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Second Day Back In Reception!


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It was my second day back in Reception today after an 8 year break - it all seemed a good idea at the time! Anyway having come from a rather mature Year 1 in July all the things I thought of using to get their attention and had used many years ago don't quite seem to work today - I think I am expecting too much esp as many of them are August birthdays! Everything seems to take ages - going to the toilets - we have one for boys and one for girls, eating snack, lunch, drinking milk, getting coats, putting them on etc. I'm particularly worried as OFSTED are due any day from when they can come - we are over over due so should be at the top of the list!


Can someone help - what do you do for getting the children's attention, stopping, tidying up?


Many many thanks,



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My sons reception teacher used to use a tambourine or you could try playing a piece of music, we use the Can Can for tidy up time. They're probably just too interested in the new classroom, but everything does tend to take ages with that age group, are there any areas you could cut out for now until they're up to speed?

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Hello Blue Sheep (great name)

Here are a few ideas which were quite successful when we used them over the last few years (I'm not in the classroom this year as am about to start some more studying but I well remember those first few weeks when virtually everything seems to take a very long time!).

We'd always inform the children when they had '10 more minutes of playing time' - this helped the children to begin finishing off their play/learning and in general (not always!) they responded to our 'stop' signal relatively quickly.

By the end of the first week we'd allocate the children a space in the classroom which was to be their space for changing for P.E.(always very time consuming during the first term) and for home time. This worked well as, during home time, the children could collect their belongings one by one and put them in the same place - reduced the number of items which got lost and after P.E. it helped the children to remember where all their clothes were.

Carpet times were always kept to a minimum - at most ten minutes - and generally used to reinforce expectations and routines during the first few weeks rather than to introduce too much.

We sometimes put music on during tidying time but another successful thing that my colleague introduced was the 'tidying up song' where you sing 'Everybody tidy, tidy, tidy, Everybody tidy, tidy up' to a simple melody.

Have fun with your new class. Am sure they'll soon speed up with things.


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Mine start tomorrow (we've had home visits so far this week) I'm sure that I will be feeling the same way as you by Friday. It is always like this at the beginning of the year and everything does take them ages to begin with. It's a shock for everyone after the summer holidays especially with memories of what the last class were like at the end of the year in our minds.

I use a hand bell to signal their attention and right from the start expect eyes looking at me, their hands empty and fingers on lips when the bell is rung and we practice this often. I also have a rhythm I clap which they then all have to copy and use this when I've misplaced the bell!


I would say that it takes 15 minutes to get their coats on, 30 minutes to have drink and snack and 15 minutes to toilet everyone you will be pleasantly surprised when they do it quicker and you have a few minutes spare for a song. They will speed up promise!!



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Mine have had 2 days in now and yes they take ages to do anything - always do!


I use a tambourine shaken really gently (so it's quiet but persistent) and expect them to stop and look at me while wiggling fingers. Then I ask them to fold their arms while I'm giving the 'instructions' so there are fewer of them who somehow manage to continue playing! The usual lots of praise for the quickest to stop and listen! I also have clapping routines for them to follow (for those moments the tambourine has disappeared). I count down from 5 (while holding up a hand and counting down the fingers too) when asking to quieten down on the carpet.


I explain absolutely everything as much as I can and try to take nothing for granted!


For tidying up - at the moment we just tidy up but I allow lots of time. At the end of the day I'm stopping about 3pm, tidying up doing story, prayer, jumpers given out, coats on etc. to get out the door between 3.25 and 3.30. I'm going out a couple of minutes before the rest of the school at the moment so that my little ones don't get mown down by enthusiastic big ones! By the end of the year it will be 10-15 minutes later.


I sometimes have tidy teams - I choose the team leader and they choose the area they want to tidy and their team (number varies based on which area it is). I set a time limit and the best tidying team gets stickers/praise etc. Even if I don't do teams I have a time limit and if they do really well they get a point towards the whole class reward.


Changing for PE... my first lesson is tomorrow! It will basically be a 'changing for PE' lesson - eveyone has a place, we do it a step at a time and all their clothes go in their PE once taken off - helps with finding most of the right ones again at the end of the session. After that first lesson I set a 5 minute timer and everyone who changes in that 5 minutes will get a mini-sticker. I set the timer at the end of the lesson too so they get a second chance at a sticker (1 for the whole lesson). At first there might be no reception children who manage it but they do seem to be motivated by it and work really hard to try and get quicker.


Hope that helps a little - they do get quicker I promise! I too though will be frustrated by Friday when I know I've explained how umpteen times and some of them still don't get it!

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I share your frustration. Every year I forget what it is like......nightmare.

Just roll with the punches and allow plenty of time for everything. Keep carpet times to 5, at most 10 mins. Put baseline assessment out of your head for the first few days and just concentrate on play supporting and reinforcing the rules of the classroom, trust me, it will be worth it. I made the mistake of play supporting AND trying to join their play to assess 1:1 correspondence. Well....I managed to assess 2 children!

Stopping techniques - action instructions, using a musical instrument, asking them to stand like soldiers etc.


Good luck, it does get better.

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I too shake a tamboreen to get their attention and have tidy up music (last year i had tidy up teams as they were rubbish!


This year i have a new tack to try for help with sitting and listening i am using this resource called lola - helping young children to listen (i think its a SEN reource) you get a little lola toy and she has listening rules and she gets frighened when its too noisey ect.. i used it last year towards the end and they got quite attached to it and it helped focus their mind as to what they should be doing.


Also i wish someone had told me this sooner so im telling you, an adviser told me that the first half term i should be introducing all the areas of the classroom as my adult focus and showing them whats in the areas, how to use the equipment, letting them experiement and them having a mini tidy before showing the next group. She said it could take the whole half term. So i am going to do that and have small carpet time based around PSED/ sitting and listening and getting to know each other. My other adult will spend time observing the children and we will swap about. This hopefully will mean better behaviour in the long run and better tidying up.


hope that helps


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Thank you everyone for all your responses. It's comforting to know that it's not just my bunch who are taking a while to do things! I like the idea of the music for tidy up time - ipod on charge and the tidy up teams. I've started to do the silent hand wiggles and praised those who are the first and have found then everyone else starts to do too. I like Lola and the noise we have a 'Lola' (must be a PHSE recources/idea) and will use her tomorrow too.


Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, we had a new boy who has never been to pre-school, never had a day away from Mum and can't speak any English and expected everything to be done for him. On top of that he squealed most of the time and frightened the rest of the class (you could see it on their faces). The final straw was finding him opening the security doors (the handle is at adult height and needs a security button pushed too) and also running into a group of my smallest ones and knocking one over. After some support from a colleague who could speak his home language from another class, I asked the Head for extra support which thankfully we have got for 3 mornings in addition to a helper who speaks his home language and is always with us in the afternoons. This really helped him and all seemed well whilst she was supporting him!


Onwards and upwards and thank you for all the tips and advice - I'll let you know how we're getting on!

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A good tip I was given. Give certain children certain areas to tidy up all year. So the same little team always tidys up the creative area, the same ones tidy the book area etc. That way they learn how to do it properly and where everything oges so I hope it speeds it up. Last year I could be tidying up for 20 mins, and I even cought some bending down and pretending to pick things up off the carpet - because they didn't like tidying.


I personally find the tidy up music distracts them, but will introduce it later on when the tidying up is established.

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