[Image stolen from Sherrie Adams again 🙂 ]

It was parents’ evening at nursery today and it turns out that the nursery have (unknown to either me or Ariel) been piloting this new statutory framework for early years education since September. As far as they are concerned, for children of Ariel’s age this simply involves noticing when the children do stuff that is on their “checklist” of learning goals, and making a note of it so that future or other carers / teachers can keep track of her progress and identify areas where she might need more support to encourage her to develop skills. That is, the children don’t know what is happening and the parents only find out if they ask. As such, I think I can live with it. Phew.

(Not that I don’t think it is wrong and harmful to make these frameworks universal and compulsory, I just don’t worry quite so much now that it will affect Ariel directly.)

Oh and for the record – I know it is all a bit meaningless but still it is nice to know that Ariel is advanced for her age 🙂 From what I can gather, she is already doing pretty much everything in the “24 to 36 months” category of “things your child should be more or less able to do by now” – such as “have some concept of 1 and 2″… she can recite numbers pretty reliably up to 13 and count objects up to about 4 or 5 effortlessly! And “learn new words rapidly”… she can say words like “dodecahedron” and “triceratops” and “oesophagus” (she even knows what all those things are, more or less), so I should think she can nail this one too. Aww.

On the alleged downside, she isn’t so hot at joining in with things, which means (because most of the physical activities they do are group “joining in” activities) that nursery haven’t been able to see her consistently demonstrating her ability to do many of the clever things she can do like jumping, stretching, running, climbing and playing ball. She does all these things with me – and she is certainly able to walk pretty far at a reasonable pace when we go out – but since this is never observed at nursery it is not something she has got many ticks for on her physical jerks checklist. Shucks. So we (Sophie’s keyworker “Meera” and I) discussed it, I explained that she is actually fine on all those things, she just doesn’t much like doing things in big groups, and that was fine. We also agreed that the important thing is to let her gain confidence in group situations at her own pace and not to push it in any way, so that’s also fine 🙂

Finally, I had the chance to find out a lot more about what “pre-school” will involve for Ariel when (if) she goes. It starts for her next September and doesn’t sound worrisome at all, despite my earlier fears. It is a little more structured than ordinary nursery, and there certainly does seem to be a theme of preparing children for school but the children can opt out of the activities and seem to have a fair amount of space and independence, with lots of different things that they can decide to do: nothing is compulsory. There is a daily “lesson” which lasts for about 5 minutes and is focussed on small groups of children practising a particular skill together e.g. cutting or drawing straight lines or something, but the children don’t have to join in if they don’t want to. Also, it looks as though Meera will be “moving up” with her children so Ariel’s group, including her keyworker, will effectively just be moving into a bigger, more exciting room – a much softer transition than if there were new staff to make friends with as well as everything else. Obviously I will be watching for problems that might arise but at least I am no longer terrified by the whole idea, which means my options remain open. Hooray!

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