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Nqt In Need Of Advice Please


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Hi all! This could be quite a long one but I would really appreciated any help and advice please-

 

I have 14 reception children and 6 year 1's in my class- these are in my class as it was felt that these children would benefit from having another year doing EYFS as opposed to going into the Year 1/year 2 class. I have 1 full time TA.

 

My problem is that I am really struggling with getting the balance of CI play and adult led activities right, whilst also ensuring my Year 1's are getting the teaching they need. This is particulary the case in the mornings as I feel that there is just not enough time to do everything.

 

Currently my day is as follows:

8.45- 9.00- register, calendar

9.00- 9.15/9.20- assembly (we have to go in as we are a CE school)

9.20- 9.40- phonics carpet time

9.40-10.45- 1 adult led phonics activity with group of YR and Y1 adult led activity, whilst rest access cont. provision (we have integrated snack time here)

10.45- 10.55- PRSN carpet time

10.50- 11.30- PRSN adult led group activity YR and Y1 adult led activity, whilst rest access cont.provision

11.30- 11.40- story/songs

11.40- 11.50- getting ready to go home/lunch

12.00- 1.00- lunch

1.00- 1.15- carpet input

1.15-2.20- adult directed activity and cont. provision

2.20- 2.40- playtime with Y1/Y2 class

2.40- 3.15- fruit and story time and getting ready to go home

 

The problem I have is that the morning is not working for me as although we have a rolling snack this does not work as children have to pay for their snack on a daily basis like the rest of the school and have a choice of sometimes 4 different drinks and 4 different snacks which of course means that all the children want their snack as soon as it is ready so that they have the best choice!!! Also we have to set this up for about 10 am to ensure all children get to have it and we find that one of us has to always be there throughout snack time to monitor it. In addition to this, I am trying to ensure that I do a group activity with YR (1 activity for phonics and 1 for PRSN over the week ensuring that all YR do the activities over the week) and also that my TA takes the y1's out to do a daily activity in both Literacy and Numeracy during this time which means that we have no time to actually observe and float during the children's CI time as both of us are working with groups of children or managing the snack time.

We do not go out at playtime, but my TA does go and have her break from 10.30-10.45 which is when playtime is which leaves me in the class on my own having to clear away the snack whilst also keeping an eye on the children and getting ready for the next carpet session.

 

I would really love some advice on this as i am getting really stressed about it and feeling that I am not able to teach properly and manage my class as I would like too and obviously want to get it right!!!!

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Hi, on the plus side you have a small class. You will also learn to get very good at differentiation! My first thought is, what does your induction mentor say? He or she should be your first port of call.

 

On the downside, I don't believe it's completely possible to deliver the EYFS in a mixed age class. My daughter is in a mixed YR/1/2 class of a similar size to yours. The teacher uses 'planning boards' for reception, which is kind of like free choice, except there is a limited size to the group for logistical purposes. They fit in with the playtime of the rest of the school, rather than having free flow access to the outdoors, a bit like in the 'old days' before reception did EYFS. It's really not the end of the world, they are certainly picking up reading and writing skills much more quickly than they might in a class with only reception, because they learn from the older ones.

 

If the rolling snack isn't working for your class, could they have play and snacktime with everyone else in the school? I worry that you are not getting a mid morning break which can't be good for you.

 

Good luck!

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It might seem a silly thing to say but if these year ones were put in this class in order to benefit from the continuation of an EYFS style of teaching, why are they then doing something different to the rest of the class? I know there is the pressure to ensure they get the same as the other yr1/2 class or their 'entitlement' but surely what they are entitled to is the best learning situation for them. There are massive overlaps between EYFS and the curriculum for year 1, particularly the primary strategy for literacy and numeracy so it doesn't need to be that different as presumably these year ones are quite weak in their literacy and numeracy skills. Perhaps you don't need to be doing a daily literacy session with them in addition to phonics and shared reading/writing. Or maybe instead of having a whole class phonics session your TA could take the weaker or brighter ones (whether they are reception or year one) and do a session with them instead and you could keep the rest of the class and just do a 15 minute whole class session.

 

Alternatively you could alternate which session the year ones get seperately, either literacy or numeracy each day rather than both (I did this last year with my straight year one class and their progress was fantastic).

 

Please don't feel you have to stick to a rolling snack if this isn't working. If you only have two adults and one is being completely tied up by snack for a significant period each day perhaps it is time to move back to a group snack where everyone sits down. Some people think rolling snack is better, but actually what is better is the thing which works best for you and your class. The children are having a poorer experience if there is no one observing/playing with them, and the benefits of a rolling snack certainly do not outweigh this.

 

I would also say they are probably sitting for too long at the start of the day with it being register, then assembly, then phonics, but looking at your timetable I'm not sure where you'd move phonics too. Perhaps someone wiser can give some further advice!

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Thanks for the advice so far! It's good to be able to share worries and get words wisdom from others!!

 

I was thinking about joining the rest of the school for snack/playtime due to the rolling snack not working and also considering I have quite a few children with older siblings in the school who I know they want to see. I was also thinking of having a class snack time where all children have their snack at the same time. So two options there which I will speak with my mentor and head about.

 

Does any one do this in their reception class, snack altogether? what time do you do it? I'm just bit weary of doing it at say 10.30-10.45 for example, as then the children would have to sit on the carpet again for PRSN carpet time. If i do it earlier I am then interrupted their CI play. Never thought working in early years would be so complicated and hard to get your head round!!!!

 

I will speak to my mentor about this- to be honest it was only towards the end of this week that i realised that it wasn't working, but my mentor is not early years trained so basically on my own with regards to EYFS.

 

Kariana, would you say that it would be ok for the year 1's to do the same activity as the YR but differentiated then? Would they not need to do a Literacy and Numeracy activity everyday? I do provide continuous provision for Literacy and Numeracy so they can still access this on the days they do not do Literacy/Numeracy activity.

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I work as a TA in a mixed age class, we have FS/Yr 1/Yr 2 but there are only 10 in the class! I have an NVQ5 and am working towards my degree in Early Years so the teachers I work with have given me more responsibility for the Foundation Stage children enabling them to do more formal sessions with the older ones while I observe and support the FS. We do a phonics session each morning after assembly and this is grouped by ability across the school so I have the FS and two Year 1's. After that the FS have some free choice and then we have snack time altogether. It's a nice social time and all seem to enjoy sitting together chatting! We try to make them as independent as we can encouraging them to pour milk from a jug themselves.

 

It's a very difficult mix as the curriculums can be quite different but I know some settings use challenges within their continuous provision, so the older children have some set 'teacher tasks' to complete before free choice. For example, use the magazines in the craft area to find pictures of things made from metal - somewhere I have a saved list of challenges which I found online somewhere!

 

I also listened to an advisory teacher from a mixed age class explain how she spent the first two months of a new year teaching the children to be independent, how to get equipment out themselves, resolve problems etc so that her and her TA were free to take groups within the class while the rest access the continuous provision.

 

Hope some of that helps!

 

Vickie

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Kariana, would you say that it would be ok for the year 1's to do the same activity as the YR but differentiated then? Would they not need to do a Literacy and Numeracy activity everyday? I do provide continuous provision for Literacy and Numeracy so they can still access this on the days they do not do Literacy/Numeracy activity.

 

I don't see why not, but someone may come along to contradict me! The differentiation is the key here and making sure they are working at a level appropriate to them. Without knowing the children I would say that if you are attempting to follow the primary strategy for your year ones then I would immediately throw it out the window and start giving them a much more EYFS based literacy and numeracy experience. Without knowing their ability it is hard to advise you much further but if they are still working on the FS profile then they should definitely still be working in a EYFS way. Just because a child moves up to year one doesn't mean they should suddenly be doing three times as many activities - something magical doesn't happen in those 6 weeks off, if anything they usually come back weaker than when they left!

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I have 16 YR and 2 Y1 this year, for the same reasons as you have some Y1s. I have always just included them as part of the class, differentiating as necessary, which means that sometimes (often!) it's not actually the Y1s who need me to extend stuff.....! They need to be able to access the continuous provision as this is how they learn best (rather than sitting at tables and being talked at .... :o ) and why they are in the class they are in. I do try to 'make' them more independent by the end of the year (as there is an expectation that next year they will be Y2s - which is wrong in my opinion as yes, they will be Y2s, but the learning should still be appropriate for them, not for what certain teachers think a Y2 should do - but I think that's a whole other rant!) but it does depend on the children concerned.

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Kariana- I can completely see your point and my Y1's are still struggling with the basics of Literacy and Numeracy so teaching in an EYFS way will definately benefit them.

 

Thanks for that Purplemagic, making me feel a lot clearer and giving me lots of food for thought!

Can I ask though- how many adult focused activity do your Y1's get each week? By this I mean actually sitting down with you to do an activity? How do you organise your day/week to ensure YR's and YR1's get adult focused activity and CI time whilst ensuring one of you are observing/supporting play?

 

Would you mind sharing your timetable and weekly plan please so that I can get an idea of how you structure and organise things?

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Thanks for that Purplemagic, making me feel a lot clearer and giving me lots of food for thought!

 

Good grief I actually managed that?! Lol!!

 

This is my timetable at the moment (well, sort of - I do change it around a bit depending what we're doing and how I'm feeling!):

 

Timetable_Sept_2010_in_word_97_2003_format.doc

 

It will change (probably lots of times) throughout the year, but is designed at the moment to try to provide lots of CI time where my TA and I can also play, and when we have small group activities, in theory the others are doing something independent that I have given them to do (maybe pegboards, Lego, etc). However, when I worked out the balance of adult directed v CI time, there was a still a lot of AD - but then stuff like PE takes up a chunk of that on the PE days.....! It's a never ending cyce of 'am I doing it right?' - well it is in my head anyway!

 

As for planning, I do Daily Plans rather than a weekly plan. It has any adult led activity on it, whether one of the short whole class sessions, PE or small group activities. Plus it has a mini-timetable so people can see what would be happening at times other than those AD activities. Oh but phonics is on a separate plan.

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Thanks purplemagic- it is interesting to see how other people timetable their day.

 

Purplemagic- Can I just ask though, from your timetable it doesn't seem that you do a whole class teaching session on the carpet before you go off and do activities, but before playtime or before hometime- correct me if I'm wrong!!

What I'm trying to say is that I was always under the impression that the whole class teaching session on the carpet had to link with what the children were learning about and doing in thier small group activities to provide some kind of starter/intro to the activity?

If they don't link then do your activities just include a starter/intro as part of the activity?

Also how many adult led activities do you do with the children each day? Do they have a CLL and PRSN activity every day or once or twice a week? What about the Year 1's?

 

Kariana- would it be possible to see your timetable please?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but I really need to sort out how I'm going to sort my week/days out so that it works for me and seeing what other people do is really helping me to question what I am doing and change my way of thinking.

 

You have been great help so far!!!!

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We have a whole class 'something' for 20 mins about 9:10-9:30, between 10 and 20 mins before playtime; 10 mins after lunch and 10 mins before assembly (which is at the end of the day. The 'something' varies, but we have one for CLL and one for PSRN most days. Sometimes the 'early' morning one will link to our small group activities, but it depends what those are. Sometimes I'll do a very quick whole class intro before chn do their group stuff, sometimes we do it as part of the group work - I don't want them sitting around listening for half of the day though! We don't have CLL and PSRN group work everyday - no idea how people would fit that it to be honest. I make sure they have at least one CLL or PSRN focused activity each week, but they then also have phonics every day, the whole class activities, access to the continuous provision, independent activities when we are working with groups. The Year 1s are exactly the same as YR - they are in my environment for a reason, so to overload them (for want of a better phrase) with constant 'pressures' of more formal learning would be too much for them and (in my opinion) defeat the purpose of them being with me. But then I could well be wrong....

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Purplemagic I would definitely agree with you there!

 

What I'm trying to say is that I was always under the impression that the whole class teaching session on the carpet had to link with what the children were learning about and doing in thier small group activities to provide some kind of starter/intro to the activity?

 

This is something you get taught during teacher training which is most relevant to KS2 and to a lesser extent KS1 and not really at all needed for the foundation stage, although at the time no one really mentions that! As long as your activities are related to the children's next steps then there is no need for a 'introduction' to the lesson or the small group activities. Besides what's the point of having an intro is then the children go off to the continous provision where they might be learning about something completely different only to then return to a small group activity having forgotten most of the introduction anyway! Instead you can fit your whole class activities in whenever seems most beneficial.

 

My timetable is for a straight year one class so I'm afraid it wouldn't be much use to you, it's definitely not what I would do in a foundation stage class at this time of year with or without year ones.

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