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At The Table


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Have had some input into the set up of my classroom today from EY adviser, whose gut instinct seems to be to remove tables from my hard floor area. I have separate 'areas' (corners) for role play, construction etc. etc. already set up, and my 2.5 hr nursery session always includes at least an hour of completely free child-initiated learning. I never use my tables to teach the whole class handwriting!!!!!! However we do have some small group activities at the table, the children use them to set up small world play and we have snack at the table. Unfortunately, the adviser did not arrive in time to see the children using the classroom. Please give me your opinions - are tables incompatible with Child Initiated Play?!!! :o

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In my humble opinion "yes".

Children do not always want to be sprawalled on the floor, neither do they always want to sit down but some activities do need to be at a table and the children can have a choice as to whether to sit or stand. Alternate what you put on the tables and what you put on the floor and see how it is used. Make your decisions as to the placement from what you observe and Good luck.

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Hi Beccy, I cant see her point I'm afraid. Is she saying that without the tables there would be more CI?? My friends nursery has a room half carpet half hard floor, the carpet was for book corner, cars/train/building blocks. The hard area was for tables with paint /dough on, therefore on a wipe clean surface. The children were able to access both areas freely and choose what to play. I'm sorry, maybe it's too late for me to think clearly!! :o:D

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I agree with Susan,

 

It really depends on how the children lead "their" play as to what ways they will use the resources.

Our small blocks are normally accessed on the floor (carpet) but today the children enjoyed making domino (type) runs, where they the blocks are placed all in a line then the 1st one knocked down topples the rest over :D . This all came about because a child started using the blocks on a table.

 

I'm in a large hall, half the area is clear, or large apparatus, the other half has 3 tables for 1. paint / art / gluing 2. a snack bar and 3. jigsaws /games. We also have a small table in the library area, a small table in the role play, a table for the tape recorder and a sensory / display table. Construction area and water / sand area and reception at the entrance. I expect that if I didn't have such a large hall I would not have as many tables. However some days the children choose to play at the tables standing or sitting, sometimes they are all congregated in the clear space and sometimes it is divided between the two.

 

I have used a "full group" tracking observation to see how the children choose to deploy themselves, the only thing that clearly determines their choice of where they play is where the adults are placed.

 

p.s. when our local EY advisor comes in she likes to role model how to interact with the children, so she sits at a table to play. I don't know why :( but the children soon disperse elsewhere :oxD

 

 

Peggy

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I have a mix of tables and mats in playgroup and this seems to work well. The children are free to move the resources around as they see fit - as Peggy says, sometimes they play in a different way depending on whether something is on the floor or on a table. :) Did she actually say why she thought the tables were a problem? Are they inhibiting the children from moving freely around the room?

 

We don't have these 'EY advisors' here but have a development worker - I'm guessing her role is similar. Ours was in recently doing an observation of us so that we could feed it into our assessment process. She gave us a list of things she thought we should change based on a 2 hour observation - much to the chairs dismay I had an answer for every argument she put forward. :D I think Rea's a bad influence on me! xD:o I told my chair that she really shouldn't worry too much - after all, these people have to suggest changes otherwise we would all wonder what they were being paid to do. :D

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We have tables for the obvious things such as craft activities and our jigsaws are on tables and some of the smaller things such as beads, pegs etc. We have construction though both on th floor and on a table. The table area came about because one of the older boys a few years back complained that some of the other children were always knocking his buildings down because they weren't careful when they came to play there. So, we allocated a table too so that constructions didn't get kicked over.

You also have to look at how individual children like to play. Some are natural sprawlers and love lying on the floor. Others prefer to be sitting down at a table. We have to cater for them all.

Linda

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Thank you all :o all your comments and 24 hours to get things in perspective have lowered my blood pressure... Think full group tracking would be a very good idea - thanks Peggy. My (uncarpeted) area has 4 tables; while she wasn't suggesting that they play on the floor there, she pushed three tables all together to make a huge painting table and wanted to lose the fourth altogether. I moved them all back as soon as she had gone - and feel justified in having done so having read your posts - but am now regretting my lack of backbone. Should have told her to her face shouldn't I?! xD

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Off at a tangent here - I usually am!

 

My setting has a 4-yr-old with (undiagnosed) problems with gross motor control. When he is playing on the floor, I have long observed that his inability to control his body from the waist down "gets in the way" of his concentration, well-developed fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination.

 

He clearly finds this frustrating.

 

A while ago, I discovered that he copes better when sitting on a chair (it seems that his lower body "stays put" when he is on a chair, and it gives him a chance to do things that he cannot manage on the floor).

 

I sometimes move unusual activities to a table (e.g. Brio train, cars/garages, Big Builder). This gives him a better chance of success. It also adds another dimension to other children's play.

 

Incidentally, I discovered all this when the setting was querying his overall development. I pointed out that his "seated at table" achievements far surpassed their global assessment.

 

So - yes, we need tables!

 

Diane.

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We find some activities are more popular on a table and others on the floor. Why not try this out for yourselves, set out equipment and observe who and how many children make use of the equipment. Don't forget ASK THE CHILDREN WHAT THEY LIKE they will always give you an honest answer.

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To add to what has already been said we also find that if we put a toy in a different place, especially one that seems to have lost its appeal, then the children are like flies round a honey pot. So it is good to have different levels where children can play if only to make activities and toys more attractive!!

Linda

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I am always amazed about what people can think up - you are right in saying that there has to be a justification of their existence - Not suprised you were hacked off - would we drag out and put up all these tables if we thought it didn't work. Yes it's good to change sometimes - more floor space sometimes - more tables other times.

Nikki

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Like the idea of having what I call floor toys ie bricks ,brio train on the table,will try this out on the day I supervise ,thank you!

Have a nice half term !!

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these people have to suggest changes otherwise we would all wonder what they were being paid to do. :D

Oh well, as I'm now one of "these people" , just for the record I always had tables and when the EY advisor told me never to put material on them because it "stifled learning" I ignored because it was silly. Hopefully I only give out sensible advice and thus earn my less than I was paid as a teacher salary. :o (And the children I was with yesterday were very happy to make me a cup of tea and deliver the wallpaper from the paint shop!!!)

 

We're not all like that!

Cx :D:D

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Good for you Catma!! :D Unfortunately it's like everything else in life - sometimes you get good advice and other times it's completely off the wall. :o If I don't think it makes sense I am now confident enough in what I do to stand up and justify why I do something a certain way and would expect any advisor who came in to justify why they think something should be changed. After all, if it ain't broken...! xD

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Absolutely, and there should be a professional debate. If someone (as my EY advisor was) is didactic how on earth can you build up a working professional relationship. If i do something one way I should be able to justify it in terms of the impact on the children and will it make learning better or is it just some whim or personal idiosyncrasy. I like it when someone has the confidence to debate a point with me and we can find a shared understanding of what we are trying to improve and WHY. That way it's far more likely to be acted on anyway! :o

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, it appears that all EY advisors feel the same way.

Although I do love my EY Advisors free spirit attitude, WAKE UP. I was asked to have the same equipment out all week. Not to dismiss her advice, I thought I would give it a go. Firstly I warned my parents, (as if I have anything out two sessions running something must be wrong) to her advice. Considering I run 8 sessions and most of those are repeated by the children, I watched and observed. Within 3 sessions I had one of the children walk in the room and exclaim ' not that again ', but to some others I did find it beneficial. For example, one of my children spends the entire sessions in the construction corner and although he is learning through play he is reluctent to be enticed out to try different activities but 3 days of the same equipment he did venture to the small world area.

Now although I do understand EYA's way of thinking (some of the time) they must realise that within the 2 and a half hour sessions we have a lot of observing to do and using a variety of equipment is easier to assess how a child is developing as they have more opportunities to explore and play.

I have compromised in some areas, and mix the different areas together.

In an ideal world of pure play, no observations, no assesments and no planning there will be no need for tables. Until then!!!!!!!!!!!

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what an interesting topic, i must have missed it before. I have to say that given a choice I would get rid of some of our tables as I think we have too many, but we are also desperately short of space and floor work does have a habit of spreading. When our children visit the local college as they do every year, there is always one large craft activity taking place on the floor, which the children make a beeline for and which produces the most wonderful cooperation. They wouldn't see 'the big picture' if it was on a table. But we also have the difficulty of people with vision difficulties and the floor is then a nightmare obstacle course.

 

So have to compromise then, and i dont think it does any harm to question ourselves as to why we do the things we do sometimes. Sometimes it takes an advisor or other visitor to just remind us to look from a different perspective now and again.

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Sorry to confuse,

My personal opinion is that you need tables. I have both tables and mats on floor, but I feel that tables are a necessity in a childs play. Easier when using play dough for example. They can use them as camps, with a sheet, dining table in play, put the cars and garage on, to draw on, oh the list is endless. For someone to deny children tables is taking away half of the exploratory fun.

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hi Net Franklin, not sure if I've greeted you before, so welcome!

 

You are not confusing any issues here and I dont think any one would deny that you need tables.

I certainly agree that some tables are necessary and are irreplacable for some activities. Too many tables can be inhibiting and you do not need chairs and tables for every child but I would never suggest getting rid of tables completely.

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if you observe a child playing freely in their home enviroment you will see it play with toys on all height levels. as soon as they can stand they will place toys on the settee ,coffee table etc. this is their chosen level for play.

tables provide a great platform for play.

maddy.

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How right you are Maddy! My own two younger ones are 4 and 6 years and they have a lovely playroom but always bring their toys through to the living room. When I asked them why they did that they replied that they liked to play on the coffee table and there wasn't a table in their playroom. I have now one on order. :o

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