I’ve been thinking all day about what is at the core of the Reception year, ever since I woke up this morning and read in an Ofsted report that they think that the core of Reception is reading. Lots of us knew this report was coming: EYFS is a key focus of policy makers and government at the moment, what with the 30 hours offer and the baseline. I tried not to over react to the report, to give it a chance, and to be fair there are lots of good things in there, but I found myself coming out of the experience of reading it feeling depressed. So, instead of spending the morning on Twitter, ranting about how everything was terrible in the world, I decided to post a question and then go across to the allotments to have a think about what I actually thought myself. I’ve got a bit of allotment that me and the kid have been digging over together, ready for preschool to use and I felt like I needed a bit of physical development. Anyway, here’s the question I asked before I headed over to do the weeding. The answers make for reassuring reading.
The thing about the Reception year is that it is special. Each year is special, of course, but this particular year is the moment when a child is usually received from their parents and into a school. Into the place where they will spend a lot of years (unless you home educate them, of course). These days the boundaries are blurred a bit, because more schools are taking children in earlier, but the majority of early years provision is still PVI (private, voluntary and independent). As a parent, Reception marks a kind of stepping away – a time when you and your child separate just that little bit more than you did before. It’s a bittersweet moment. Anyway, from my experience the complexity of all the things that are at the core of early child development at this stage is pretty mind blowing. You’ve got speaking, and listening, and moving, and balancing, and grabbing, and twisting, and skipping, and focusing, and exploring, and going to the loo by yourself, and sitting still, and reading, and counting, and being confident, and finding out new things, and making new friends, and understanding how to control your emotions, and playing, and playing, and playing, and far too many things for me to possibly reduce into one single idea. So I’ve figured out what I think has to be at the core of the Reception year. It’s simple in the end. It’s not about what we put into an EYFS curriculum. It’s about the care and development of each four year old child.