You know I have concerns with the EYFS curriculum and how it seems at odds with the expectations at year 1, especially when we consider the evidence shows that young males’ speech and language skills are well behind by the end of reception year.
The current EYFS curriculum and the pedagogy it almost mandates is compulsory in all schools, including alternative settings and private schools. So, we have no allowance for a different EYFS curriculum that would provide something for comparative analysis. If I were to redesign an alternative EYFS curriculum, I would make it available to all parents who would like to choose that particular setting for their children. Here is what it would look like:
- Direct instruction in English and Maths (just as with phonics)
- ‘Play’ to be used to consolidate rather than facilitate learning, or just for fun! It should also happen away from teaching other wise the noise might be too much for many children.
- Whole-class teaching so that children with speech and language issues hear just one, crystal-clear voice of an adult with a wide range of vocabulary and a good speaking voice.
- Minimal visual distractions on the walls.
- A clear distinction being drawn between toys and items used for education. For example, maths equipment should be maths equipment and revered as such.
- All tables to be facing forward during direct instruction sessions and children to know that they are in a lesson and what the purpose of that lesson is.
- Children to use pencil and paper at a table rather than using whiteboard and WB pen sitting hunched on the carpet. I prefer pencil and paper because WB pens tend to be rather thick and unwieldy, encouraging poor grip.
- Lots of traditional playtime games and nursery rhymes that help children to be social as many children arrive without knowledge of these. Also, why not utilise counting songs within or at the start of every maths lesson?
- Storytime every day to be revered and revived: children to sit quietly, without the distraction of other groups working, and listen to a story or information book that includes vocabulary that is new and challenging, with explanations from the teacher.
- Speech and language interventions (for example, elocution lessons for those who have suffered multiple ear infections) to be backed up by lots of work within the classroom on good enunciation. Why not have more poetry and Bible verse recitation for this very purpose?
- Teaching and testing of interesting facts, particularly science and history facts.
- Not allowing a child to fall behind, rather give them the extra teaching required to keep them with the main cohort.
- A bit of competition to be used, in order to incentivise the young males.
My previous work experience was in mainly male environments and I have taught young males up to the age of 18, so I would consider myself quite used to how they tick! It seems to me that our education system fails to educate boys properly partly because male ‘qualities’ are viewed as rather uncouth, or somehow needing to be socially engineered. For example, I find that boys and men prefer a black and white approach to right and wrong and they want to see *justice* being done; this is at odds with the more fashionable view where rules are invoked to different degrees dependent on the background or behavioural disposition of each individual child. Boys also seem to prefer non-fiction reading and writing, which is at odds with what is usually taught in English lessons in primary schools.
While the current EYFS curriculum is clearly born out of kindness and love for the innocent childlike state of the very youngest pupils, I can’t help but see that boys, particularly those who come to school having not received that extra education at home, just ricochet around, like pin balls, not really knowing what is going on. The lack of hierarchy in the EYFS setting, with the teacher viewed as a facilitator, play mate and child’s equal, is also at odds with what boys prefer (a leader) and with how the wider world works.
So, perhaps it’s time to differentiate the EYFS curriculum based on the intake and level of disadvantage each cohort brings?
Who’s with me?