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Mixed Age Ranges


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Our registration says up to 28 children age 2+. It used to say 2 1/2 and we were only allowed 4 under 3s. There are advantages and disadvantages to this.

 

There are more places filled but we have to have a higher staff ratio for under 3s. At the moment numbers are very low so this isn't an issue.

 

However the big question we have is how do you manage the environment with under 3s and over 3s together? So many toys say suitable for 36 months +. How can we do what is best for all the children?

 

Any thoughts?

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Hi

Not sure why 80 people have read your post and yet no responses, I am sure there must be lots of settings out there with mixed age ranges.

 

We take children from the age of 2 and have a maximum of 16 children per session. We never have more than 4 two years olds in any one session and it all works really well. We have the 2/3/4 year olds all together.

There are times when they are split for specific activities but this is not done on age alone more a combination of age/ability and sometimes we split for story time too. All children participate in activities if they wish and whatever it is is just differentiated accordingly.

 

As for resources I think if I am honest we may have some resources that say not suitable for under 36 months but we just adopt a common sense approach combined with thorough risk assessments. Off the top of my head the 'tinies' only have access to some resources with adult support /supervision - the tiny beads they might put in their mouth/ear/nose (but then older children are not beyond doing this!) but overall there are not many resources that give cause for concern.

 

We used to take children from 2yrs 9mths then it was lowered to 2 1/2 and then to 2 and initially the 'difference' was huge and we wondered whether it was the right move for the setting as a whole but now we wouldn't have it any other way.

 

Our registration allows us to have any number of 2 yr olds up to the 16 limit but it is our choice to limit this to 4 - for us it has proved to be the right balance.

 

I don't know how it would work on a larger scale when the overall number of children is bigger or when the proportion of 2 year olds is higher but for us there are no problems

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We do have a higher proportion of two and three year olds than three and four year olds, and like Geraldine we have some resources which are probably marked not for under 36 months, but we use common sense. In the last 2 years the only things we have removed from general use have been removed due to the three and four year olds use (or misuse) of them than what the younger children did with them. I find it quite easy but then again we have taken 2 year olds since before I started there so maybe it is something that comes with time.

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We also now have some under 2 and a half and it certainly has changed the dynamics of some sessions.

We have afternoon sessions which are restricted to rising 4's which allows us to provide resorces that wouldn't be as suitable for younger children but many of this age group attend at least one morning session too and we make sure that really small items are not available when the younger children are present or only availble under close supervision. We have always been careful as we encourage parents to bring younger siblings with them when they help in session.

The main problem we find is the time it takes to change nappies - it can be 3 a session (only 2 and a half hours) and the tying up of a staff member for so long! We also have to do more work on sharing and taking turns than we used to. This is with a maximum of 6 under 3 and only 16 children a session. We always have 3 staff and a parent help and at moment we also have a volunteer doing her NVQ2.

Autumn/spring terms are always the worst it does improve over the summer term as we rarely have any new starers then.

We just spend longer sorting resources after the 'Transporters' and the 'Emptiers' have been at work. Good practice for the older children in sorting activities!

korkycat

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we have a maximum of 4 under 3s (we take from 2.5yrs) and 12 over 3s. we are in one room so all the resources are shared. we dont have much restriction - we have lego and little beads out sometimes but if a particular child is due in who puts things in their mouth (one is 4 but special needs for example) we dont put certain things out. the rest of the time its common sense and supervision. we keep group times short.

our registration has always said we can take from 2 years and it doesnt stipulate how many under 3s. I just decided our facilities are only suitable for 2.5 plus, also the ratios mean I limit to 4 which equates to one adult. although there are 3 and 4 year olds in nappies this is less usual whereas the under 3s usually are in nappies and I agree, this is very draining on staff time.

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We also have a mixed age group from 2.5 to rising 5 year olds. Have never really encountered any major difficulties that couldn't be resolved by splitting some activities down into 2 groups. The split of over and under 3's varies year on year.

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