Nurseries not preparing children for school (BBC News Article)
Too many children lack basic skills that they are expected to have before they start school at age 4/5. Some are not toilet trained, can’t hold a pencil and struggle with language and communication. So who can we blame for this?
Let’s blame nurseries and pre-schools.
Yes, I would expect nurseries to encourage a child’s development – through playing with toys, reading books and doing arts and crafts. At Izzy’s nursery they use both structured activities and free play to observe her development, and provide regular feedback to let us know if she meets the Early Years recommendations for her age group and advise on next steps we may want to work on.
However, we (her parents and wider family) taught her to use the toilet, hold a pencil, speak and communicate. Yes, nursery has encouraged and reinforced these skills, but they didn’t start there. They started at home.
Some children don’t go to nursery – even once they turn three the 15 hours free nursery care per week isn’t compulsory. And even those who do go to nursery, what about the time they spend with their parents? Nurseries can try to teach children the basic skills they require, but its no good if the hard work isn’t being continued at home. It is hard. It requires some element of effort and commitment. But isn’t that part of being a parent?
It’s much easier to blame professionals and institutions than to blame parents. But how are children supposed to learn about responsibility and the impact of their actions on others if they are brought up in such a culture of passing the buck.
It is important to recognise that children develop at different rates – putting very strict expectations on children can be damaging – but I don’t think the list of basic skills for all school-starters that Ofsted has come up with is unreasonable. It’s more about basic social skills than academic knowledge. But it shouldn’t be down to nurseries to ensure children meet these developmental milestones. It’s a job for parents.