Parents need checklist of skills to teach children

The head of Ofsted has called for “minimum requirements” to be introduced, to ensure children are properly prepared for education.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has said that parents should be issued with a checklist of essential skills to teach their children, as many infants start school unable to use the toilet or even speak properly, the Telegraph reports.

Publishing Ofsted’s first annual early years report, Ofsted’s chief inspector said that children should master skills such as toilet training, behaviour boundaries, recognising their own name and talking in sentences. “The minimum requirements that every child needs to meet should be so familiar, so well established, so obvious, that you could stop anyone in the street and they could tell you the basics,” he said.

Sir Michael also said that families from the poorest neighbourhoods are being let down by a “confusing” system which is leaving the most disadvantaged youngsters without a decent start in life. He called for the various types of childcare to be rebranded with a common language to make it easier for parents to choose between them, and for the admissions system to be overhauled to give priority places in primary schools to poor pupils.

Nancy Stewart, an independent early years consultant, criticised Sir Michael’s checklist as “very low-level”. “There is a lot of evidence about what counts in children’s later success and it is not putting on your shoes and going to the toilet, and even being able to recognise your name,” she said. “It is things like being confident, being curious and motivated.”

Have you taught five year-olds who lack the basic skills on Sir Michael’s checklist? Share your experiences with the Eteach community!

7 thoughts on “Parents need checklist of skills to teach children

  1. Please can he put the ‘behaviour’ bit at the top of the list.
    Please can he also generate a list for expected ‘behaviour’ from the parents?
    There is a very high need for this type of thing in order to combat the ‘lazy parenting’ of the day…

  2. How about a checklist for the types of skills expected for people who hold a position of power and/or authority within the Early Years Education sector …

  3. Completely agree. I think it is so bad how parents do not get involved with their child’s development. The children can benefit so much more with continuous encouragent and learning outside the classroom. Some parents seem to think that it is all down to the school. Yes the school develops the child’s learning and provides material for them to learn from for homework but parents do not get involved and get their children to learn properly so therefore they do not learn to speak properly or develop as fast as they should be.

  4. Parents are having to work increasing hours and to deliver their children to formal childcare early till late, and maternity leave is under attack; support for impoverished and underprivileged parents is dwindling. This sounds as if poorer parents are being blaming without being empowered to make positive changes.

  5. I think one example that encapsulates the general type of upbringing and parental mindset that is very common today is the fact that school shoes are now usually made with velcro fastenings, instead of shoelaces, in order to make it easier to put on shoes. Is it any wonder that children are so lacking in essential skills such as holding a pencil correctly, using a ruler and pencil to accurately draw flat 2-D shapes and tying a tie…

    Last Christmas I brought my grandchildren ( ages 6,7 and 9) with their respective parents out to an upmarket restaurant on a social occasion. Their lack of table manners, behaviour and general attitude was uncivilised to say the least and prior to the outing the amount of games etc brought to entertain them was laughable. The food was barely touched due to it not being to their liking, cutlery not used properly or not used at all, siting down was an option thus walking around was okay and all of this was totally accepted by the parents; apparently children have a choice and reprimanding them was not really good for their self-esteem…Need I say more and both parents are professional high earners and university graduates.

  6. My daughter starts primary school in Sept (I teach secondary). I hope (and am sure) she knows the basics although she is currently undergoing medical referrals for toilet training problems. She is capable of going on her own but keeps wetting herself (which she can deal with herself too!)
    I had an interesting conversation with her Nursery manager who said that they are not allowed to give them pictures to colour in or suggest how they might draw something as this “spoils their creativity”. She said it was no wonder kids could not hold a pen correctly or have the fine motor control for writing when they were so restricted. She is old school and very aware that it is the social parts of school readyness that are important but feels she is very restricted by current OFSTED dictats. Sounds like the rest of us!

  7. Sir Michael Wilshaw is spot on. I presume Nancy Stewart, the Early Years Consultant has never been near to a primary classroom as she states that there is evidence that lack of toilet skills etc does not count in later success.

    The fact is that the learning of every child in a classroom is affected negatively if teacher time is having to be spent on supervising toileting, handwashing etc. Children are prevented from play while breaktimes are spent almost entirely in supporting children with their personal needs/outdoor clothing. And every P.E. lesson is shortened while time is spent supporting those who cannot dress/undress independently. Of course teachers welcome Velcro shoe fastenings – so that those with shoes on the wrong feet can as quickly as possible put them on the right ones. It only needs a few children in a class who are not trained to be tidy and it is not just left/right confusion but children with two left shoes of different sizes, the wrong pair of tights/shirt etc. etc. etc.

    This should not be interpreted as a social class issue. In fact children from dysfunctional families often stand out because of their independence – 5 year olds adept at nappy changing/dressing younger siblings has never been unusual. This is instead a ‘hard working’/competitive parent issue. That is why a checklist for these basics is important – to redirect these parents. Parents have been under pressure from previous checklists (formed by Blunkett et al) for children to have 3 R skills on school entry. Too many children arrive at school feeling failures already because of the clumsy and inappropriate 3 Rs teaching by competitive/anxious to please parents – hence many behaviour issues. In fact there is ample evidence that children having formal education introduced at a much later age than in this country (the Scandinavian model) zoom off with high attainment when it is eventually introduced; it is introduced at the right time and they haven’t had the years of failure that the English system establishes for so many groups.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>