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Amalgamating The 2-3yr Old Space And 3-4yrs Room


petuniak6
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Hi Bekah

 

Welcome to the Forum and congratulations on making your first post.

 

I manage a pre-school and this is how we are set up - one main playroom with areas for quiet play and access to the outdoors. We have children from 2 - 4 years, depending on the time of year we have between 12 and 20 children. We don't normally have any more than 4 two year olds at any one time to maintain the ratio of 1 adult to 4 two year olds though we could do so if there were the demand.

 

I can't see any downside to this arrangement, the younger children learn from the older children and the older children enjoy the responsibility of 'looking after' the younger children, like family groups. When we have small groups these can be differentiated for the different age groups.

 

You will obviously need to ensure the correct ratios are maintained bearing in mind that the 3 and 4 year olds can be included in the 1:4 ratio but the 2 year olds cannot be included in the 1:8 ratio.

 

Do you have any specific concerns?

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Hi Bekah

 

Welcome to the Forum and congratulations on making your first post.

 

I manage a pre-school and this is how we are set up - one main playroom with areas for quiet play and access to the outdoors. We have children from 2 - 4 years, depending on the time of year we have between 12 and 20 children. We don't normally have any more than 4 two year olds at any one time to maintain the ratio of 1 adult to 4 two year olds though we could do so if there were the demand.

 

I can't see any downside to this arrangement, the younger children learn from the older children and the older children enjoy the responsibility of 'looking after' the younger children, like family groups. When we have small groups these can be differentiated for the different age groups.

 

You will obviously need to ensure the correct ratios are maintained bearing in mind that the 3 and 4 year olds can be included in the 1:4 ratio but the 2 year olds cannot be included in the 1:8 ratio.

 

Do you have any specific concerns?

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HI Deb,

 

yes my big concern is for the shy quieter 2 year olds coming into the big room, we could have 36 children in the space and i worry they may not handle it well.

 

Also the staff, as we have had seperate rooms for a long time, being able to adjust thier expectations for the different ages.

 

Do all practitioners have a mix of key children?

 

Thank you so much for your help

 

Bekah

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Hi, our pre-school has aways had 2 - 4 year olds together and in total we have 40 a session!!!! We have a big indoor space, a smaller room, wet area and free flow to outside so apart from the initial coming in, when it can get a little hectic, as soon as we can we open up outside. It has always worked really well for us (25 years!) The little ones learn so much for the older ones. I like how siblings can be together also.

 

However, we do split the age groups. Our afternoon sessions are split younger and older from about 1pm to 2-30pm so we can have things out that we just wouldn't be able to with the 2 year olds, we have tiny magnetic lego and tap a shape etc. Circle times in the mornings are split also. Key persons have a mix of younger and older.

 

We are currently hoping to set up a day nursery and I am adament that we are going to mix the 2 - 4 year olds still, but again be able to have them as 2 groups.

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HI Deb,

 

yes my big concern is for the shy quieter 2 year olds coming into the big room, we could have 36 children in the space and i worry they may not handle it well.

 

Also the staff, as we have had seperate rooms for a long time, being able to adjust thier expectations for the different ages.

 

Do all practitioners have a mix of key children?

 

Thank you so much for your help

 

Bekah

 

Hi Bekah

 

Coming into a busy room can be a bit daunting for any child. Our environment is set out in areas with the creative area, role play area down one end, with the graphics/construction area in the middle and down the end is a quieter area for construction/small world then a book area. If we can, we open up a little earlier to stagger entry a little, children who need extra support will be met by their keyperson or another member of staff who will have put out something of interest to them. Like Laura as soon as we can open the door for freeflow between the inside and outside.

 

Change can be more difficult for some staff. I think it is important to have lots of discussion where staff can air their concerns, and highlight the benefits. All practitioners have a mix of key children.

 

I can understand concerns, where I used to work we only took children from 2 years 9 months and I used to be of the opinion that provision for 2 year olds would need to be separate. However having experienced mixed age groups for 2 years now I know that it can work. A good keyperson system ensures that practitioners tune into their key children, are aware of their needs and interests and most importantly shares this knowledge with all other staff. So for example the two year old who recently started with us who shoves everything in his mouth at snack time needs a member of staff sat next to him making sure he only takes small amounts into this mouth.

 

Staff need to be fully aware of their roles and responsibilities too, so jobs need to be carefully agreed in advance.

 

Small groups can be keyperson groups so a mix of ages, or older and younger children for activities such as letters and sounds and story time.

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Hi there Beckah, welcome to the forum. I think I would be asking why you have been advised to do this? Its a major change to make to the way you work and you and your team need to be happy that it is right for your settings children and that you have clearly thought through why you are doing it (ie not just because of advise to).

I have seen many settings with 2-5 rooms, and many work exceptionally well, there is plenty of space for different activities, and quieter spaces for those shyer quieter children. Its also a good way to share resources, and as others have said, you get older children supporting younger ones. But, Ive also seen it work badly, and sometimes the 2 year olds can really get 'lost' in the room even though they are technically in the correct ratio. So if you have 4x2 year old and 8 x3 year olds, that's 2 adults. But if you do many things together you end up with a 6:1 ratio. I almost think, as I do with foundation units too, that you need a better ratio than minimum because of this.

 

For me, if I were making such a big decision I would be thinking about:

the space we have and how it is physically arranged

the ratios

how the staff feel about it

consult parents

How good your key person system is

How it would benefit the children

what might the challenges be?

 

Finally, id find out if you can visit a setting that has made this change recently so that you can see how it has worked for them.

 

Good luck.

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Other than taking into account Mundia's list.i cant see any disadvantages, if i had a day nursery i would have mixed ages from babies up. My sessional pre-school, mixes the ages in one hall and the benefits are enormous, older role modelling for younger, supporting younger children, communication and conversation and so on

 

We have divided story groups according to age and ability and we plan with the children sometimes in age groups but otherwise its a mix

 

I as part of a project have watched kindergartens in Norway ( as well as colleagues visit) and they have all day daycare with mixed ages, sometimes not for all things but most. So that is babies upto 6 yrs. Eating, sleeping and playing. Lesson type activities were held for the older children away from the younger ones.

go for it

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  • 2 weeks later...

My setting used to mix ages 2+ but we made the decision to split them 2 years ago. It works a lot better now as the older children with more focus and concentration can do activities without being distracted by the younger ones. For example the older children used to get really upset when they had built an elaborate structure from blocks for it to be immediately knocked down by rampaging 2 year olds who don't really understand what they did wrong!

On a health and safety level equipment needs to be suitable for the lower age group

We also found that circle time, letters and sounds etc works better with split ages - year olds can't really be expected to sit for longer than a few minutes.

As far as ratios go I agree that you will need to work higher than required to help the more reticent and scared younger ones.

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As a day nursery we made the decision to combine the two ages about 4 years ago and have never looked back. It works well ( we have 40 per session) the older children learn that the 'little ones' need to be looked after a bit more, and the 2 year olds seem to calm down quicker and mature more quickly than they did when kept separate. It does take a bit more organisation as people have said with equipment etc and ratios but the benefits outweigh the pitfalls. We also have mixed age group key groups and split for things like circle time and story/letters and sounds. OFSTED liked it as well, and we can also bring our babies out from 18 months if they outgrow the baby area, which is also a big plus! :o

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Lots of mixed responses- funny isnt it how we all have different views and ways of doing things . I think it really depends on the setting and children

 

We have under twos together upstairs

 

Downstars we have for the past 4 years had 2-4 altogther. We are in september splitting our children2-3 years and then 3-4yrs possibly 2-2 1/2 then 2 1/2-4

 

 

We have taken the decision to spit them for many reasons - transistion from upstairs to downstairs- children take a long time to settle and it can be very daunting for the 2 year olds, noisy, keeping up with the others. Parents feedback Older children often complain that the little ones 'ruin' their play and so many resources hav been broken.

We were lucky to have an ICT grant the little ones broke so much of the euipment. In the play house the other day the older children were so engaged in their play and the little ones just kept coming along emptying the food all over the floor and they seem to spend time emptying the drawers throught the play areas! which obviously is part of their play.

 

So we thought we'd try it- I dont think there will be a problem as long as we are felxible to the childrens needs ie if a 2 1/2 year old is ready let them join in the free play with the others. As I said before I feel it depends on the setting layout and also knowing your key children.

 

hope this helps

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We have worked for years with 2-4's - up to 30 3-4's and up to 8 two year olds. The important thing to remember is that the younger children are much much more reliant on their individual keyworkers and those keyworkers need to really ensure that the 2 year olds are having their needs met. It is also important to ensure planning takes the younger children into account. In addition the learning environment has to have quiter areas that younger children can access to escape the hurly burly if required. That said I fully endorse what others have said about the way the younger children learn from the older children. I would point out the families do not isolate two year olds from older siblings and having worked like this for 7 years I would never like to see the younger children seperated unless there are large numbers in each group.

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