After quite an emotionally ‘full on’ year last year, I decided in September that I perhaps needed a bit of time to myself. Having a 5 year old with special needs, and a younger full of beans daughter, you tend to forget about yourself and I felt I needed some time to catch up on household chores, and the thought of a shower in the morning without having to listen to Jessica screaming downstairs, waiting impatiently for me to fasten her coat ready to leave for school at 7.30am (40 minutes before transport is even due to pick her up) would be amazing, so I decided to put Emily in nursery. I contacted the local child care provision, and went along to check it out. I decided to put Emily in two mornings, and one afternoon a week. Each session was 2 and a half hours long, so that was just enough time for both of us to be apart. After a few visits, Emily was settled, our house was in order, and I’d managed to squeeze a quite coffee in at the vintage cafe round the corner with a sea view, I had been dying to try out.
However, on picking Emily up last Thursday, I was presented with some paperwork, Emily’s ‘Individual Behaviour Plan’. I read through her ‘behaviour difficulties’, and ‘strategies’ the nursery was to follow to correct these behaviours’, and saw the space at the bottom I was to sign to give my approval and my agreement to carry out similar strategies at home..
Difficulty cooperating with peers’, was the first problem area, followed by ‘unwilling to follow directions’, ‘Ooookaaaay’, I thought to myself, as I skimmed the proposed strategy being put in place to remedy that little ‘problem area’. ‘Difficulty staying on task’, and the little cherry on top of that icing was ‘Difficulty sitting/listening at group time’. ‘what the flipping Nora do you expect (family friendly version)’, I said to myself, ‘She’s TWO!!
I knew that these targets weren’t down to the nursery staff, they are just following guidelines. Ridiculous, unachievable, non age appropriate guidelines set out by Ofsted. Good old Ofsted who is now calling for all children to attended nursery from the age of two, to give them the ‘best start to school life’. Because us parents, aren’t educating our children properly at home apparently, and those from the poorer socio economic backgrounds are right in the firing line for not teaching their children to count to 100 and be able to write a short story in French by age two. We can count the yellow cars passing a window, make cakes, read books at home till we’re blue in the face, that’s not good enough for Ofsted. They want statistics, tests, grades, more children classed as having ‘Special educational needs’ (a two year old to sit still for story time, seriously?!).
So my response to Ofsted has been to remove Emily from nursery. So I now have a whole extra 7.5 hours a week, at home. More hours to spend working on Emilys social skills at softplays, her artistic skills drawing, paintings, sticking whilst sat at the table with me, and taking her places as the summer approaches, to continue learning about her environment.