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Free Flow..your View?


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Its kind of hard to word this without sounding anti freeflow as im not but as a setting that is freeflow all day inside and out i have a few worries.

My main worry is that although we do resource our outside area in a way that promotes all the early learning areas-we (as a unit of 4 classes) have many children who tend to just basically run riot-play fight (when they think we arnt watching :o ) etc.

 

Therefore, though im sure many of you are all for outdoors/freeflow im genuinely interested to know how you would feel if your own child 'chose' to play outside in the Reception year for most of the day, everyday in this way? I have a child you see and i wouldnt like to think this was all he did as this was his choice so therefore worrying that im letting other children do this (even though its how i have to do it).

I try to divert children away from less quality play obviously but with 40-50 children out to a ratio of 2/3 staff that is easier said than done.

 

Sorry if that seems like im being negative, i dont mean to. Id just like your advice/view on this

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I can sympathise with you and totally see it from the standpoint of a parent too. It's very hard to see the value of play sometimes, even when we know what we're looking at! I suppose there'll always be children like this, who can 'divert' to apparently more meaningful (to us) play or creativity, but in some cases it's short term, and although sometimes you can see some good involvement and enjoyment in your diversions they often just go back when your input has gone.

 

I don't think this is necessarily just in free-flow though, even when they are indoors it can be exactly the same.

 

Right - I've gone away and thought about it a bit - Is there any way you can structure the day so that you can re-gain some 'control' of the play that goes on outside?

Edited by Cait
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Scooby doo, its your perogative as the teacher to divert and challenge this play into more meaningful activities. Child initiated should not mean a free for all and your can structure your routine or activities to promote the skills that you wish the children to learn or access.

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i agree with Susan - but once the children get used to the area being set up all the time and they are allowed to access it whenever they want to - from experience after the initial 'run round' the children do tend to settle into the experiences provided outside (that is as long as they are exciting!!!) - but you will always get the odd few that dont :oxD

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I would say the problem here is the ratio of staff to children.

 

We operate free flow in our pre-school but we have at least 3 staff on any day, even when there are only 8 or 9 children. I would not have it any other way. You need at least one outside, one inside and one to 'float' but with your numbers I believe you need 2 outside, 2 inside and probably 2 to float. Is there any way you can ask your head teacher to give you more support?

 

Where you do have such a large number I think you probably need to give more direction to the children, or structure the way that they access activities, e.g. by using 'planning boards' where they have to choose what activity they do and only a certain number can do it.

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I've got a theory about same environment reminding the children to behave in the same way as the last time they were in that environment. If you see what I mean?

 

When I worked with children with challenging behaviour they might have a fight, throw a chair then it would all calm down and they would go home. If they came in next day and the chair they threw was still lying on the floor it would remind them and the fight would start up all over again.

 

So, how about radically changing the area in which they have got locked into this pattern of play? Put something completely different there, move things around and for the first day station an adult in that area who can help to model some quality playing.

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Scooby doo, its your perogative as the teacher to divert and challenge this play into more meaningful activities. Child initiated should not mean a free for all and your can structure your routine or activities to promote the skills that you wish the children to learn or access.

 

 

I am thankful for all your replies but Susan it does read as if you are telling me something here that you think i don't already know. I am not a newly qualified teacher and am well aware of what my role is.

I think others are right in that more staff would be the solution here but sadly that's not possible (so our head says). I was outside today with about 30 children and had 'structured my activites' as you pointed out-we had glitter water writing, numbers hidden in sand, gross motor equip out, creative, imaginative resources out yet i spent alot of my time speaking to many of the same children about hitting out at each other-play fighting-using sticks as weapons etc etc.

 

My question wasnt really about that anyway-i was asking your views as parents would you be happy if your child was out 5 days a week from 9-3.30? out of interest more than anything.

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i think as long as parents are aware of the learning that comes from the experiences outside by an open day or leaflet that most would be happy f thier child decided to stay out - but there is always the exeption!!!!!! xD

 

and from personal experience especially as it gets colder most chldren will not stay out all session :o

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I don't know if this helps but in my last setting i had a system where the children had to put their name on a 'map' of the classroom to say where they wanted to play. So i had a literacy area. numeracy area, messy area etc. On this map i had velcro places but only a set number per area so only 6 or 4 or 3 etc names could go in one area. This works really well as long as i ensured that there were 30 spaces inside and 30 spaces outside. I did find that children gravitated to one area and then were reluctant to change so i started ringing a bell every 10 mins and this meant they had to change area. it means thay may fight but only 10 mins.

 

I have a very very lively class in my new setting so still working on this!!!!!! Good luck!!!!

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Thanks for your reply joanna but we are not able to do this as we are to try and limit 'interupting' their play as much as possible so can stop and start them.

 

Do you all put your outdoot equip out daily or leave it out? Also are you children totally freeflow throughout the whole day (except lunch). Some schools in my area have outdoor areas but they go out in groups of 10 at a time. Now that amount would be easy to ensure they are all engrossed in good quality play but when you have up to 40 children out its a different story.

 

We cant do this though as we are to be totally freeflow.

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