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Balance Between Child And Adult Initiated


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Our nursery were recently observed by an advisory teacher who suggested that there should be a 80% / 20% split between child initiated and adult initiated activities and this included directing children to the toilet, washing hands etc as well as small group phonic type acxtivities, using the ICT suite and having access to the hall for PE type activities (using school facilities and equipment.)

The EYFS does state a balance or did I misread ?


After a recent visit from our SIP (School Improvement Partner) he also advised this split.


This weeks TES had an article discussing this issue where it said the confusion had arisen from the observation of children as evidence for the profile had to be 80% etc and suggested a 1/3 and 2/3 partition of the session. This is not a direct quote just a flavour of an article which I am sure is available on their site ? (some clever person can possibly link it?)


I think that in order for 80% observations of children to be taken from child initiated activities there obviously has to be alot of child initiated learning taking place but how has this number offensive slipped in?


Is this breakdown and analysis of the fascination with numbers happening elsewhere?


Will OFSTED be coming round with timers?


I have put this in the Nursery area as my query starts from there but also applies in my reception class, as with OFSTED looming we want to ensure we all understand the defination of the word balance!



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I think all these things are there are a rough guide only, and certainly no one would be timing it exactly. Of course the initial figures are somewhat arbitrary, but at some point someone has had to make a judgement on what feels right and put it into figures so that others understand what is meant by it. Without the figures it all becomes a bit woolly and open to individual interpretation, which then leads to varying advice being thrown at you, depending upon where that individual had got their information from!


I have always tried to stick to no more than a quarter to a third of the session adult led, and get just about all of my observations whilst the children are playing naturally. :o

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Hi Sharon


I was recently advised by my EECO that adult led included story time, singing, music & movement, snack time

as well as small group phonics and discussion time, so when you add up all that time during a session she thought

this was a good balance. So no doubt you are already providing a good balance of child/adult led in your setting.



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Guest Kristine


I would like to know if the EYFS does state a balance as well - I seem to read so many different articles from so many different sources I can't keep up...!

With all the expectations placed on Reception children, I wonder if the ratio is different for Re and Nursery?? - Not likely I would say...

Any links to articles and information appreciated!


Kristine x

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Practice Guidance p7, 1.19


'The EYFS requires providers to ensure a balance of child-initiated and adult-led play-based activities. Providers should use their judgement and their knowledge of the children in their care in deciding what the balance should be'.


So I guess that leaves it wide open for interpretation.


On a course last year run by our local LEA they stated that 70% of the Foundation Stage Curriculum requires independant learning opportunities.


As previously mentioned, small groups, singing, snack, register, cooking are all adult-led activities on top of adult-initiated activities, such as Easter cards, even those activities set up by the adult in response to observed children's interests are adult-initiated.


The EPPE report states that 'in most effective centres play environments were used to provide the basis of instructive learning. However, the most effective pedagogy combines both teaching and providing freely chosen yet potentially instructive play activities'.


It also states 'Effective pedagogy includes interaction traditionally associated with the term 'teaching', the provision of instructive learning environments and sustained shared thinking to extend children's learning'.






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I think there is confusion re curriculum delivery - from eppe a near balance of adult directed and child initiated opps was seen as best provision (including time for sustained shared thinking which would be half and half anyway) and EYFS which says a balance.


The ratio of independently observed outcomes/ evidence to adult directed outcomes for the purposes of the EYFSP assessment defined as 80/20 by QCA, ie the balance of what I know is 80% observed independent stuff vs 20% stuff from things they have done because I helped them.


Of course some children at different times will need more one way or the other - it's professional judgement but the EYFS is quite clear abouut balance and 80/20 wouldn't be a balance really.


I don't see it as different for any age group in EYFS because they are all covered by the same expectations there.



Edited by catma
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