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Help With Daily Routine


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Hi :o

 

I'm an NQT and I'm new to nursery. I've survived (and loved!) my first half-term as the class teacher in a school-based nursery, but I'm not entirely satisfied with our daily routine. I carried on with a lot of the previous teacher's practices, but I'm not sure that they're working for these children.

 

I'm considering introducing a rolling snack system rather than the whole-class snack time that we have at the moment. While I see the benefits of having a whole-class snack, I'm finding that my children are becoming unsettled during this time. My TAs are very sceptical - they told me that the previous teacher tried a continuous snack system and it didn't work, mainly because some children kept helping themselves to more fruit than they should have done. But surely the children should be able to manage their own portions if there is an appropriate system in place and it is modelled for them first. How do others manage a rolling snack approach?

 

Also, is there a set number of adult-focused activities I should be doing per day/week? I've looked at the previous teacher's planning and she seemed to do an awful lot of AF activities each week. I just wondered what other people's routines are. At the moment, I try to plan one AF activity per day, and we do this during a dedicated group time towards the end of the session. However, I'm not sure this is working. Instead, I've considered having an AF activity running alongside the child-initiated learning, but there are practical issues here too, such as ensuring that every child accesses the activity.

 

One other thing: what do your children do when they enter nursery? I've continued with the previous teacher's routine: the children self-register by finding their name card and posting it into a postbox, then go to the carpet area for Take 10 (a DVD which is used throughout the school and consists of action rhymes for the children to join in with). I greet the children and parents as they come in, then go to the carpet to do the register when most of the children have arrived. We then sing a 'days of the week' song and work out what day it is, and we look at what the weather's like. I then talk about what we'll be learning that day before we go off into our planning groups for CI time (we've started operating a 'plan do review' approach). All of this takes a long time and I'm concerned that the children are on the carpet for far too long. However, the register needs to be done and I also feel that the children benefit from looking at the days of the week and the weather. I'd also like to continue with the 'plan do review' system as I like giving the children the opportunity to plan their own learning. How do I accomplish all of this without dragging it out for ages like I am at the moment? :(

 

Sorry for such a long post. I really feel as if I need some guidance as I'm new to nursery and have been struggling to find my way on my own over the past few weeks. I know there are some incredibly helpful and knowledgable people on this forum, so I'd really appreciate any advice I receive xD

 

Thank you.

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Hi Browneyedgirl

 

I've been lucky enough to teach nursery for several years now - and have changed my routine many, many times!

Snackbar v snacktime is something I'm still not sure about - we've done both and they each have pros and cons - but hopefully someone who has a stong opinion will come along with advice on this one.

I used to make sure I completed one focus activity everyday but this can become a bit of a conveyor belt experience and conflicts with children's self-initiated time. So often a focus will run over 2 or even 3 days - but we introduced a small-group time at the end of the session to allow us to complete some of the focus teaching we needed.

My biggest passion is the start of the day routine and our children come in to free-choice activities when they first arrive. In my early days as a nursery teacher I was told by an early years advisor that young children need to be active for the first half hour when they arrive and this really works for us. Children settle much more easily, and we have time to settle those who don't and to chat to parents. We also encourage our parents to stay and take part in activities during this time.

At the end of the half-hour we give everyone a 'one-minute warning' then put on our Activate music (a physical development/braingym programme) - which is the signal to gather on the carpet - and we start our group-time with this physical warm-up. We then do the usual day and weather plus group activity.

In the past we have gone from this whole-group activity to snack-time and used snack-time to sit in groups and plan our CI activities.

 

Hope this is of some help.

nsunshine.

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I used to make sure I completed one focus activity everyday but this can become a bit of a conveyor belt experience and conflicts with children's self-initiated time. So often a focus will run over 2 or even 3 days - but we introduced a small-group time at the end of the session to allow us to complete some of the focus teaching we needed.

Thank you for replying :o 'Conveyor belt teaching' is one of my concerns. I can feel myself falling into the trap of getting every child to complete a planned activity, even if it's not particularly tailored to their developmental needs. It's as if I know what I need to do, but don't know exactly how to do it in practice... I currently have group time at the end of each session, but don't feel that it works very well at the moment. In the morning sessions, there are three adults. This means that we can split the children into three groups at group time, with just under ten in each group. This can be difficult, as there are variations in children's needs even within each group. It's even less manageable during the afternoons when there are two adults and we therefore split the children into two large groups...

 

Going back to the 'conveyor belt experience'... I want to avoid having a tick list in front of me and getting each child to complete an activity. Instead, I want to plan activities that are tailored to specific children's needs. This means that if I have one AF activity running per day, only a few children will need to complete it as it won't be suitable for everyone... I don't want to end up in a situation where we reach the end of the week and some children haven't taken part in any AF activities at all. I hope that makes sense! Also, how do you address each child's needs in each area of learning every week? Or do you just focus on one area of learning each week and ensure that each child does one activity?

 

As you can probably tell, my head is swimming with ideas/confusion! I want to make sure I'm doing the best for all the children, but I'm still getting my head around how to do that when there are so many children's needs to address! xD

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Hi there browneyedgirl, first of all, you made it to your first half term, you've tried out some ways of doing things and are now reflecting on what works well and what perhaps you might do differently.. I do hope you are getting the support of an NQT mentor?

 

You will find as nsunshine said that you will change the way you do things many times as you establish what works well, what suits your families, your chidlren and the demands of the school.

 

There are a number of threads here around snack time.. if you try a search you should find some interesting discussions..there are advantages and disadvantages to both ways.

 

I liked having key group time at the end of my mornings..it was never perfect with a 13:1 ratio but it was a time I could focus on those specific things with my key group. We did also have an adult led activity going on during child initiated times but there was never any compulsion to do the activities (although we did try to encourage). We would vary these according to the nature of the activity. Sometimes for example, we would do something in small groups..parachute or games, beebot etc and we might make this available for a couple of sessions with an adult leading it. But sometimes, the activity might take longer and need more attention.. sewing and cooking being examples there and we would have these going on all week, sometimes even two!

 

At the start of the day, I used to prefer the children to come in and self select whilst I spoke to parents and they could stay for a short while and join in..this wasn't possible with everyone coming to carpet and I felt they spent a lot of time 'waiting' for everyone to be there. My Head didn't like this approach much though, and insisted that we had 'carpet time' first thing..so you can see..many differing views.

 

Alongside those decisions, you probably would want to look at your continuous provision and the role the adults have in supporting chidlren play..much of this planning will come from what you see as needs of the children. When you are new to teaching, this is often the most difficult bit to get right, and sometimes the bit least understood by some of your colleagues..depending on their own experiences.

 

Remember as well that you are still new at this, so take some time out to see what has worked well so far, and this will help when you come to have your end of term review.

 

Good luck with your decisions.

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sorry for very brief reply and I am only replying to rolling snack time issue here- something we are interested in trying but haven't fully as yet, anyway, speaking to another practitioner at a CP training course a few weeks back we discussed this issue and she said her setting has a small box for each child and at the beginning of each session the child and parent(s)/carer chooses what the child would like to eat during the session and they put their chosen snacks in their own box which they can access throughout the session at any time.

This supports their settling-in, sense of belonging, children's independence for snack bar, the bond between parent/carers and child, whilst it also works for staff as they can ensure there is a selection of snacks available and that each child gets a sufficient amount of snacks each session... thought was a wodnerful idea and is something we will, at some point, hopefully trial but thought was worth sharing with others too...sorry again for it only being a short reply

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We did also have an adult led activity going on during child initiated times but there was never any compulsion to do the activities (although we did try to encourage). We would vary these according to the nature of the activity. Sometimes for example, we would do something in small groups..parachute or games, beebot etc and we might make this available for a couple of sessions with an adult leading it. But sometimes, the activity might take longer and need more attention.. sewing and cooking being examples there and we would have these going on all week, sometimes even two!

Thank you for your reply xD Regarding the focused activities taking place during the session: were these aimed at specific children and planned for their needs, or did you just plan one activity for all the children to access and differentiate it accordingly depending on which children were taking part at any one time?

 

I think I need to get myself out of the habit of thinking that every child has to do every planned activity! :o

 

Remember as well that you are still new at this, so take some time out to see what has worked well so far, and this will help when you come to have your end of term review.

Thank you :( Sometimes it's difficult to focus on the positives when my head's so full of concerns about things not being right!

 

she said her setting has a small box for each child and at the beginning of each session the child and parent(s)/carer chooses what the child would like to eat during the session and they put their chosen snacks in their own box which they can access throughout the session at any time.

I love the sound of this! I'm not sure how practical it would be for us though... We don't have anywhere to store these boxes, and we also only have one snack option per day (I'm in a school-based nursery which gets a delivery of one type of fruit each day). I like the idea though, and it'd be good to try and work it into our setting somehow. Thanks for sharing :(

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We have a rolling snack bar and it works really well

It gives the children independence and choice

they can choose to come or not. they are not in the middle of something that has to stop for snack.

 

they all know to wash their hands before and they also know if all 6 chairs are in use they will have to come back later

 

we have snack helpers each morning that help prepare the snack and wash tables and set everything out

 

another helper rings a bell and the children know that snack is ready, we run this from 10.00 until 10.45

 

the children help themselves to snack and pour themselves a drink of milk or water from a jug

 

my children are aged between 2 1/2 and school age

 

go for it

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Thank you for your reply :o Regarding the focused activities taking place during the session: were these aimed at specific children and planned for their needs, or did you just plan one activity for all the children to access and differentiate it accordingly depending on which children were taking part at any one time?

 

 

Hi again.

We usually planned these following on from wither chidlren's interests or because we felt they would be interesting fun and enjoyable (cooking was something we tried to cover every week if we could). Sometimes we would have particular children in mind, but we would still encourage all the chidlren to take part, making adaptations according to what we knew about them. We were 3 adults and we never had more than one adult focused activity going during the session.

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