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I Think My Planning Is Too "planned"...


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...I have found this site immensely helpful and am now pretty sure that most people are heading the way of child led learning. I have a very hard time trying to get my staff to relax a bit with children doing as they please with the various areas. I do understand their concerns which are the lack of discipline if children are allowed to just do as they wish with the toys etc and also being a small setting we are already quite cramped trying to fit in all areas and when you let children freeplay the mess is pretty horrendous and it becomes like shovelling snow while it is still snowing. Also, How do you keep things like sand in a decent state if a child decides to tip pots of water into it or how do you keep playdough playable if children decide they want to take it outside or put water and sand in it?

I am open to the idea of child led learning and want to start incorporating it on my planning but it feels like me versus everyone else so my planning is quite rigid, it says what learning area they will learn from say painting or role play and allocates a specific statement to this. I have looked at a few examples of planning on here but am a bit confused how to make your weekly plans child led without it being total chaos? please help!

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I don't know whether this actually answers your question but could you and your staff have a discussion about expectations of the children. I agree that CI learning shouldn't just be a free for all! There needs to be some sort of rules. I think as far as the sand is concerned there is not a lot that can be done but it doesn't always have to be sand so when they have run out put something else in like pasta, cornflour etc... At the end of the day the children still need to treat everything with respect. Maybe your planning could indicate how you plan on enhancing the areas whether through adult interaction or adding something in.

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Hi,

 

I am sure you are finding it difficult if you allow children to spoil things like playdough, sand etc - by child-led, I don't for one second mean 'anarchy'!! The children need to understand certain basics for everyone's enjoyment. If they really want to explore these things, then provide them with the resources to do so without affecting the whole group experience. :o

 

Our children understand certain basic guidelines which include being friends, playing together and taking responsibility for the environment. You need to make sure this is made clear if a child-led approach is contemplated as otherwise, it will be extremely 'challenging'.

 

Child-led does not equate to chaos, but should lead to an ordered environment where the children play purposefully because they are fully engaged.

 

There are some resources on the site that might help here and (probably read first) here again

 

Hope this is helpful?

 

Sue

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I think one of the difficult things to manage is the part as you say, water in the sand pit and playdough in the water etc. I think adults need to be tolerant - yes some Mondays I have put beautiful new playdough on the table and within an hour it's covered in sand and monetarily my heart sinks, but hey we have a little chat about using some of the resources sensibly and if the children want to add water to sand or vice versa, if I'm really quick on my toes I supply another deep plastic tray for them to do this in.

 

I think the key sometimes is eyes in the back of your head - and second guessing the children. When we really started embracing CI based learning some years ago, we could no longer work on the child/adult ratios any longer which we had, there was too much equipment to heave in and out each day (we are a packaway setting) or have free flow inside and outside. ADULTS HAVE TO CHANGE - children are still the children we have always had, with the same needs they have always had, but now, hopefully, they are being met more often.

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Just wanted to say we too have the same problem...everything seems to get 'ruined' and very messy and that is VERY tough to deal with in a small already cramped setting!

 

Our sand lasts at best 2 to 3 days in a tray (by then its all on the floor outside, wet and muddy....playdough doesnt even last 30 mins before theyve cut it all up and brushed it onto the floor, stepped though it and abandoned it because, funnily enough, its no fun to play with any more like that...weve tried discussions, rules etc They ignore! It is not only ruining the experiences we offer it is also costing us loads to replace stuff!

 

We've had to put away half of what we had out originally for continuous provision as they just pulled it all out and dont want to pack away (didnt even play with it much..just pull it out of the trays and off the shelves to look and then abandon it again)....

 

I feel like all I do is pick up, tidy up and moan lately...we have to keep some sort of order for safety as well as looking a bit decent if a prospective parent pops by!

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I may sound old fashioned but I think at this time of the year, when there are a lot of new young children in the setting, it is best to limit what you have out and make sure you have adults modelling how to take care of the resources. Staff time is surely better used playing with the children and observing them in a few areas, rather than constanyly clearing up in a lot.. Once the children have settled down you can start to enhance the basic provision and provide more variety.

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I agree - basic rules and boundaries have to be in place for all the children to have a pleasurable experience.

I provide a mixing tray outside and don't allow water in the sand tray - if they want to mix they have to add water and sand to the mixing tray so that those that want to play in dry sand can without their experiences being spoiled.

 

I've taken loads of stuff out of the home corner as the new starters do just want to tip things out.

 

to go back to your question though

how to make your weekly plans child led without it being total chaos? please help!

isn't there a saying "out of chaos comes order", i'm sure if you ride it out and work alongside the children and suppot them in showing respect for the environment things will get easier.

i only plan using continuous provision and never predetermine what the learning intention is going to be.On my adult led activity plans I use the look, listen and note part rather than the development matters.

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We have, since returning in September with a much younger age group become a lot stricter in what they are allowed to do with the resources. For some time we were bringing out mot of our small world and construction and it had worked wonderfully The children played with and mixed the stuff up but were quite happy to sort, match and put away at the end ofthe session. However this has had to stop over the last few weeks, some of the children in now are almost 2 years younger then those last year and just cannot cope with s much choice, as someone has already said, all they do is tip the stuff out and walk away, may give it a few kicks for good measure befire they go!! So now they have a choice of 3/4 things. Water is not allowed in the sand and visa versa and playdo' does not have water or sand added to it.It's too expensive, ruins the carpets if trod in and does not benefit anyone to have besutifully soft playdo' ruined by 2/ children within 30 minutes of being there. As trekker has said they dont learn by this as they will do the same thing the next day.

We do provide a lot of CI activities but do try and limit what is out at present. I think with the younger children too much choice is a waste of time, they cant choose or settle and for some it just becomes all too much. Try adding extra as the year moves on and the children become more mature.

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We try to be relaxed about resources moving from area to area but we do keep some rules like no playdough on the carpet areas. We just tell the children it makes the cleaner sad and that does the trick with most children strangely! We have started to let the children help make the playdough this term, using a no cook recipe, and it has led certain children to be very conscientious about keeping it on the table and putting it away afterwards. I insist on no running inside and keep that one strictly unless we have tidied everything away and the floor is clear. I think that we sometimes need to keep some rules which might seem to fly in the face of CI and we need not to stress about them if it means we can still play well with everything. All our staff do tidying up if a resource is abandoned and they are not tied up with a child, and where possible we try to involve some passing children in helping. This is taking off well and this week we have seen some children spontaneously tidying during playing time. We do keep a general tidy up time and discuss how everyone needs to help to keep our toys nice, etc and reluctant assistants are encouraged by stickers/praise. Also staff model playing "properly" and tidying up after an activity throughout the morning.

 

Some days it works better than others and some days I do have to say that X is being put away now because some people have not been playing nicely with it.

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Everyone has already said it but I don't think it can be said enough: CI learning does not mean chaos and children 'doing what they like' if this means resources are getting ruined. There must be set rules and the children must learn to respect the resources, after all this type of learning is part of growing up as well and children thrive on clearly set and enforced boundaries. They make them feel safe and mean they are more likely to learn from their experiences.

 

Set out clear expectations about no sand/water in the play dough and about tidying up one thing before moving on to the next and whatever other issues you are having. As others have said limiting the amount of choice at the start of the year so that children have to settle down to one thing and really look after everything is a good idea. This isn't spoiling CI learning, it's simply allowing them to learn about boundaries and is probably helping the CI learning in the long run because the chidlren are getting a more meaningful experiences out of well looked after resources and aren't overwhelmed by the choice. Once rules are established for what you have new areas can be introduced gradually or areas can be rotated so that they learn how to look after and respect all areas before they get access to the full range at the same time.

 

Most importantly keep going. Keep reinforcing those boundaries. Children love to test them, they are checking that you will be consistent and make them feel safe. Eventually they will settle down and play withing the rules whilst still having great CI learning experiences.

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Its nice to see that others have the same rules and that child led is not allowed to completely take over, with disregard for all the resources.

 

Have often wondered how Ofsted would react if we ask the children not to add water to the sand and vice versa when they are visiting :o

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well thats what I wonder too....

oh and we were told earlier this year (by an advisor) that all resources should be on shelves for children to access..didnt like the fact we have resources in store cupboards that are kept locked! I did say we rotated them ...but no, children should have access to it all apparently. ..and I can see us tidying away three hours after they've all gone home! Needless to say we still have the stuff locked away!

 

I find the sand and water thing very hard to manage because sometimes you do allow it as its a planned experience to see what happens and to get a different texture but then they want to do it all the time and although we do remind them they ignore. They'll have the pot of water over the sand and you say "no - put the water back in its tray" (or similar)..they'll look at you and then in it goes anyway!

 

It happens every time!

The same with tipping water and sand on the floor..you tell them and they do it anyway.

Sometimes I wonder if Im speaking another language!

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Well, I would say "Do what you would normally" to any Ofsted question like this. So long as you can justify what you say/do in an acceptable fashion (ie - NOT 'It makes a mess that takes ages to clear up')

 

You need to show that your CI is not chaos presented as 'intended' - some try that tack, I have heard..... :o

 

And trekker - carry on, just as long as there is a wide choice available and it covers stuff like block play etc you should be ok. We can't all have everything out!

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A suggestion for settings that do not want to, or are not able to 'have everything out' is to take photographs of resources, laminate them and create a flip type 'book' so that if there is something that a child particularly wants to use, even if they do not have the language skills to ask for it, they can show the picture and a member of staff can get it out. Just thought, as I'm typing, of a way to take this further......each time a child requests a particular resource from the flip book, put a small sticker on the back with the childs name, this way you could see how many times they requested the resource and also which resource gets requested the most.....the resource will then have 'earnt' its place in the room.

 

This is on my very long list of things to do.

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