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Hi. This is my first ever post!!!!! I have recently become the manager of a pre school after being a deputy there for a couple of years. We have role swapped - the manager wanted to be deputy and I wanted (ha ha!) to be manager. (Should of remembered the workload from when I owned my out of school club!)


Looking for advice on everything and anything.


I feel we are quite a structured, rigid setting and whilst this does work for us and has done for many years it is not up to date with current thinking - any information on how pre school daily routines are timed would be greatly appreciated. We are open 9-12 Monday to Friday.


We currently have formal registration time, small adult led activity sessions, free play, adult led whole group time, daily walk and visit to park, snack, story time, free play and then a final get together to have a song and talk about items the children have brought in from home (toy basket time). As you can see very adult-led. Again, I would like to introduce changes to ensure we are current in our practice. We do PLAN across the curriculum but again very formal. Topics rigidly followed and to me quite dated.


Please help :o

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Hi, congratulations on your first post.


As another Preschool manager, my first advice would be that if your staff aren't 'on board' with any changes you make, they most likely won't work, and if you try and push things through you could end up with a fight on your hands.


We have scrapped the formal registration time first thing, we have a paper register that a member of staff writes on when children arrive and I do the more formal one at the end of the session at circle time.


Children come in and get stuck into whatever they want to do, they have free play indoors or out for the first hour, then we have two snacktimes - one for the Preschool group and the other for the younger ones. (We're in different rooms) Then we swap and we come in and they go out or vice-versa. It's about 10.30 by this time and I do a project activity or some Letters and Sounds or Numbers and Shapes with a few children whilst others paint or stick or construct etc for 10 or 15 minutes and then change children over, so whilst it's adult-led, it's only a short block. Then at about 11 we have a plenary and story, children who are not stopping for lunch put their shoes on and then all the children from both rooms have a 15 minute songtime. The session finishes at 11.30.


Does that help at all?


The projects are similar to themes, but a lot looser, and just to 'mop up' next steps that aren't being seen in free play

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


I'd agree with Cait about getting the staff on board. Do you have a concensus of opinion about which areas the team would like to change? If not, perhaps a good first move would be some kind of staff meeting to identify what is working and what isn't. Then, draw up a list of priorities to see what needs to be tackled first.

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sound advice from Cait and Happy Maz. a lot of what you now do we used to do and it seemed fine ...the children were happy and progressing, we were popular and had a waiting list but having just moved we have had to challenge all that we do, which i was excited about and my staff were up for the change. I have reflected a lot over the last few weeks and can see the benefits of the change for all...some has been easy and could be changed quickly other things take time. Perhaps choose one thing (like going straight to free play?) and see how that goes first...are you worried about how your deputy will handle this? and how are you going to approach the change with your parents (people just dont like change!!) when we first started to challenge the system we sent out a letter saying what we were going to do and asking for their support with a review date (ususally a term) to ensure it is working...usually by the end of the term they had all forgotten how we used to do things!! :o ( i assume from your post that free flow is not possible?)

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Thank you for all your comments. The staff team are a little adverse to change unless it offers benefit to the children although I have a very good committee this year to help things through. As you say softly softly is going to be the key.


I think the deputy feels that too much free play equals behaviour issues and lack of opportunities to ensure all areas of development are covered/curriculum being met. I have pointed out how much evidence I have seen from children simply playing with sticklebricks for example (i.e. the areas it covered) or when role playing but I think it will be work in progress.


Once again Thank you for your replies. It helps to share with other practitioners.



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Our sessions go a look like this at the moment:


9am: Children come into nursery and straight into whatever they want to do, indoors or outdoors. A staff member does the register and writes on the board how many children are in.


Our "cafe" for snacks is open until we tidy up so a max of 5 children at a time can come and have a drink and fruit when it suits them


An adult led or focused activity takes place amongst the other things going on.

The other staff member observes and "floats"

The door to outside is open all the time and the children choose where they want their learning to take place


At about 11.05 ish depending on whats going on we tidy up certain areas for lunch and come together for story or rhymes or beat baby/ letters and sounds type activities.


11.30 is lunch time!


We do not follow topics, we try and build on the childrens interests

Edited by Scarlettangel
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If it helps, I'll tell you what we do. I took over a year ago, and have changed many things, but a little at a time, so as not to overwhelm everyone - staff and children alike!


9am we open and children come and sit down in the circle (although sometimes very little ones choose not to which is fine, mostly they do because we have an activity to do and it is fun!) Once most are in we say hello around the circle, count the children and then go off to play.


From 9.30-ish freeflow, indoors or out. Cafe is prepared with a child volunteer, and children come as and when they wish. We close the cafe around 10.30, giving lots of advance warning!


11.30 tidy up followed by number songs and then story.


12.00 Some children go home, others wash up for lunch club.


We are open until 3.30, with children doing varied sessions to suit. The afternoon is free play/free flow from around 1pm until 3pm, then songs and story again.


Later in the year we start taking groups for focussed work, as the need and/or ability arises, such as letters and sounds. We also often do group activities, for example this week we all made gingerbread men, but this always follows children's interests.


Throughout the session staff are observing children, taking photos etc, which gives us the evidence we need to show their progress.


Hope that helps!

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ok our session routine-

9am -register, short circle time chat if the children have lots of news or things to show us (wow cards, special things etc)

9.15 - 10.40 free play inside and out (we cover lots of obs during this)

10.40 -10.50 -tidy up time

10.50 very short small group -numbers,counting, letters and sounds etc,etc,etc

11am -group snack time -they help themselves -count out their snack items, pour own drinks etc, then tidy their plates and cups away and clean tables.

11.20 -all outside -walk around wooded area, run around on field, climbing aparatus, bikes etc (lots of physical things )

11.45 -all back inside for rhymes and stories

12 -hometime.


as the children get a little older we will probably fit in a more structured small group activity -but we find we can make most of our obs during free play

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We are very 'free' -

8:50 doors open, a staff member registers them on their way in and children also self register by putting their names in a pot. They then go to play inside.

Once all the parents (or most if any settling in) are gone, the children have been counted to make sure register tallies and most of the other organisational things are done, the doors are open and children have free-flow play.

Snack is put out pretty much straight away as it seems several don't have breakfast and we have lunch early. This is self-selected.

10am we stop for group time. Only the tables and carpet areas are tidied so that children know they can come back to what they were doing in the main. Groups are mainly keyworking groups but not always. We also run a language spiral group. The group activity could be a game, a story sack, threading, discussion... anything at all that the key worker feels needs to be done - often to fill gaps. For example, if a child never accesses construction, this may be a group time to ensure they at least have a go.. we also do letters and sounds at these times.

Children then go back to free play until we stop to tidy up properly at 11am. It gets complicated then as we have children staying for lunch and going home, children staying all day, children not having lunch and going home.


I think the key is planning - when you sell it to your team - make it clear that activities will be planned to ensure there are opportunities to develop in all areas. At our meetings we use our obs and evaluations from the week. If children are getting a lot from a particular thing we'll keep it out for another week. We trialed more free play and less directed this time last year to help settle in the new ones initially as we felt they were too young for lots of sitting and directed activities. On evaluating our key-files we found we got just as many observations in all areas from the children's chosen activities. To check this I put an A3 sheet of paper on the wall divided into 6 and hte areas written on. As we made observations on pot-its we put them up in the area. It worked both ways - showed staff where they (individually) were and weren't getting their obs and showed that as a setting we did cover all areas.

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