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Reception - The Best Way Forward...


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What do you guys think is the best way to organise a Reception class in light of the Foundation Stage Guidance? Every time I go on a course or visit another school and I talk to other teachers, everyone seems to be doing something different.

 

In our school we have organised what used to be three seperate reception classes of 20 into one big Reception 'unit' of 60 children. The 3 classrooms are all connected to each other and each room contains a different 'area', for example one room is the messy creative room, and the other room contains the construction and small world toys.

 

We use the plan, do, review structure of High/Scope to organise our day and the children can choose to do anything they like within the unit - believe me when I say this has been a very contentious issue with staff and the senior management team because when children have a free choice things naturally become messy and noisy and it takes a lot of hard work to keep the children ethused and interested. But I've stuck by it.

 

The big pressure I feel from my SMT is literacy and numeracy. They say that the children are not reading enough or writing enough, that their handwriting is not good enough, that there is too much free play - and their solution to this? More, more work in books! More, more formaility! and that horrible term that they keep using...more, more structure! "Arrggh" I say, " cant you see that we are structured already? How is more and more formal literacy and numeracy teaching going to be better than good, solid planned plan opportunities"?

 

What I want to know is how to organise the day to get the best balance between deep learning through creative, imaginative play and making sure they can form letters correctly or know all 45 high frequency words. How have other people done it? I really believe in plan/do/review - it would be a shame to loose it.

 

Right, got that off my chest. Thanks for taking time to read my plea!

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Chris-

That's a lot to cover! I am the Reception teacher at my school- and also on the smt team- and I had to do a BIG PR job for the early years- as it was regarded by a lot of other staff as a time when the children 'just' played- not realising that this play was in fact their work!!!!

To convince them that the play was actually highly structured (your hated word- but very important when you come to review) I shared my planning process with them, including long, medium and short term planning. But what convinced them was my assessments including; individual child tracking and observations and comments on individual children's progress within the early learning goals. This showed that the children were doing things for a purpose and that they were being closely monitored. It also showed that Reception teachers have a huge workload- more than I have ever had to do when teaching other year groups. It certainly stopped the comments such as- 'what would you know, you're in Reception!'-or- 'time for you to go off and play!' I do try and refer to everything we do as work.

 

For the first two terms we have a lot of child initiated activities- but even these have to be planned for- in terms of the type of learning experiences you are offering the children. For the remainder of the timetable the staff work with a group of children while the other children work in groups on teacher directed activities, such as guided reading- where we can record progress with the NLS words :o In the final term we begin to be more 'structured' - as other teachers would see it- in preparation for the formalised NC in Yr. 1. But we do continue with CI activities, plus lots of PE, art/dt, dance and drama. I hope that we will come in line with Wales and move the FS into Yr 1, how can 5 and 6 year olds benefit, creativelyand emotionally, from the numeracy and literacy hours? Where is the joy?

 

Anyway I've written a lot and not said very much!! Its a matter of convincing people that everything you do has a pupose and that you are aware of all the outcomes. Your setting sounds a very exciting, stimulating place!

 

Claire

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Hi Chris

I'd be really, really interested to find out how you have done this exactly.

 

We had the same idea last September, when we took in all our 90 children for the year but for many reasons we abandoned it and returned to 3 classrooms in February.

 

Some formalities have been thrown out along the way but I feel that we have now moved backwards and I'd really like to try again.

We as teachers found it difficult to give up ownership of our own spaces and in handing that to others it was difficult to maintain tidy areas that everyone was comfortable working in. The children refused to move through the space or did so unprofitably which was also a nightmare.

 

We have thrown away "playtime" as an outdoor break but tend not to free flow outside as much as we know we should. Because we have no grassed area in our school and share our outside space with everyone else, needing to clear the climbing frame we have been bought to improve our provision, it is quite difficult to get excited about going outside. All equipment also has to be carried in & out and removed for main school play & lunchtimes.

However with increased flexibility inside and longer stretches without interuption the children are more involved and calmer!!

 

I am also fighting to keep joint planning on the agenda, although I think we've planned together and will all do the same so there is equality of provision/ experiences for the children the others always find other things to do. I've no wish to cramp individuals and eceyones teaching will be slightly different as you impose your own personality etc into the situation but 1 class this week is making papiermache bowls and t that wasn't in my planning nor was it offered as an activity when we discussed our ideas.

(As coordinator I formalise all the plans.)

 

I'd be really interested to hear more of what you do!

 

Have just seen your latest comments and have copied my previous response to your introduction.

I am on the SMT in my school and have the full support of my headteacher. I can appreciate that it can be hard if you don't feel supported. But what youre doing sounds good to me.

Are you High scope trained or is it an idea you've picked up along the way? I have heard a high scope trained teacher talk about how she runs her nursery and how she adapts the model to suit her and her children. It sounds really good but I'm not sure I could just implement it!

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Sub?

 

We utilise our outdoor area as much as possible- but our main problem is that the children cannot be seen from the classrooms and therefore need an adult in attendance. What do you do to supervise chidren who want to use the outdoor areas if all adults are being used elsewhere?? In my setting there are 42 Yr R and 2 class teachers plus a TA attached to a child with SEN and a NN for 1 morning a week.

At the moment I do allow groups out unattended and check up on them occasionally- and sometimes the outside is a 'Teacher' focus- but it would be wonderful if I could utilise the area fully without having to worry about what might be happening.

 

Do you have time allocated in the timetable for planning? I'm in the process of implementing sessions first thing in the mornings where I meet with staff and we discuss the objectives for the day, concerns, etc while the children carry on with their chosen activities. Meetings last for 20-30 mins and it means we all have a shared vision for the way the day goes. A colleague has used this successfully- and during an ofsted inspection- who were impressed by the working relationships.

 

Claire

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its great to see that some of you have managed to get play into the reception and sad to see that for some it is still a prickly subject

 

I would just like to say "keep trying, Rome wasnt built in a day" and sometimes its easier to work one activity at a time until play is more accepted into the routine

 

when I first took over my preschool I was so enthusuastic It was my first leadership position I tried to take a radical "all change" apraoch to playgroup and the parents couldnt cope with the change I soon learnt that people dont like change and most ideas need to be implemented Very very slowly and gradually. its probably the same all over, introduce play gradually until the reception year and the teachers might be more receptive to the idea of integration (i know its frustrating to wait)

 

the foundation stage is new and its going to take a while before everyone is familiar with its less formal approach and also respect the fact the recepion has its own curricullum with its own goals and not to overlap with Key stage one, the children will not learn more for starting early. infact it works the oposite - the later a skill is learnt the quicker and more effective it is mastered, most people have seen the evidence that children who are late walkers, late out of nappies and so on catch up with in weeks of there peers once they have aquired the skill.

 

Across Europe the majority of formal learning doesnt start til 6+ and at 7 they have overtaken many of our childrens level of reading.

our children are being pushed to read and write before they are ready and so they are loosing interest before they are really mature enough to learn the skill and this is why so many children are failing to learn

 

persivere with the formal teachers slowly they will get use to the different aproach.

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I like the idea about your meetings claireudal, but I dont think it would work in my setting. I think it would depend on the background of the children you have. For example, the local area around my school is made up of families on low incomes and with various social problems. This in turn has led to children coming into school with skills in many areas well below the national average, especially for things like independence. They find it difficult to play co-operativelly and have very limited concentration spans. However, finding times for meetings is very important, esp. with the need for staff communication regarding the new profiles. God knows what I'm gonna do!

 

As for outside times, we will be staffing our outside area with at least one qualified adult - I think you can leave yourself open to legal issues if the children are left unsupervised. What would happen in the case of an injury or an escapee?

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Hi Sub -

It's interesting to hear that your outside space is not enclosed and shared with the other year groups. I imagine that must impose a fair few restrictions. I think it's important to have a set aside area where you can feel comfortable with the boundaries if you're going to have a relaxed free flow between indoor and outside play. How do you feel about your setup?

 

Steve.

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So how exactly is your daily routine organised in your setting claireudal? Do the children come into your setting and choose something straight away or is there carpet time first? Do you work with groups daily on Literacy and Numeracy tasks? Do the children initiate their own learning or are they directed to play activities that have been organised by adults?

 

Just how is a normal day organised?

 

In answer to your question Sub what we do is far from perfect and needs changing but at the moment we have half an hour of whole class Literacy teaching first thing then myself and my colleague take a group of 12 children each for Literacy work. The rest of the children in the unit split into groups and plan their own activities with a classroom assistant. They then carry out their 'plans' having free movement between three areas. Our 2 classroom assistants support the play whilst we are teaching. Once I have finished one group of 'formal' teaching with 12 I have another group of 12 to repeat the same task, differentiated to the ability of the group, (I do this because I had pressure from my line manager that "EACH CHILD HAS TO COMPLETE ONE PIECE OF LITERACY AND NUMERACY A DAY" ). I then have got the pressure of changing reading books, changing the high frequency words that we give the children to take home. So from 9 o'clock until our playtime at 11, I have done hardly interacted with the childrens play at all. This is obviously not the right way forward and is why I posted my plea in the first place.

 

After playtime we have a 40 minute numeracy lesson, and after dinnertime have 5 groups of 12 working on adult directed creative and knowledge and understanding activities. And we also go to assembly everyday.

 

help :o

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Claireudal

I agree with Chris that you could let yourself open to all sorts of problems having the children unsupervised outside. We currently have a similsr set up to you - 2 classes in reception with 42 children plus 1TA for hearing impaired children and the occasional student.

We started the year having free flow times between the two reception classes and outside, alternating the class that was used each day. So 1 teacher would go outside, the other would stay in and the TA who is excellent would work wuith her children and 1 or 2 others on specific tasks from their IEPs. This worked for a while but then the children started to lack directiion a bit so we changed it after christmas and now we alternate the class that goes outside and they all go. The nursery also shares the space so we share the setting up but we still cover the curriculum but outside instead. This works really well and the teachers mix directed activities with free choice just sa they would inside. Its also a great time to do observations. If there are complaints about literacy or numeracy I pull out the curriculum guidance and point out what aspects we are covering in our activity (eg using the water for maths; writing in the sand....).

Hope this helps.

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Hi Chris,Its been interesting reading your posts.I teach reception here in Spain and so have 90 percent EFL kids.Like you it seems that reception class always have the most indepth planning assessment etcYr1s andYr2s seem to get away with very little(in my school)The paper work is very necessary but so time consuming.I was wondering if you could bring in more Literacy and numeracy into art,drama etc.We try to have an equal balance over all areas but its not always possible.Keep at it ! :o

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Hi All

I just wanted to say how much I empathise with you all over how much we agonise over the best way to run the reception class just now.

 

In my classroom I have changed the layout and management so often people are begininng to expect it. :o

 

Currently we have;

Children and parents choose an activity for 15mins,register,brain gym, literacy time ,break, numeracy time,outside play,lunch....then after lunch is KUW/topic work and sometimes when we mix with our partner class.

 

The literacy time is beginning to get more formal than it was last term ( thoughts of Y1 floating above our heads)! I use the plans from the literacy matters site ( with some adaptation) as thse have all the elements that are expected in school .I have 2 SEN TAs who each have 1 child to work with and a part time TA who is class based. I have to try to balance all of their requirements ( Oh ,I forgot about the 2 afternons a week TA who will start next week xD )

along with those of the curriculum coordinators,who need asssessments etc ...

I try to make the learning as fun as I can but sometimes its hard going :D

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I'm really enjoying reading about how you all organise your days. It's encouraging to know there isn't a wrong or right way and that everyone is struggling to make the best of it. This is how I organise my class of 30 children. All 30 children start in September but those children who are 5 after February only attend the morning sessions for the first term.

The first half term concentrates on settling the children into the class and routines. I also spend this time baseline testing them even though it is no longer a legal requirement. I use the baseline test as evidence of having moved them on by the following July!!

The second half term is play based and children are allowed to choose their activities throughout the day. The only exception being one 20 minute session every morning where we all learn a new letter - how to form it - and the sound it makes, and link this to a song we sing. All letters have a kinesthetic movement that accompanies it. The children take home a letter sheet which explains how to form the letter and what the action is to it. Parents are then involved in their children's learning from the beginning of formal schooling.

From January all children attend full-time. During the mornings I introduce a short literacy session which is organised as a carousel of 5 different activities (the children cover a different activity each day). One focus activity (usually recorded in an exercise book) which I oversee and 4 other relevant but less 'evidence based' play activities where the children are expected to stay at one table for the session. My NN oversees these tables. In this way the children are beginning to take ownership of their own learning and I am managing to collect recordable evidence for both myself and any managers/inspectors who need to know. I also fit in 2 or 3 short numeracy sessions each week based on a similar carousel system.

In the summer term I formally introduce the 45 high frequency words (some of which are the same as the reading scheme keywords they have already learnt) and a longer literacy and numeracy session most mornings. This helps the children become accustomed to a more formal and structured way of learning which unfortunately is how they are going to be taught for the rest of their time at school. I feel it is my duty to gently introduce this structure so that they don't react to their year 1 teaching in a negative and destructive way.

Every afternoon throughout the year is dedicated to free play with the other foundation areas being covered with small groups and whole class as appropriate. I believe passionately in cross curricular teaching especially in literacy and try and organise all my literacy teaching around our topics rather than around prescriptive NLS plans. Outside play happens whenever the sun shines! even though this means decamping the whole class outside as we don't have a designated area and there are only 2 of us adults to supervise all 30. It's my belief that anything that can be done inside can also be done outside so I just move everything we need outside with the help of the children and move it all back in again when we've finished. Helps make the children responsible for the classroom resources too.

Anyway hope this maybe gives some of you ideas for your own classes - I'm going to try incorporating some of the ideas I've read from the other emails.

Don't let the b******s grind you down.

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Chris,

 

The response you are getting is great and makes really good reading. The structure of my day is very similar to Jools- only we run the carousel to include both classes and the groups are determined by ability.

 

When the children come in (between 8.40 and 9.00) they self register by removing their name form a board (thanks to adhesive velcro :) ) and placing it on the activity board of their choice which has a limited number of spaces- so if something is full up they have to choose another activity. When they change activity they have to change their name. This has worked really well and we have now got over the stage where they sneakily change other childrens names!

 

 

We also plan around a topic theme and tie it in with all 6 areas of learning- most of these are so interchangeable that if your main objective is K+U you will also be able to include CLL or MD and often both!

In this last term the children start to record their work in exercise books- previously it has been done on paper and stored in a filing unit- and these are only used when the teacher is working with a group. Now we are introducing specific lit and num objectives in their own place in the timetable- about 45 mins before and after the morning playtime. Like Jools' set up the teacher works with a group and the other groups work independently on linked activities- for example- teacher focus 'names starting with a capital letter', activity- making name caterpillars (ch. have to choose appropriate number of caterpillar segments, write a letter from their own name in each section making sure the first is a capital and finally sticking them down in the right order to make a caterpillar). Independent activities: 1) finding capital letters from a selection hidden in the sand 2) matching lower case letters with their capitals 3) using small whiteboards to practice writing capital letters.

 

We have also introduced a 'reading roundabout'- and the children love it- if we had tried to introduce this earlier it would not have worked but by now they are ready. It lasts for 30 mins every morning- usually 9.10-9.30- the teacher has one group for guided reading, group 2 does look, cover, write, check with 6 words from the NLS, Group 3 literacy based games and puzzles and group4 works on handwriting- with small whiteboards. Each day the groups move around and on a Friday the teacher does individual reading with the children who need most support.

 

Thanks for the concern about my unsupervised outdoor play- its perhaps not as bad as it seems- there are glass swing doors to the outdoor area from the reception area that can be left open (depending on the weather)- and it is possible to see the children. The area is also very secure- but it is still a concern. Having a limited number of adults/parent helpers means they cannot regularly be supervised but I hate to limit their experiences. Only a small number are allowed out at a time.

 

Hope some of this helps- and I'm looking forward to reading other responses, ideas, etc,

 

Claire

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Hi All

This topic is really interesting and I have been waiting to reply but have had a migraine this weekend and still don't feel coherent enough to formulate my response.

 

In the area where I work, the Advisory teacher has split us into cluster groups &we meet regularly to talk but I am usually the only Reception teacher that attends in my cluster (not counting my colleagues in my school), although its good to talk to the Nursery school staff, it can be frustrating as their outlook can be slightly different.

Consequently its REALLY good to hear what you all have to say, especially as class organisation is a priority at the moment but more of that another time, as I really am having to correct too many typos at the moment.

 

I'll try again tomorrow

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Thanks Claire and Jools for you posts - made interesting reading. I was just wondering Claire - where do you fit in child initiated learning into your morning?

 

I think getting the balance between child and adult initiated learning is the most difficult thing. I like the idea of a rotation of play based Literacy activities in the morning - but do you think this is too adult directed? Is child initiated learning more beneficial to a child's development?

 

:o

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In answer to your questions- for the first two terms we have CI activities from when the children come in (from 8.40) until 9.45 and then have 45 mins until whole school playtime to have class based activities.

Now we have CI activities until 9.00....... but we also have them in the afternoons worked around PE, drama, etc. After our literacy based carousel we have play that ends at 10.45- we have a snack time until 11.00- a really lovely time for the group and a good time to assess PSED as well as introduce KUW ideas. We then have a carousel of numeracy based activities until 11.45 and then get into our class groups for a story and preparation for lunch.

 

As to being too adult directed- I think that by this time the children need to be pointed in a specific direction- with specified learning intentions. Osmosis only works so far- we are there as educators and can't expect that things will happen by chance. No matter how well you set up a role play area, e.g. the party shop-some children are going to end up having fun popping the balloons you spent the previous evening blowing up :o rather than working collectively counting out the candles in their stock! I know I know- what is wrong with having fun?- nothing but there has to be an element of directed learning.

 

Also it makes life easier when making assessments- you know what you want the children to achieve so you are focused on whether they get there or not. If you are assessing through observations of children at CI activities you will be racing through the ELGs to find the appropriate ones to 'tick' off. To make life easier during the first two terms we do decide on ELGs to look for while children are involved in CI activities- but we do miss a lot- and that is where our own judgements about children are so important- we can say 'I know that Aisha can share and follow the rules of a game- she did it yesterday'- we dont have to 'tick' everything the moment we see it!

 

I dont know if this is THE answer- what do others think?

 

Claire

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Thanks Claire - I'm starting to see things a little more clearly now...It is just getting that balance between adult and child initiated learning right.

 

I think the best way is to see other Reception classes in action. I've organised to go and see a couple of other schools.

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Chris-

I did respond to your questions yesterday- but my reply has disappeared, I don't think I said anything that was too bad- perhaps it got lost in the post! :o

In the first 2 terms we do CI activities from when the children come in (from 8.40 t 9.45) we then have 45 mins for class based activities before whole school playtime. We have a dedicated snack time for 15 mins after play then its back to work on a carousel of directed activities- but with plenty of scope for the children to approach them and develop them in their own way.

 

In this final term we have CI activities until 9.00- then reading roundabout, literacy activities and numeracy activites after snack. The afternoons are spent on CI activites fitted in around drama, pe, etc.

 

I did say that at this stage the children should be ready for more directed activities- these should not inhibit 'creative' learning and there should still be an opportunity for them to initiate their own learning. A balance is required and it's working this into a timetable that also fits in with the rest of the school that can make life difficult. For example- I dont understand why Reception children should attend school assemblies every day- sometimes yes- to share in the school ethos and to feel part of the big picture- but a lot of the time it goes over their heads. Our Reception don't start attending whole school assemblies until well into the first term- and then only ones deemed appropriate where they can participate in an active way. Admitedly school assemblies are a good time to have staff meetings!!!!!

 

I'd like to know how others fit in with being part of a whole school and how they fit in with the constraints of a school timetable- e.g. how is time allocated for the hall? It certainly takes a bit away from the sponaneity of an activity if you can't go outside at a given time because 'others' are there.

 

Claire

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Hi All,

hope this isn't going dead on me, now I've a few moments to respond.

Its really good to hear how everyone is managing their Reception classes and I wanted to explain what we have been trying to do.

I think the definition between adult and child initiated play is a really tricky one. Some of the carousels that you are describing would seem to be adult initiated but if the child is choosing within this, can it be child initiated and how do you allow for "undirected" free choice if you are providing a carousel of activities?

When does the adult as a facilitator start being a dictator?

 

We have 3 classes of 30 children within our setting and for the first time lasrt September admitted the whole year group in together. I have the oldest and the youngest child in the year group in my class, 1/9 & 31/8!!

Our feeder nurseries (of which their are 2 main, but with the majority coming from 1) had severe misgivings but the children have coped brilliantly because we have adjusted our provision continually.

 

It has been great from my point of view as there has only been one settling period, one baseline (as we had to do that last September) and far greater continuity of learning for all. The youngest children have actually got time for some quality learning instead of just settling and the older children have not been disrupted by the class growing.

 

We started the year with our 3 classrooms set up as curriculum areas with the intention that the children would have a home base and then free flow into the different areas and outside.

Our timetable allowed for a teaching focus after registration, in the middle of the morning and after lunch. We abolished morning "playtime", but have 15 minutes at 10.30 when the main school are outside(playtime), to have fruit and staff have a break. (Each class has a teacher, NNEB & LSA(am)).

 

We have immediate access to a fenced area containing a climbing tower and train which was provided to allow us to offer more appropriate outdoor facilities in 2000. This opens into the main playground. The school itself is very old (80 yrs?) and is 3 sides of the recangle in shape. There is another playground at the end of the school. The older children have turns to use the climbing frames at playtime & lunch and if noone else is using the main playgrounds we access it. Anything we set up within our fenced area has to moved aside. This can be a problem and we've not managed to set up our outdoor area to be as accessible as we would wish. We have no covered areas outside so it can be difficult in the rain or if very hot.

Outdoor play seems to have 2 conflicting views: how do you take your indoors out and not mirror your indoor provision?

On the whole we seem to have evolved into spending mornings inside and going outside in the afternoon but I would prefer to use it more equally but don't seem to be able to get over the constraints we see.

 

By Feb halfterm we gave up on the curriculum areas as the children refused to move except with their teachers, teachers found it difficult to take ownership of others bases or to relinquish ownership of their own and teaching focus times were being inhibited by the need to vacate the space for someone else to take over. The children were also restless as they rediscovered a different room and didn't settle to activities easily.

 

We are now moving into more formal teaching and need to implement literacy & numeracy hours and a morning playtime but at the moment we're concentrating on profiles, observing to fill our holes!

 

Any suggestions gratefully received!

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Hi Susan -

hope this isn't going dead on me, now I've a few moments to respond.

These things sometimes go quiet for a day or two, so don't panic! I think the enthusiasm of the previous conversation will carry this topic forward for some time yet.

 

By the way, for anyone who hasn't spotted it, at the bottom of every topic screen is a little icon saying 'Track This Topic'. If you check the associated checkbox, you'll be notified by email everytime someone replies in the topic, and given a link to go straight there.

 

Hope this helps. :)

Steve

PS - I'm following the topic with bated breath, so I'll add my plea to susan's...

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Hi Susan,

 

I think the plan/do/review process would of helped your children. By planning their own learning the children should start their play with more focus and with a goal in mind.

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Hi Chris,

We were operating a semi plan/ do /review in as much as we got together to talk about what was being offered in every area and we were & do pull everything together with a plenary, although children's interpretation of their time seems until very recently to be 'playing'!!

 

As I mentioned earlier I have talked with a trained High -Scope practioner & am aware that what she does is different but her whole set up is also geared to plan/do/review. Plus she's got a brand new nursery now not Reception. That sounds very negative & I don't mean to be.

 

Both my teacher colleagues like to actually work in a very structured way and I'm not sure they could cope as I think they'd think the children were in control, which may actually have had something to do with the breakdown, although they can't see that!

 

Anyway something else for me to think about once I've got profiles out of the way which are proving to be quite a dilemna.

I've a distinct feeling its going to be hard not to teach to the profile, as so many of our observations don't seem to match up.

 

Susan

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Hi everyone

This has been such interesting reading - seeing as how we are all working with the same age group and using the Foundation Stage Guidance - yet it seems as if the children are having very different experiences of being in a Reception Class.

Luckily we have an Early Years trained head, and she is supportive of us being less formal, with more child initiated experiences. We have removed ourselves from school playtimes and have a choice of whether we attend assemblies or not (we didn't to begin with, but have done so since about Christmas).

 

My difficulty is that I seem to be doing far too much literacy work - with individual and guided reading, work on high frequency words, Popat (a phonic programme) not to mention writing(emergent) and letter formation/handwriting not forgetting whole class sessions with the 'big book'. Group and individual tasks are undertaken by myself or my excellent learning support assistant. These activities seem to take up the whole time - so what do we drop in order to spend the time we know we should be spending on observations and supporting the other areas of learning. How do other people fit it all in?

 

Like others we did try running the whole reception (2 classes ) as one, with an open door and free low of movement. This worked very well for the children who moved about very freely - the staff found it much more difficult - knowing what 'their children' had been doing - and we were about to introduce room swaps when other circumstances arose and the door was shut! It was only going to be temporary - but it has lasted a long time. There were a lot of advantages of the open door, one being we quickly got to know all the children in Reception and they had access to a greater number of supportive adults particularly in the settling in period. (All children started part-time up to October half term - regardless of age).

 

Can anyone give me more information on the plan, do, review structure of High/ Scope?

 

Thanks for all the other contributions - so nice to have such a relevant site.

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Hi Bernice,

 

The plan/do/review stucture of High/Scope is an excellent way to empower children. By taking away the decision making from adults and giving it to children, you are developing independence, self-esteem, co-operation and creativity - all vital life skills.

 

Firstly, the children 'plan' what they want to do in their play. Ideally, they would sit in a small group of no more than 10 and use a variety of props to communicate their intentions to an adult. For example, they could use a pretend telephone to tell someone what they want to do, or take it in turns to wear a special planning hat or even draw their plans. The adult tries to get them to be specific. A conversation might go like this:

"What are you going to do today? Put the planning hat on and tell us."

"I'm going to play in the sand"

"Wow! In the sand! What kinds of things are you going to do in the sand"

"Play pirates"

"That sounds great! You could build a pirate ship"

"I'm going to hunt for treasure!"

 

And now the child has focus in mind and should not be wandering around aimlessly.

 

So now the opportunity is their to 'do' - the second part of the process. The children carry out their plans, supported by adults. Imagine all the early learning goals that could be reached by this Pirates activity and with good interaction from an adult the learning potential can be massive.

 

Finally the review. Brain research indicates that for a person to commit something to memory there needs to be a recall time where emotions are shared and praised. The children bring their creations to show and adults can praise and extend good practice. Literacy and Numeracy co-ordinators are always talking about the importance of a plenary, well this is our plenary!

 

Hope this helps!

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Chris,

 

Do you have a large number of adults in your setting- what is the ratio? I cannot envisage the planning part of plan/do/review unless there are enough adults. It would take forever for 2 staff to listen to every childs plan- what do the other children do while you are taking your group of 10? Similarly with the review- don't the children get fed up of listening to each other? It sounds really good but that you need to have an ideal adult:child ratio.

 

Claire

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Thanks Claire and Jools for you posts - made interesting reading. I was just wondering Claire - where do you fit in child initiated learning into your morning?

 

I think getting the balance between child and adult initiated learning is the most difficult thing. I like the idea of a rotation of play based Literacy activities in the morning - but do you think this is too adult directed? Is child initiated learning more beneficial to a child's development?

 

:o

Hi Chris!

 

am really interested in the theory behind the High/Scope structure you mentioned and more detail about the child initiated activities, could you please tell me more!? i am currently a R/yr 1 teacher (so my yr 1s have had lots more 'play' this year than they would have done in the pure yr1 class!) but next year we are back to 2 R classes which our head wants us to 'team teach'. the other R teacher and i have been to another school to see how they work and we want to share our space more next year. does this fit in at all with what you do?

in response to the outdoor area talk, we stole some of the playground just outside our R classes last september by fencing it off (had to be as cheap as pos) and i dont know how we managed without one before! the children can be so much more active and noisy than if they are confined to a classroom and indoor play is not only taken outside but extended through designing specific outdoor learning 'bays' (eg mini garden area, minibeast area, etc).

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