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In Need Of Advice


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Hi. I've posted a few times on this forum and always received helpful responses, so I hope you don't mind me picking your brains again!

 

I'm an NQT in a nursery attached to a school. We offer three-hour sessions over five mornings and five afternoons. I've never taught in F1 before, although I'm EY-trained and did my final teaching practice in F2. I'm never sure whether I'm doing anything right :( At the moment, my timetable looks like this:

 

Do the register, sing a 'days of the week' song, look at the visual timeline for the session

Plan-do-review

One or two adult-led activities running alongside 'choosing time'

Snack bar open throughout the session for children to have their milk and fruit

Story/singing

Home time

 

Out of curiosity, does anyone else use plan-do-review? What are your opinions on the approach? I find that most of our children tend to choose the same things every day :(

 

I want our sessions to be as child-initiated as possible, but I'm feeling a bit of pressure to do more structured work and adult-led sessions. I'm thinking of introducing a time for an adult-led input in small groups after registration, but is this the right time to do it? I don't want the children to be expected to sit and listen for too long, but I also don't want to interrupt their play midway through the session when they might be engrossed in what they're doing... However, our 'choosing time' lasts for almost two hours. It often feels as if this is too long and the children lose focus. Should this time be broken up with a group activity, or is this length of time ok as long as the adults interact effectively with the children and extend their learning? I do have one or two adult-focused activities running at the same time, but these are only targeted at specific children each day, so not every child will access them.

 

On another note, I'm not completely satisfied with our areas of continuous provision. I feel as if a lot of the children access the same areas all the time (e.g. there are some girls who love the home corner, and then there are lots of boys in the afternoon sessions who spend most of their time outside on the bikes), but they're not being sufficiently challenged. I'm worried that they end up doing the same things every day. How can I introduce challenge into CP? Also, any tips on enticing these children into different areas?

 

One more thing - I'm desperate to enhance our outdoor provision. We share our outdoor area with F2, and it's currently geared very much towards physical development. We have bikes, slides, seesaws and balance beams out almost every day, but very little else (and if we decide not to put the bikes out one day, the children pester us for them anyway!). One day last week, I put out a mat and some building blocks, but the blocks ended up in the mud and one of the TAs said it was too cold for the children to be sitting down and doing something like that. We have a chalkboard for mark-making and some number mats for numeral recognition, but I'm a bit stuck for other ideas. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! :o

 

 

Sorry for bombarding you with questions! Thank you very much in advance for any advice you can give me xD

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My first question is when is your review time?

 

In the High Scope nursery that I visited there was a short teaching focus before the "plan" session and a longer focus at the "review" session which also included a story. The children had been taught in the" plan & review" sessions how to access different areas of the curriculum ie mix their own paints etc. The "do" session was entirely CI with adults supporting differnt children from their group in whatever the children chose to do and taking these needs into review also to focus on the whole group when appropriate.

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My first question is when is your review time?

 

Sorry, I didn't make it clear. Our review time is before story/singing time towards the end of the session.

 

So would it be ok to make the 'do' time completely CI? My only worry about this is that I need to make sure we're providing enough challenge in the different areas of continuous provision.

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Your challenge is your interaction with the children, extending their learning as you are playing with and alongside them and the enhancements that you provide as a result of this observation and interaction.

 

That seems so obvious, but thank you for pointing it out :o I know deep down what we need to do, but I think the TAs I work with are used to more structure. They tend to observe children's play rather than getting involved, and often point out that some of the children are very able and ready to be stretched, implying that they need a more structured approach. This puts doubts into my head about the amount of 'stretching' we can do in CP.

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Hi browneyedgirl

 

I just wanted to say hello and say that could have been me writing your post! I can't really offer any advice but just wanted to say you are not alone. I too am questioning everything I do all the time, especially as my TAs are used to a more formal way of teaching in the Nursery and like yours, are suggesting I need to stretch the children by introducing letter sounds (unfortunately my Head is now in agreement) thankfully this forum is keeping me sane.

 

With regards to your outdoor area, we recently decided to put our bikes away. I felt awful at first, but there were certain children who would spend all session, every session just riding around on the bikes. They would ride into other children who were involved in other activities and it was becoming quite dangerous. We now only get them out when we have an extra member of staff to hand on the playground. Since putting them away, the children have been working far more collaboratively and engaging with resources that they hadn't previously, they are also being more imaginative. Our most popular resources are now the bread crates, planks and tyres, the children are really imaginative with these. They also love the digging equipment and love hunting for minibeasts.

 

I have found this blog quite good for outdoor ideas http://creativestarlearning.blogspot.com/

 

It's good to know there are other nursery NQTs out there, hopefully we can share ideas.

 

Xx

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Hi Jellybean and Browneyedgirl

I came to teaching very late in life - this is just my third year of teaching but because I work part-time I took 18mths to complete my NQT year! I think I know exactly how you both feel - when youre new you really do feel unsure - believe me with experience comes confidence. My setting is very 'open' and when I first started I felt I was under constant scruitny (sp) I was very unsure about making decision, and when I did make them my headteacher took great delight in pointing out they were never quite what she expected (oh to have her thousands of years experience). Anyway after lots of angst, tears and threats (in my head) to quit, I think I'm finally getting there. My confidence is developing, I believe in me and so do all my little charges! I think it takes a good practitioner to question themselves and constantly evaluate what theyre doing and is it right. Keep going and remember with experience comes confidence!

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I also know where you are coming from and i am in my last term of a NQT year.

 

I have moments where i doubt what i am doing is right! but then i go on a course or meet up with my local cluster group (which is a good idea if don't have one) and i realise i am doing the right thing!

 

re cluster group is a collection of local recpetion (in my last setting it also included some nursery teachers) teachers who meet up every half term to discuss things ect..

 

Look at alistairs blog he is very inspirational, i heard him speak at a conference last week and he was amazing and we do most of the things he harps on about!

 

Visit My Website

 

I am in a recpetion class this year, but last year i coverity a matnernity in a state nursery. The childre came in 3 hrs sessions sometimes doing 6 hrs. i ran my sessions similar to you however after registration/ greeting i would do a 5/10 minute input about something topical e.g. seaons/ festivals maybe some number games ect.. then the children went into CI with the options of a adult focus task, ended the session with a story/ song. This year in reception i follow a similar routine but also include phonics and guidied reading, so don't woryy we all feel like this from time to time.

 

Re-outdoor area, as long as they are wrapped up warm they can do anything outside my children love going out in the pouring rain!!!!

I am lucky to a really nice outdoor area But i do have a problem with bikes so the children know we only have bikes on Monday and Fridays (when we have no bikes the play is much better/ imaginative) at first the children asked for the bikes all the time but i just reminded them which days we have bikes and now they don't ask.

 

I enhance my outdoor area with themes boxes e.g. wet, windy, sunny box, role play boxes e.g. car wash, picnic, camping, gardening. I aslo have a builders box and digging area and a quiet area with a book box and rug. Free free things i get out are material, rope, garden cains, pegs. Large rolls of paper and mark making materials. This week we have had paint brushes, buckets of water and washing up liduid bottles filles with water that they have squirted on the floor. also have a mark making trolley e.g. chalks, paper, clipboards, brushes, conatiners, pencils, scissors. Also have washing line (numbers/ letters ect) and their favourite things are drain pipes which they rest on the fence/ milk crates and pour water and toys down.

Also try this website for outdoor learning (you do have to pay to join but some stuff is free:

 

Visit My Website

 

Watch what they play and it will give you ideas! we are spending this week just watching and playing with the children to help us decided where to take the childrens learning/ interest next and i have got so much already and its only tuesday!!! you don't relaise how in depth their play really is! Also research shows that it can take children 40minutes until they are engage in really deep indepth play. Spend time watching and uou will see for the first 30 minutes they flick about and then slowly the play becomes more indpeth and you can see the learning taking place!!!

 

Hope that all makes sense and had answered the question let me know if need more detail/ information

Emma

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With regards to the bikes I would say perhaps on some days you could put them away to allow other types of play to take place outside in safety. In your planning time if you mention that the bikes are not going to be out today so that all children will be aware of this and then if anyone pesters you just repeat 'not today' then they will soon get used to the idea that they aren't always available. Hopefully then by just watching how the children use the outdoor space when it isn't taken over by the bikes you'll discover some new and inspiring directions to take outdoor learning in.

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Thank you for the reassuring replies xD It's good to know that I'm heading in the right direction, despite the impressions I get from some of my colleagues. I had some more comments today about a couple of children with a lot of potential who "need focusing". One boy in particular, whose behaviour has been deteriorating over the past month, apparently concentrated brilliantly while I was out of the classroom today as he learnt a letter sound and was asked to do some handwriting practice. I do worry that a free-flow approach is leading to a lack of concentration and subsequent behaviour issues. Would the introduction of more structured activities help to resolve this, or do we just need to re-think our approach to child-initiated learning? I try to get involved in children's play where I can, but toileting accidents and fall-outs between children often tear me away. My TAs are generally really good, but they don't always seem very willing to get involved and challenge the children.

 

Thanks Jellybean and emz - I'm thinking of restricting the children's access to the bikes. I agree that the boys in particular get involved in a wider variety of more imaginative activities when the bikes aren't out. When the bikes are available, the children argue over them and then tear up and down the path when they manage to get on one. I do think the bikes help to develop the children's physical development, and we do encourage them to share and take turns so there are PSED benefits too. But I'm still concerned that they limit the range of play opportunities the children are likely to access. Thanks for giving me the push to make that decision :o

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Guest lankylowt

Hi there,

 

I have never posted on this forum before but thought I would share with you what we do in our nursery class. We plan 3 'workshops' per week that are run by each member of staff every day (eg. this week we have a PSRN, PSED and K&U workshop and I will be running the K&U workshop daily). We run the 'workshops' every morning and afternoon and most of the children understand that they must do all 3 workshops but can choose when they do them (there are always children that will need to be called or targeted in some way but on the whole, it works). We run the workshops during free play - each workshop lasts for a maximum of 10 minutes and we usually have 4 children at a time. By doing this you can get some really focused observations, extend the more able children and make the activity accessible and meaningful for children with additional needs. It also gives staff responsibility and ownership of their workshop and promotes lots of further learning (for example, we had a workshop about the weather whereby the children were covered by a blanket which was suddenly whisked off to show how the clouds part and the sun shines through and now the children constantly make observations about the sky).

 

We make the workshops fun and give them names (banana, apple and strawberry). We explain what the workshops are to the children when we have carpet time and announce when the workshop is open. In our setting, we can run 2 workshops at the same time and the 3rd when the first 2 are completed.

 

I hope I have explained this ok - if you like, I could send an example of our planning. I forgot to say that this runs alongside adult-led activities not instead of.

 

Good luck!

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Thank you for the reassuring replies :( It's good to know that I'm heading in the right direction, despite the impressions I get from some of my colleagues. I had some more comments today about a couple of children with a lot of potential who "need focusing". One boy in particular, whose behaviour has been deteriorating over the past month, apparently concentrated brilliantly while I was out of the classroom today as he learnt a letter sound and was asked to do some handwriting practice. I do worry that a free-flow approach is leading to a lack of concentration and subsequent behaviour issues. Would the introduction of more structured activities help to resolve this, or do we just need to re-think our approach to child-initiated learning? I try to get involved in children's play where I can, but toileting accidents and fall-outs between children often tear me away. My TAs are generally really good, but they don't always seem very willing to get involved and challenge the children.

 

Thanks Jellybean and emz - I'm thinking of restricting the children's access to the bikes. I agree that the boys in particular get involved in a wider variety of more imaginative activities when the bikes aren't out. When the bikes are available, the children argue over them and then tear up and down the path when they manage to get on one. I do think the bikes help to develop the children's physical development, and we do encourage them to share and take turns so there are PSED benefits too. But I'm still concerned that they limit the range of play opportunities the children are likely to access. Thanks for giving me the push to make that decision xD

 

Can you push your TAs to deal with more of the toileting accidents? I don't mean to suggest that they're not doing them, or doing their share, but I see that toileting accidents and fall-outs are taking you from the children's play when you're the most valuable member of staff to be witht he children in child initated play. I'm the senior memberof stff on the floor in my preschool, and sometimes I change children but sometimes I bite the bullet and ask someome else to do them (especially if it's their key child) 'while I'm working with the children doing XXX'.

 

Also wondering if fall-outs are common enough you need to work on positive behaviour in the nursery with all staff... ('cos you're not trying to change enough other stuff already...! :o )

 

The boy who 'concentrated brilliantly', did he have the focussed attention of the staff member working with him? I've a little boy who can be very dispruptive when he wants attention - any is better than none - but is so fantastic and well-behaved and loving when given high levels of adult attention. But as soon as I have to go and sort out his squabbling cousins, he either goes off to be on his own, watching the other children... or deliberatly disrupts others' play.

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Hi there,

 

I have never posted on this forum before but thought I would share with you what we do in our nursery class.

 

And thank you very much for sharing. I do hope that now you have 'broken the ice' you'll share again soon. :o

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