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Playtime Or No Playtime That Is The Question!


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Hi

I've recently seen a lot of people talking about whether reception classes should stop, tidy up and go out to play with KS1.

 

I was wondering if anyone could share any examples of their timetable if they don't stop for playtime.

 

My school is possibly going three form in sept so I am considering breaking away from the traditional stop and tidy but I would really like to see how you organise your morning especially if you go through from 9 to 12.

 

Also, do you have stop and sit down for snack time or have a rolling snack? How do you organise rolling snack? Give the children a set time frame? Do they have to post their name or something similiar when they have had their snack? Do you have an adult with them?

 

Sorry for all the questions but I am always looking to improve my practice and do the best for our children.

 

Thanks

 

Becs

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Hello Becs,

 

I work at a 2 form entry Primary. We decided to not have 'playtime' in YR last year. There are advantages to this as it means we have an extended opportunity for play based activities from 9:30am (after letters & sounds) to approx 11:15am (we have PSRN time & Story after that up to 11:55am). The flow is much better and the children don't get frustrated with having to tidy up when they have only just begun!!!!

The disadvantage is that the staff need a drink/ toilet break at some point. We only have 2 adults per class, but often have parent helpers as well. We just choose an appropriate time in the morning to take turns to quickly grab a drink rather than having a 'sit down & chat' break in the staffroom. It works for us but some staff are very reluctant to give up their morning break time!!!!

 

Hope this helps!

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Hi

I work in a nursery class in a 3 form entry school and we go from 8.55 through till 12.00pm with no 'adult' breaks or toilet breaks. You just get used to it!

However the three reception classes do have a formal morning and afternoon playtime on the yard.

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Guest ChunkyMan

I too haven't had a breaktime for years and although the morning is really long the opportunity for the children to extend their play, learning etc is invaluable. We have a snack table where milk, toast and fruit is available most of the day. Our children have phonics until 9.30 then they stop at 11.30 for story/talk 4 writing then lunch. They have numbertime after lunch then free flow for an hour, story and home.

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Guest tinkerbell

we are a small school (109) for the first term the reception don't have a playtime but then they now join in with the rest of the school.This is because the adults are timetabled to do a playtime twice a week (2 on duty ) the argument would be for the adults to keep in contact withthe rest of the school children and to do their 'turn'.(As assistant head this is good for me to see what is going on and others to see me about ).

Our Reception outside area is pretty cramped too (roll on the new build and big playarea!)so the children can't really run around .

I do prefer to work right through though and my TA and I would take turns to pop off and make a brew or go to the loo.also the children bond better as a class when they play through the first term playtime as they work together...once they get in with the rest of the school the older siblings and friends want to play with them and they don't mix with their class mates as well.

I suppose its what works best for your school.

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This year we decided to get rid of break time and i find it so much better as there is a better flow. There is research that says it takes 40minutes before children fully engage in productive play. we had some problems with staff breaks but as a previous post during the morning we nip out to the toilet or grab a drink. My argument to school was we are their to teach the children and their needs come first not the staff playtime rota! The other argument was they wouldn't be mixing with the rest of school but they go out at lunchtime and play on the yard. I found the children didn't really get beak times and wanted to play with the reception toys because they have free access to outdoors all day and wet play was a nightmare!

my morning timetable simply is child initiated upon arrival, whole class input, child initiated and small group activity, tidy up time, phonics, lunch, also fit guided reading in at some point. There is two of us one inside and one out during child initiated. I find now that i have a longer morning i can do a focus activity with a group for 15 ish minutes then i have time to join/ observe child initiated and extend learning as well as carry out some observations.

 

hope that helps, you have to do what works for you

Em

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Hi,

There is me and 1 TA and 27 reception children at our school. We have CI till 9.15, phonics in 4 groups (2 choose, 2 work then swap) 9.15 till 10 ish, sit in key groups for snack/ review for 10 mins then 1 will be indoors, 1 outdoors till 11.30 working in CP and observing or following next steps with specific Chd (i do a guided read group each day when i am in after snack). We come together for group at 11.30. To be fair it is a long morning for us, but the benifits for the children is huge, i now see really developed play happening. Stopping play was the best thing we ever did. Yes other teachers had to cover our KS1 play duties but they got over it when we pointed out they might be doing 3 out of 10 but we do 10 out of 10! We have trained our bladdders to last till dinner and we have water with the Chd at snack time.

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Totally agree with mrs jatkins

"The flow is much better and the children don't get frustrated with having to tidy up when they have only just begun"

we have carpet input first thing followed by provision and focus activites. then tidy up at 11.15 for the next input cefore lunch. We tried it with a stop at 10.15 before but the kids got fed up of always tidying and not able to extend thier work. If children have access to outdoor provision i the day they shouldnt need a play time like the rest of the school however, you might want to consider bringing this in towards the end of summer term for transition purposes (we open the gate to the 'big playground' so children have the option to go there when the others have time.

 

I know snack is differnt in lots of schools but I was advised it should be part of continous provison however, i know in some schools they like to use it as a get togehter pse sort of time. Its wharever works best for your class I think. We have a snack table with fruit, milk, books about fruit etc. velcroed to the wall is each childs name and when they have had snack they just put thier card into the box on the table. We have snack monitors (2 a day) who clean the snack table, put milk in staws, help childrne peel thier oranges etc and they check to see if anyone wants snack if thier name is still on the board at 2 (so the adults dont have to do a thing lol!) oh and the kids love the responsibility. At end of day thye even stick all the cards back to the wall.

 

Hope this helps

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Thanks for all your replies.

 

Staxfleming, I like the idea of your snack time.I'm all for independent children! It sounds like it works really smoothly. I might trial it after Easter so that I can iron out any problems before September.

 

Becs

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We also abolished morning play time last year and really don't miss it at all. Yes there are problems with staff having time for coffee and toilet breaks but we try to release 2 members of staff at a time(we are a 3 form entry with 6 staff) In the summer term we start to prepare for the transition into year 1 and begin to join Key Stage 1 for playtime. We have a permanent snack bar which children are able to access throughout the day.We were advised that occassionally we should be seen to also take our break at the snack bar,perhaps using one of those thermal cups with a lid if we have a hot drink. This also works well and shows children that we too need to have a drink and a snack!

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We have a 60 place eyfs unit.

Integration time until 9.30 where children are encouraged to self register (differentiated up to some children writing their names in a morning book or answering a question that is individually posed to them - I find this encourages reading for the more able). Parents do not have to leave until 9.30 and many stay and support their child with play, reading and early writing.

During this time, children have to 'sign up' for the activities they hope to try for that day. Of course they don't always stick to it but it gives us an 'at a glance' reminder to support any children who may appear to be wandering or are not engaged. We have pictorial representations of areas velcroed onto a large board where children write or attempt to write their name against the activity they hope to do in the morning and afternoon. They may do more than one but we find it helps focus them when they have chosen it ahead - rather than just sending them off to 'go and choose' which has differing results.

9.30 is first key group time of the day - we have 5 members of staff and each have a key group - nursery ratios are smaller and include some vulnerable reception children who benefit from a smaller group. We say hellos, note the weather, the date, that type of thing and we also say prayers (we are a catholic school). Children also have toast in a circle during this time. This is no longer than 10 minutes and leads straight into a literacy based activity where there may be a story or discussion (talk partners) based on the current literacy ideas eg at the moment it is Spring and signs of springtime.

9.50 the unit splits into multiactivity which we all (including the children) refer to as 'play and learn'. During this time we have open outdoor access and a combination of specific guided and targeted learning coupled with managed child initiated play. The adult roles are very defined - for example, On a Monday I do guided reading (which is mostly paired or individual with reception children) for most of the play and learn session.

Other adults have specific roles during play and learn which are often targeted at individual development needs and have an emphasis on one of the new prime areas or spec areas.

11.10 is a short tidy - all children have specific jobs. The outdoor is locked at this time and those outdoor do a quick tidy - to ensure safety and to make activities fresh for lunch.

11.20 is thinking time. It is a period of reflection for all children and they gather in their key groups to low level relaxation music where the adult 'guides them through their thinking' about what they have learned, discovered or enjoyed during the play and learn session. We have found this invaluable as it adds calm to a busy morning and refocuses children on the purposeful nature of their play. We model the thinking for them and very soon they are confident to to express their own reflections on their morning.

11.30 We split into phased phonics groups - five groups. One phase 1, One phase 1/2, One phase 2, One phase 3 and lastly a phase 3+ group where until Easter they are embedding their phonics skills and knowledge through application games and activities. Prayers at the end of this and children go from phonics straight into lunchtime handwash etc

11.50 Lunchtime - outdoor provision is ongoing through lunch period.

12.45 specific interventions for targeted vulnerable Reception pupils - usually in the form of literacy or number games. This is done by a TA in the team.

1.00 Key groups. Reception is numeracy based - usually around a story theme. Nursery have numeracy 3 times a week but have more flexibility for the focus of the afternoon key group depending what observations have thrown up.

1.20 Open Play and Learn session as per the morning with differing adult roles. As I said, I would do all of my guided reads on a Monday while other team members are following up other aspects of learning and play based on planning and observation.

2.30 Doors locked for split large tidy between out and indoor provision. All indoor Reception children are gathered at this point and encouraged to share books or do a specific tidy up in one of the areas near their key group base. Nursery likewise. Any children outdoors at this point are directed to tidy.

2.45 synchronised thinking session when all children are in key groups for reflection followed by the last session of the day which is either a story or an 'eyeopener' activity like what's in the box.

3.10 prayers and prep for hometime at 3.15pm.

There are a couple of exceptions - for example we have an EYFS specific and appropriate assembly on a Thursday where the children are gathered in the hall for a themed RE session while the rest of the school attend mass.

We have ongoing snack - it is simple and we don't require children to register if they have had it or not. We encourage them to recognise hunger and thirst and an additional adult oversees this area each day (as a targeted area not focused activity) to ensure that children are using the area well, getting to grips with routines and hygiene etc. adults can also have fresh water and snack at this area as it fits in well with modelling and encouraging children to sit down and eat/drink when they need to. If children do not have a snack they are not made to - same with drinks of water or milk. We just keep an eye on consumption and discuss any concerns with children/ parents and each other.

We don't have breaks and are not factored into play duties with the rest of school. We have a staff toilet in the unit which is central and accessible so we just use our common sense if someone needs a wee lol.

The key is very much in allowing long periods of uninterrupted playful learning for a large number of children (this is not to say that it is totally child initiated - some of it is, whilst some is targeted or classed as a focus actiivity). Even when child initiated play is taking place, adults join in, model, imitate and interact with children at this time where ever there is a chance to help children's development in the area.

Key group sessions have to be well prepared, interesting and stick to allotted time or it all goes pear shaped lol. But as a team leader, I am blessed with great staff who are flexible where necessary and committed to the timetable which helps.

The challenge is not letting any routine slip but the children are so used to it now and refer to the visual timetable to remind us if we are not keeping to it haha!

Liz

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Hi I teach reception in a 1 form entry school and we start the year not having playtime with the rest of the school. However I find that this distresses quite a few children who want to play with their older siblings and local friends and as they can see the playground from the classroom/outside area I tend to find them staring wistfully at them when it is their playtime. We join KS1 for morning playtime after christmas and integrate them gradually with me always out with them to begin with as a point of reference. As a school no one has an afternoon playtime and we therefore have 2 hours in the afternoon of freeflow time which is uninterrupted. I do have snack time altogether, when the children come in after playtime they collect their drinks and fruit and sit on the carpet and 1 group a day share their 'big news', water is freely available at other times. I have my mornings as quite adult focused activities and then the afternoon is child initiated for all 30 children with us observing/supporting play. So in the mornings we have assembly, phonics (differentiated 4 ways each group with an adult) guided reading activities, playtime with KS1, drinks and snacks/big news, numbertime, PE or sticky kids.

Deb

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  • 1 year later...

Hi, I teach in a small village school with a large intake of 27 children. I really love the idea of having no morning break, and have already got rid of afternoon break. Unfortunatley there are days when I have no support staff at all, which has a huge impact on free flow- as I can't manage a large outside area and indoor space simultaneously, so I have maintained morning break! I wonder if anyone has any suggestions? I usually fall back on we are all inside or we are all outside when I have no support staff!

Davina

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Hi and welcome, DavinaLouise.

Is it at all possible for you to go outside at break on the mornings when you are unable to free flow?

I abandoned a morning playtime many years ago when I was FS coord and it was definitely beneficial to the children but my support staff found it difficult not to have a break! I do think you need to allow the opportunity somehow for a comfort break though.

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Hi - I tend to go with the solution you already have, either all in or all out and plan accordingly. I find it tricky though as no matter how prepared I am for the weather there are some children who just don't want to be out for a prolonged time. If I need a 'comfort break' at any point when I have no second adult I send a message to the office and our secretary will come and take over for a moment!

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Thanks for your replies, I am definately going to give up morning breaks a miss for the last two weeks of term!

Have managed to talk the SL Team around to trying the idea- and they are supposed to be providing cover for the days when I am by myself with the class. Fingers crossed they remember ... SLT's always seem to forget FS? Is it because most of them are KS2?

Any futher tips all gratefully recieved!

Thank you!

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