From Year Five to Year One: What I’ve learned so far…

So, I’m two weeks in to teaching Year One. Going from teaching ten-year-olds to five-year-olds has been a fair old shock to the system – I’m loving it, but it is taking some getting used to! Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Shiny stickers are basically magic.

STATEMENT: ‘Ooooh, isn’t Natalie sitting beautifully on the carpet? Natalie, have a shiny sticker.’

EFFECT: Twenty-nine children suddenly sitting up straight, arms crossed, ready to LEARN. And to get shiny stickers.

Five year olds need stuff to do in the morning.

Thank goodness for my sagacious job share partner, who casually mentioned that I might want to put out ‘jobs’ on the tables for the kids to do when they came in. I had not even THOUGHT about this. Talk about green. Can you imagine the chaos that would have ensued? The running around? The swinging from coat pegs? The tearing of hair (mine)?

(My Year Fives arrived to me each September ready-trained. They would come in to the classroom each morning, get out their reading books and their pencil cases, sit down, shut up, and crack on. I fondly remember one of my first days of teaching Year Five, when I’d written up a to-do list on the whiteboard. This to-do list was purely for my own benefit, as I am a scatter-brain and liable to forget anything that I don’t write down and superglue to my own face. Ten minutes into registration, I suddenly realised that my organised little kidlets had noticed the to-do list, and without my saying anything, were steadily working their way through the tasks. Bless their cottons.)

Needless to say, my Year Ones do not do this. So every morning, I bung a box of building blocks and a carton of felt-tips on the tables. Works like a dream.

Five year olds need their lunch cutting up for them.

I was so useless on my first Key Stage 1 lunch. First, I tried to send them out to the playground at the start of lunchtime. They all just lined up outside the classroom, clutching their drinks bottles.

‘What are you waiting for?’ I asked.

‘You need to take us to the dinner hall,’ they said.

Because of course, Year One go into lunch first. Hadn’t thought of that. So I led my little crocodile of kidlets into the hall, got them all sat down, and then the lunchtime assistant asked me for the lunch list.

‘What lunch list?’ I asked. (Can you see a pattern emerging?)

Turns out, there is a list of what each child has ordered for their hot meal, which I have to bring with me to the dining hall because five year olds can’t be expected to remember their dinner order.

Lunch list obtained, I headed over to the benches to check that my kiddos were okay, ready to disappear to snatch a few mouthfuls of lunch myself in the staff room. But, wait… There is a little voice by my elbow…

‘Please can you help me cut up my fish?’

‘And my fish…’

‘And mine…’

Yeah. My lunch had to wait a little while.

Five year olds cry. A lot.

Oh man.  They cry over flipping everything. Saline and snot dot com. However, whereas Year Fives are less likely to cry, when they do cry (because they have, for example, fallen out with a friend at playtime) they are likely to sulk for the remainder of the school day, no matter how much their teacher entreats them to cheer up and join in with the rest of the class. A Year One’s tears, on the other hand, can be quickly dried by the appearance of a shiny sticker. (See above: Shiny stickers are basically magic.)

Five year olds don’t generate much marking.

Seriously now. A sentence instead of five pages per child. TOTAL FREAKING BLISS.

Five year olds join in when you tell them stories.

Hands down, this is my favourite thing so far about Year One. They listen to stories, and they LOVE bits that repeat so that they can join in. Reading Room on a Broom the other day, that chorus of ‘Whoosh! they were gone!’ from thirty little voices pretty much slayed me.

So, yeah: Year One, I am becoming a convert.

What’s your favourite year group to teach? Have you ever done a major year group change? How did you find it?

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