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New 0-3 Session With Parents Staying


Guest LucyQ
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Guest LucyQ

Hello

My first post so please be gentle with me!

 

I am the playleader in a committee run pre-school and we are about to open a 0-3 session with parents staying with 0-2.5year olds. I am booked on a Birth to Three training course in May and I am looking for some advice to avoid the pitfalls before we open on the following:

 

We have some equipment suitable for 2+years but will need to purchase some other equipment/play equipment suitable for babies - can you recommend anything - I particular like the more wholesome stuff made of wood and natural products - should also mention storage is a problem.

 

Are there any policies that I could use ie nappy changing, behaviour management (thinking particular here about parents!)?

 

Any advice please or pitfalls any of you have experienced when setting up such a group.

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Welcome LucyQ!

 

We're always very gentle here: congratulations on your first post.

 

Not really qualified to offer much in the way of advice for your dilemma, although I was wondering if you're the sort of pre-school that has to be packed away at the end of each session (we are!).

 

I'm also interested in the mix of children and families you will have attending. If parents are staying with their children until they are 2 1/2, presumably they will be responsible for their own children. Your staff will only be technically responsible for the 2 1/2 to three year olds (although obviously you're responsible for everyone, overall).

 

Presumably you'll be signing up families for a known number of sessions so that you can maintain adequate child:adult ratios.

 

As for policies, this is quite tricky. Everyone has different views on behaviour management, but I'm guessing the strategies you use in your pre-school will form the basis of your 0-3 sessions (with suitable allowance made for the particular needs of children under 3).

 

I would have though that all parents would need to be aware of your equal opportunities/behaviour management policies, and sign up to these as part of joining your group. You as manager will then have to consider how you will deal with issues arising from situations where the adults' behaviour doesn't conform to these policies.

 

What a fascinating project to be involved with - do keep us up to date on your progress. Good luck with the Birth to Three training - am waiting to hear if I've been successful in getting myself on this training this term!

 

Obviously where I've said 'parents' I mean to include everyone who has responsibility for caring for children - its just shorthand!!

 

Maz

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Guest LucyQ

Thanks Maz

 

Yes,we are a group that work from a parish hall and have to pack away every day - I'm usually worn out by the start of the session but hey ho!!!

 

It is very exciting - We want to know our "clients" at an earlier age, making it easier for both parent and child to settle in before they reach that golden age of 3. and we get to know them too!

 

We know there is a need as there is toddler group which meets up once a week but they haven't enough space for the "runners" and of course the age-old problem of who to run it. We have consulted them and they are VERY keen for us to get going. So it makes sense for us to get involved and provide a friendly, welcoming and informative session for parents (we plan to have our health visitor visit us on occasions) and a caring, exciting and fun session for the children.

 

We now have to find some funding for new equipment and to perhaps cover some overheads in the first year.

 

We will require the parents to make a committment, especially the over 2's and maybe the under 2's too. Not sure - very difficult with babies of course and it would be lovely to have a relaxed drop-in session.

 

We need to make some money but we are also thinking that even if we make a loss on this session we will gain by extra grant funded sessions used and claimed for as the settling period should be shorter ie the children know us and the surroundings.

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The PLA have some guidance on this I think. As to ratio's, I'm not sure that if the parents are there ratios are an issue, but you might find room size decides how any children and parents come can come at any time. Our local Parent and toddler have turned people away. They also allow the parents to sit chatting while their children roam free with no adult interaction, you may need to talk to parents about that too!

With policies I think you could forgoe the usual ones we have to have when parents arent there. Presumably the parents will change their own children and see to toileting. Behaviour could be a tricky one though. We all know stories of the children who scratch and hit out and the parent who does nothing, while the other parents are then free to go round the playground saying things about 'little charlie and his drippy mother'. You could perhaps ask them how they want incidents dealt with, let them lay the ground rules, with your assistance of course. Make sure they always tell someone when they're leaving the hall too, I know a fair few who think the door being locked only counts when their child is there.

I would love to do what you're doing, but our church charge such an extortionate rate to rent the hall we'd never be able to afford it. I hope it works out well for you. :D

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Guest LucyQ

Thanks Rea

 

We have had to re-register with OfSTED and you are right there is a different criteria regarding space, ratios etc. We can only have 8 2-3 year olds. We shall have to see how popular we are with parents with babies.

 

Good idea about drawing up and agreeing policies with parents - we are planning to open in Sep 05 so have time to consult with parents/carers.

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I agree with Rea, if the parents are involved in the process of policy making it makes it so much easier to 1. communicate the policies and 2. To ensure they are implimented ( ie: parents will have ownership to them and have more regard to them, rather than "We say you must......." scenario)

 

Does the local P&T have policies you could borrow and adapt with the parents?

 

Well done on your 1st post and good luck with your venture, keep us posted how it all develops :D

 

Peggy

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  • 1 month later...
Guest LucyQ

Well, we have finally got some funding to help with the first couple of terms for this new venture.

 

My next move will be to arrange an informal meeting, over nibbles and wine, for parents to meet and we can talk about any ideas, policies and expectations they or we might have.

 

I think agreeing a behavioural policy with each other is a good idea and of course, letting parents know that we are new to this too and that we will be learning, along with the children!!

 

Looking forward now to trailing bootsales looking for quality, cheap equipment - unfortunately no funding for that.

 

Thanks for all your advice - will keep you posted.

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Lucy I wish you good luck in your new venture. During the half term before a child is due to start pre-school I invite parents to attend with their child for one hour each week. I give parents a time to arrive and leave, I make it clear to them that they are responsible for their own child, I go through our policies with them. I explain the curriculum to them and give them as much info as I can.During the first few sessions I explain that their child may need reassurance from them but after that may be able to rely on them less. I have 2 visiting children at each session and it works well. Parents always comment on how calm the sessions are compared with the mother and toddler group. Are your parents going to work with the children. It will be an ideal situation to explain the learning intention at each activity and suggest follow up activities at home. Also allow for some children to display challenging behaviour when with parents and how this will be dealt with. As long as everyone is clear from the start about their expectations I am sure it will be a success.

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I like the sound of the nibbles and wine Lucy - can I come? :D It certainly sounds like you're thinking things through in a sensible way and hopefully you will get the full support and backing of the parents on important issues. You'll probably find that this year is not a problem as everyone will have had an input in setting it up and agreeing rules/guidelines. The real test will be when the next lot of parents arrive.... :oxD Good luck and keep us updated. :)

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My experience is more in day nurseries, but you could consider a parent's forum/steering group so that interested parties could contribute to new ideas. I know in this day and age parents have lots to do, but you might get the odd few that are brimming with ideas. This approach also helps the parents to take 'ownership' of the policies and if anyone does challenge you, you have the back up of a group of people and it's not just yours or the committee's rules and regulations. You could even persuade those that challenge you to join the group (if you are brave enough!)

 

With regards to the toys and lack of storage, I have always used play bags - brightly coloured duffle bags (homemade) that contain heuristic play materials, musical instruments, materials such as chiffon scarves, ties, rbbons, thin leather straps, dressing up clothes etc... you can have a big stock of things to put in them and change them on a regular basis either when the children appear to lose interest or they bring their own ideas (i.e if children have been to the beach, you could introduce shells, dried starfish etc and they could be put in the sand or just on an interest table)

 

Hope this helps a bit!

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Guest LucyQ

Thanks to you all for ypur contributions.

 

I going to set up some equipment too at the wine and nibbles evening so they can see what we have to offer. I'm working on my speech!!!

 

I also agree that giving the parents "ownership" of the policies and activities (to a point!). I want them to understand that we are willing to listen to their ideas and that we can learn from each other - my hope is that this will have a positive effect on our 3+ sessions too and that parents will feel part of the team. I know we won't be able to please eveyone.

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Starting new ventures can be so exciting, and scary too. You seem well prepared.

Have you managed to have your BTTM training yet? I agree with others suggestions. Natural resources are much better as sensory experiences for young children and with some thought can be cheeper than "plastic" toys.

Just a hint on forming policies and especially practice, try and make it a "can do" ethos rather than we must not rules. We also use visual posters to help the children to be involved in maintaining the rules ie: we have a "Can walk" ( instead of running) posters in certain areas of the hall and "Can run" in other areas.

Good luck.

 

Peggy

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Guest LucyQ

Thanks Peggy - Good point.

 

I have another query - Do any of you have 2.5 year olds intergrated in to your 3-5 year old sessions? Numbers will be down the next 2 terms and they committee are thinking of ways to make some extra cash.

 

I don't know that the financial gain will outweigh the extra burden on staff and of course, the older children. Or do you think having a range of ages and abilities could be beneficial for all the children? Has anyone got experience of this and how does it work?

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Our youngest children are 2 years 9 months. We always encourage the older children to look after the new ones, which makes them feel very grown up.

I don't know about any financial gain though. Because of the 1 to 4 ratio you will be limited as to how many children you can take, and of course the younger they are the longer it takes to get to that magical 3 years. We have always resisted taking any younger than 2 years 9 months because they are quite often not toilet trained and emotionally less prepared.

It is difficult when numbers are low.

Linda

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We take children from age 2 yrs to school. Basically because our numbers are low. It works very well especially when siblings can attend together.

 

The children play together throughout the session and activities are planned to enable all levels to access. The children are split for registration and story time as the younger ones attention span and interests are quite different from the older ones.

 

We have under 3's in the yellow group and over 3's in the red group, however some of the mature yellow group children have been choosing to sit at group time with the red group, this is encouraged as the child is showing they are ready.

Although the groups are age based obviously it is mainly judged on ability and the particular activity.

 

Ratio's are 1-4 as previously stated for the under 3's but the most we have are 4 in any one session. Most of our under 3's stay for the full day and handle it very well ( 8:45-15:15). We have quiet areas where they can rest and a "bed" in the home corner where they can sleep.

 

Nappies are the norm and have been since day one. We got a really good, robust, wall nappy changer from IKEA. Nappy changing is quite a nice "intimate" time where children enjoy true 1-1, without distractions with the staff. Lots of eye contact, etc, and they soon become independant toileters :D

 

Hope this insight helps with the decisions you are considering.

 

 

Peggy

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