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Hi,

 

I am a QTS at a Children's Centre and the Day Nursery are considering changing from Under 2s rooms, 2-3s room and 3+ room to a mixed setting. Each key person will have a mixed-age family group rather than an age-specific group. I am wondering if there are others out there, already running this system who might have experiences to share (and maybe some research because neither myself or the nursery manage have been able to find very much by Googling on the benefits of this way of working).

 

Thanks

Sherry

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If you look up Dr's Ann Clare, Jools Page and Cathy Nutbrown at University of Sheffield they should give you some sound research evidence into mixed age groups. If I remember rightly Ann based her PHD on this subject under the supervision of Cathy.

 

Hope this helps.

BMG

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Sorry, I'm forgot my manners. Hello and welcome to the forum Sherry.

 

I have a nursery 0-rising 5's and have a firm belief in mixing ages; we do have a secure base area for the under 2's but this has low level Community Playthings room dividers. In a family situation at home you don't keep children of a certain age in a certain room never to meet during the day, its the same in my nursery; wonderful for siblings and as the children reach 18 months they rarely return to their base area.

 

We have happy, calm children learning to be tolerant of each others differing needs. Works well for my staff team but some took more convincing than others 4 years ago. Hope it works out for you what ever you do.

 

Good luck

BMG

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Hi and welcome to the forum Sherry.

 

Have a look at this video about Swedish Early Years practice. http://www.teachers.tv/video/12090 These practitioners do exactly what you describe.

 

I've felt for a long time that one of the biggest benefits of being a childminder is being able to keep siblings together, help children learn from, and by caring for, each other, not having to move between rooms and practitioners regularly, etc. It would be lovely to hear more about group settings who are using this model successfully in this country.

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I know the Norland Nursery work in this way and I think they follow the principles of Froebel so you might find something if you research him.

Thanks Edlee, great website which helps a lot (what parent doesn't aspire to have their child cared for in the same way as such a well-reputed trainer as Norland?).

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I went to a 'key-person' seminar many years ago run by John Bowlby's son who recommended family groups whenever possible.

Thanks Louby Loo, that makes sense, I need to search out some stuff I have (somewhere) on attachment and see what it says!

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If you look up Dr's Ann Clare, Jools Page and Cathy Nutbrown at University of Sheffield they should give you some sound research evidence into mixed age groups. If I remember rightly Ann based her PHD on this subject under the supervision of Cathy.

 

Hope this helps.

BMG

Duh! I know Ann from when she worked in Salford...and Cathy because I did "her" PG Cert PSFS years ago...just shows you how your brain shuts down when you need something in a hurry!

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Ooooh - can I feel a new challenge coming on........?

 

My colleagues will hunt you down if I take this one on! :o

 

But thinking.....

 

Sue

 

Sue, they'd have to join the queue, there are a fair few in front of them xD

 

I'm off to hide now (so easy with a name like Sherry Landa)-they'll never find me! :(

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Hi and welcome to the forum Sherry.

 

Have a look at this video about Swedish Early Years practice. http://www.teachers.tv/video/12090 These practitioners do exactly what you describe.

 

I've felt for a long time that one of the biggest benefits of being a childminder is being able to keep siblings together, help children learn from, and by caring for, each other, not having to move between rooms and practitioners regularly, etc. It would be lovely to hear more about group settings who are using this model successfully in this country.

 

Thanks Upsy Daisy,

 

This video looks good (need to listen to it but can't just now as I am tired and the other half is watching TV, I daren't say "mute it as I have a half-hour video on Swedish early education to watch" on a Friday night-might sneak it in on Sunday afternoon, but just now is TOO cruel).

 

I think we can all see how it should work and be brilliant, but at our "launch the concept" meeting with parents on Wednesday they (quite rightly) had a lot of questions on how staff would meet the needs of all children. I answered them but just felt I could do with some sort of "hard evidence" to back me up when we reconvene in a few weeks, when they have had a chance to think it over and need to make a decision about whether it's a goer or not.

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I've felt for a long time that one of the biggest benefits of being a childminder is being able to keep siblings together, help children learn from, and by caring for, each other, not having to move between rooms and practitioners regularly, etc.

 

I agree! Parents often comment that they choose my childminding setting because their children of all ages can spend time together.

 

Nona

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Sorry, I'm forgot my manners. Hello and welcome to the forum Sherry.

 

I have a nursery 0-rising 5's and have a firm belief in mixing ages; we do have a secure base area for the under 2's but this has low level Community Playthings room dividers. In a family situation at home you don't keep children of a certain age in a certain room never to meet during the day, its the same in my nursery; wonderful for siblings and as the children reach 18 months they rarely return to their base area.

 

We have happy, calm children learning to be tolerant of each others differing needs. Works well for my staff team but some took more convincing than others 4 years ago. Hope it works out for you what ever you do.

 

Good luck

BMG

Hi again BMG. This is pretty much what we said-a child at home would not be confined to one room, society generally is of groups of people of mixed ages, it's pretty arbitary to say "now you're 2 you have to go here and be with lots of other children who are also 2", the lack of transitions within the Nursery etc. Parental concern was about "getting ready for school" where I had to bite my tongue a bit :-) Generally, they seemed convinced for the under 3s. However, they seem to think something incredibly different happens when grant funding kicks in. That some how the pre-school room is a magical place where education starts and that those children would miss out...I think we need a bit more work on the education side of the EYFS and how all the children are being educated as well as cared for...from the beginning. I'm also new to the authority, don't know all the local Primary schools and how they operate to reassure parents. The LA system is different from my last authority as well, and I don't quite "get it" yet. However, the original idea has come from the Nursery manager and I am just trying to support her, ultimately she must decide with her client group what they want for their children!

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I am all for mixed age groups and the benefits to all children of this , back in the early 1980's I worked in Kingston and Sutton in Day Nurseries and we all had a room of mixed aged children to care for, my youngest was 14 months - eldest was 4 ( 7 children in total - non of the OFSTED ratio stuff back then!), they all got on well, supported and learned from each other, family groups were the norm then. In my present setting our 2-5 year olds are all together, and mixed age keyworker groups , and the babies are able to view and join in with the older children from about 18 months ( or when they learn to pop the community plaything gates open - often earlier than that! ) Works well and the parents do like it - and there are no anxieties about transitions as the 'big' room is familiar to all concerned. :o

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I am all for mixed age groups and the benefits to all children of this , back in the early 1980's I worked in Kingston and Sutton in Day Nurseries and we all had a room of mixed aged children to care for, my youngest was 14 months - eldest was 4 ( 7 children in total - non of the OFSTED ratio stuff back then!), they all got on well, supported and learned from each other, family groups were the norm then. In my present setting our 2-5 year olds are all together, and mixed age keyworker groups , and the babies are able to view and join in with the older children from about 18 months ( or when they learn to pop the community plaything gates open - often earlier than that! ) Works well and the parents do like it - and there are no anxieties about transitions as the 'big' room is familiar to all concerned. :o

 

Thanks Redjayne,

 

This is a bit different in that it would be 0-5, with a low level barrier to an area for non-mobile babies so that they are safe from older children treading on them etc. Also the building is a U shape with a central garden, to be accessed in free-flow from 2 sides of the U. There are doors at the moment and I am not sure if they have to stay (think they are fire doors).

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I've worked in private day care for 12 years and cannot believe I haven't heard of this way of working!!

 

I am fascinated by the idea and am going to Google for sure!!

 

I think I will probably be able to hear the groans of you seasoned practioners from here (!) but my initial thought is that of suitable equipment. For example we have Lego, scissors and other such equipement that wouldn't be suitable for the very youngest children. How do you get around this?

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Hi I just wanted to add that I went on some outstanding training with Sally Thomas who said that family grouping is a great idea for all concerned. The older ones get the benifit of caring for the little ones, This format is used in a lot of other countries. I could go on for hours this is the second Sally thomas training I have attended she makes so much sense I recommend anyone to go and listen to her.

 

 

Tink69

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I think I will probably be able to hear the groans of you seasoned practioners from here (!) but my initial thought is that of suitable equipment. For example we have Lego, scissors and other such equipement that wouldn't be suitable for the very youngest children. How do you get around this?

 

These are issues that parents and childminders come up against every day. You just keep unsuitable items out of reach of the younger children and teach the older ones where they can use them and to put them away afterwards.

 

The older children in my care sit at the dining table to use lego and scissors.

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i'd just like to echo what Upsy Daisy has said.

 

Our is a nursery for up to 40 children, the older children know where scissors are kept and put them back when they have finished using them; and at times we also have the option of keeping all the younger children together if we need too but this rarely happens because of the resources being used, its more at story or circle time as obviously the younger the child the shorter the attention span so we do a song or rhyme time just for them.

 

We keep anything that is considered a swallowing hazard out of reach but the children know that they can ask an adult for anything, this way it means that an adult is always aware of anything hazardous that is being used anyway and the need for keeping a watchful eye over a particular area of activity.

 

It highlights to our staff that risk assessment is constant not just a paper exercise once a week say.

 

Hope this helps you in allay any fears.

 

BMG

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Hi I just wanted to add that I went on some outstanding training with Sally Thomas who said that family grouping is a great idea for all concerned. The older ones get the benifit of caring for the little ones, This format is used in a lot of other countries. I could go on for hours this is the second Sally thomas training I have attended she makes so much sense I recommend anyone to go and listen to her.

 

 

Tink69

 

Sally's great, isn't she? We had a "friendly critical eye" visit to another setting I work with in Jan and an INSET in Feb. We have her materials on order, but the "big file" hasn't arrived yet, as far as I know. It's just that I wanted some research freely available rather than having to buy a book or anything, myself, and wait for it to come and then hope it had something in it!! When I trained family grouping of infant classes was just being phased out...my first TP was with vertically grouped infants and it was fabulous. My final TP was with mixed Y1 and Y2 and I have been with mixed age group 3+s lots of times...BUT I have no experience of mixed age 0-5s.

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Sounds great - I am from a childminding background so this seems a natural way of working to me. I too used the dining table for activities that the younger children couldn't safely have free access too.

 

Can I ask a question about ratios? Would they be applied generally across the room, or would each key worker have childminder ratios?

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Can I ask a question about ratios? Would they be applied generally across the room, or would each key worker have childminder ratios?

 

I was wondering about that too. Childminders' ratios are 1:3 for children under five but as group settings can have higher numbers of children to staff does this mean that a practitioner can have four or more in their small group? If you calculate the ratios over the setting as a whole this would be possible wouldn't it?

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We maintain ratios at all times say as a for instance we had six under two's, three of which were very young and not walking and three are able walkers, then we would need at least two staff just as anyone would.

 

The staff member venturing into the big wide world of the main nursery makes other staff aware that she is doing so with three young children then the other staff will keep an extra pair of eyes on the little ones too as they join in with the older children's play. If a nappy needed attention then the younger children would be verbally "passed" responsibility to another staff member.

 

This is really difficult to explain, I know what I mean, not sure if I have made any sense at all, but above all common sense prevails!

 

BMG

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  • 1 year later...

As a childminder, this is the natural way for me.

 

I worked in a day nursery for a month and was upset by the numbers of children crying because they had to settle into baby rom, toddler room, 2-3 room and then pre school room - how traumatic and stressful for all concerned.

 

My friend has just been through settling her little girl into baby room (as she wasn't walking) now the nursery have realised that she is very close to walking and socially very capable, chatty etc so want her in the next room, cue another difficult settling process.

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