This week's #wednesdaywisdom comes from Hannah - the face behind @heymissreception on Instagram. Here she shares with us what to expect when teaching in Reception.
Hi guys! I'm Hannah, I am the face behind @heymissreception on Instagram. I'm the one that clogs your feeds with pretty notes and SEN mind maps. I trained at Edgehill University graduating in 2018. After graduating I was a reception teacher in Bedfordshire in a three-form school from ages 2-13years old. However, during the pandemic, I moved up to Blackpool to be with my partner. Currently, I am starting as a supply teacher until I can find something more permanent. I'm the sort of person who needs a coffee, is at school at the crack of dawn, and wishes they were first out the door but never seems to happen. At the weekend you can often find me scrolling through Instagram, watching Netflix, or at the pub. I have a passion for Special Educational Needs in mainstream settings and supporting teachers to support their children.
How reception works.
I have two mottos to live by in reception the first is never make playdough or gloop in a hurry (you can guarantee it’s the day the flour goes everywhere!) The second is the weather dictates what kind of day you will have (if its windy then the children will be wild).
Every school has a different approach when it comes to how they structure their day depending on their school beliefs and what works for their cohort of children. The day is a mixture of whole-class teaching, group sessions, and continuous provision (Learning through play.)
Whole class teaching or affectionately known as carpet time for the obvious reasons, it takes place on the carpet. In September some schools keep these sessions short and sweet at only 5 minutes at a time like singing or circle games. As the year goes on these sessions get longer to last 20-30minutes. However, this is very dependant on what the cohort can cope with and the engagement level.
Whole class sessions tend to be literacy and maths where the children learn skills they may not on their own. It's a chance for the teachers to model good practice such as gathering information from stories or adding and takeaway.
An important part of Early Years is circle time. This is where you can help build relationships in the class that foster inclusion. Circle time is a great time to work on any class issues that they are having for example worrying about changes in the schedule, how to use a tissue properly. It’s important for children to feel heard and valued that way they will become more confident in expressing their views and will be more likely to share their worries with you and their friends.
Group work is with a small group of children and an adult not always the class teacher. The children don't have to be ability group based but sometimes this is preferred for tasks like guided reading and writing to help give the right support to the group. Often this is in a quiet part of the classroom or if you are lucky enough in a separate room.
For reading or writing this is a change for the children to show off what they can do while the teacher can assess their abilities. This also allows the adult to give more in-depth support that isn’t always possible in whole-class teaching. This will often be recorded in some way such as books or a teacher record to help with plans and data drops.
Group work can also be used for interventions to help children who need extra support not just academically. Previously I've used this time for confidence-boosting activities, supportive games to help with sharing or lift-off to language to help develop children’s speech sounds and sentence structure.
Continuous provision will make up most of the day in September. It’s the thing Early Years are famous for…play. This is where EYFS teachers get cross because there's so much more to it than that.
There are several areas of learning that are in the classroom but the common and most recognisable are; reading, mark making (writing), maths, messy, role play, small world, creative, construction, sand, and water. These areas help children to develop their interests, re-enact home life, explore the world around them and develop their social skills just to name a few!
Here are 3 of my favourite areas of learning:
The Roleplay or home corner is always popular and one of the most common elements in the classroom. It’s a great place to learn about the children's' homelife and find out who loves to give orders in the class! Throughout the year, extra objects get added that link to celebrations and the topics to give children experiences of different cultures and develop their language skills. Kitchens allows children to talk about the foods they like opening up the chance to talk about healthy choices. Dressing up items help with imagination and independence with getting dressed this is a big help when it comes to PE!
The most Instagrammable place in the classroom has to be the reading area. This area often includes puppets, phonic resources, and of course books. It is vital to make sure the books in your classroom are varied not just the class favourites but include decodable books and represent the children in your class. A great thing to add in is magazines! I used to get loads from the parents when their children had read them and used the stickers. The reading area is an easy place for children to practice their reading skills (Obviously!) but also with the phonic resources you will also find the children pretending to be you and ‘teaching’ the other children the phonic phonemes (sound). Many times, I have seen the reading area filled with clipboards, pens, flashcards, and a sassy 5-year-old version of myself shouting “SSS for snake, your turn SSS for snake.”
You can’t mention early years and not talk about the messy area you either love it or hate it! I am a lover, not just to play in but to plan for as it’s so open-ended anything goes. Activities such as play-dough help develop the arm joints these are required for writing, gloop (Cornflour and water) are great to explore textures and changes in materials as its both solid and liquid. Frozen objects and salt explore changes of state but also links to animals and their habitats. Bird feeders help children to learn about the world around them and the changing seasons.
The possibilities for learning are endless is the fun the children have!
In reception its always remember; there will never be enough whiteboard pens, the glue lids will always go missing and at one point or another a child will wipe their nose on your top.