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Providing Enough For Everyone To Do


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xD:( In January we'll have 74 (32 Reception and 42 Nursery)children full time. I've been worrying about space and ratios (we have 6 staff most days some days /times only 4 and 6 toilets) but from what I can gather (PLEASE someone correct me if i'm wrong) in a school with over 4s this isn't a problem (down to the discretion of the head). Putting these worries to one side, my main concern at the moment is that we won't have enough for them to do. We have 3 large rooms and 2 'quiet' rooms where we retreat for group times. We have all the areas set up but I've just counted up how many children each area provides for and we're 10 places short!! :o This isn't a problem when we open up outdoors but we can't have outdoors open all day-can we? :( LEA advised this as way of overcoming problem but we have only recently put a change to the outdoors rota into place (which increases its use) so I'm scared of making too many changes as we haven't got used to this yet (I'm forever forgetting to take my group out!) We've had the tables debate many a time-I don't want to bring any back in but we can't have 10 children 'flitting' or 'charging' about either? I was thinking of allowing more children into-eg the book area. Its a huge space (doubles up as quiet room) but at the moment only 4 are allowed in (we have beads to limit number) but to be honest, they don't always want to go in (some days popular, others isn't). I know our LEA advisor would suggest making the area more fun-having story sacks, puppets etc and itend to do all this but its just TIME!! I want a quick fix solution :D Have got some threading boards where they have to match the word to the picture and alphabet sewing cards which I've had in there before. Anyother ideas of (non writing!) things I could put in there to sustain interest? Oh just thought! Magnetic letters with key words cards. Anything else? Thanks for reading! :)
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oh and by the way, I wouldnt worry about having chairs and tables for everyone to be using at the same time. I didnt in my classroom and it wasnt a problem, except if I wanted everyone to change for PE in the classroom and I soon learnt to do that in the hall! (and it was actually easier for the children there)

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:) Thanks for your reply susan. :D Will have to try those ideas. I don't want to sound negative but with Nursery and Reception its tricky getting the level right. Certain resources just get trashed by Nursery. Maybe we need to 'train' them better though? :o I have story sequence velcroed to wall but doesn't get used that often (novelty wears off quicker than I can change pictures!)

I'm going to make the key words with magnetic letters. In what way have you made sentences? I used to have special 'sentence makers' but can't find them. Have done in books with post-its. What would work well for independent use do you think? Stuck on wall? Thanks again

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Hi

 

I work in an FS unit with 39 nursery am/pm and 45 reception full time with 6 and a half adults. We have 3 rooms + outdoors which is open whenever the children are playing weather permitting, we only have 20 wet weather suits at the moment. Half the children are allowed out during play sessions and swop throughout the day.

 

It works fine but we do have a lot of areas, some of which are quite big to accomodate children.

 

Some reception children do tend to wander/ become slightly silly by the end of the day if they have been inside all day but this isn't a big issue.

 

How do you organise your rooms and which areas do you have in them? always looking for ways to improve our unit!

 

p.s. ratio for reception children is 1:30 from what i've been told by head.

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Hi Cazza,

Thanks for your reply. So you have almost 90 chn to 6 staff?I don't think we know we're born! How does that work? We don't have outdoors open ALL DAY like you so maybe that's something we need to change. Will get back to you when I'm not so tired about organisation of the day :o (I've posted my timetable somewhere else in this fs unit bit) 'Speak' to ya soonX

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I didn't worry so much about artificial limits on who can do what, if 5 children want to role play would it matter? Maybe if it was flexible more might use the area as there wouldn't be the problem of leaving a friend out because the numbers are all wrong!! Some things self limited by number of aprons available, or spaces at a table but even then children were allowed to move a chair and join an activity if they wanted. If behaviour got silly we would intervene and maybe limit to allow focus to return but it did mean less stress with "Policing" the rules and children wandering because the thing they wanted to do was "Full".

 

Cx

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Your ratio of 6 adults to 72 is fine - but remember the ratio is 1:13 for nursery aged children - technically even a reception class with children who will not be five until after Easter should be staffed at this level tho this rule seems to be broken more often than not. However if you say you have days with only 4 staff in that environment then thats more concerning. Hopefully two of those staff are qualified teachers, if not your staffing ratios for under fives goes down to 1:8 school or no school. If your structure routinely gives a ratio of more than 1:13 for the younger children then if the worst was to happen and a serious accident was to occur both whoever is in charge of the unit and the headteacher would be in BIG trouble. The childrens act 1990 lays down staffing ratios refer your head to this if its a problem. THe issue is not whether ratios are broken due to unforseen or unusual circustances but if this happens as a matter of routine then it should be addressed.

 

As for you r organisational problems - its going to be a problem with so few staff and so many areas to cover - there should be two adults outside whenever more than a handful of children are outside - why? Say a child falls over and requires adult attention, with only one person who is supervising the others?

 

Its more difficult to answer your other question without knowing some more details - are we talking about seperate classrooms with no lines of sight or is it defined areas in a larger space? I'm not clear on this.

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Hi Zim, we don't limit chn. to each area either, we've found that it can limit free-flow/child initiated play a little if they have to be moved from where they have chosen to be.

We have been trying free-flow play outdoors too, they all want to be out even when its quite cold - we don't take specific groups out - chn. are able to move freely in and out - if more chn. go out then so do extra staff (we have asked certain chn. to go inside when they start to look a bit cold tho'!)

We certainly don't have tables for all of the chn. (party day meant we had 3 sittings!!) but have lots of floor activities, and we often have chn. wandering a little - I thought that was normal!!

By the way we only have 6 toilets too - for up to 90 chn.

I wouldn't like to run our unit with only 4 adults, but as you have said its up to the Head's discretion - luckily our Head has been really supportive in this and we now have 7 staff but I am the only teacher!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks again for all your replies.

Cazza-I attched a copy of our timetable/rota. We have 3 areas which are accessible to all children at all times. In area 1 we have a maths room which doubles as a 'quiet' room where one nursery group have their group time. In this area there is also the home corner, structured play (which we change half termly) , small world, consrtuction and a computer. Area 2 has vinyl flooring so this is where we have sand, water, painting easels, creative workshop and malleable area. Area 3 has a writing area, listening centre, jigsaws, investigating area and reading room which doubles as 'quiet' room which I use with my reception class for group time.

Catma and Magenta. I think we need to do what you do and not worry about limiting the number of children in each area too much. Its SO annoying because it was the LEA advisor who wanted us to do this. Previously (when the unit was just the nursery) they only had bead necklaces to limit the number of children in the home corner as this was usually very popular and too many children can spoil the quality of play. I've really been considering what you have both said and agree that we should just be flexible and intervene where necessary. Our Lea advisor had us do all knew signs to say how many could use the area as she thinks that we need to ensure that children are spread out accross the areas evenly. We just ignore this when it comes to the writing area-she advised us to make a sign saying'4 can use this area' but as there is space for 8 chairs that's how many we have! Which is daft because the signs still up! We called our book corner BOOK CORNER and she asked us to change the sign to READING AREA, How annoying is that? xD

Androyd: when we are fully staffed and all indoors we have 2 adults in each area. 1 adult on focused activities and the other managing. We have open access each AM 10.15-11.30and PM 2.00-2.45 where 1 or 2 adults go out according to numbers. The person managing takes care of any accidents. We have also started taking samller groups outdoors to ensure that all children have had an outdoors focused activity. When we set up the unit in Sept 2003 we worked with the LEA and it was the LEA advisor that suggested numbers in each area to encourage an even spread accross the three rooms. However, now we will have more children we can see many downfals to this system but don't want to make too many changes too soon as it just confuses the children (and staff!) I'm looking for simple ideas like susan suggested word/picture lotto which I could use in the reading corner but my main worry is the age difference. I can teach my reception class to put back their magnetic letters in the right pot after they have finished but can't blame the very young nursey children who also use the area when they pick them up and hide them in the book box! :o They are only 3 after all! Does anyone else find this kind of thing a constant struggle?

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Yes Zim it is a constant stuggle - when we moved back into our old rooms before xmas we found pieces all over the place! Nany of the Nursery children (and some of the Reception!) love filling things - is it the enclosing schema?? so the bug viewer gets filled with puzzle pieces and the kettle with chips etc. and the sand just gets thrown on the floor -or over somebody's head!! I've worked with Nursery chn. for 13 yrs so I'm used to it, other staff aren't coping so well - really looking forward to 15 new starters when we go back!!

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Zim, could you have some hand or finger puppets and a table-top puppet theatre in your reading area? (Could be linked to a specific story or not, depending on whast you have available).

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Zim, I too am concerned about your staffing numbers and number of toilets, are your 74 children on role each day?

As far as the other organisation points like Magenta we do not put artificial limits on activities, imagine being the child left out of a friendship group because an area was full. I think this type of organisation can also lead to divisive behaviour. If the advice from your LEA advisor does not work then as the person trying to impliment the suggestions you should be free to adapt and change, we are constantly modifing and evolving. We recently made some changes as a result of a pre Ofsted inspection and found they didn't work, so we changed back and I discussed this with the Ofsted inspectors who agreed with me as to why it didn't work, they said "You know your children best".

It also sounds to me that with 74 children one role play area is not enough. I would think you could have a home corner and another role play area linked to a topic - may be a shop, or costumes for acting out a story it need not take up too much room, with possibly a third in the garden - a building site maybe.

 

Could you organise your older children to buddie up with a younger child so they can tidy up together, getting the 5yr old to model "GOOD TIDYING UP" we really miss our school age children when they leave us as they are just getting to the stage where they can responsibly put equipment away.

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  • 2 weeks later...

:D Thanks again for your replies. I love the puppet theatre idea ASPK. We do have 2 indoor structured play areas Mimi-home corner and currently a shoe shop but I love the idea of the outdoors building site. Its just finding the time to set it up and I hope the others go for it (the odd time I have had the bricks out on my morning duty outside, the person in the afternoon has put them away-god knows why (because they fall and make a noise? So!)

Great ideas though

CheersX :):):):)

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