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Can you tell I'm doing lots of work today! Another long one sorry!

 

We have an ongoing battle with this and I wondered what others do.

We are a school-run pre-school and offer 10 sessions a week of 3 hours each with time within each for lunch as opposed to a lunchclub in the middle.

We currently have around 80 children on roll with another 25ish due to start before the end of the school year.

We used to have 2 groups - I can't remember the exact pattern but it was something like Group One Mon, Tue, Wed am and Thu, Fri pm and Group Two Mon, Tue, Wed pm and Thu, Fri pm.

A few children didn't do those sessions to fit in with parents' working so maybe all mornings. Then we started offering all day and it got a bit more complicated as we now had Groups One and Two, All dayers on some of the days and the odd ones that did sessions outside of the main groups. But it was Ok... ish :o

Now we barely have 2 children doing the same sessions - they are a real pick and mix bunch! We have a couple that do all 10 sessions, some that do 2 full days and a session, some that do all pm, some that do all am and then some that do a complete varied selection!

When we (well, me really!) are trying to sort out special days like Red Nose Day or the Christmas Play it is a total nightmare to find 2 sessions that the majority of children attend and then have to decide whether to invote the rest (the play) or let them miss out (RND!)

Then there is group time. Each day one of us looks at who is in (up to 32 at the moment) and has a chart of the planned group time activities (6 key workers each doing one from one area so all 6 areas covered) and tries to match the children with an activity they need/haven't done. It's working really well except for the time it takes to do :(

Ah say the FSco and Head, it's simple, each day at group time you just have your key children. you just need to do a different area each day and that's that. Er no because the children that are in all day every day get the same activity twice and the ones that are in less miss out on areas they need because there are 6 areas and 5 days! On Friday I had no key children in the afternoon - out of 11, only 2 do that session and they were both ill! My colleague, however, had 12! Before you suggest setting key workers to sessions - no because they change them at will!

 

We used to do it that each day we just decided separately what we were going to do and then just say to the others eg 'I'm doing sorting today, do any of yours need that? Yes, good I'll take him... what are you doing? Oh brilliant so and so needs that...' It worked as each key worker did activities to suit their children's next steps but we had nothing written to show what we were doing. This is why we went to a more formal way. I like it as it means that certain staff members do have to work with all 6 areas and not just wait for someone else to do it so they could send their children to them IYSWIM but obviously it's not ideal.

We also do a language programme called Language Spirals and after spending a good half hour trying to find the least amount of sessions that covered all 16 identified children and printing it out... 2 of them changed their sessions and didn't fit the plan grrrrrrr.

 

What I'm getting at in a very long winded way is... It would be so much easier if we could say right you either do all mornings or all afternoons (for example) so we knew for sure who was in and when!! Plus once they are set THAT IS IT! No swapping.

We have 2 rooms now after moving to new building last May. When we moved we split the group so we had the ones going to school in one room and those here another year in the other. Made sense. In September, didn't think it through and moved all of those up to continue the not/going to school split. Problem was of course that the new children start one or two a day and come in as they hit 2y 9m - 3 so we have had 2 or 3 children in there... the most we have had is 11 - in a 24 place room! Oops. It hasn't been an issue as once they are in and registered they can go in either room but we are changing to separate rooms this September so that won't do! Consequently I've been trying to work out where to make the cut off of age so we can move say all the children who will be 4 between Sept and Feb straight away then move the others across half termly according to how many new ones we have. This would be great but with their varied sessions this leaves us with 2 on some sessions and 9 on others. They will pick some up I guess (many only do 2 or 3 in the younger room) but even so if they had to fit into one of 2 sets of sessions we would haven even number of children across the days.

 

On the other hand I want us to be flexible and offer a really good service! xD

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very complicated - i know of several groups that say the child has to do all mornings or all pms and cannot mix them- although they dont have to do five - this means the group know the children will be the same every am/pm - and can plan accordingly.

as a group we cover one area per week eg pse then cll - each keyworker planning for their children in an area they need - they then plan how they will support / extend their children in this activity as needed. afterwards they evaluate the activity and then write what each child achieved. as the week goes on the group either consolidates on the learning or moves on from there.

hope that helps?

not sure how you can solve the two rooms - are all children that are going onto school put together - is there a way you could move them up gradually as younger ones come in?

is there a reason why you are having two separate rooms - can you not allow the children to go between the two - we have children from two years to four years altogether and it works well - you could just split them for group and any other times you felt you needed.

as a group we love the way the older and younger ones interact and feel it benefits all the children x

Edited by blondie
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we used to let the parents book the sessions and then they were unable to change them until the next funding period.. unless there were circumstances that really did warrant a change and were done at discretion of the manager and only if spaces allowed.. each one done on an individual case by case basis and thy had to do the request 2 weeks in advance in writing.. as a minimum!

 

like you ours were in all different times and sessions not any sessions where we could say we could see all the children over even 3 days.. fire drill took a week to ensure all children did one..

 

but we did not do a key worker time, had one focus activity a day set by the observations and children's interests, and their needs.. a member of staff was responsible for doing a particular day each week so there was not an issue with 'I did not know'.. the children were encouraged to participate but if not all learning was already covered in the continual planning and if they did not access it this time then they would another one, evaluation showed who did or did not access it and notes on how it could be changed or improved to encourage them another time.. over a week this would be 5 focus activities, in addition to a large group time each session so 2 a day with a story, songs etc, this could be different am and pm depending on the group of children. Staff supported the children the rest of the setting and were able to extend, change and adapt to them as needed.. so actually the heads idea of a group time with any children would be fine, no one really misses out they will all learn something over a session.. and they will usually access the same learning but in a different format over the time they are with you.. we never stressed about all children doing something, or joining in, they will do it sometime just differently to how you have planned, nothing wrong in that.

 

and I too question the why 2 rooms, is it that the layout is changing and you can no longer have the one large group mixing togehter.. If not then I say go with the whole group togehter and set them up as you have been, ours were a messy and a quiet room, along with outside..

if not then give each room a name or identity and have the children split into 2 even groups each day - could be split by friendship groups, or age, or even a mix to prevent squabbles, each day the children could be in different rooms, but no reason why not.. some could always be in the same room.. I think I would sue a self registration style with the children names for each room put on the doors or board next to it and they find their names and take it into the relevant room to display to show they are there.. easy to do every morning put the names due in on the two boards equally could even be at random..

 

hard to advise or comment unless seeing the setting in action, but I always tried to find a suitable solution, there usually is one if all are willing to give it a go for a while to see if it works, and change it as needed..

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Oh ladies I am so pleased to read this! We don't want it to be two separate rooms :(

At the moment we take from 2y 9m and run sessions almost back to back. It's taken since September 2010 to get the Head to see, understand and agree to us having a gap between them to ease the midle of the day change over time when we had children staying, going and arriving all at the same time :o

We have a large building with two rooms with an adjoining door. We run it like this:

8:45 children arrive and go to their base room. Staff are on a rota so that they get to see the parents of all their key children.

As soon as the vast majority of parents are gone and we have counted and checked the registers, the door is opened and children can go into either room and outside. We have a roll in snack in the larger/older room.

10:00 we all stop and go to our base rooms. We don't tidy, just clear enough space on the carpet areas for children to congregate. The children are sent to their group time then go back to free play.

11:00 children having lunch are (after a 5 minute warning is given) sent to wash their hands for lunch, which is currently all in the larger room again. The other children are sent to the other room or outside.

11:25 Tidy up time then story time in their base rooms. The very few children still eating can see the story.

11:45 Those going home go out through their base room.

The children staying all day are then sent to wash their hands and sat for lunch as we admit the next lot...

11:55 The afternoon children arrive again to their base room and the morning is pretty much repeated except that they have lunch first and snack is after the 1:30 group time.

 

This was working really well for us until our EYFSA came along and decided she didn't like it and told the Head this... So we've been told we have to do it :( I've put forward all our reasons for not wanting to - not least the complication of key working as she wants 3 staff in each room and not a rota so the children will have to change key workers. Once it's all in place it won't be so bad I guess but my fear is we do it then she sees our point and tells us to change back and we have the whole issue again...

 

I'm still a bit groggy at the moment after a bit of a lie in xD (makes a change!) so can't focus properly but am interested in your description of focus activities and will read again properly later and maybe ask questions...

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Oh ladies I am so pleased to read this! We don't want it to be two separate rooms :(

At the moment we take from 2y 9m and run sessions almost back to back. It's taken since September 2010 to get the Head to see, understand and agree to us having a gap between them to ease the midle of the day change over time when we had children staying, going and arriving all at the same time :o

We have a large building with two rooms with an adjoining door. We run it like this:

8:45 children arrive and go to their base room. Staff are on a rota so that they get to see the parents of all their key children.

As soon as the vast majority of parents are gone and we have counted and checked the registers, the door is opened and children can go into either room and outside. We have a roll in snack in the larger/older room.

10:00 we all stop and go to our base rooms. We don't tidy, just clear enough space on the carpet areas for children to congregate. The children are sent to their group time then go back to free play.

11:00 children having lunch are (after a 5 minute warning is given) sent to wash their hands for lunch, which is currently all in the larger room again. The other children are sent to the other room or outside.

11:25 Tidy up time then story time in their base rooms. The very few children still eating can see the story.

11:45 Those going home go out through their base room.

The children staying all day are then sent to wash their hands and sat for lunch as we admit the next lot...

11:55 The afternoon children arrive again to their base room and the morning is pretty much repeated except that they have lunch first and snack is after the 1:30 group time.

 

This was working really well for us until our EYFSA came along and decided she didn't like it and told the Head this... So we've been told we have to do it :( I've put forward all our reasons for not wanting to - not least the complication of key working as she wants 3 staff in each room and not a rota so the children will have to change key workers. Once it's all in place it won't be so bad I guess but my fear is we do it then she sees our point and tells us to change back and we have the whole issue again...

 

I'm still a bit groggy at the moment after a bit of a lie in xD (makes a change!) so can't focus properly but am interested in your description of focus activities and will read again properly later and maybe ask questions...

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Not much to offer about the 2 rooms as we've only 1 (& wish we could partition them off...). But with the sessions, we ask parents what they prefer, but are not always able to offer that. We have 10 sessions a week with lunch club separate in the middle of the day. I have 1 space not filled for the rest of the Spring term & at the moment, only 1 child leaving at Easter, so flexibility ain't happening right now!

 

I'm going to be trying to be more proactive in offering spaces based on the children we already have in & their needs rather than old manager's policy of trying to get as many as possible to be booked in for full 5 funded sessions...

 

Ours are a mixture of most having all ams or all pms, some doing all days all week, some doing 5 sessions over 2 1/2 days, some funded at school nursery but with us for extras... So many of the special days (Red nose, etc) are Fridays but we don't have a culture at the moment of doing all these. I'm hoping to go to local church on the Monday following Mother's day, to get the Monday children out, & if we can't go there, I'll ask my vicar (from the not so local church ;-) to come in not on a Friday. Last time we took the children on a visit (last time, first time in literally years, same thing...) it was a Friday pm for a specific reason, so when we invite Nursery to visit us, I want it to be a not Friday.

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Yeah I forgot about fire drills too - we too have to do them almost every day to ensure all children, staff and students get to do them!

 

The children do self register and it takes a good ten minutes every night to get out the names of the children due in for the next day as leaving all the names out just isn't practical plus it's easier to see whose names are left on the table and therefore who isn't there or hasn't done their name.

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Yeah I forgot about fire drills too - we too have to do them almost every day to ensure all children, staff and students get to do them!

 

The children do self register and it takes a good ten minutes every night to get out the names of the children due in for the next day as leaving all the names out just isn't practical plus it's easier to see whose names are left on the table and therefore who isn't there or hasn't done their name.

 

 

we used to colour code the day and have a small spot on the back of the names so all we had to do was find the ones with the right colour on them. we tended to use sticky spots but did start originally with writing it on in colour markers.. . ( we had 20 per session but often 60+ on the books.. so plenty to sift through and sort out) If they changed then we crossed out the colour and put the new one on.(stickers we coudl cover the old with new). we also started adding a 1 or 2 in the spot for am/pm sessions.. once set up so much faster than sifting through register and finding the right names each session.. children never noticed them .. we also had things like dob on back and any allergies etc. so we could find this info at a quick glance.. but it was not on full display.

Edited by Inge
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we used to colour code the day and have a small spot on the back of the names so all we had to do was find the ones with the right colour on them. we tended to use sticky spots but did start originally with writing it on in colour markers.. . ( we had 20 per session but often 60+ on the books.. so plenty to sift through and sort out) If they changed then we crossed out the colour and put the new one on.(stickers we coudl cover the old with new). we also started adding a 1 or 2 in the spot for am/pm sessions.. once set up so much faster than sifting through register and finding the right names each session.. children never noticed them .. we also had things like dob on back and any allergies etc. so we could find this info at a quick glance.. but it was not on full display.

 

That's a good idea in principal... so do you literally have 5 different colours? So for a child that was full time they would have 5 stickers with 1,2 written in them?

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That's a good idea in principal... so do you literally have 5 different colours? So for a child that was full time they would have 5 stickers with 1,2 written in them?

 

yes, 5 colours which is why we started out with pens.. but found some stickers , ours are small circles but we did use stars as well as they were easier to find. .. could be different shapes or anything so long as you all know the code.. no number meant all day.. 1 -am, 2- pm

Edited by Inge
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Just noticed I used the wrong principle/principal :o

I'll suggest that at our next meeting - as you say, it'll take a while to do but once it's done... our students always want to do the sorting names job but it's tricky as we have doubles and triples of some names! We don't put last names on - ours have a border round them in their key worker colour and the staff all know which is which xD

I did introduce the colour coding which we've found makes it a bit quicker when sorting names, book bags or looking for pegs as instead of looking through 30 you scan the colour of that child if you see what I mean!

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