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Routines and how to organise activities for under 3s


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Dear all,


I'm currently in Africa working for a charity that has opened a Children's Centre following the same format as in the UK. I'm here to help train a new set of trainee practioners. Unfortunately, my experience of the Early years is all 3-5 years so am struggling to add to the training for children under 3. I'm also trying to help with the practice and have concerns that the children in the smallest age group (1-2 1/2 yrs) are not getting the best from the centre. This is not due to lack of care but more to do with lack of experience as this is the only childcare setting of its kind in the country.


What I would like to know is the best way of organising a room, daily routines, what is appropriate in terms of activities and group time.

Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions of places to look at to help

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Bet you are a little warmer there than we are here today :D ::1a

There are some planning documents in the resource library here that you might be able to use as a starting point. Scroll down and you will see planning for 0-2's

Hope they help get you started until some others offer further advice


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Hi just out of interest what part of Africa are you based.

I would suggest lots of sensory, tactile play, small cosy corners. With opportunities to explore mark making in paint, (water) not sure this would be appropriate if in short supply, sand etc.

Are the children coming sessionally or all day, and a nap area may be appropriate if staying all day.

Do tell us more it sounds very exciting.:)

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I guess it will partly depend on what resources are available to you. Our baby room and toddler room take part in lots of sensory play, so sand, water, playdough, flour, etc. But I don't know if culturally and/or economically those things would be usable. Also board books, photos and pictures to talk about. We make 'family books' with photos of children's families, pets, homes etc. The children love looking at their books with an adult. They also love musical instruments, both bought and home-made.

The key person system is invaluable for under three's so I would definitely set that up if you haven't done so already. Little ones often need lots of comfort and reassurance from a familiar adult when away from their families/home.

With routines such as sleeping and feeding we try to follow what each child does at home as much as we can. Again I don't know if that is practical for you but it helps babies/children to feel settled and to know what to expect. For children who are eating three meals a day, we all eat together, adults and children.

As far as the room goes, we have a 'quieter' (!!) end of the room with books, puzzles, small world resources etc. Then an area for messy play, and a fairly large role play area in the toddler room as we find that lots of play and learning goes on in there. In the baby room there is a cosy area made out of a wicker arch, a low wooden box (called a browser box) filled with lots of things to explore, that babies can pull out themselves to play with. Also treasure baskets, a small, low sand/water tray and a table and chairs for eating as well as table top activities such as mark-making. Having said that, both the babies and toddlers do lots of activities on the floor. We have a separate room for sleeping and one for nappy changing, but I think you can manage both of these without separate space if you need to.

We keep our planning very flexible and quite individual for under threes. For us it is more about adults supporting children's play and development rather than leading activities.

It sounds like an exciting project. Let us know how you're getting on!

Edited by Stargrower
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Another thought - there are some good books around if you can lay your hands on them.

People Under Three - Young Children in Daycare by Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson is very informative.

Also the Nursery World website has lots of info on working with under threes.

I'll be back if I think of anything else!

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Thanks all, very helpful and is adding to my own knowledge. I knew that the community here would be quick to help, always found this site to be very supportive! I will take a proper look at the planning link which I'm sure will be helpful.


The project is in Malawi and the centre is resourced from donations of toys/books from the UK supplemented by what is available locally. The children usually come all day and are fed breakfast, lunch and snack so eating, sleeping and changing routines are all well established. The centre was purpose built so is a nice big space and there is some access to the outdoor area. There is also an outreach team that do a lot of work with stay and play, young carers and a small SEN group. It is a really exciting project to be invloved in, especially compared to what is usually available here.

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