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Hi everyone,

I'm hoping that some of you lovely people out there will be able to give me some advice about my provision and practice.

I'm feeling a bit miserable about things at work at the moment. I've been teaching early years for 8 years now and feel that I have a fairly good understanding of how it should all work but can't help feeling that things are just not quite right in my class. The staff and anyone who comes in, including my head, tell me what a good job I'm doing but I still feel like I've not got it running as well as it could.

Sorry, I'm probably making no sense :o

Firstly, I find that we spend the morning reminding children to pick things up off the floor and take them back to where they got them, if they've finished with them. We carefully introduce areas to the children when they first come into the setting and want to be flexible in how they choose to use the resources but it's getting to the point where we are thinking that we should restrict the toys to the area that they are from. Any ideas for what we could do?

Secondly, although we have well-resourced continuous provision which we enhance with different and additional resources, responding to learning needs and interests, I feel that some of the children's play is quite repetitive and that some of the children seem to find it very difficult to engage in anything for more than a minute. We have 3 adults and all get fully involved in their play and build on CI play the following day if interests continue. We leave the enhancements out while the children are continuing to show an interest in them, so I don't plan a full list of different enhancements daily or even for each week. I plan enhancements that support the planned learning for the week and introduce them through the week, adding any others that follow the children's interests or needs as the week progresses. I always try to have an extra table-top activity - e.g. messy play, a game, fine-motor control activities. Am I doing enough? We try to leave CI play as just that, but maybe we need to be suggesting more ideas to this cohort. We do our focused activities at small group time (which is a part of our day which we all feel works really well) and often plan for an adult to be in a focus area or to support specific children either within their CI play or with an extra activity. Do you think that challenges work for Nursery age children? I'm thinking that it might be a way of inspiring the children but of course would shift the CI/TI balance? Any ideas?

I feel a bit stupid writing this post, as I feel that I should be able to get it right by now or is it the perfectionist in me??

Thanks

Hope someone can help.

xx

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Could it be that you need to rethink your timetable? Could you do your focused activities earlier in your session to enable the children to access this in CI? Or maybe you would benefit from some structure along the lines of the highscope model where children plan what they are going to do and where at the start of the session.

It does sound though as if you are being reflective and there is nothing wrong with that!

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Firstly, I find that we spend the morning reminding children to pick things up off the floor and take them back to where they got them, if they've finished with them. We carefully introduce areas to the children when they first come into the setting and want to be flexible in how they choose to use the resources but it's getting to the point where we are thinking that we should restrict the toys to the area that they are from. Any ideas for what we could do?

 

Don't beat yourself up!! Small children all over are doing exactly the same thing!!

Cx

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Thank you for your replies and for your support. I do try to be reflective in my practice but don't like that I can make myself feel so miserable when I'm doing it!

Thanks Catma - I'm glad that it isn't just our setting. I think that I have been spending too long reading blogs such as abc's where there are lovely descriptions of settings where the children independently use AND RETURN resources to where they got them from etc and I wonder how this can be achieved?

I initially got the idea of doing the focused activities in small group time from the highscope approach and really like how it works. I do often ask the children to tell me or a friend where they would like to play and ask a few children what they intend to do - I was thinking about extending this to a proper planning time but am unsure how to do this productively with nursery aged children? Any pointers? I think this would work well particularly with this cohort as many of them do seem to need time to think about what they would like to do.

Any pointers about challenges? Possibly having a challenge a day?

Thanks again

Green Hippo x

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Secondly, although we have well-resourced continuous provision which we enhance with different and additional resources, responding to learning needs and interests, I feel that some of the children's play is quite repetitive and that some of the children seem to find it very difficult to engage in anything for more than a minute.

 

 

Could these children be following a schema? If they are doing things repetitively it could just be that they are following a certain schema and if you could identify it you could provide additional ways for them to explore it. Similarly are the flitting children moving around the activities but still sticking to a schema (for example a transporting schema)?

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There is definately transporting schema evident in a number of the children - we have tried to accommodate this, providing bags, trolleys, boxes, baskets etc and are happy for children to transport toys around the setting as long as they leave some toys in the areas for children to play with and PUT THEM BACK! And it's the latter that is proving very difficult. The children that clearly show the transporting schema do tend to use that in different ways so I'm not so worried about the repetitiveness of their play. It is some other children that I'm concerned about - for example, there is a group who ALWAYS choose to go to the home-corner but when asked don't know what they want to do when they get there, even when we try to have a more extended discussion with them, making subtle suggestions etc. So when they get to the home-corner, firstly most of the things come off the shelves (and we have reduced number of resources so children can clearly see what is available and where to return things) then often these things will end up in the oven or all over the table, then the children walk away from the area. Adult interaction does help but we feel we have to really lead them to extend their play, as opposed to engaging in sustained shared thinking which is maybe what they need but of course we don't have enough adults to have someone with them all the time. Hmmm...

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I know it's not very EYFS but I once got frustrated with the same problem and closed the offending area for a few days. It was amazing how it got the children out of a 'rut' and it was never quite so much of a problem afterwards. I would also at the same time look at really accommodating these children's interests in different areas so the are more tempted by them. Try really talking up whatever it is you have provided that you think will appeal to them during carpet time so that they know it's there and are keen to access it.

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Thanks Kariana, I think we may have to try your idea of closing the offending areas - we have done this in the past with the construction area (all boxes just tipped up-side down!) and in the playhouse and it did seem to have some effect. That has just made me think of an idea - maybe we could close the house for 'refurbishment' then after a day get into role as designers etc to re-do the homecorner - get children to have real ownership of resources - put them where THEY think they should be and see if that makes a difference? We could also get them to take pictures of the 'finished article' so they have a really clear idea of how it should look when tidied? What do you think?

 

I think I will do more of what you suggest as well about telling the children more about what's on offer - as I think these children don't 'see' what is there as they always go to their favourite areas.

 

Could I ask what others do in terms of how often they change or add enhancements to areas? And also, do you offer messy/sensory play on a daily basis?

Thanks for all your help,

Green Hippo x

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Thanks Kariana, I think we may have to try your idea of closing the offending areas - we have done this in the past with the construction area (all boxes just tipped up-side down!) and in the playhouse and it did seem to have some effect. That has just made me think of an idea - maybe we could close the house for 'refurbishment' then after a day get into role as designers etc to re-do the homecorner - get children to have real ownership of resources - put them where THEY think they should be and see if that makes a difference? We could also get them to take pictures of the 'finished article' so they have a really clear idea of how it should look when tidied? What do you think?

 

That sounds like a lovely idea!

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What is high scope???

 

It works on the principle of "plan, do, review" and this is what the children do---they plan where they are going and what they are going to do, they go and do it and later they have an opportunity to review what they have done and evaluate it. They are supported by adults at every stage and older participants would be recording. Younger children would need some help to do that! Lots of adult focus on how to use each area and what to do there to encourage and enable children to be independent in their activities.

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Thanks Kariana, think I'll try it next week!

Thanks for your explanation of High Scope, Susan. Am I right in thinking that they don't have to do what they have planned or would you expect them to at least start with that? How should you introduce it properly to the children? Do the children have to tell their plan to an adult or to another child? Could they out their name on their prefered area on a central display? And what about reviewing time? How should this work?

I would love to do the training, but don't think I can afford it!

Sorry about all the questions!

Green Hippo x

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Thanks Kariana, think I'll try it next week!

Thanks for your explanation of High Scope, Susan. Am I right in thinking that they don't have to do what they have planned or would you expect them to at least start with that? How should you introduce it properly to the children? Do the children have to tell their plan to an adult or to another child? Could they out their name on their prefered area on a central display? And what about reviewing time? How should this work?

I would love to do the training, but don't think I can afford it!

Sorry about all the questions!

Green Hippo x

Hi Green Hippo!

I have be a High/scope practitioner for 10 years now and still remember those 'light bulb' 'wow' moments during the 9 months I was undertaking my training! The positive relationship between giving children opportunities to plan what they would like to do during their 'work time' and then evaluate during review time, empowers and promotes their self-confidence so much. To answer your questions, their 'plan' - they don't have to do what they have planned, during review time quite often the child's key person will comment on their plan and a child will often reply that they had forgotten to follow through with their plans. I have a wide range of 'planning' resources (singing song with a hoop all children join in, works really well for 2 year olds, photo boards are great too for younger ones to remind them of resources available (as are actual items on a tray or in a basket), for older children using telephones where they talk to one another about their plan, or rolling a ball, music instrument to pass around the group, in fact i can upload a list of planning resources if i can find it on my laptop!

Review time is done in the same way with resources to turn take and keep active. I like the idea of putting their name on a preferred area (think i might pinch that one...thought about post it notes to stick on photo board!).

Getting on the High/scope training is difficult with funding cuts, try visiting the High/scope UK website, is very helpful.

Planning_review_rota_of_resources.doc

Edited by meridian
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Thanks so much Meridian - really helpful. So should all the children be given the opportunity to share their plan with their key worker or will some get an opportunity each day while others tell a friend?

I first researched High Scope when I made a decision to do focused activities at 'small group time' and someone told me that it was like high scope (may have been Susan?). We all really love how this works. Would love to hear more about how you work and what you feel the real benefits are. (May take them to my head!!)

Green Hippo x

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most children do plan, although with younger children and additional needs tend to make it really simple approach, especially when they have limited communication. Interpreting their gestures or eye gaze and commenting on what they are looking at works well and then observing what they have been doing during work time to be able to comment on what i have seen at review time helps. Also using a plan-do-review sheet to record children's ideas, older children love to mark make too on here there ideas. Obviously with older more articulate children I extend this to encourage them to expand on their plans. Bringing items back to review they have made at work time is good, builds their self-confidence and I am a great believer in children self-evaluating their play...all about the process, how did you do this, what did you use etc.

Another key element of the High/scope approach is adults encourage rather than praise, commenting on what a child has produced, gives them authentic feedback, not just a 'oh that's nice!'

Empowering children through the six steps to problem solving too, enables them to express their thoughts, work through a problem together, with the role of the adult being to facilitate the process rather than take over. This builds powerful social skills for life long learning...what more could we want for our very young children! :o

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