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Should you really be grading a 3 year old?

Should you really be grading a 3 year old?

Should  we judging work like this, or just giving praise?

Should we judging work like this, or just giving praise?

At the end of last term we got the second school report for our 3 year old son, who has just completed his second term in Spanish state school.

It’s very early to start formal schooling, any child turning 3 that calendar year can be accepted, meaning many kids start when they are just 2! Our son was ready for it, as he’d been in nursery since he was 10 months old, and needed more discipline and structure, but as his birthday is at the end of September, he’s one of the younger ones and it shows.

It’s a lovely school in the small Spanish village of Manilva, warm and welcoming and everyone is very kind. I also like the old fashioned discipline of needing to stand in line outside the classroom, have allocated seating in the class and be expected to be independent, so overall I am very happy. However, reading the report at the end of term got me thinking on whether judging them like this when they are so young is really right!

I am in two minds about it, because on one hand I appreciate being able to keep track of my child’s progress during the school year, and knowing where he’s weak enables us to support him further at home to improve. On the other hand, the general comments and expectations of them seem like a lot for a little person to be able to live up to, and I don’t want him to be getting into trouble just for being an energetic and inquisitive child.

For example, he was criticized this term for being a hyperactive and talkative child who didn’t like to sit down, found it hard to concentrate and had a poor attitude to work. Now, as an ex teacher, I can imagine this is all very difficult for the teacher to handle and a fair comment, but is it negative? I don’t think being talkative is bad and really to say a 3 year old has a bad work attitude seems a bit excessive. I think it could end up pigeon-holing a child as a certain type within the class (a handful in my son’s case) and once you get a reputation it can be hard for you to break out of it. They have so much energy and spirit at this age (and it is a nightmare trying to get my son to sit down and concentrate) but is it a cause for concern? I don’t think so, but having a report at this stage makes it feel like an issue which needs correcting, which I don’t think is right.

Also, I think it’s so difficult to accurately judge them at this age, a point which has been clearly exposed in our case. We are English and speak nothing but English at home and our son is fluent in English and Spanish, but the first term his report came back to say that his English was “adecuado” which is the grade below good. When we asked our teacher about this, she said that he wasn’t answering when they asked him what the word was in English, or simply saying the Spanish word instead. This meant that several of his Spanish classmates were judged to be better at English than a bilingual English kid! Clearly this is wrong, but I don’t blame the teacher, as she can only judge him on what he says to her, and her English isn’t good enough to do anything more than say “How do you say …. in English”. This brings out the problems with judging such small children pretty clearly, it’s not that they can’t do something, perhaps it’s just that they can’t (or won’t) show that they are able to.

I would love to hear your views, it’s a difficult one to judge and nothing which will change over night, but maybe they should hold off the marking for the first year? Please share on social media, as it would be great to start a discussion!

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