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Where has all the fun gone?

(19 Posts)
dizzydaisy36 Tue 18-Nov-14 23:14:07

My grand daughter has just started in a Year 1 class, she is still only 5 years old (a summer birthday). She really enjoyed her first year at school, lots of play and creative activities. As a retired primary school teacher I made sure that she was on the way to reading before she went to school and apart from the endless phonics she was forced to swallow she made a good start to her school life.

But oh dear what a difference now. She drags herself to school each day and when I collect her she has lost all her enthusiasm. There is very little of a creative nature appearing home anymore and it makes me so sad as I want her to have a rounded education not just the 3 R's. I asked her today if she had done any art this term and her reply was "No, we don't make anything anymore, it's all hard work".

If she wasn't so worn out I would do some after school craft and music with her at home. Can anyone point me in the direction of any good books with ideas for fun activities. I am thinking craft, music, games with limited resources.

J52 Tue 18-Nov-14 23:31:40

Try sourcing some Scolastic books, I seem to remember they were themed eg: festivals, christmas, masks etc. they were full of good creative ideas. They were about A4 size but bound in landscape orientation. Probably out of print now. You might get them on E baŷ . X

Eloethan Wed 19-Nov-14 00:34:22

The school where I do reading with children (and this isn't a "posh" area) isn't at all like the one you describe. The children (who are 6-7) seem to get the opportunity to take part in lots of activities - making models, painting, singing, etc. etc. I do feel for your grand daughter (and you) - her school sounds horrible. What a shame that she seems so downhearted at such a young age.

What do her mum and dad think? What do other parents think? Should the matter be brought up with the school - maybe this lack of creative activities might be down to her particular teacher rather than representative of the ethos of the school. What do other gransnetters think?

vampirequeen Wed 19-Nov-14 06:57:31

A lot of it depends on the last OFSTED report. Schools that are deemed to be in need of improvement go into hell mode. They have to improve regardless of how it impacts on the child or teachers. The school where I used to work was a place of fun and learning. Children improved but the results never pleased OFSTED even though 80% spoke English as a second language and of them most had only been in the UK between 0 and 3 years. Children came into FS and Key Stages at any time of the year and were assimilated into the school. It was amazing how many children succeeded in passing the dreaded SATS at level 3/4/5. Unfortunately it was never enough.

Now that school is hell on earth. All the subjects which broaden a child's experience have been cut back. The teachers and children are on a treadmill of maths, literacy and science. Improvement, improvement, improvement is the order of the day. Get those kids through the hoops regardless of the effect on them.

The children are unhappy. The teachers are unhappy and becoming ill. OFSTED hangs over them like the sword of Damocles. They know they can't 'improve' the way OFSTED wants because of the nature of the intake. I always believed I should educate the children I had not the children I wished I had. That meant I planned for the needs of individuals and didn't expect children to fit neatly into little boxes. You can't teach English grammar until a child has a grasp of English so you work to that end. OFSTED and league tables don't see it that way.

The school our children attend was deemed to be outstanding. Not detracting from the work the teachers do but their intake is virtually all English speaking whether as a first language or a second language but with fluent parents. Although they still work at the basics the school is far more relaxed as they don't have an OFSTED spot check hanging over them. The children do a lot more of the fun aspects of learning and achieve very well because they're happy learners who are not force fed to hit targets in order satisfy a faceless official.

thatbags Wed 19-Nov-14 07:10:51

The 3Rs are fun at that age if taught properly. Are you sure she isn't unwell/is getting enough sleep, etc?

As you are a retired promary school teacher, I'm a bit surprised you need to ask for ideas for fun activities.

I'm also wondering what her parents think. What you describe doesn't sound like a normal Y1 class.

Crafting Wed 19-Nov-14 21:26:50

What about the cheap basics? Toilet and kitchen roll holders, tissue paper, paints, pipe cleaners and a child's imagination. Make spiders, space rockets, castles whatever they can think of. You don't need to buy books just look on the Internet for fun things to make with kids and you will get lots of ideas. Most kids love just sitting and painting.

Elegran Wed 19-Nov-14 21:54:49

Have you seen this thread, dizzydisy36 ?

Mishap Thu 20-Nov-14 10:31:49

The primary schools out here in the country seem to do it right as far as I can see. My GS's school had a Britain week, when the whole school did nothing but activities around the subject of the different parts of the British Isles - they did reading, writing, cooking, dancing, music, art - all of which were huge learning opportunities (maths, science, English etc.) and great fun. There was one stupid mother who complained, wanting to know when they were going to get on with some "proper work" - but otherwise they all got happily stuck in.

I was talking to another primary school teacher (who happens to be my DD's MIL) and she was saying that you can make it fun and still satisfy OfSted - that it is possible to achieve and demonstrate progress whilst still making the learning age-appropriate and not dull.

janerowena Thu 20-Nov-14 11:06:24

I can remember the second year at my school coming as a huge shock, though. We virtually stopped everything bar one painting afternoon a week, one music session and a couple of games sessions. I felt most aggrieved.

Granoveve Thu 20-Nov-14 12:36:03

Sort your granddaughter isn't enjoying school, but it's impossible to win with children. Some children do need a more play based curriculum in Year 1 and there's no excuse for cutting creative activities, but my GD in Reception announced she was fed up. "It's all play, play, play, just like Nursery."
So we did 'work' at home last year.
Now, she buzzes when she comes out about what she's learnt to do.

Granoveve Thu 20-Nov-14 12:37:17

Meant Sorry not Sort. Flipping auto correct!

rosequartz Thu 20-Nov-14 19:40:39

Your DGD may be finding it much harder in Y1 if she enjoyed a play-centred reception year. If she is one of the youngest in the year (as is my DGD who was the youngest in the school) she could be getting very tired now she has to concentrate more. Luckily DGD is in a lovely little village school where they do lots of other activities such as 'Forest School'.
Have a look at the school's website and see what they are aiming for in Y1 and what activities they do or have an informal chat with her class teacher. Sometimes a 5 year old who may be tired and not enjoying a particular aspect of school could be 'forgetting' all the art, craft and other activities they are doing. Does she have any particular little friends, or is she finding the social side of school difficult?

You could perhaps suggest a checkup at the doctor's to make sure she hasn't got some sort of low-grade infection which is pulling her down as well, lots of viruses around at this time of year.

storynanny Thu 20-Nov-14 23:35:54

As a semi retired infant teacher now doing supply, I can confirm that in my area fun has completely disappeared from the school day. I make it my mission to make sure they have a fun day with me as I am a rebel.
The deteriation in behaviour in my opinion , is linked to the lack of fun in classrooms. Some schools I go to have no regular art, singing, music, story time, just writing, more writing and a lot of nonsense. Not sure it is bringing up standards either.
I am very very disillusioned and feel so sorry for my little grandson just starting out in reception. Compared to the fabulous time my children had at school giving them a good start and a lifelong love of learning, it is worrying.
In my opinion of course.

RoadPals Fri 21-Nov-14 05:43:31

That's a very sad story. I'm 62 and try to have some creative play every day. As has been said above, only the most basic materials are needed, and I always find my garden a source of interest and wonder. When your granddaughter is tired 5 minutes of stimulating play could help revitalise her.

gillybob Fri 21-Nov-14 09:00:09

Agree RoadPals. I often send my DGC out into the garden with a paper plate. They have to bring back items of interest and tell us all about what they have found. Then they paint them, draw them or make them with bits n' bobs (mind you that means the dreaded glue and scissors come out). I am always prepared for middle GC who tends to bring in living things such as beetles,snails and her very favourite worms. Good fun though.

absentgrandma Fri 21-Nov-14 21:14:08

Oh dear, this is striking a very relevant cord. DD had her first Y2 (?) parent-teacher evening for DGS this week. he's just 6 and last year, in the reception class, he had a young teacher in her first teaching post. He loved her, thrived in all the skills he was required to do and got really good reports. This year it's all so different (as I suspected it might be). DD said he no longer has that 'bounce' he always had when they were getting ready for school every morning. He's anxious... Mum's depressed. He actually seems to be going backwards and when the teacher suggested he went back to his speech therapist for a few more sessions DD was mortified. He was a slow talker despite her best efforts, but 6 months with a lovely speech therapist and he was fine. No wonder DD is depressed.

I'm going to spend 3 weeks with them at Christmas so I might try to source the Scolastic books you mention J52 and get some creative fun stuff to do with him... I'd already got Christmad biscuit making on the 'fun things to do together' list.

They obviously have to work seriously from an early age but they do need some fun. I blame the ridiulous target- drived culture that exists in the UK. Mind you French education is even more rigid.

thatbags Sat 22-Nov-14 10:02:27

Play is "working seriously" for kids. Children learn through play.

It really is that simple.

Adults do too, actually. "Anyone who thinks there's a difference between education and play doesn't know the first thing about either". Sorry, I don't know where that quote is from; I just know it's spot on.

thatbags Sat 22-Nov-14 10:03:28

Trained teachers are supposed to know, and base their teaching on, that idea.

Eloethan Sat 22-Nov-14 11:30:26

I would actually think very seriously about changing schools if a child of mine was very unhappy where he/she was. My grandson is 21 now but when he was at primary school and my daughter thought he was not thriving, she found another school for him and it worked out very well.

I agree with the comment re learning through play. When my son's partner was looking for a suitable nursery for her daughter, at her invitation I went with her to check them all out. One of these nurseries, a Montessori and significantly more expensive than some of the others, seemed to place a great deal of emphasis on structured learning, setting targets, etc. etc. There seemed to be a lot of "box ticking" going on. Neither of us liked the atmosphere of the place. We eventually learned that this nursery had been closed down. Instead we both agreed on a nursery where there was lots of outside space to play in and the children were allowed a good mix of structured and unstructured play opportunities. My granddaughter is very happy there. I hate this obsession with targets and homework for young children.