The Government's guidelines for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) recommended that a record is kept to show what different children are doing, emphasising that effort is worthwhile. Each group is encouraged to provide means for children to keep track of and share their achievements. As the owner of Musical Minis, a preschool music franchise available around the UK, I'm delighted that our programme fits snugly around the EYFS, however, I'm struggling with the idea of whether to record preschool children's abilities.
We've designed an Achievement Card, and if we decide to go ahead with it, every child will be given one to bring along each week to the session. Each milestone on the card will be recognised by the class leader and a sticker will be put on the card. Examples of the milestones are: I followed all the actions; I helped tidy the instruments.
As a Mum of 3 older children, I really can't clarify my views on this. On the one hand, Mums always want their children's achievements to be noticed and the child will enjoy collecting the stickers. On the other hand, shouldn't preschool children be allowed to just learn without having their achievements noted?
Without recording the details, I know my franchisees verbally praise every achievement the children make - isn't this enough? Completing the cards week by week could add an element of excitement for both the child and its carer. The child would have something to take home to show its family. Or by promoting the recording of each child's milestones am I just conforming to a target driven society for toddlers? I know that Nurseries have a recording system but I'm not sure if this should spread to toddlers activity groups. When my 3 were young I just wanted them to play and have fun. I didn't focus on what milestones were reached when. This is really the basis of my whole Musical Minis ethos, Learning Made Fun.
If I did go down the Achievement Card route, I would make it clear that parents would have the right not to join in the scheme. At Musical Minis we encourage all children from every faith, religion, background and culture to mix together. Furthermore, all ages and abilities are facilitated in a single group. Would parents of children with special needs feel excluded or would they be happy if their child's individual achievement card could be tailored and their personalised goals could be recorded?
As Musical Minis is a business I do have to consider if commercially the scheme makes sense. I expect the set up costs will be high but hopefully children will be encouraged to stay on at classes for longer to complete the card and receive their award.
In the 20 years I've been running Musical Minis I have never compromised my beliefs. In this instance I really can't work out what I really feel is the right way forward.
- Is acknowledging, in a formal manner, a child's achievements the same as setting targets for the child?
- Is it purely a bit of fun or is it following the Government's suggestion of recording achievements?
- Is the whole idea of preschool children, in an activity class, being set targets, in whatever manner, ridiculous?
I would really appreciate your views on this matter.
Photo by Flickr Mattedgar