 turning 4) and when I picked him up his teacher was quite rude and said he was not listening or following instructions. I asked what had happened and was told that during dance time he was too boisterous so he was told to sit out. When he went to sit down he decided to lay on his back rather than sit properly. She told me he was naughty and needed to change his behaviour. I thought it was a little OTT but didn't say anything. I asked him what had happened and he said the teacher was yelling and it hurt his ears. I felt pretty sad for him as he was so excited to be at kindy. I should also point out that I find it very hard to understand the teacher as English is not her first language. I assume my DS may have trouble with her accent also.

In combination with this, my DD2 (age 5) has spent the entire week colouring in, playing with play dough and learning the alphabet. She has the same teacher as the PP class and kindy class share her (kindy has her in afternoon and pp in morning). My DD can read and is learning to write. I am not sure if this is a bit of revision or if maybe they ease into it a bit here?

My DD1 (age 6) is in Yr 1 split with Yr 2's. So far this week she has been learning 25 sight words and the book for the year is tracing out letters of the alphabet and learning how to write them. She learnt this in Term 1 at pp and is asking me why she can't practice writing sentences and stories and reading proper books. DD1 is not gifted at all - she was progressing at the normal rate for her age I thought. My concern is that Yr 1/2's should be learning more than this?

So I'm wondering if there's a way of approaching either the teachers or the school about what the curriculum is without sounding rude. DH thinks we should leave it a few more weeks to see if anything changes. I agree but thought I'd get in with some ideas early. I am also not sure if I'm being too sensitive about DS being told off in kindy? Should I let it go or should I say something? I know I'm not popular with her for complaining about kindy hours so I'm not sure if this is impacting on anything. I don't want to be down the school whinging constantly or clashing with teachers but I do want to know if the kids are being treated rudely or not learning at the same level as other city based children.

School run is about to start so thanks in advance for advice to a newby school mum!

#2 Heather11

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:48 AM

I would leave it for a couple more weeks.

My DS in Year 1 is currently revising 'sounds' too.  He is at a level where he can right complex sentences.  I do know there is some that aren't anywhere near that level though.

They have told us they are still doing testing still so am hoping that in the next week or two things will improve.

Are the students in year 2 in the combined class also doing the tracing alphabet?  If so I would be complaining about that if my child was in the upper level.

On your DS, I think that lying on the floor when told to sit out wasn't appropriate and needed to be told so.  Not yelled at however.  I would keep an eye on it to make sure he is not being targeted.  If his behaviour is not appropriate, however, then he needs to be pulled up on it.

#3 GenWhy

Posted 08 February 2013 - 11:19 AM

Yes from what I understand the Yr 2's are doing the same. There's one teacher and no aid in the class. The other class for Yr 2's is a 2, 3, 4 split class so I'm not sure what the Yr 2's in that class are learning.

I have spoken to DS about the behaviour and hopefully he will try very hard to listen today. I really don't want him to dislike kindy but of course he has to behave.

#4 Funwith3

Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:30 PM

From what you've described, the school work sounds age-appropriate for your daughters. I have a 7 and 5 year old and their work sounds comparable. Although, given its the start of the year, the teacher is probably doing a lot of sorting out and figuring out what level each child is at.

#5 GenWhy

Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:43 PM

Thanks for the replies. I did end up speaking to my DS's kindy teacher. I'm not sure what her nationality is but I'm taking a stab at either Dutch or German so she can be a little hard to understand. It appears she's raised her voice over the music and noisy kids but hasn't yelled at DS as such. I'm happy with that and have asked advice on how to encourage him at home to listen better and follow instructions. He's a very busy little kid and I have no doubt he's not been listening properly in school.

As far as the pre-primary and Yr 1/2 class though, I'm still not comfortable with the outline of what they're learning this year. The teachers sent home a letter yesterday explaining what they are working towards for the year. 200 sight words and beginning to read short books and writing sentences by the end of the year for DD1 and recognizing numbers to 100.

For DD2 it is learning the alphabet, learning to count to 20 and being able to write their name and alphabet tracing. Surely this can't be age appropriate? Neither of my girls are exceptionally gifted. They have already been taught this and both can read and write sentences. They both learnt over 350 sight words last year. This was in a normal state school in Perth.

#6 Expelliarmus

Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:57 PM

It is appropriate to revise letter sounds and letter formation during the first two weeks of a new school year.

Even if the child is 'more capable' there are several reasons why a child might be asked to practice sounds or letters in Year 1, 2 or even 3.

- Baseline testing
- Revision because six weeks off school results in significant backsliding for many students
- If it's whole class work, the modelling of the capable peers is valuable for those less capable
- The child is actually not doing what they should be doing eg. letter formation is incorrect and while the parent may not think this is important/thinks it is fine for the child to write an 's' backwards, it has a huge impact on fluency and fluency has a significant impact on comprehension in reading and on spelling and sentence formation in writing

QUOTE
My DS had been at kindy for 2 days (he's 3 turning 4) and when I picked him up his teacher was quite rude and said he was not listening or following instructions. I asked what had happened and was told that during dance time he was too boisterous so he was told to sit out. When he went to sit down he decided to lay on his back rather than sit properly. She told me he was naughty and needed to change his behaviour. I thought it was a little OTT but didn't say anything. I asked him what had happened and he said the teacher was yelling and it hurt his ears. I felt pretty sad for him as he was so excited to be at kindy. I should also point out that I find it very hard to understand the teacher as English is not her first language. I assume my DS may have trouble with her accent also.

I have found that sometimes when a person, including a  teacher, has English as an Additional Language Dialect they struggle sometimes to find the 'best' word. 'Naughty' is one of these words. A teacher with English as their mothertongue would easily find a more appropriate word to use. Many new arrival teachers I meet initially struggle to locate the more 'nuanced' words. However her requirement of having him sit out and not to loll about on the floor (safety aspects, especially if they are dancing) is not OTT.

Therefore the only thing I would bring up at this stage is that your DS indicated the teacher was yelling. However I don't see that this would be why he became boisterous enough to sit out of dancing. That's not a response to yelling.

QUOTE
my DD2 (age 5) has spent the entire week colouring in, playing with play dough and learning the alphabet.

This is entirely age appropriate ways to engage with the curriculum. What was she colouring in? Often it is stuff that reinforces the learning. During the colouring in the class talks about the concepts or a display is made about the learning that has taken place. Play dough is an effective fine motor skills task and is part of the Arts Curriculum - it's sculpture. Creation of and appreciation of other's work is part of the Visual Arts curriculum. Learning the alphabet is a normal thing for 5yos to learn at school. For some it's new, for other's it's division and it takes a surprisingly long time to consolidate letter sounds and names. In the first week it is reasonable for the children to work on alphabet tasks as a whole class to support peers, get a baseline set of data and to revise.

QUOTE
My DD1 (age 6) is in Yr 1 split with Yr 2's. So far this week she has been learning 25 sight words and the book for the year is tracing out letters of the alphabet and learning how to write them. She learnt this in Term 1 at pp and is asking me why she can't practice writing sentences and stories and reading proper books. DD1 is not gifted at all - she was progressing at the normal rate for her age I thought. My concern is that Yr 1/2's should be learning more than this?

Year 2s *will* learn more than this. But it's the first week (second in some places?). You don't mention which sight words they are, sight words in Year 2 are appropriate. In any case, they may not be on the exact sight words in the first week. It might be a generic lot until the records have been reviewed/testing done.

I think you need to make an appointment in a few weeks rather than race down there immediately. Most schools have a meet the teacher night or parent-teacher interviews at some point in Term 1. What they are doing is age appropriate and appropriate for the first 1-2 weeks of school.

You can access the curriculum at http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Year2



#7 KatakaGeoGirl

Posted 09 February 2013 - 12:58 PM

What you describe they are learning in the grades appears age appropriate.  I think you're probably misguided as to what average is. I'm sure the classrooms will set work to the age levels as well as expected there will be a wide range of skills and abilities in any one classroom. It is only a week in and they will still be forming groups, assessment and revising concepts from last year.

#8 Expelliarmus

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:05 PM

QUOTE (GenWhy @ 09/02/2013, 01:43 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
As far as the pre-primary and Yr 1/2 class though, I'm still not comfortable with the outline of what they're learning this year. The teachers sent home a letter yesterday explaining what they are working towards for the year. 200 sight words and beginning to read short books and writing sentences by the end of the year for DD1 and recognizing numbers to 100.

For DD2 it is learning the alphabet, learning to count to 20 and being able to write their name and alphabet tracing. Surely this can't be age appropriate? Neither of my girls are exceptionally gifted. They have already been taught this and both can read and write sentences. They both learnt over 350 sight words last year. This was in a normal state school in Perth.

http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/FoundationYear
QUOTE
By the end of the Foundation year, students make connections between number names, numerals and quantities up to 10. They compare objects using mass, length and capacity. Students connect events and the days of the week. They explain the order and duration of events. They use appropriate language to describe location.

Students count to and from 20 and order small collections. They group objects based on common characteristics and sort shapes and objects. Students answer simple questions to collect information.


The class your DD1 has been in they have grabbed something from the Year 1 curriculum for whatever they have sent home to you.
QUOTE
By the end of Year 1, students describe number sequences resulting from skip counting by 2s, 5s and 10s. They identify representations of one half. They recognise Australian coins according to their value. Students explain time durations. They describe two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional objects. Students describe data displays.

Students count to and from 100 and locate numbers on a number line. They carry out simple additions and subtractions using counting strategies. They partition numbers using place value. They continue simple patterns involving numbers and objects. Students order objects based on lengths and capacities using informal units. They tell time to the half hour. They use the language of direction to move from place to place. Students classify outcomes of simple familiar events. They collect data by asking questions and draw simple data displays.

I would clarify why your Year 2 DD has received a curriculum 'document' for Year 1.

#9 GenWhy

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:11 PM

Yes Howdo, I said in my above post about the teacher's first language not being English. I agree with what you've written absolutely in regards to that. I'm never sure of the best way to approach teachers in regards to clarifying what a child has said. Children do have a varying understanding or perspective of what has occurred so I don't put faith in what they've said alone. But there's that fine line between politely asking about an incident and appearing accusatory. I think we cleared it up very well and I'm happy with the way we discussed it.

As far as the rest, I totally understand revision. I also understand that children work at different levels and the teacher usually attempts to provide extra attention for those having trouble and also extra work for those who are doing well. But my children are bog standard average. They're not gifted. I love them and think they're the most awesome kids ever of course, but I know they're not joining Mensa.

Their old school was a regular public school in a low socio-economic area of Perth. I can assure you they were middle of the road there - with perhaps my 5 yr old DD reading better than her peers but I'd assume that's due to sitting in on home reader time with her big sister. They definitely already covered all of this plus more last year. I am wondering if prior to the national curriculum coming in, if WA had a differing curriculum? The sight words they're learning here are "and, to, the, of, up" etc. They aren't in any way different to what DD2 was taught in kindy and DD1 was taught in pre-primary.

Thanks for the link btw. I'll have a read through.

Efs

Edited by GenWhy, 09 February 2013 - 01:21 PM.


#10 GenWhy

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:17 PM

Forgot to add that I'm not the only parent at the school questioning this. There are at least 3 people who have asked if I think it's not as hard as previous schools etc. one parent is from NSW and she also said she thinks it's too easy.

#11 Heather11

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:20 PM

QUOTE
I would clarify why your Year 2 DD has received a curriculum 'document' for Year 1.


From the quote below I believe her DD is in year 1 in a composite 1/2 class.

QUOTE
My DD1 (age 6) is in Yr 1 split with Yr 2's.


#12 Expelliarmus

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:25 PM

The sight words sound like the Oxford word list? If this is a new school for your children they might take a few weeks to gather the required baseline data relevant to the site plan at their new school.

For example if this school is using the Oxford sight words, and their previous site used the Dolch list, the new school will want to spend some time gathering some data and testing them on the Oxford list to find out where to start them. So they sight words they have right now might be generic.

Yes, WA would have had a different curriculum prior to the AC however what has been sent home to you is an exceptionally small part of what goes on. There are three strands to English, for example and sight words and sentences are a small part of it. The other thing that I find is that the curriculum is rich on comprehension and a lot of steps that many people don't realise need to be explicitly taught. It's easy to be looking ahead to where the child is writing up to a page and reading a novel but ignoring the fact that the child hasn't learned how to punctuate and structure a piece of writing or to understand the passage.

As an example a Year 1 student will spend quite some time writing sentences to perfect the punctuation and other structures and to learn the use of grammar. It doesn't come automatically and the aim at the end is that they construct sentences with a certain type of clause or using connectors etc. This does not stop them 'writing a story' but the goal is not that they will 'write stories' it will be that they are using - in their writing - sentences that have particular types of punctuation, conjunctions or connectors and so on.

So it's not that students won't write stories, it's that their writing will be assessed to see if they are using the appropriate structures in their sentences. That they are using and, because, then to join sentences, that they consistently use upper case and full stops when writing a sentence, that question marks are used when appropriate, that commas separate lists or whatever it is that is year level appropriate.

ETA: Heather11 I realise the child is in a Year 1/2 split but that doesn't mean the whole class should be taught the Year 1 curriculum, the Year 2 children should receive a Year 2 'document' if the document is not going to include the standard for both year levels. The whole class cannot be expected to count to 100 - the Year 2 standard is using numbers to 1000. Either they think OP's DD is in Year 1 or they are being a bit lazy with what they send home/are planning. Asking to clarify why DD got the Year 1 document is a non aggressive way of challenging what has been sent home.

Edited by howdo, 09 February 2013 - 01:29 PM.


#13 melaine

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:46 PM

QUOTE (howdo @ 09/02/2013, 02:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Either they think OP's DD is in Year 1 or they are being a bit lazy with what they send home/are planning. Asking to clarify why DD got the Year 1 document is a non aggressive way of challenging what has been sent home.


I think the OPs DD1 is in grade 1, and DD2 in foundation year/first year of school whatever you call it.

OP - can you clarify?

If your DD2 is in foundation year (first year of full time school/preprimary) then what she is doing sounds just right. My son has started prep and he'd be about average - he knows a few sight words, can spell a few words etc. can count past 100, do some basic addition/subtraction etc (he's further ahead in maths than literacy).  He is doing lots of fine motor activities at school - beads, playdough, using tongs etc.

He tells me that they haven't done any 'maths'. They are revising the alphabet etc and have not started sight words as far as I know. They are all bringing home level 1 readers (haven't been tested yet).

If your 5 year old in preprimary is reading then she is ahead of average. Sounds like you had a very advanced kindy class last year if they were all reading and writing!

For your DD1 - I'd suggest they are starting off with revision and then will group children for literacy groups and target their ability levels/needs in the next few weeks.i also think you might be hearing one part of what they do. Our grade 2 kids have 'handwriting books' and they love them for some reason. I bet some would go home and all they would say they did was some counting and tracing letters when we had done much, much more!

Edited by melaine, 09 February 2013 - 01:49 PM.


#14 GenWhy

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

Thanks very much for the post Howdo. It's a relief to ask someone who knows what the go is rather than asking the school so early on in the year. I really don't want to be the pain in the bum parent after already complaining about the kindy hours.

My DD1 is in Yr 1 - she's born in the last part of 2006 so although she's turning 7 along with some of the Yr 2's she's in Yr 1. The letter sent home was for both classes. Yr 1 stated: to be engaged in class activities; know initial sounds and letters names lower and upper case; recognize numbers to 100; begin sentences using correct grammar and punctuation; begin to read simple texts; learn numerous sight words

Yr 2: able to read up to 200 sight words; able to write a sentence with correct grammar and punctuation; extend knowledge of number facts; prepare students for NAPLAN

The 25 sight words for Yr 1 was mentioned as a goal for the year but I'm wondering if she meant for the term or similar?

I don't know if it makes any difference but this is her second year ever of teaching and last year she taught pre-primary here straight from Uni.

#15 kyrrie

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

Those outlines sound correct to me, having had 2 kids go through FYOS and year 1 in NSW. It is probably the impact of the Australian Curriculum. Over here our kids don't start school until they are between 4.5 and 6, so the FYOS (equivalent to your pre-primary) starts right at the beginning.

DS did year 1 last year, the kids still did readers, their maths worked with numbers up to 100 and they did a lot of work on sentences while they worked on different text types.

#16 GenWhy

Posted 09 February 2013 - 02:00 PM

Pp my DD2 has just turned 5 and is in first year of school 5 days a week which is pre-primary. In her kindy class last year not everyone was reading or writing. But most were learning sight words, most were beginning to write words and some were writing sentences although with little punctuation.

Also my DD1 was in a pre-primary split Yr 1 class last year. So perhaps she was working to Yr 1 level?

#17 Expelliarmus

Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:09 AM

I did have the year levels wrong, apologies. So yes, counting to 100 is right for Year 1. But counting is not spending all year putting 100 numerals in order. It includes understanding the pattern of 0-9 and how it repeats. It's understanding place value of units and ones which is the basis for all place value understanding and is thus crucial and has to be fully understood. It includes getting the numbers written around the correct way as mirror writing us very common. it includes counting on from any point 0-100 and knowing if a number comes before or after another. It includes knowing if a number us more if less than another and explaining how you know. It includes putting them on a number line so understanding of how a number beginning with a 7 is higher than one with a 6 so thus is why getting the number order right is also crucial.

In short it's more than being able to 'count'.

Some of my Year 2s are still writing numerals backwards and then writing eighteen as 81 for example. 'Counting' to 100 means they would have it correct every time because they'd have a solid concept of place value.

It's saying that the expectation is that by the end if Year 1 the expectation is that children will work with two digit numbers. I believe addition and subtraction is also with two digit numbers. It's not saying that children can't count above 100 but that's not what's required for a grade above a C because the standard is an understanding and application of numbers up to 100. Knowing how to 'make' 672 or 1024 or how to 'get there' doesn't show and understanding and application of numbers up to 100.

Edited by howdo, 10 February 2013 - 10:26 AM.





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