Parents express concerns about levels on their children’s preschool and reception class reports


Preschool story time children transformed into...

Preschool story time children transformed into Easter Bunnies (Photo credit: San José Library)

I am on my son’s preschool committee and this year many parents have expressed concerns about the way their children’s progress is being reported in the Early Years Curriculum. Some parents say that although they know their child has good personal, social and emotional skills that their child has not been reported to be working within the 40-60 month bracket. Other parents have said that although they know their child can read very well for their age, their child is still not working within the 40-60 month bracket for literacy. When I have talked to the preschool teachers, they have said that even when children are performing above average overall, if they don’t meet all the criteria for the 40-60 month bracket they must be placed in the 30-50 months bracket. The preschool teachers admitted that there are problems with the way the assessment bands have been labelled. However, as the assessment areas and bands have been set by the government, it is not within their control to change it.

One anomaly with the labelling of the bands in the Early Years Curriculum is that teachers say that most children starting reception are unlikely to be working within the level 40-60 months old even though the children are at least 48 months old and some are 60 months old if they are born in September. I personally cannot understand why the framework does not go to 72 months old? I also think it would have been better if they assessment bands had been labelled as level 1-4 rather than as age bands. Then parents would feel less upset when they hear that their 60 month old child is still not working within 40-60 months.

The problem with the labelling and assessment of the bands seems to continue all the way through reception. I have heard many parents complain about their children’s reception reports too. One of the problems seems to be that children at the end of the reception year are only expected to be able to count to 20 and to be able to work out one less than or one more than a given number. The parents of reception age children are telling me that they know that their children can do much more than this and that they can count to 100 easily and do addition and subtraction at a higher level than one more than or one less than. In contrast, there seems to be much higher expectations for literacy at the same age. Children by the end of reception are supposed to be able to read and write simple sentences. The same parents that feel that their children are way ahead of expectations in mathematics are at the same time worried that their children are lagging behind in literacy. This suggests to me that there are problems with the way the Early Years Curriculum has been written and that the levels have not been adjusted to match the average child. The emphasis on literacy rather than numeracy is also slightly strange as mathematical ability is a much better indicator of later achievement than literacy.

My son is due to start reception next year, I hope that I will be able to ignore the way the reports are written and not get too worried about the bands when I do receive his report. Especially as I know that children in some countries who don’t start formal education until 7 years old are easily able to catch up with us in terms of literacy and numeracy. However, the government should reduce parents’ stress by re-labelling the bands and making sure the mathematics and literacy criteria match the average child.

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Should I let my child bring his teddy to school?


My friend’s 4-year-old son had his first induction day at his new school recently. He was reluctant to go into the classroom and things seemed to get worse from there. The teacher told him that he was not allowed to bring his beloved teddy ‘Mr. Snuggles’ into the classroom. My friend felt that this would only make things more difficult as she was struggling already to get him used to the idea of starting school in September. When she relayed the story over coffee to me, I felt that the teacher was probably misguided. Many people believe that when children start school, they need to leave their teddies at home as this is part of growing up. However, starting school is an important transition for children and teddies and security blankets can help children manage that transition more easily.

Parents may worry that if they allow their child to bring their teddy or other favourite toy to school in the first few weeks that their child will never be able to leave it at home. However, your child will realise at some point that they don’t need their special comforter with them at school anymore. On the other hand, in the early days of settling into a new school, comforters are useful items to help your child deal with the changes and increasing independence. Litt (1986) found that children who used security blankets or teddies were more independent and more self-confident. Children use these objects to soothe themselves when they are feeling anxious and upset, which can only be a good thing. Security blankets and teddies also allow children to comfort themselves when separated from their parents.
I am pleased that the new school my son is going to go to in September is having a ‘bring your teddy day’ at the beginning of the year. They obviously don’t feel that it is a problem for children to bring their teddies to school when they start. Another friend of mine said that they even have a special teddy corner at her daughter’s new school. So it seems that some schools do recognise the importance of transition objects but unfortunately not every school.

Post Pictures of your children, better watch this!

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Melinda Tripp highlights the dangers of posting photos of your children on the web. Always turn off geotagging on your phone before taking a photo of your child, so your geographical location is not recorded when you post a photo of your child.


Warning” If you, your kids or grand kids take pics from your phone—WATCH THIS! This is downright scary!

This is truly alarming – please take the time to watch. At the end they’ll tell you how to set your phone so you don’t run this risk!


I want everyone of you to watch this and then be sure to share with all your family and friends.

It’s REALLY important info, about what your posting things on your cell phones can do TO YOU!!!
Too much technology out there these days so beware………..


If you have children or grandchildren you NEED to watch this. I had no idea this could happen from taking pictures on the blackberry…

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#Silent Sunday



Should we allow children to play with guns?


Kid with gun

Kid with gun (Photo credit: World of Oddy)

Whether it is okay for boys to play with toy guns is a controversial topic. Many parents may feel uncomfortable about their young child wielding a gun and going around shooting people even if it is a toy. Other parents may think that it is all part of being a boy and that a boy’s natural aggressive tendencies should not be suppressed. So who is right? The research on whether toy guns make children more aggressive is contradictory. What is interesting is that play therapists, who use play to help children work through anxieties and issues, include toy guns for the children to play with.

After some initial reservations, I have decided to be reasonably relaxed about letting my son play with toy guns as he was making guns out of Lego and cardboard anyway. One of his best friends has a nerf gun and they seemed to have so much fun playing with them at his friend’s house, I decided to buy one too. I also want my son to feel that he can play whatever games he likes within reason.

One problem I have encountered so far is the consternation of some of my friends for having toy guns in the house. Some of them have said that they would never have a toy gun in their house and they try to stop their son’s playing shooting games. This has allowed me to discuss and debate the research regarding aggression and toy guns with them.

Although it is unclear whether children should be allowed to play with toy guns, what is clear from the research is that aggressive play should not be stopped. Landy and Menna found that mothers of aggressive children were more likely to stop aggressive make-believe play. They were also more likely to say things like ‘That’s not nice’ or ‘That’s unkind’. In contrast, mothers of non-aggressive children would play along with the
aggressive play, taking on the voice of certain characters and pretending to be scared, killed or eaten by crocodiles and dinosaurs. Landy and Menna found that mothers of aggressive children were more likely to stop aggressive make-believe play. They were also more likely to say things like ‘That’s not nice’ or ‘That’s unkind’. In contrast, mothers of non-aggressive children would play along with the aggressive play, taking on the voice of certain characters and pretending to be scared, killed or eaten by crocodiles and dinosaurs. Landy and Menna suggest that children become more aggressive if they cannot act out their aggression during play. If aggression is not released during play, then it ends up being acted out physically through hitting, biting and pushing.

‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ is for sale as an e-book on Amazon,, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks, Sony ebookstore and Apple ibookstore.

‘Should aggressive make-believe play be discouraged?’

“Playing with Toy Guns Desensitizes Children to Using Real Guns…” Uh, Sez Who? (

Should drugs be the first line of treatment for ADHD?


English: A child not paying attention in class.

English: A child not paying attention in class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently a mother was questioning whether drugs should be the first line of treatment for her daughter who had been diagnosed as having severe ADHD. The mother was reluctant to give her daughter drugs and was also surprised by the ‘severe’ diagnosis.
Many doctors can be too quick to give out drugs for disorders despite their side effects and it is important for parents to discuss alternative treatments.
Drugs can reduce the symptoms of ADHD such as impulsiveness and distractibility but they can’t cure it. Side effects include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and stomach upsets and not much is known about the long-term impact of the drugs on the developing brain. ADHD drugs can also make children listless and withdrawn.
Parents can ask their doctor whether it is possible for their child to have cognitive behavioural therapy instead. This works by getting the child to understanding how their thoughts and feelings are linked to their behaviour. They are also taught how to change their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
It can be difficult to manage the behaviour of a child with ADHD so parents often benefit from attending a course that teaches discipline techniques. Some parents may feel reluctant to attend a parenting course but it is worth trying first before giving a child drugs. Such courses can really improve communication and relationships within the family.
Other treatments for ADHD include social skills training and family therapy. Social skills training works by teaching children appropriate responses to different social situations. They are also taught how to deal with their thoughts and emotions so that they can modify their responses to other people. Family therapy involves looking at whether communication patterns and relationships within the family are contributing to a child’s ADHD symptoms. Parents have to be willing to accept that their behaviour might be affecting their child’s behaviour for the therapy to work.

‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ is for sale as an e-book on Amazon,, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks, Sony ebookstore and Apple ibookstore.


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