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Adult Cover For Outdoor Play


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I'm starting as a Nursery teacher in a new school next week. At the moment they don't have continuous outdoor provision but want to move that way. We have two FT teachers and two NNs. We obviously want to share the load but are finding it difficult to plan without staff being outdoors for hours on end! We thought of maybe doing it in half-hour sessions.

 

How do you plan your outdoor provision? Do you have continuous provision for long periods of time or time slots of say 45 min - 1hr when the chn can choose to work outdoors? I would love to hear from others about how you do it.

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Poppy, I think a lot depends on your staff, the outdoor space you have, the number of children, and the indoor space you have to supervise. We have to share our outdoor area with reception so we break the morning and afternoon into two- our playground is miniscule and it is difficult for nursery and reception be be outside together. We usually open the doors once the regiater is complete and all the children are in, and they move freely between indoor and outdoor. We always have one floating member of staff who will go where more of the children are. We then come in for juice time and stay the rest of the morning inside. We work in a similar way in the afternoon. Our staff on the whole dont mind being outside as it gives them opportunities to do observations or plan activities that cant be done inside. We have a rota but when its cold, we tend to swap about. Flexibility is the key. Try different things to find away that works for you.

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I am a nursery teacher and I am lucky enough to have a fantastic outdoor space to work in. At the beginning of last year we made the decision as a team to allow the children free access to the outdoor area at all times (except for whole group times eg. circle time, story times). We worked on a rota by having the same member of staff outdoors for a whole week. This meant that previous learning could be followed up more efficiently and the curriculum planned for with more continuity from day to day. It took a couple of months to get used to the new system but by the end of the year everyone was very good at planning meaningful learning opportunities in the outdoors, right across all curriculum areas.

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We have quite a large outdoor area which has areas that cannot always be seen so a member of staff will have to be outdoors at all times. We have 60 children.

 

nicky_f - how did you find it being outdoors for long periods of time during the cold weather for a whole week?!! We were thinking that it would be bad enough for half hour stints during bad weather. Or do you live in a warmer climate? I'm interested to know more about how it helped you to follow up previous learning - could you give me some examples.

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I can see how it would be useful to have the same person outdoors for a blocked period of time. We take it in turns to do about 20 mins each between three of us, so the children have free access to outdoors for an hour a day, but we're looking at how to extend this to cover more of the session. It's really disruptive when you're in and out of Nursery and you certainly don't get much of a chance to concentrate properly on what's going on. If you know in advance that you'll be out for a prolonged period, there's more chance for you to get on with it and enjoy being outside. I'm still concerned about adequate supervision, though. We have 39 children and 3 staff, with a large area inside and outside to manage. We try to be flexible, but can often be left outdoors alone with the majority of the children if the other adults are dealing with accidents etc. What are other people's outdoor ratios like?

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We managed fine in the cold weather - we're in the north east so it get's quite cold! We found that if we knew we were going to be outside then we brought warm enough clothes and spare ones too for when we got wet, as we go out in all weathers. As for supervision, at first all the children want to go out together but once they get used to being able to come and go as they want, you find that the group outside at any one time gets smaller. The children really respond well to planning their own time.

 

We found it was easier for the one member of staff to follow up individual children's interests from day to day. For instance, two of our children became really interested in wood lice (!) and other creepy crawlies last term and because the NN was able to spend a long time observing them on the first day of the week, the NN could then extend their learning by providing books, talking to them about caring for animals, habitats etc. later in the week. If you have different members of staff coming in and out you rarely get the chance to sit and watch children like this. The planning became more relevant and individual.

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Hmmm... I think the idea of having one adult outside over a week is definitely worth trying. I'll try persuading the other members of staff :D Know what you mean about the cold north east. We're in Washington and I'm not convinced we've seen more than a week of sun since 1999. I'm sitting listening to the rain beating down on the last day of the holiday... how unfair!!! :o

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I'm going to cut and paste your ideas and discuss them with the rest of the staff to see what they think. When you tell people about ideas that you've read they don't always sound as convising.

 

I'll let you know what we decide to do.

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