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Free Flow - Monitoring Children's Choices


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Hi, I wondered whether anyone had any suggestions for monitoring where the children play when using a free flow system. Presumably we should have some kind of system in place so that we can tell whether they are covering all the areas of learning or tending to stick to one activity? My worry is that the ride ons are very popular and that some children might play mainly with those and miss out on other things.

 

Also are we meant to ensure that they do spend some time indoors, or is it okay if they stay outside most of the time so long as the activities outside will cover everything?

 

And how do you balance child initiated learning with the need to cover the whole of the EYFS? What if a child never chooses for instance to do mark making and prefers just to mooch in the garden the whole time - is that okay?

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Personally i don't think it's necessary to monitor what they are choosing to do to any great extent. It would be such a mammoth task anyway. Obviously being aware of children's likes and dislikes is important as that is about your overall knowledge of the child but I think all children will eventually access all areas of learning if they are always accessible and also made exciting. This can sometimes be how the areas are enhanced and also how the adults interact with the children. I also find that lots of the areas interlink with each other anyway - i hope that makes sense :o

Edited by SP61HJ
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I think the thing about bikes or ride on play is to engage the children in this by using the other areas - so you would get them mark making may be by introducing pencils and paper to a garaging area, number work by having a numbered parking/bike/ride on storage system etc., if you had the space they could even mark make by riding through a paint soaked sponge onto long sheets of lining paper and they would see their tracks. As long as you are providing activities in all the 6 areas outside they will, as suggested already, eventually access everything. Perhaps you could limit the time you allow certain activities for to "help" the children engage with more traditional activities, so maybe the ride ons and bikes are only allowed for the final half hour or so, or they can run their own "booking system" for use of a bike.

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We monitor the bikes, because the biggest or strongest tend to take the 2 big bikes (we also have 4 little ones) and have some difficulty sharing. So, we made a list where it specifies which 2 students can use the big bikes that day during our 3 outside playtimes. The teacher in duty looks at the list everyday before going outside and tells who it is. This has prevented so many upset spirits :o ! If any of them does not want to use the big bike that day, then s/he can choose who can have it. I also agree with the previous comments to cover the 6 areas.

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surely its about choice by monotring and deciding who what............ it is not choice

by having what the children want will meet their needs and therefore their learning. by self choice the child's well being and involvement will be high and therefore learning will be high

 

if a child chooses bikes everyday that is what he wants, so enhance it dont put them away so he cant play with them

next day, week or month he will be into something else

 

in my experience if an item comes out to be played with occassionally then it becomes a source of facination for everyone if it comes out daily the interest will wear off

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in my experience if an item comes out to be played with occassionally then it becomes a source of facination for everyone if it comes out daily the interest will wear off

 

 

i agree with you suer, we had boys who were consistently choosing to be 'superheroes' and it was beginning to become a problem with guns and shooting, we had many a circle and small group time trying to develop the superhero theme and share the 'good powers' a super hero may have. we continued to let these boys carry out their roleplay, and now after about a month they have slowly began to take an interest in other areas of the room. because when they were super heros, we encouraged them to make masks, and arm bands and biochulars- they now know where to access these modelling resources and make a variety of things!

 

im pleased we allowed them the choice and nutured it rather than banned it, becuase they have learnt many a new skills and developed their social skills and understanding at the same time.

 

all too easily do we steer children away from their choice because it makes things 'easier' for us!

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions, which are really helpful. I particularly like the idea of riding the toys through paint to make tyre tracks!

 

When my son was in reception they used 'planning boards' so that the children made a choice and the teacher could see what they were choosing. Does anyone use something like that?

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at the start of session when we have group time we ask the children to name where they wanted to go and play before they leave the group which means they head to a specific activity rather than wandering around. At the end of session we ask the children "what did you do today" and encourage the children to reflect on something they did it helps to get some idea of where the children have been playing but it's more for the children to think about what they have been doing.

 

most activities cover several areas of Eyfs so I dont think its a worry if a child spends along time playing in one area just look at ways to develop that activity so that it covers more aspects of Eyfs. or dont have the activity out for the whole session so they get to play with something they enjoy but they also have to play with other things too

Edited by Alison
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We have a planning board with photos of toys/rsources etc and we invite about 6 children (on a rota) to choose what they would like to play with at the end of a week a child would have chosen on at least 2 occassions, we also observe the children at play and would add resources to enhance their play. Also if an activity/resource is being underused we would move it to another area, on these hot days children are outside so things are being moved out there, we would also pack away anything if it is not being used and chose another child who appears to be wandering around to go to the choices board and pick what they would like. Also if a child comes up to a member of staff to request a toy we would bring that out also. We have found using this method the children appear happy and engrossed in their chosen play.

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We have as many as want going outside, but then we only ever have about a max of 15, and always with at least 3/4 adults, so 3 could go outside and supervise and still have 1 left over.

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We are only 3 teachers (no other practitioners) for 30 children and these are in 3 different classes from 2 and a half to 5 year olds. That has been the average, but the maximal for each class is 16, although I had 17 last year.

 

We are in a "small" school that also includes Primary and Secondary, with only one playground... so all the playtimes for everyone need to be co-ordinated to take in consideration everyone's needs. We start at 8.30 AM, 15 min outside play at 9.55 AM, 30 min outside play at 11.15 AM and another 15 outside play at 2.05 PM.

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Occanisonally I have monitored a particular child that I may have concerns over- definately not every child! I have made a plan of my classroom and I record where they go, using arrows etc, how long they are there, if appropriate who else was there etc. It can be really interesting to see where they go and how long they stay there etc. But it can take a while to complete and only do it for a very few children (in fact I haven't done one at all this year!)

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