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Adult Directed Activities...


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(I'm in a preschool, 3 hours sessions, 28 children from 2 years to nearly 5, about 40% have English as Second Language, 7 members of staff.)

 

Yesterday afternoon we had a chaotic session... No outside due to the freezing fog, and though I'm usually the first to say 'Get your coats,let's go outside!', my asthmatic chest does not like freezing fog so I'm glad we didn't go out. But it meant the children were just running riot, getting loads of stuff out and running off to play with someting else.

 

At tidy-up with the children continuing to play and not help tidy, I said to our SENCo, who'd just told the children 'This really isn't fair, maybe you just shouldn't have any toys out', that we need more adult-directed activites with the children. She told me we're not allowed to (I said we should have a balance of child-initiated & adult-directed) and that we haven't enough staff available as we've too many children with 1-1 workers.

 

We'd had one planned adult-directed activity, putting glue and glitter on ready-made Christmas decorations, but other than that, we didn't have anything planned. I'd played a game with some children who need an adult with them to ensure turntaking, but then had to go and change a nappy...

 

I'm doing my last year of a BA in Early Learning and have to submit a portfoliio of professional practice using the EYPS standards and saying how I meet them or what I need to do to meet them. I'm the deputy in my setting (and technically senior to the SENCO who's just finished her Level 3) so know I jolly well should be guiding the staff in how to do this, but am currently feeling very despondant!

 

It seems totally against EYFS to be saying 'We need to be telling these children more what to do!' but what I have in mind is more focus from the adults - not so much 'Hmmm, what shall I do now? Oh, I'll get a game out and see who wants to play...', but more 'OK, I know Janet and John love playing shops but fight like the siblings they are if I don't watch them, I'll get the shopping list game out and play with them. They'll love my focussed attention and it will support their turn-taking as well as their language.'

 

What do others do? Any suggestions gratefully received...!

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I think that adult-initated activites that respond to the needs of the children are so important! Especially in the situation you describe where they were unable to do their preferred CI activity of outdoor play. It is about balance, and making sure the activity is building on observations, not just a nice activity the adult wants to do.

 

In your particular situation yesterday I might have put on an action song CD and led Head Shouldres Knees and Toes, or set up some kind of obstacle course with the children - a structured activity allowing them to use their gross motor skills. Or if they just wanted to chuck things about and make a mess, then m,aybe having an indoor snow ball fight with paper balls?

 

And I say I becuase I am a CM - clearly in your situation I may have led others to do the same.

 

I think your SENCO needs to have a little think about what she has said!!!!!! If a SENCO can't be responsive to the needs of the children then how can she support the rest of the team to do so!

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Thanks lolo, I love the idea of an indoor obstacle course, if we're preparing to do that I could get the mini slide in from the shed and a trampoline... The only challenge I can see with that is managing the ones who don't want to join in properly, but also don't want to do something else - but that's another matter!

 

I spoke to manager this morning and said I thought we needed more adult-directed (she agreed) & what SENCo had said - she said that was nonsense, and I later did hear her speaking to SENCO about it. Our SENCo is lovely, but she's not had years of experience yet...

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Hi

 

It is hard. Our 2/3 years olds are mostly happy just exploring all the toy as most started in september and everything is new. But our 3/4 year olds love an adult led activity. This time of year there is lots of xmas craft, but mostly its planned around showing them how to use things.

 

Ours really enjoyed making mod roc decorations, paper chains etc. We try to make things that they can stamp their own creative ideas on but they have actually made something.

 

After xmas we will do some sewing, playing board games, using the tuff cam etc.

 

Hope this helps.

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It does seem worse with the children in the the afternoon sessions - not sure if the children are so much different or if it's that we are more tired! But some afternoons this term we have 8 children who started the term as 2 year olds - some are now 3, but some are not 3 till next summer or even autumn.

 

We were doing paper chains in the mornings following on from one child wanting to make them, had some great PSRN vocabulary, collaborative work, discussion about decorations, but the children in the afternoons haven't seemed interested in doing them.

 

Definitely getting some great ideas from here for the rest of this term and next! Reflecting on it, I know our plans are a weaker point, and that when children's key persons think of aspects of provision specifically for one child, other children enjoy and participate in it...

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I have mixed feelings on this i am not for adult directed and no free choice or access to free choices

I am very much child led with practitioners enabling

 

Neither do i like pre-cut anything, so maybe you need to look at what you place around when for what ever reason you cant go out,

 

having also mixed ages in our pre-school of 26, just like yours, our children have made decorations or cards but they have created them

we supplied all sorts of materials and the children have made their own.

 

we have lots of cozy hide away areas for my children who are role play addicts to play in,

 

for those that need to expand energy we still are outside and yes it is freezing and we did not go out for all morning as normal but we did go out

we made ad hoc hot chocolate, and we have also baked cookies, all not planned for but made available becuase the children needed a slight change and they asked to cook

 

Maybe you should have written into your continous provsion ideas for when you dont go out, do something a bit exciting and challenging for the children, story or singing in a den, created by the children

meets adult directed but child centered

 

sorry if i rambled and this is not what you want

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I have mixed feelings on this i am not for adult directed and no free choice or access to free choices

I am very much child led with practitioners enabling

 

Neither do i like pre-cut anything, so maybe you need to look at what you place around when for what ever reason you cant go out,

 

having also mixed ages in our pre-school of 26, just like yours, our children have made decorations or cards but they have created them

we supplied all sorts of materials and the children have made their own.

 

we have lots of cozy hide away areas for my children who are role play addicts to play in,

 

for those that need to expand energy we still are outside and yes it is freezing and we did not go out for all morning as normal but we did go out

we made ad hoc hot chocolate, and we have also baked cookies, all not planned for but made available becuase the children needed a slight change and they asked to cook

 

Maybe you should have written into your continous provsion ideas for when you dont go out, do something a bit exciting and challenging for the children, story or singing in a den, created by the children

meets adult directed but child centered

 

sorry if i rambled and this is not what you want

 

Not rambling at all!

 

(I actually typed up most of a reply to this then had to rush off the an ECat Info session and left the computer, so hubby logged me off and I have to type it again ;(

 

I think one of the problems in my setting is that in theory, we're all in favour of free flow play, free access to resources, mainly child iniatied activities... but in practice is doesn't always happen. For example, today some of the children wanted to work at the indoor sandpit, so I asked a student to be by it to remind them about safe sand play (some still throw sand in eyes...) and enourage language while playing. But I know jolly well it wasn't out yesterday while I was at uni. In our new building, we've not got the low level shelves we had before for the resources, we've huge built-in cupboards with solid doors, so they children can't see what's available to ask for it.

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I am pack away and it is not easy but we got some movable, trollies that hold tote baskets and the children choose what they want out, this is put onto the continious provision sheet so who ever sets up (usually me but not always) knows what is due out.

 

Why dont you do some in house training or get your eyat to do some around child initated, bring your staff on board

 

never easy i know but if you are the one in charge, be brave and go for it

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I am pack away and it is not easy but we got some movable, trollies that hold tote baskets and the children choose what they want out, this is put onto the continious provision sheet so who ever sets up (usually me but not always) knows what is due out.

 

Why dont you do some in house training or get your eyat to do some around child initated, bring your staff on board

 

never easy i know but if you are the one in charge, be brave and go for it

 

Ah, but I'm not the one in charge! That would be so much easier... Staff ask who they want to ask based on the answer they want, I think.

 

The manager is in the office most of the time but the assistants will go and say to her 'Oh, we don't have to have sand out today, do we? It makes such a mess...' and instead of saying 'Well, make sure the children who've dropped it on the floor help to clean it up then!', manager says 'Oh no, don't have it out today then.' Then the deputy (ie, me) goes to uncover the sand-pit and someone pipes up, 'Oh, (manager) said not to get it out today.' Well, there goes all the planned opportunities for children to learn about filling and pouring, capacity, counting, safety, sharing, textures, vocabulary extension, care of the resources, etc that dry sand gives.

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I agree it is all about balance.

 

Often I read of adult-directed versus child initiated but I believe there are other 'options'. In my setting we find that sometimes an activity is adult initiated but then very much child led.

Last week we had a time when the children (12 of them) were 'playing' with the crockery, toy food etc but it was clear they had reached that stage where all they were really doing was throwing plates and getting over boisterous! Instead of suggesting it was time to tidy up (and maybe move on to something else) I asked 'are you having a party?' to which most of the children replied yes. I then asked if it was someone's birthday and several children shouted 'it's my birthday'. Spotting a toy rabbit abandoned in a corner I asked the children to listen as I thought I could hear rabbit talking. I then told them that rabbit said it was his birthday. I said nothing else and what followed was lovely. Gone were the boisterous children not really playing and I had children who asked to move the tables into the middle of the room so they could have a big party for rabbit. I just watched what unfolded. The 'party' turned into a fancy dress affair with all children joining in and dressing up. rabbit was seated at the top of the table with the birthday hat. Tables were 'laid' with plates, cups and a huge array of food (rabbits birthday meal was a bunch of grapes and a sausage!)

Suddenly one child came and said that he needed to get a present for rabbit, went off, found a toy and proceeded to wrap it up and give it to rabbit.

 

So much learning took place in all areas and it was just great. In terms of what 'type' of acitivity it was I don't know it was adult directed, initiated maybe, I just gave them an idea and they went with it.

 

I think we have very few adult directed activities but then i guess it might be down to how we interpret Adult directed,child initiated and all the various connotations!

 

Sorry just a ramble really and perhaps irrelevant but hey ho!

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I think that sounds wonderful Geraldine!

 

We had parents' day this week, and I was telling one parent about how her son had worked with a group of children making a den using material and the large round (snack!) table, this was child initiated play where the children were working together, using PSRN vocabulary, learning to share, being creative...

 

I know a lot of the staff in my setting would have jumped all over this though as the children were using the snack table just before snack... and yes, there are other places we could serve snack, and I did use another table.

 

Much as I want to change the other staff members' attitudes and ideas overnight, I know that's not going to happen that quickly! And I'm sure there are things they'd like to change about me.

 

But I do think that if we start with more adult directed activities based on the children's interests, and get the staff involved more in seeing what the children can do when we enable them, I can gradually encourage a more child-centred ethos.

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that is exactly what it is all about, you enabled those children to learn and explore more,

 

difficult when your not in charge, and the end of the day presumably your in charge if your manager is not!

 

talk to your manager about letting you have a free run of things for a while, see if you can start to improve the outcomes for your children, plot the childrens progression, thier well being and the staffs and see if things if imporve then you have hard evidence to make changes permanently.

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that is exactly what it is all about, you enabled those children to learn and explore more,

 

difficult when your not in charge, and the end of the day presumably your in charge if your manager is not!

 

talk to your manager about letting you have a free run of things for a while, see if you can start to improve the outcomes for your children, plot the childrens progression, thier well being and the staffs and see if things if imporve then you have hard evidence to make changes permanently.

 

Thank you!

 

We've had OFSTED this term, and improving the links between obs, planning & next steps is an action point - and Ofsted are likely to be back next term as we're changing to a limited company so I have a bit more force behind me...

 

Have been round all staff on the floor this week saying 'Look, we've got this handy chart from our liaison teacher that we can fill out for all our key children summarising their next steps are and how we can help then achieve those. See, I've got Alec, a new child so his next step is to settle in with us, Bella loves playdough and using cutlery & I want to extend her PSRN vocab so we're going to model the vocab while using cutlery with playdough, Conrad's been doing lots of building with all the construction resources and I want to him to think and plan what he's building so we're going to talk to him & ask what he's going to make, rather than after making it to encourage his sustained shared thinking. I've put all these on the plan for the first week back.'

 

Emphasied the helping aspect, that this will help us see what our children enjoy doing and need suppport with, and to all know what we're doing... Mainly positive responses though our SENCo seems very overwhelmed & said she won't have time to do it or obs... Now printed off 'adult supported activity sheets' so will fill these out for what I've got planned to encourage us all to think about why we do stuff with the children... or should I say to do stuff with the children, not just sit back chatting...

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If you're a setting short of space an indoor obstacle course can be assembled using electric tape. A few years ago I was in a very small setting and the owner called me into the office on a Monday morning to enquire why there was different coloured tape all over the floor! My colleagues and I had set up ladders (flat on floor with tape), zig zags, straight lines and different shapes. The children loved it and although we ( the adults demonstrated) how it could be used, the children soon adapted their own rules and movements. A huge success for the children who couldn't (due to severe weather) or chose not to venture into the outdoors.

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If you're a setting short of space an indoor obstacle course can be assembled using electric tape. A few years ago I was in a very small setting and the owner called me into the office on a Monday morning to enquire why there was different coloured tape all over the floor! My colleagues and I had set up ladders (flat on floor with tape), zig zags, straight lines and different shapes. The children loved it and although we ( the adults demonstrated) how it could be used, the children soon adapted their own rules and movements. A huge success for the children who couldn't (due to severe weather) or chose not to venture into the outdoors.

 

Brilliant idea! Have passed it onto my elder son who's a Young Leader in our Beaver Group to use there too...

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