A Mum’s perspective
I write this blog post scratching my head thinking the same thing at the end of every year – where did the year go? I’m certain that the time thief keeps taking a little bit each year. Or perhaps it’s because my youngest son Archie is about to finish his first year of school and I have witnessed him mature ten-fold in the blink of an eye.
Prep was a huge, interesting, brain expanding, challenging, exciting, and full-on experience. And not just for Archie! I witnessed quite a different prep room in action to three years ago when my eldest son Oscar was a preppie. Sure it’s still exciting, play-based learning, but there’s more focus on learning the formal processes of literacy and numeracy. Essentially, kids are expected to do more sooner.
Prep kids are now writing words and sentences, dividing numbers, and writing basic sums. And not just in the playground and with counting beads. On paper too, no less! Some kids loved writing and would beaver away at their desks quite happily while others struggled to sit still and concentrate for more than two minutes. Archie was definitely in the latter category.
His penchant for soccer and socialising, combined with his developing fine motor skills and waning concentration make writing a challenging task. He doesn’t care too much for the sit down, pencil in hand type activities, but it’s part and parcel of a prep room these days.
I may be a little biased here given my interest in boys’ literacy but I still can’t see the value in teaching formal literacy skills so early. It doesn’t suit boys in particular. There’s a swag of research to support this too.
A good friend of mine, who was also teacher for many years, tells the story of her son who spent his whole prep year playing in the sandpit. And she didn’t mind one bit. Eventually he got up to speed when he was ready and recently graduated with a degree in commerce. I don’t think much has changed in 15 years. Boys need time. Our education system is a whole other topic in itself, but let’s focus on Archie here.
Even though I don’t feel he’s ready for some of these writing tasks, he was still able to have a go and maintain his self-esteem and confidence. For that I am grateful. If I could see his learning “flame” being extinguished I would have stepped up to the plate. But thankfully his wonderful teachers are too insightful and supportive to allow that to happen.
Over the prep year Archie has become more socially adept and has made some fabulous little friends that he adores. He is learning how to be resilient and cope with things when they don’t go his way. He can tie his shoe laces, unpack his own school bag and make something all by himself of which he is proud. And he can write a few words too! He’s a happy, caring, cheeky kid. He can communicate equally well with adults and kids. That’s pretty important for getting on in this world. With nurturing from three fun and highly experienced teachers, I can say Archie has survived and thrived in prep. He may not be the best writer, but he sure is excited about going into grade one. From my perspective at least, I think we’ve achieved our goal for this year.
A child’s perspective
Well, I’ve had my say on Archie’s first year of school so it’s only fair for him to have his say. I love asking the boys these questions at the end of each school year and already my eldest son Oscar who is going into grade 4 next year is interested to know how he viewed Prep all those years ago! It will serve as a great little snapshot for each year of their schooling and provide lots of chuckles too.
So in the words of Mr Archie Bueti (5.8 years old) here’s the best and worst things about Prep:
What did you learn at school this year?
That A is the first letter of the alphabet. We did experiments – one was a blowing bubble competition. My bubble go’d the fatherest.
What was your favourite thing about Prep?
The experiments. Playing outside. That’s all.
Are you good at reading and writing?
I were ok. It was ok. It wasn’t that good.
What did mum do at school?
You helped kids do activities in the classroom. Chilled around.
How long will you be at school?
16 hundred days. That’s a long time.
What was in your lunch box?
In Prep I just had sandwiches. I think there was some pickles – I don’t know. There was yoghurt.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m thinking about that. I did want to be a singer but I have no ideas.
Is there anything you didn’t like about Prep?
Having to sit down so long. That was the boringest of all.
Who are your best mates and what did you play?
Cooper, Luke, Carlo – they’re my top favourite. Second favourite batch is Ryan and Tobi and that’s all.
What were you worried about in Prep?
How old are you going to be when you finish school?
I think 6. Oh yeah definitely 6.
What’s the biggest word you know?
Do you know what homework is?
Where you have to do work at school.
What did you pack in your school bag?
A deck tek. You can’t take toys.
Will you be smarter than dad when you finish school?