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New To Preschool And Need Help/ Advice Please


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first of all im new to the forum so hi everyone.

 

background info before i begin.

 

i have a degree in early years and recenttly gained my early years professional status. for the past three years i have worked with under twos and for the past 2 years of those have been leading an early toddler unit (1-2 years) i consider myself to be a bit of an expert with under 3s and the birth to three. the company i work for is opening a new childrens centre and they have asked me to go and be the preschool teacher there, while i am very excited for the new challenege i am slighlty worried as havnt worked with this age before, and as i told my manager i think im gona be a little out of my depth to begin with, but they seem to have faith in me! i know about the eyfs and what it consists of, but have never used the foundation stage or planned for this age.

 

 

in my current room i do my planning based on childrens individual needs and interests, and obviosly with the age range im with its very much about encouraging independence and developing social skills.

 

my role will first of all consist of leading one room of 3-5 year olds but as we become busier the age range will split to one roo the rooms will have up to 24 children each (not that many to begin with though) and we are currently implementing learning journeys so have brief understanding of how to use these

 

 

help needed:-

 

is it better to use topics/themes or follow the childrens needs/interests or a mixture of both and if so how do you do this???

is there any sort of "formal" learning- ie what do you do for literacy and numeracy?

how do you show differentation on the planning?

how do you track progress

could you share a routine with me

 

 

any help would be greatly appreciated

 

thankyou

x

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Hi northernbird and welcome to the forum. Thank you for introducing yourself-looks like quite a challenge for you.

Off out soon so hopefully will be able to answer your questions tomorrow-but I am sure somebody else will be able to do so for you soon.

By the way I have deleted your double posting-makes it easier if replies are all in one place.

Linda

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Hi northernbird - fantastic name! Welcome to the forum.

 

Sounds like quite a challenge you've taken on - very exciting.

 

There has been a lot of discussion on here about topics and themes versus following the children - I'd suggest you do a forum search and have a good look through what everyone has said.

 

I run a rural pre-school with children from 2 to 5 and we have now fully abandoned topics and themes as a planning device. We focus our planning on three children each week, having asked parents to fill in a questionnaire to tell us what they do and don't like doing, family news, what they are particularly interested in at the moment.

 

Then we plan around this information, together with data from our own observations and supporting any schemas we know the child is currently working through. As a follow up we do an individual plan for each child which is kept with their observations.

 

Every so often we have a week when we don't have any focus children: we do an observation week where we focus on filling in any gaps in the child's observations. Obviously not every single area of the pre-school can be in response to individual children - core areas such as the book corner, hollow block construction area and climbing frame etc will remain constant (although often these can be adapted to take account of a special interest!). So we 'fill in the blanks' by making sure that we get good use of resources as well as ensuring that a balanced curriculum is offered - and obviously this includes paying attention to festivals, seasonal events etc.

 

We have an EYFS tracking document on which we fill in the dates of observations which show children demonstrating learning or skills against particular stepping stones. This helps us highlight the need for observations in certain areas of development and learning - not to generate a list of things children can't do. It also enables parents to see how our planning system hangs together, and how activities promote learning in certain areas of learning.

 

As for formal teaching, we do have a 4+ group which offers extension activities designed to encourage the older ones to do a bit more 'sitting down' type learning in preparation for school. However, these activities are still rooted in our learn through play philosophy and don't involve work sheets or anything nearly so formal. The younger children are also drawn into these activities and so we still need to differentiate for various learning styles/stages of development as we do elsewhere in the setting. So activit plans will suggest PLODS (possible lines of development) and ways in which younger children might need more support in carrying out the activity.

 

We are lucky to have a high ratio of adults to children, so staff are always on hand to extend children's thinking and develop their numeracy and literacy skills. That's probably too long a discussion to have here, but we focus on building literacy and numeracy into the experiences we offer children whether by activities or during the daily routine.

 

Hope I haven't bored you rigid - as I say have a good look around the forum and you'll be amazed at all the information on offer!

 

Maz

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Well I think Happymaz has covered enough to be going on with xD just wanted to say congratulations on achieving EYPS and your new job role, How exciting :(

 

Wishing you a warm welcome to the forum, :( as well as doing a search also have a look at Motivational Planning in the articles section, definately worth a read.

 

Good luck, any further questions after your search/read then please don't hesitate, we are a friendly helpful bunch as you will soon discover. :(

 

I look forward to hearing how your new job develops for you, having recently 'retired' it will be great to keep abreast of what's happening in E.Y's in terms of 'in practice', look forward to hearing more from you ( if you have the time :o )

 

Peggy

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Maz I am surprised that you are doing 4+ sessions, we were advised to stop those by your LEA, as it does not give all the children the same opportunities.

 

northernbird congratulations and welcome from me too.

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hi again, thanks for all your replies

 

so i have looked at loads of the planning topics on the forum and read the motivational planning article, all have been extremely insightful if not a little overwhelming trying to take in all of the information and comparing everyones way of doing it.

 

i get the impression that it is personal choice on how the planning is done but dont quite feel ready to make those type of decisions yet in fear of getting it wrong i guess.

 

so the main point i got out of the reading was:-

 

planning should come from the child.

 

i am already used to doing this with my 1 year olds so not planning around topics will be easy.

 

i think for a long term plan- each area of the room (sand, water, construction etc) will have what the children will get out of that area, adult role, resources, vocabulary etc

 

we will have learning journeys, so staff will observe focus children each week and based on the observations, activities will be planned around this, these obs then go into the learning journeys and PLOD will be noted

 

cant remeber who said or where but someone said they do three focus children a week, is this a random number or based on number of keywokers or something else?

 

SO, you now have information on what you need to do next for your 3 focus children- what do u do next???

 

how does this go onto a weekly plan?

does this mean you only have 3 focus activities in the week?

do you do a weekly plan stating what activities your're doing over the week and then a more detailed plan for each focus activity?

 

say you observe child X, and you observe he needs support in CLL, would one of your focus activities be on CLL?

what if the next week you observe child Y and he also needs support in CLL,

as a brief example, wouldnt this mean you are covering CLL more then the other areas?

 

apart from the focus activities you have planned from the children's needs do u need to plan any other adult initiated activities? or is it enough that the children will have access to the focus activity and access to the continuous provison?

 

sorry for the length of the post and the amount of questions, im just trying to get my head around it before i take up my new role.

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ive just read my post back and had another thought,

 

i guess through you observation of a child you wouldnt necessarily say "oh that child needs support in CLL", you are more likely to say "that child needs support or extention in ... skills"

 

Am i correct?

 

but then, still, if in week one you help child X in skill A, then in week 5 child Y needs help in skill A, then arent u just repeating yourself?

 

ah, but then the first child could move on to the next level of that area? so while child Y does A, u would differentiate the activity so child X could do skill B?

 

by jobe i think ive got it!!!!!!!!!!!

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sorry one more question and then ill shut up

 

what about mid term planning then,

 

i assume if you are planning week by week on the childs needs and interests then there wouldnt really be a need for planning on the medium term as u dont know what youll be focussing on in weeks to come??

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Maz I am surprised that you are doing 4+ sessions, we were advised to stop those by your LEA, as it does not give all the children the same opportunities.

 

northernbird congratulations and welcome from me too.

As I said in my post, although these sessions are designed for the older ones the younger ones are not excluded - so we just differentiate for their own ages/stages of development. The only real difference is that we will 'encourage' the older ones to come to the activities a bit more actively (!) - the younger ones enjoy working alongise the older ones and the older ones gain great benefit by having the littlies look up to them.

 

Parents feel as if their 4 year olds are being stretched slightly, and feel that they are being prepared for 'big school' a little more actively. Its a good compromise between the parents wanting us to 'sit them down' and 'work' and our heavy emphasis on learning through play...

 

Maz

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cant remeber who said or where but someone said they do three focus children a week, is this a random number or based on number of keywokers or something else?

 

SO, you now have information on what you need to do next for your 3 focus children- what do u do next???

 

how does this go onto a weekly plan?

does this mean you only have 3 focus activities in the week?

do you do a weekly plan stating what activities your're doing over the week and then a more detailed plan for each focus activity?

I have said in another thread that I first learned about this system from millhill who contributed her planning system on yet another thread last year. When we looked into implementing it in our setting we wondered whether two or three children would be a good number to focus on. We decided on three because it gave us a chance of every child having at least one "Superstar Week" (which is how we refer to the child's focus week) each term, and a maximum of three keyworkers liaising over a week's plan at a time. Incidentally we normally have around 24 children on roll at a time so its a good number to divide by three!

 

When the questionnaires come back to the child's keyworker they get together (whether in person or via email) and see where the similarities and differences are. The keyworkers will then draw up the weekly plan taking into account the various interests of the children, whether it be by utilising part of our regular provision or changing the floorplay/role play areas etc. The weekly plan shows which are the Superstar children this week, and which activities need to be put out (together with any embellishments or additions from the usual). We will also look at our observations and identify any areas of the children's development which require the child to have opportunities to practice or develop a new skill whether it be fine motor skills or whatever.

 

I'm not sure how you define a focus activity - we have one adult-led activity, one 4+ activity and the rest are child-led with opportunities for children to self-select as they feel appropriate. The adult-led activities will have an activity plan detailing resources, adult's role, anti-bias practice etc, and there are plans for each of the other activities showing how they support each area of learning and development (which I guess would be part of the long-term/medium-term plan to show how a balanced curriculum is offered).

 

One thing I didn't mention before was that children's play seems to flow from each other's interests and experiences. Because the questionnaires are sent home two weeks before the child's Superstar week, often the results will reflect on what is going on in pre-school at that time. So popular activities may well be retained for several weeks, but adapted due to the personalities of different children as time goes by. Until we implemented this system we would change everything every week whereas now we find that children are taking their time and developing their own themes and games until they reach their natural conclusion and they move on to something else. The skill comes in the practitioners adding in other resources and props to stimulate their imagination and deepen children's level of involvement.

 

Sorry to have gone on - hope it has made things clearer and not just confused you more!

 

Maz

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ive just read my post back and had another thought,

 

i guess through you observation of a child you wouldnt necessarily say "oh that child needs support in CLL", you are more likely to say "that child needs support or extention in ... skills"

 

Am i correct?

 

but then, still, if in week one you help child X in skill A, then in week 5 child Y needs help in skill A, then arent u just repeating yourself?

 

ah, but then the first child could move on to the next level of that area? so while child Y does A, u would differentiate the activity so child X could do skill B?

 

by jobe i think ive got it!!!!!!!!!!!

I think your observations would highlight a particular child's need to have extra support in a particular aspect of an area of learning. So if you had noticed that a child rarely speaks in small groups you might think about how an activity could promote that outcome for the child - and perhaps a circle time based on something they're really interested in might help. This might be true of several other children, so you might target this by sensitive grouping of children to facilitate an environment that might better promote these children's contributions to discussions.

 

Perhaps a better example might be those children who need practice using scissors - whilst you might target one child because its their Superstar week you wouldn't want this child's only opportunity to have these opportunities restricted to one week a term! So these experiences would be built into lots of different activities in various contexts throughout the setting so that this support is continually available.

 

Maz

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Guest Wolfie

Maz, how do you decide what the adult-led activity will be every day? From observations of the children you are focussing on? And how far in advance do you decide on, plan and complete paperwork for those activities? And who is responsible for completing the paperwork?

 

The nursery I support at the Children's Centre now has a nicely set out room with learning bays for each of the areas of learning but they are still in the very early stages of abandoning topics and I feel that some kind of adult led activity needs to be slotted in on top, so to speak. I can't decide how to go about it, who to give responsibility to and how to manage the day to day planning - the staff NEVER have to opportunitiy to get together as a team, due to shifts, long opening hours, etc., except once every eight weeks, for half an hour!!

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I'm not sure how you define a focus activity - we have one adult-led activity, one 4+ activity and the rest are child-led with opportunities for children to self-select as they feel appropriate.

 

 

is this one adult led activity per day? based on observation of childrens needs and interests?

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