Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Preschool Year In Playgroup


 Share

Recommended Posts

I posted a while ago that my committee were keen to open the playgroup for 5 sessions a week and keep their children at the playgroup for their preschool year instead of going to the nursery. We are in a very rural location and the children will be going to the local schools rather than the school the nursery is attached to.

 

However, suddenly the chair (who isn't the most confident of people at the best of times) has suddenly had an attack of the jitters and has said she's not sure about it anymore which has sent a wave of panic through the rest of the committee. After an extremely lengthy meeting tonight I have been asked to come up with a 'plan' by Monday of what I will be specifically offering the preschoolers which is different from what I offer now. Basically they want me to sell the idea to them, to put their minds at rest, that their children are not going to be 'suffering' by staying at playgroup.

 

So my question is, for those of you who have playgroups that cater for 2 1/2 yr olds to preschool - how do you structure your sessions and what specifically do you offer the older children and how does this fit in with the younger children.

 

Does that make sense? Sorry, my mind is going round and round at the moment. I went to the committee meeting thinking everything had been decided and was suddenly put on the spot having to justify everything. I'm quite cross that the chair hadn't contacted me in advance and asked me to prepare something, rather than springing it on me at the meeting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Beau

I am working in preschool.The children move from nurcery when they 3. Can I help with anything, or you asking who is in same structured setting like you ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi B,

 

At the moment any ideas which would win my mums over would be gratefully received! Are there specific things you do with your preschoolers to prepare them for moving to school. I have already thought of obvious things such as getting them to change for PE in the summer term and having a lunch club so they can bring their packed lunches in. I am just feeling very pressured to come up with some fabulous ideas. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Carol,

 

When i 1st started at my setting we lost a lot of children at 4yrs who went on to a local nursery.. it drove me mad, now 5 yrs on i keep most of them (from approx 4 staying 5yrs ago i now have 19 at present).

 

Although all the children from 2 1/2 - 5 yrs are intergrated together the younger children only have a keyworker group once a week where as the 4 yrs olds have a keyworker group every day and get extra time fro the computer etc.

 

It works well along with informing the parents that there is no difference between us teaching the children and being taught at nursery ( why put them through the upheaval) :o

 

We also do lunch clubs and take them on visits to the school they move up too for lunches, assembles etc before they start. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We dont actually plan for the specific ages, rather to all their needs and interests. I suppose we've been allowed to be soft in some area's cos we're the only playgroup around and next door to a school with no nursery yet. We do provide and expect different things from the pre-schoolers, but our parents are happy that their children are playing and have friends they will go onto school with. We do lose some occassionally to a nursery further down the road but it's usually from parents who really want to be free for a whole day. I like to think that all the stuff I spout about the FS being about play and socialising and building a good foundation for later learning has paid off. I do think the most important thing is continuity, and we provide that. Ofsted were happy with the differentiation our short term plans showed as is the mentor teacher from Early Years. I do think we could provide more challenges but it would probably mean more resources in some cases, and I hate to stop the children from what they're doing to do the stuff they call work.

Not much help to you Beau, but I've got problems with the way the planning is going full stop at the moment. Some people are so blinkered to what they were told years ago it's causing me bloody headache!!! :o:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Beau

 

It does sound like you've been dropped in it from a very great height!

 

But don't panic! Think carefully about what you provide for the children, and stress the educational value of these activities to parents. Whether their children stay with you or go to the nursery at 4, they will be working towards the Early Learning Goals, and expectations for their learning will be high, as laid down in the Foundation Stage Guidance manual. And of course the Profile asks exactly the same questions about their child's progress whether they're at nursery or pre-school.

 

It may be that your setting is suffering from 'playgroup-itis' - that is the feeling that children don't learn at 'playgroup' they just play. It could be that parents would benefit from learning more about the Foundation Stage, and about how the activities you provide for their children enable them to develop the skills outlined in the stepping stones for each area of learning.

 

And don't forget to stress the benefits of the higher adult: child ratio you can provide - even if your setting has the minimum 1:8 ratio, at nursery I'm presuming it will be no better than 1:13. Children learn best in small groups, with the input of qualified early years practitioners helping them to make connections between all the areas of learning.

 

Stress the 'getting ready for school' skills you can help the children develop: independence (getting changed for PE sessions, changing shoes to go outside etc), lunch clubs or afternoon sessions if that's possible in your setting which get the children used to being 'at school' for the longer day.

 

We also provide slightly more structured (but still practical) activities for our four year olds which are aimed at encouraging them to sit and concentrate. We avoid the dreaded worksheets, but these activities enable us to concentrate on the pre-reading and writing skills which children need to develop. They have 'work books' in which they can record the results of experiments, write brief accounts of what they have done in pre-school, or draw pictures to illustrate a particular activity.

 

Finally, explain to parents how you extend pre-school activities to challenge or stretch the older/more able children - they don't need to go to nursery to be intellectually challenged and develop.

 

Above all, be confident that you are providing the best educational start for the children in your care. You may need to 'think on your feet' when parents say "ah but at nursery they do ..." to come up with a reasoned argument as to how your setting can offer similar benefits to their children. There's no doubt we in pre-schools have to be much more creative in our thinking, and we can't always compete with well-resourced nurseries in terms of equipment, funding etc. However, pre-schools are doing a brilliant job for the children in their care. Parents have a right to decide what is best for their children, but these decisions must be based on information and knowledge about the Foundation Stage, and how each setting implements it.

 

And now I'm getting down off my soap box! I hope you are able to get your thoughts together for Monday - it does seem like a mammoth task but I wish you well.

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Carol

Oh it is so hard convincing these people that pre-schools and playgroups have so much to offer.

We are like Hali in that our younger children only have one keyworker session each week and our pre-schoolers have one every day. We differentiate our activities for the ages and abilities and sometimes do different activities for the two groups. Our timetable is such that after tidy up time, at about 11.00, we split the children into two groups for the last half an hour. The younger children have a story and the older children do band, gym, Sticky Kids etc. for quarter of an hour. They then swap over for the second quarter of an hour.

I also put an emphasis on the PSED skills having the age range develops. It's lovely to let the older children look after the new ones as they start. They develop a sense of responsibilty and they are very proud of the duties they are given.

We have wraparound care so we already have children staying for lunch but I always encourage parents of those going to school in September to join in with this for at least the last half term.

Good luck and go in there knowing that you are doing a great job!

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Pardon my ignorance - but what do you mean when you talk about a 'keyworker session'? Does this mean you have specific activities you do with a number of children? I only ask because at the minute we have 'free play' all morning with our children, followed by outdoor play, story, and then home, and I would be interested to know what kind of things you do in these sessions, and how you organise them.

 

Sorry Beau, I realise I am getting off track from what you asked!

 

G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our keyworker groups are; one member of staff responsible (not for the whole session) but for when the children are new and need to get to know a staff member and for group times ( when once a week up to 4yrs then all sessions they are in till they go to school0. in group times we cover specific things like numbers, letters, shapes, colours, alphabet... broadly the staff plan for thier own groups around our topic for the term... all this work then goes into thier folders with IPPs and observations to be given to parents each term to see what the children have been up to and how they are progrsssing. :D:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our keyworkers are very similar to Hali's. Each child is allocated a member of staff before they start so that they can settle them in. Those children who return to us in September move up into our Sunshine group and they have our deputy as their keyworker. The younger children are then split into 4 groups allocated to the other 4 members of staff, I don't have a group so that if somebody is off ill I can take their group.

The groups do very similar things, counting, looking at shapes, colours, talking about sharing and being kind etc. But they are differentiated for the age groups. And as I said before the older ones have a session everyday and the younger ones each member of staff has a session with their group which is on a different day each week. These sessions take place during our free play time.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Beau,

At my pre school, we have a pre school group that caters for the children who are developing the stepping stones confidentely and are requiring more simulation than a standard session gives.

The age of the children can vary but all children the term they become four enter the group. It is run within the session along side the other children but my deputy organises greater challenges for them.

We have found this very beneficial and have been congratulated by one of our feeder schools as to 'what well adjusted children we have'.

I don't know what it is like in your area but whare we are pre schools have a MUCH better adult:child ratios than nurseries that are attatched to schools.

I would talk to your parents and explain that what you practise in your pre school is no different to what can be expected from nurseries but the difference is that they will be doing it in a smaller, more relaxed atmosphere.

Net :):)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We do simaliar to you Hali but we combine it with snack-time and news time or "show and tell" We also have 6 already made up bags with items relevant to each learning goal and it is up to the keyworker (with the help of the children sometimes) to choose .This is ended by a story. Each keyworker is responsible for observing so we all know what stage are children are at. All children take part in this Keyworker-time lasts for 10-20 minutes according to the children concentration.

As we all are working with the foundation stage I don't understand why some people think that children learn more at nursery than pre-school.When differentiating their is no need to provide different activities.I am having a discussion at the moment with a teacher in on of our feeder schools because she thinks that children shouldn't be learning sounds and recognising some words at pre-school but I am trying to tell her that it is natural progression and once children have learnt the basics we have to introduce them to next step.I have a few children that are beginning to recognise words and put flash cards in order to make sentences but if they get fun out of doing it why not, a few of the younger ones were watching the older ones doing it and they were turning the cards the write way up and recognising some of the letters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with everything that has been said, especially Mazlittles' "rant".

 

My main concern is the "continuity" of care & education. Playgroup to Nursery to school is 3 changes within as many years :o

 

We all follow the same curriculum, don't we. But we all also have a "Hidden" curriculum, the ethos that each individual setting has, the positives of yours should be "marketed".

 

Ask the parents What do you "expect" from Nursery compared to playgroup, as we assume a lot of what "parents" think about why they choose one over the other. How often do we actually ask them?

 

Once you know their agenda you can allay their fears, assure their expectations, and all be on the same mind set of what your goals are for THE CHILDREN. Other issues such as hours offered, cost etc are relevant to parents as well.

 

Good luck and I hope all the "adults" agenda's don't over shadow what is really important, need I say "what's best for the child"

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems we're all of the same opinion, and I agree with what Peggy says about marketing, asking parents what they want and bearing the children's needs in mind most of all.

 

And thanks for the information about 'keyworker grouptime' - I find it fascinating how we all do similar things, but in our own, different ways.

 

Keep up the good work everybody: we're all fantastic!

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thankyou all for your replies. :D I felt really bleak on Thursday after coming home and spent a sleepless night and had resolved by 4 o'clock that I had had enough and would resign. Then yesterday I went into playgroup feeling so tired but had a great morning with the children. xD I'll see what happens next week before I make my final decision. :(

 

One of the overiding things for me is that I get so angry for the children. How many parents of older children do you know who have agonised about moving as they don't want to disrupt their child's schooling but think nothing of sending a small child to messy two's group, playgroup, nursery and then school. And all before they are even 5! And I know that I can offer the children everything the nursery can and more in some cases because we have a small group and I know the children so well. :(

 

Now I can make up a coherent list of all the benefits and if the parents still chose the nursery then they're obviously bonkers and I'm probably better off without them. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree totally with Maz we too keep most of our four year old children despite having two nursery classes in very close proximity to our Pre-school. We had an excellent education Osted report (better than both nurseries reports i might add) which is available for parents to read on the internet as well as in our setting, this way they can compare and make up their own minds. We open 5 days having Fridays as our Pre-schooler day much the same as everyone here. You must sell yourself, especially the higher ratio of staff and children. We open for three hours a day unlike the nurseries two and a half hours.

Good luck, hope it works for you.

Stella

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spent the last couple of hours typing this up. Let me know if you think there's anything else I should include. :)

 

Having a bit of trouble adding the attachment so will have to cut and paste - sorry!!

 

What does the playgroup have to offer my pre-school child?

 

 The proposed opening times are

 

9.30-12.00 Monday

9.30-12.00 Tuesday

9.30-12.00 Wednesday

11.30-2.00 Thursday

9.30-12.00 Friday

 

 There is also an option of starting up a lunch club on a Tuesday to extend the opening time to 1.00pm.

 The Tuesday and Thursday sessions will only be available to funded place children.

 The children will bring in a packed lunch on Thursday (and Tuesday should the lunch club prove viable). Research has shown that one of the things children are most anxious about is lunchtimes, as they haven’t had experience of this before. By bringing their packed lunches to playgroup we can help them to prepare for school lunches by becoming independent in opening packets etc

 If parents are keen for us to open a lunch club on a Tuesday this longer session will help the children to become used to a slightly longer day in readiness for school.

 By staying at playgroup the children will have greater continuity and consistency of care which is so important for young children. They can continue to develop in an environment they feel safe and secure in.

 There will be no lengthy settling in period after the summer holidays. The children will start 5 sessions right from the start of the new school year.

 The minimum adult to child ratio is 1:6 in playgroup rather than the 1:10 in nursery.

 The pre-schoolers will have a 15 minute group time every session with the playleader. There will be an emphasis on pre reading and writing skills and numeracy, but in a fun and practical way. These sessions will help the children to develop their concentration skills. During this time the play assistant will supervise the younger children.

 All focus activities take account of the different age ranges/stages of development and are differentiated accordingly so that the activities remain challenging for all. Where necessary separate, more challenging activities, can be provided for the older children, however the emphasis on learning through play will remain.

 The playgroup has a good sized room, which means that the children always have access to a wide range of physical activities. A child can only develop their fine motor skills, which are needed to enable them to hold and control a pencil, once the larger muscles in their shoulders and arms have had a chance to develop.

 There will be an ‘activity session’ planned every week. In the summer term the pre-schoolers will be required to bring in a PE kit and change for these sessions to give them an opportunity to develop their independence in changing, as this is another area that children are anxious about upon starting school.

 The committee have agreed that bringing in specialist teachers in music, physical education and possibly drama for a block of sessions during the year would be beneficial to the children.

 The playleader will liase with the local schools to develop closer links. The exact nature of this will be dependent upon the head teachers and their preferences as to how we should proceed. (Perhaps visiting the schools to watch assemblies, shows, join them for a lunchtime or playtime etc.) The schools already have an induction programme over a 6-week period during the summer term.

 The children will receive a story pack each week to share with you at home. The primary schools will provide the children with learning packs once they start their visits in the summer term. It may be possible to liase with the schools so that the children can be offered these for the entire summer term, rather than just for the 6-week induction period.

 Each summer term the P1-4’s from Old Rayne Primary visit playgroup to share their stories with the children.

 The older children in playgroup will be given the duty of looking after the younger children, which will help them to develop a sense of responsibility.

 The playgroup is hoping to develop an outdoor play area to the side of the hall. This will enable us to have a regular outdoor play session during the summer term and the children can bring in a small snack and drink, just as they would at school. They will also be encouraged to change their own shoes and coats to further develop their independence in readiness for school and prepare them for playtimes.

 

I am interested in learning of your expectations regarding your child’s education. If you have further concerns or questions which I have not addressed here then please feel free to contact me. The committee needs to have your decision by the end of the session on Wednesday so that the necessary preparations can be made before the summer holidays.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bubblejack, what sort of things are in your 6 bags that cover the ELGs? Sounds interesting.

 

Sue J

27793[/snapback]

The bags are getting larger and larger as we think of different things but I will try and visualise them now.

P.S.E.D. A smiley/sad face, feeley things, a bear with various fastenings, books about different body features, telling the truth, being kind.Large hand puppets, each staff member has their own.

K.U.W. Weather charts,a fuzzy-felt bear that has to be dressed accordingly, body books, finger puppets and books about nature i.e. catterpillar to butterfly, life cycle plastic models of frog spawn to frog.

MATHS.Numerical finger puppets(ten green bottles, 5 little ducks, 2 little dicky birds)large dice, number books, bunch of keys, plastic numbers, number cards, 10 little bags with items 1-10 to match number on front.

L.L&C. Phonic cards, story books with finger puppets, sound bags.

Megaphone and recorder to sing/ talk into.

PHYSICAL,Hand and eye co-ordination toys, small wooden "old fashioned" toys.

CREATIVE, collection of unusual musical insruments, Books with just pictures, ribbons and different textured materials.

I have a sheet for each learning goal giving ideas on language to use. The reason for starting these bags was to ensure that all staff were aware of the learning goals and to make it interesting for all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Beau

 

This sounds as if you have put a lot of thought into this, and I agree whole heartedly with everything you say - well done! It should certainly make your parents think more closely about the issues involved and help them to make a decision from a position of strength rather than panicking that their child will not be offered a place at school when the time comes.

 

Some schools have been known to lead parents to believe (or at best not to allay the impression) that if a child turns down a place at the school's nursery, their place at school may be jeopardised. I'm not sure if this is happening in your case, but you have certainly given your parents plenty to think about.

 

I'll be really interested to hear how things go, and what the end result is.

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have followed this discussion with interest, partly because we are 'the school nursery' down the road!

Carol, you have obviously thought through all the issues and come up with a pretty comprehensive list of what you are able to offer and Im sure many of your parents will decide to stay with you.

 

Our parents often chose us simply because we offer full time places, and because they already have children at the school, so the reasons are largely practical ones. Perhaps these reasons dont apply in your situations, but often the choice of where to send their children isnt always about who provides the best quality of provision but of practical issues too.

 

I personally think that what matters for you Carol and (your committee) is that you are giving the parents a choice. We are all here to provide the best we can for the children in our care, whatever our indiviual situations, but we must also accept the decision they make. Sometimes they make the decisions to go elsewhere and we have to respect that, but it does also help if we know why that is and if there was anything we could have done?

 

I think Maz that your point about parents worrying about not getting places in their chosen school is also an important one. Some schools do select children on the basis on whether or not they attend the nursery but I dont believe they are supposed to. In fact we are very clear to our parents that attendance at our nursery does not guarantee them a place in the school at all, as we have other criteria that is more important.

 

I hope that makes sense. And good luck Carol, do let us know how you get on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Handed out the letters at the start of playgroup and then spoke to those parents after the session who had more questions. It's quite interesting to find out what is important to different people. Some of the questions ranged from - do we have a large enough selection of books to make sure they had a change of stories next year and don't end up with the same ones - will the older and younger children have storytime together - was a 15 minute activity long enough to improve atttention span - what would I do if a child showed an interest in reading and writing - would I offer the children worksheets - would I teach them Jolly Phonics?

 

The interesting thing is that my daughter is at the nursery at the moment (and older daughter went their last year) so I know what the nursery offer and it is not that different to playgroup. A couple of my mums have older children who went to the nursery too and these mums are not as worried and are the ones who are most happy with leaving their children at the playgroup. For the other mums I think that there is a perception that because the nursery is attached to a school that they do more in the way of 'school work'. It doesn't seem to matter how much I stress the importance of play (which the nursery also believe in) the parents always come back to the same thing.

 

In terms of the parents wanting the children to attend nursery so they don't lose their place at school - this is not the case here. The nursery is 4 miles away and, apart from one of my children, all the others will go to much smaller rural schools in the area. The nursery has 24 -28 children in each group (morning and afternoon). These groups are made up according to the children's age - so the morning group are the older half and the afternoon group are made up of the younger half plus any funded 3 year olds in the area. This means that last year I had 5 children at playgroup who will all be going to the local school, yet 2 of them are in the morning nursery and the other 3 in the afternoon nursery. So these children were together for a year, split up for a year and then will be together again at school. Also they were in a small group of children at playgroup, had to adjust to being in a large group at nursery and will return to a small school (about 35-40 pupils).

 

Anyway, thanks for the help. I will let you know what the parents are saying on Wednesday. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to let you know that three of the five mums have decided to keep their children at playgroup. One of them (the chair as it happens) is still undecided. The mum who has said she definately will be sending her child to the nursery instead told me that she would keep her son at playgroup if it wasn't for the fact that everything was up in the air. So all I've got to hope now is that the committee moves forward in a positive way and manages to pull it off. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well done Beau!

 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you and I hope that this will give you and your committee a solid base to work from. Its very interesting that one of your parents has been so unsettled by the indecision - that's a very powerful lesson for your committee to learn. Leadership is a key issue: parents (and staff and committee members come to that) can be put off when they can't see a way forward.

 

Do they know how lucky they are to have you to steer them in the right direction?

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)