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Hi, I was talking to a colleague today who was telling me that her son's setting has recently changed the way that they plan their day, and their learning environment. They have opened up all of the rooms from baby rooms up to pre school and have designated places withing the whole nursery into the 6 learning areas. This means that babies are now crawling around in amongst more boisterous toddlers and preschoolers. Can you tell me if there are lots of Oxfordshire settings doing this ? and if so , is it a good move? She seemed very concerned for her son who is of preschool age and despite having no objection to him being with babies in principal, She is concerned that his key worker now has a complete age range of children under her care from babies to his age group. Does she need to be concerned. I'm sure that you might say that she needs to go in and discuss it , but she doesn;t want to just jump int and complain without researching this way of nursery management first.............advice and opinions please?

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There are more and more settings working in this way.


The principle, as I understand it, is that it is a 'family' model i.e. in a family situation the children would all be together and the younger children would learn from observing the older. On the other hand, the older children learn to care for and watch out for the younger - great for PSED development.


Also the children can stay with the same keyperson for the whole of their time at the setting i.e. they do not have to change when they move from room to room. If there is more than one child from a family attending, they usually have the same keyperson with the obvious benefit of maintaining the relationship with the family throughout their connection with the setting.


I think I would suggest she goes to the setting, with an open mind, to ask their reasons for working in this way. Maybe her fears will be answered.




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Family grouping came about in the late 50 early 60's after years of segregating the children by age. The change was a great relief to us after many weary hours where the staff working with the over threes had time to breathe and the rest of us were still mopping up puddles of urine, food, drinks, paint, water etc. In most nurseries in those days ratios were not an issue and |I can remember being one of three students working in the "tweeny"playrooms supervising 25 under threes with only the deputy as the sole qualified member of staff. The matron spent her day in the Office and the staff nursery nurse was off sick from 1959-1962.

My first family group in 1961 varied in age from six months to five and numbered 11, I was supported by a student. The children came from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and most had some sort of learning delay.

However in my own nursery I have always had family groups leaders not keyworkers, and the children except very young babies mix at certain times and it's worked well. Each child knows they are attached to certain members of staff and that they belong in their family group, but all the staff are expected to know every child and their parents, as we were when we trained.

The children move from room to room to select the activites they want to access and yes from time to time paint is daubed on the walls, dough is transported from room to room etc, but it is all sorted at the end of the sessions.

The parents love the photos of the children playing and mixing with differing age ranges, the children learn to be supportive of each other and the older ones know they are role models.

Personally I would hate for the closed door segregation that is prevalent in some establishments.

Good luck to all those who are trying to make nurseries more accesible to their children.


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Hi everyone, thankyou for your comments, when I first heard about this way of managing the setting I was confused ................... but after your comments I feel a lot more positive and can see lots of advantages especially in the PSED areas. I will pass your comments on to my colleague. I DID forget to mention the other isuue that she had was that her son used to have his pre school'formal learning' first thing in the morning , and now will not be getting this until 1.30 where she feels that he will be too tired to benefit. I know as I am typing it you will all probably be thinking that what he is gaining in a social situation will outweigh the 'formal learning'. (and have to say that I think this too)

Oh yeah I am a Reception/year one teacher by the way, and quite new to posting on here. So Hi everyone and thanks for your commments . I will talk to my colleague today :-)

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