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Behaviour - What Would You Do?


Carolyn C
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During our Ofsted inspection last week, at circle time (the whole group of 10 children were sat listening to a story with flaps to lift, taking turns) one child, sat at the back rolled over and started crawling away from the group and under a table. Another followed him. They were not in danger of physical injury, they were unlikely to damage property. They were giggling and making a little noise distracting each other (and some of the other children) from listening to the story.

How would you have handled this situation?

 

Carolyn

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My 2nd member of staff who we call 'an extra' sitting in on group times (although we have 20 in a group) would have very quietly gone and fished them out and brought them back to the group. I hope you will let us know what you did and what the inspector said!!!! :D

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Mm! a bit difficult to generalise without knowing the children but I certainly would not have ignored them and let them continue rolling/giggling/distracting.

 

Yes, like Hali, I would have had them returned to the group. I suspect he initially rolled away due to lack of interest/inability to sit and wait for his turn to lift the flap?? Attempting to re-focus his interest/enthusiasm in the activity, reassuring that he will get a turn etc and if necessary re joining the group with adult support I think is the way I would have gone.

 

I have a horrible inkling that mrs Ofsted will have said they should have been left to do their own thing but in my view that would be encouraging behaviour that could continue and escalate? well something like that anyway!!!

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I was in this situation while having my NVQ assesment, not so long ago. the child decided to crawl underneath the table, this child can also be particularly awquard at times to. so i knelt down and asked her to come from underneath the table, she responded with a very firm NO! i asked her again, explaining the dangers, i.e. banging head, still a firm NO. third time i asked her and repeated the dangers, and also told her i would have to get her out, if she didnt come out herself. no response. so i lent under the table, gently got the child, then she went into a full blown tantrum, trying to throw herself down onto the floor, so i took her to the carpet area, and carefully lowered her down, where she lay, taking her shoes, socks, trousers, off. so then i had to contend with that, thought the assesment was ruined as this wasnt what i was intending to cover, but as it happened she said i handled it really well, and marked off some other units in the process. but this can be an everyday occurance, as the child does not think there are any rules in life, and replies with no most of the time.

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A difficult situation to deal with... especially in front of an inspector!!

 

Through all of the behaviour management training i have received the general rule is to ignore this kind of behaviour, but as we all know this is difficult. We do not want the group disrupted but we also don't want to focus our attention on the child not participating.

 

I think the answer has to be different each time depending on the child, the other children and the general situation.

 

Sorry, don't think i am making any sense :o

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Carolyn, I'd have left them in the same circumstances. Not all children have an interest in books and stories at the same age and I wouldnt want to make them sit if they werent happy to do so. Obviously you get to know which ones will sit and those who never do so it's difficult to know your exact circumstances, but some of ours I leave to their own devices so long as the other children arent disrupted. Dying to know what Ofsted said! :D

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Like Geraldine and Hali we have tended to choose to redirect the child, so as not to let the situation escalate (Geraldine put it so well). The problem is how do you do this without physical intervention - if the children won't come out from under the table with a verbal request how do you get them out? You can't just pull them out can you?

 

We had had a discussion with our PLA development worker about circle times a few weeks before the inspection, as we wanted her advice on what to do in exactly this situation (knowing that Ofsted were coming). Her advice was to ignore such behaviour as Lucy P and Rea suggested. This is fine if they are not too noisy or distracting, but we are a small settting, in one room and we were not comfortable with ignoring such behaviour if it was disruptive or distracting to the other children. We felt we needed to do our best in these circumstances to redirect the child.

 

So here's what happened on the day.......

When the two children crawled under the table all the staff frowned at them and gave disapproving looks. That had no effect. I tried asking (quietly and calmly) for them to come out from under the table. Eventually one of them did and he sat with the group again and another member of staff made every effort to refocus him on the book. The other child refused to budge from under the table so we ignored him. The one who had gone back to the book then crawled back under the table! At that point we gave up trying to fetch them out and decided to ignore them both.

 

At our feedback the next day the inspector said she thought we were wonderful, gave us a very good report, and had only two "points for consideration", one of which she said she had been very uncertain whether to even include - about the behaviour management! In her view we should have been firmer with the two children at circle time. She decided to include it (only as a point for consideration) as she felt that one of the children had encouraged the other away from the story and it had had a detrimental affect on the other child's learning. We haven't had the written report yet, so we don't know exactly how it is going to be worded.

 

How do we go from here though? We will need to come up with a way of being firmer in these situations, but without using physical intervention how can you achieve that? I didn't have the presence of mind at the feedback to ask her HOW we could have been firmer, so that's why I ask the question of all my friends here "What would you have done."

 

To ignore or to intervene (and if so how?) in these situations that is the question.

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That's a great discussion topic Carolyn! I think, as everyone else is more or less saying, that there is no 'right' answer, since you cannot predict the reaction of the child in every circumstance.

 

Seems you were right to adjust your responses given the particular situation, and it ends up just being a judgement call - with no certainty of how it would have gone if you'd reacted a different way! :o

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Carolyn I think you handled the situation well and you are the one that knows your children best. After all you can't make each child enjoy a story as much as you would like them too. We had a child that refused to join in at the Christmas party so we let him play with the train set. When he tried to distract the children who were listening to the puppets I gave him the choice of joining in when he refused I re-directed him back to the train mat.

If I am being observed reading a story by an inspector and notice a few children are becoming fidgety I include their name in the story and get one of the characters in the story to get their attention or I have asked the children to guess the next part of the story or introduced some role play. Failing that I would end the story quicker and do something else with the group.

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Thanks for your encouragement.

 

I like your ideas bubblejack to include the children's names in the story, or to get them to guess the next part of the story- must try those!

 

If I need to be firmer with the children I wonder if I should invest in a pair of half-moon glasses to peer over :D:D:D

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No don't do that. I once had an Ofsted inspector who did that and we all took an instant dislike to her!!!!!

I know listening to stories should be a very meaningful experience for a child but if you asked all the group to use the same activity together and enjoy doing it there will always be the odd few who wouldn't co-operate.Just thought of another strategy I use I encourage children to sit next to a new friend when I am expected them not to get distracted. We play the name game. Each child calls

out the name of a child sitting opposite them, they shake hands and swop seats.

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Great discussion :D but a difficult one in that each child and situation varies so much. Just when you come up with some wonderful idea/strategy that works a treat, the very next day with different children/situation it doesn't seem so fantastic!!!

 

We have one child who when he wanders off or starts distracting others I say his name followed by 'I need you' and it works every time!!! no idea why but he comes and takes my outstretched hand, and then I have to think on my feet exactly why I 'needed' him xD

 

In very general terms though and not in specific relation to the example that started this discussion, I do sometimes feel concerned at the amount of freedom we give children in terms of letting them make decisions, choices and us asking them to do (or not do as the case may be) something.

 

How many of us have asked a child not yet three, what they would like to do?? I know I have! and how many of us have tried to hurry a child, even only a little bit, I hold my hands up again! My thoughts changed after my first visit to the Early Years exhibition in London some years ago. I arrived and was soo excited it was almost pathetic!! There I was in this huge building bursting with stalls selling the most beautiful resources and I didnt know which way to go or where to start first - there was soo much! Of course I calmed down and looked at the guide and decided which suppliers I wanted to visit etc etc etc. Sometimes I look back on that day and wonder if that's akin to a child at pre-school - sooo much to choose from they cant decide. The other major thing that affected my practice is that if you say to a three year old ' What would you like to play with' it takes over 400 messages to get to and from the brain for the child to be able to reply!! I find that amazing, but to hear what we say, understand it, realise that it requires an answer and be able to provide it is a mammoth task.

 

I am not saying for a second that any child in my setting is forced to do anything they dont want to, of course not but there are times when children are 'told' as opposed to 'asked'. Gosh! I know exactly what I am trying to say but doing a poor job I think :o

 

I understand the idea and practice of ignoring unacceptable behaviour (and I do sometimes!) - that has been high on the list of every behaviour course I have attended. ignore the 'bad' and praise the 'good' but in some situations by ignoring it arent we sending out messages that such behaviour is OK???

 

Oh dear think I better be quiet now!! :(

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Oh, Geraldine, NO!

 

Don't be quiet, I'm sure all of us know EXACTLY what you mean - well, I do, but then I am crackers :o

 

It's what it's all about! We all need each other to sound off to, share good and bad and insecurity...and, yes, I quite agree about the Exhibition!! Me too!!

 

Now, did that make sense ???

 

Sue :D

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I agree with Geraldine (again) - I think ignoring bad behaviour can send out the message that such behaviour is OK. The problem I have is knowing when to ignore it and when to tackle it head on. (I expect you've guessed that by now!) I agree too that each situation and each child is a new challenge and what works this week somehow doesn't work next week (even with the same child sometimes!) Chldren may react differently to discipline of any kind depending on if they have permissive parents or strict parents or somewhere in between.

 

Ignoring is in many ways the easy option.

 

Any other strategies for dealing with inappropriate behaviour that you use that work well? Knowing how to tackle things head on is much harder (I find).

 

Carolyn

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Still thinking on this one! :o

 

I feel that perhaps what we are doing or trying to do is teaching our very young children, through a very gradual process, that they can't simply do what they want, when they want, where they want and how they want!! Isn't it all about setting foundations for a transitionally (??) smooth ride as they progress through their educational life? There comes a time when they need to sit a desk, obey school rules, stick to timetables, be in the right place at the right time and though this may be years down the line aren't we as early years practitioners at the beginning?

 

If they are constantly allowed to not participate because 'they dont want to' I just think that unless we get the balance right we are creating something of a nightmare for the teachers who will have these children in their class. I have a child who if given the choice would do nothing all session other than wander aimlessly.

 

I agree with you Carolyn, it's when to ignore and when to intervene but dont think there is a quick fix solution - I only wish there was. If anyone has the magic formula please share it! :D

 

Sometimes if a child is behaving inappropriately instead of asking them to stop I dont mention whatever it is they are doing but give them two choices either to rejoin whole group or to sit quietly on a chair. There is not an option to carry on with whatever it is they are doing. LIke anything it doesn't always work but I have had a lot of success with it and I have two children who always choose to sit quietly and more often than not within a couple of minutes they rejoin the group of their own accord.

 

WIth regard to dealing with unacceptable behaviour, I am sure you have all heard of applying the ABC strategy and though I have attempted to use it I have found that there isn't necessarily an evident 'A'so that's that idea out the window! xD

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I was having this discussion with my husband last night (as you do! :D ). I think there definately is a danger that people are leaning too far the other way from a strict approach and that children are being given too much choice and freedom. We all have to remember that a 3/4/5 year old can't be expected to make the same rational decisions that an adult may be able to - they just aren't intellectually and emotionally developed enough to be able to. Surely that's a big part of what we are trying to do as practitioners - teach them how to make the right sort of decisions in their lives. They can only learn if they are given guidance at the appropriate time. So - If a child crawls under a table during story time and starts disrupting others in the process, then isn't it right that we should step in and tell them that this isn't appropriate and explain why it isn't? :( And I'm with you Geraldine on the whole ignoring bad behaviour issue. What sort of message does this give to children?? I'm not talking about making a big issue of something. :D However, I do think that a quiet word to a child, showing disapproval and explaining why it wasn't a good thing to do, is the right way of dealing with bad behaviour. And I've always found scowling over the top of my glasses doesn't work. :oxD:(

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I agree with you Beau that we need to teach and direct the children towards acceptable behaviour, and redress the balance a bit from the freedom and choice we have been encouraged to give.

 

There will always be some children who are not ready yet for sitting down in a big group and listening to stories, of course, (to use the example I gave) but on the other hand there will be others (probably most of them) who can and will do it with the right direction, encouragement, cajoling, disapproving look or whatever at the right time. And if we don't direct them then we are not doing them any favours.

 

Carolyn

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But don't you all find that if you have 10 children all behaving well and one of them decides to 'break the rules' then suddenly you have about 5 others willing to join them. :o The one disruptive child doesn't look at the others and follow suit. Being good is no fun at all!! :D If you leave them to all get on with it then sudddenly you have anarchy. xD Not particularly conducive to learning! :(:D And as my mum always said - "It'll end in tears!" :(

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oh dear, I might upset the apple cart. Well here goes.

 

Shouldn't we ask ourselves why these children wanted to leave the story and adapt to their developmental needs?

Why should we have to cajole, direct and give disapproving looks for a child to join in or maintain participation in an activity?

 

Don't get me wrong, I,ve tried everything but a few years ago a child "role played" me at story time. She sat on the mat with a few friends, held the book, scowled and said quite loudly !'m not going to start until you are quiet" her friends promptly got up and left the play.

 

Last year I had a child who would never join the mat at the beginning of story time (whether it was a large group of 10 or a small group of 4/5 children) Her interests were in animal small world play. The PLA, the early years advisor her mum all said to me that phrase I dread to hear " She'll have to do it when she goes to school" ( I just hate the idea that small children should have to "conform" to adult/institutional rules that are not necessarily in their best interests developmentaly).

One day I made a photographic diary of what she did during a session, when I started it I didn't know how the day for her would progress, although we followed our set routine. The end result was a photo story of how she spent four hours designing, creating, modifying and adapting an "Animal House" for a small plastic giraffe. SHE directed a member of staff on where she wanted help with constructing the roof and the fence, and what to scribe for the house name "Animal House) She designed and explained why the door had to be tall to enable the giraffe's long neck to fit in (maths / problem solving), but it also had to be wide enough for the Panda bear. She chose to use playdough to represent the dirt in the garden. She then painted this white and made giraffe footprints in the ground, "like in the snow" ( a recent personal experience). She repainted the white roof blue "because the snow was melting".

She was inspired, motivated, persistant, imaginative, involved others, adults and peers and finished her project with a total sense of pride and satisfaction, it took her four hours. The only time she stopped work on it was for lunch, she returned to it straight afterwards. BUT, OH NO, she didn't sit on the mat at storytime today, What will her mother say......

 

It is because of children like her that I stay in this profession. I would be as frustrated as I imagine the children would be if I couldn't follow spontaneous ideas, complete my own projects and even let my projects develop and change as I was doing them.

 

All I ask of the children is repect for equipment and people, for manners (appropriatte to their stage) and that they feel able to pursue their own interests and develop their independence.

 

Peggy

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You haven't upset my apple cart Peggy! This is what is so great about this forum, that we can have valuable discussions with people expressing their views and practice. I think that in analogy terms, Early Years Practitioners are all on a journey to the same destination but we reach it by varying routes.

 

I totally respect your view and way of working with the little girl you mention - she clearly had a wonderful time. I have tried to picture that little girl in my setting with 11 other children. On the day in question you did the photographic diary which had great results but I wonder how you monitor all the children when they have such freedom to follow their own ideas. Please dont think that is meant as criticism because it's not! just genuine interest on my behalf :D

 

You mentioned following your set routine but in my setting story time is part of our daily routine and even if we are pushed for time at the end of a session we ensure we end with a story (albeit a short one sometimes) Maybe it's just my setting or luck, as we really dont have a problem with story time, the odd child now and again will wriggle around and perhaps look disinterested but I have found by saying such things as "AND THEN..." ( in my best 'exciting voice') they engage with the story again.I also have an aversion to the "have to when they go to school" but also endorse the view that we are amongst other things, preparing these little children for school.

 

I think, as said before, it's all about balance and trying to get it right. Whilst we would never force a child to do anything against their will, we do gently encourage and though not successful the first time (or few) I think it is important for them to learn they can't do whatever they want, when they want, all the time. ( Gradually I hasten to add!!!)

 

I am a great supporter of spontanaity and whilst planning is vital it does sometimes go by the board when something unexpected occurs, or an activity digresses/extends etc. Not so long ago we were all busy with an activity when I noticed one little boy standing, staring out the window, he said he could hear something outside, we all stopped and listened and he was right! A bright yellow helicopter was heading our way - we went out into the garden and much to the children's delight the helicopter was hovering low virtually over the pre school - some of them still talk about that day and it was ages ago!

 

Gosh I do know what I am trying to say ( really I do!) but sometimes it is so hard to get your thoughts into words :o

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I love telling stories without a book. I can get the childrens attention and keep it by using different voices and like you, Geraldine, saying AND THEN or WELL, YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED NEXT or GOODNESS ME - it works everytime. I change the well known stories as I go along sometimes - they never seem to be the same - some times I make mistakes on purpose to see if the children are listening - and they usually are!

Using story props are good for keeping attention as well.

I have used, a rabbit puppet with floppy ears, a length of ribbon, a small box, a key and a pencil and paper. I just make up a story using the things in front of me and although some might find it a little difficult, I just went on and on. I used this in my key worker group with about 6 children and it kept their attention.

I think I'll do it again next term as I haven't done it for a while and I love doing it -

 

Sue J

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OH Yes Sue! the no book story :D

 

I make them up either on the spur of the moment or with a rough outline in my head but ready to change direction depending how it goes. Sometimes I let the children help along the way with names of characters.

 

They always seem fascinated that it is story time and there is no book :D

 

I made one up once about a little boy who wanted a puppy but Mummy said no!

He wanted it for his third birthday and there was lots of repetition like Mummy said who would look after it, who would take it for walks etc and the little boy shouted I WILL it went on to the day of his birthday and the presents he got ( these changed depending what the children are currently interested in) it was all repeated on his 4th birthday but on his fifth birthday Mummy said "We'll see" and he got a present that rattled, what could it be ( I had a metal dog lead wrapped up) and so it went on, and on and on but sure you will be pleased to hear that Sam did get his dog ( after a visit to the kennels, meeting the owner who had crinkly eyes when she smiled :D The dogs fur was very messy and Sam called his dog Scruffy!! They all got in the car to go home (help what was going to happen when they got home???!!) but guess what when Mummy turned round she found Sam and Scruffy sound asleep it the back of the car - well it had been a very busy and exciting birthday!!!!!!

 

Sometimes children have said 'there are no pictures' so out comes the painting easel and the chidren take it in turns to draw the pictures as we go along - I would recommend it to anyone who hasnt tried it - just get a rough idea and throw caution to the wind and go with the flow :D

 

OH and yes dont they love mistakes. When I do have a book I sometimes hold it upside down and oh! the shreiks of no the other way! so of course i turn it sideways or try to start at the end - they love it! :D

 

OOps sorry didnt mean to digress of the topic of this thread - here endeth todays story!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

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I'm going to compound it!! Ooops!!

 

It's a sheer joy to me to read these recent posts, storytelling is something very dear to my heart, I'm so glad there are others out there spreading the news!!!

 

Keep it up, and if you haven't tried it DO you won't be disappointed

 

 

Sue :D:D

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Glad I didn't offend, Geraldine :D

We monitor the children through a variety of methods;

Eyes in the back of our heads (haven't we all?) xD

natural instinct, knowing the childs preferences in play etc.

As the owner I am often not on the ratio, so if I am not off on a home visit, or at a meeting etc I am free to do extensive observations rather than snapshots.

I use the digital camera extensively alongside notes, it is very useful for event sample and tracking observations.

I average about 20-24 children per session, based in a large hall my staff are spread across the hall in the different areas of play. I have well defined areas of play which helps the children choose what they wish to do and we work very hard on enabling the children to use these areas as independently as possible ( this gives staff more time to interact in their play rather than spending the time getting resources/ aprons/paints/jigsaws etc for the children.

All my staff plan their own observation times, influenced by what they need to know about any one particular child. They have a focus of what they need to observe and what method of observation will be best to use, therefore the observations are not random, such as" I will do an obs on Charlie at 10am". They are, I need to find out which areas Charlie access = Tracking obs

Which children Charlie plays with = Sociogram Obs

What level of understanding Charlie has about numbers 1-5

= planned activity obs or narrative at chosen number game

 

We used to use post-it notes if we witnessed a certain development, now the staff write straight into the childs development file ie: Under Physical-Aspect 1.Movement - "Charlie enjoyed the hopscotch game and practiced until he could hop & jump along the mat.(date) Maths-Aspect 1 - Charlie identified numbers 1,3 & 4 on the hopscotch mat (date)

 

The staff are informed of each others plans to do obs in the daily diary, so they can support each other at these times.

 

The staff have a list of "key" children but their role is to co-ordinate the information about these children to the other staff and maintain their files so that all the staff have the knowledge to impliment all the childrens next step plans, interests in play etc. All staff have a responsibility for the development / progress of all the children and not just a list of a few key children. ( hope you understand this)

 

I am sure you are aware of these methods. In conclusion, we are able to monitor all the children, through good deployment of staff, good planning, good communication etc because I have a very good staff team who are aware of what is happening around them, get to know all the children very well and I am fortunate to have a good adult child ratio.

 

Peggy

p.s. My hubby thinks I should reduce this ratio because I earnt less last year than my deputy manager :o

 

pps Great story, we have changed our plans for the start of term ( was going to do Gingerbread man) because quite a few children have shown a real interest in roleplaying being cats and dogs, so this will be our new theme. Can't wait to try your idea with them, I think it will really inspire their imaginations.

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Peggy,

 

Don't worry about the apple cart - If it didn't get upset occasionally then we'd all get complacent. xD

 

I think the real problem here is the adult to child ratio. Unfortunately many settings operate on minimum standards due to financial constraints (the playgroup I work at included :( ) and, as much as we would like the children to direct their own activities/make their own choices, this just isn't possible in practice. Therefore situations arise where children can become unruly and disruptive because there isn't an adult free to support them. :( This then creates other problems - including safety issues. So, yes, I do make all the children join in with the group storytime but at the same time I don't think that sitting with the group for 5 minutes at the end of the session is going to stunt their development, if you know what I mean. :( And quite often it's the children who seem most reluctant to sit down initially who end up benefitting the most, which goes back to what I was trying to put across before. Young children often need a lot of direction and encouragement to enable them to participate in activities that they might not choose for themselves otherwise. However, the scenario you described was quite different - the child there was motivated and absorbed and of course, I wouldn't advocate that they be interupted and dragged away to join in with a group activity for no good reason. In our playgroup though, all the equipment has to go away at the end of the session and so there isn't anything for the children to do except join in with the story. :o:D

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It's all the different ways that we can do things that I like about my work. We also have to put everything away at the end of each session.

I've always found it difficult to maintain the childrens attention if I have a story at the end of a session because our parents all arrive at different times ie: they don't wait outside and get their children collectively. I have found that it's nice if the children are playing at collection time because this can sometimes enable the parent to have a quick word if they want etc.

We close at 3:15pm and the cleaner arrives at 3:30pm, as long as the little bits and pieces are put away ( preferably by the children) then the moving of furniture into the 2 very small cupboards is done with military precision, and hey, if we are not finished then the cleaner gets on around us or waits. I don't like it if the staff start moving furniture before the end of the session for obvious safety reasons.

 

At story time the majority of the children do settle and stay involved, I also encourage all my staff, even trainees to tell the story so it is not the same person everyday. This also helps them all to learn what support the storyteller needs ( if you know what I mean). How many of us have experienced the adults talking in the background whilst we are telling a story. :o

 

Peggy

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