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In our setting we have established a free flow outdoor play routine. Ch have free access to it all day. However we have recently started questioning if we are approaching outdoor play in the correct way. We put a variety of activities out some which can only be done outside i.e bikes, scooters etc.. but many which can be done inside. We have found ourselves questioning that if many of the activites can be done inside what's the point to outdoor play? A member of our team said to give them fresh air - surely this cannot be the ony reason? We have limited resources and at the moment our outdoor play area is just a soft tarmac area. Any thoughts on the types of things other settings do with regards to outdoor play?

 

Lola.

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I think part of the idea is to bring a new dimension to the children's learning through having outdoor activities; it tends to be referred to as 'the outdoor classroom' and variations on that. In my nursery we get the children out most days (although I have to say, with the very cold weather we've been having, outdoor time has been treated as more of a 'playtime' for 15-20 mins, which I'm not altogether happy about, but so many of our children come without gloves etc...) We have the usual outdoor things going on: bikes, balls, hoops, gardening/digging, science exploration. But we also have more indoorsy things going on: role play (in the wendy house) construction, sand play, dressing up, painting, drawing/writing, weaving (this is on a large scale, so wouldn't necessarily be an indoor activity), toy vehicles.

What I'm saying is that children can/could make links that they might not otherwise make, in playing outside, e.g. playing with the vehicles, they might create a road system for them using construction materials. Or with the role play, give the extra space they may be more inclined to 'go for a drive' (on a bike). The dressing up things lend themselves well to the use of bikes as we often get children being firefighters or ambulances, or 'nee naws' as they often call themselves! They can do larger scale drawing with the chalks on the ground.

There is also the issue of weather: the children can explore different types of weather: drawing round puddles at intervals on a sunny day; stamping footprints in the frost/snow; listening to the sound of rain on an umbrella, or in to a container of water; looking at shadows...

The fresh air is an aspect, but also the opportunity to be more physical than indoors often allows, and so many learning opportunities.

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We try to do things on a larger or messier scale outside! We also only provide sand and water outside as we have a large covered area - this way we have more space for other things inside.

Some of the activities we provide outside are spray painting, chalking on walls and floor, gardening, drama, construction with big waffle blocks etc, free play with musical instruments, fence weaving, basket ball and skittles.

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I think part of the idea is to bring a new dimension to the children's learning through having outdoor activities; it tends to be referred to as 'the outdoor classroom' and variations on that. In my nursery we get the children out most days (although I have to say, with the very cold weather we've been having, outdoor time has been treated as more of a 'playtime' for 15-20 mins, which I'm not altogether happy about, but so many of our children come without gloves etc...) We have the usual outdoor things going on: bikes, balls, hoops, gardening/digging, science exploration. But we also have more indoorsy things going on: role play (in the wendy house) construction, sand play, dressing up, painting, drawing/writing, weaving (this is on a large scale, so wouldn't necessarily be an indoor activity), toy vehicles.

What I'm saying is that children can/could make links that they might not otherwise make, in playing outside, e.g. playing with the vehicles, they might create a road system for them using construction materials. Or with the role play, give the extra space they may be more inclined to 'go for a drive' (on a bike). The dressing up things lend themselves well to the use of bikes as we often get children being firefighters or ambulances, or 'nee naws' as they often call themselves! They can do larger scale drawing with the chalks on the ground.

There is also the issue of weather: the children can explore different types of weather: drawing round puddles at intervals on a sunny day; stamping footprints in the frost/snow; listening to the sound of rain on an umbrella, or in to a container of water; looking at shadows...

The fresh air is an aspect, but also the opportunity to be more physical than indoors often allows, and so many learning opportunities.

47006[/snapback]

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We try to do things on a larger or messier scale outside! We also only provide sand and water outside as we have a large covered area - this way we have more space for other things inside.

Some of the activities we provide outside are spray painting, chalking on walls and floor, gardening, drama, construction with big waffle blocks etc, free play with musical instruments, fence weaving, basket ball and skittles.

47007[/snapback]

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I agree-no point exactly replicating what is going on inside, but with more of a focus on 'bigger' resoucesand movements. How do you arrange your free-flow. I would love to have free-flow, but we have 16 Y1, 15R with an outdside area that you can't view from the classroom, unless you place yourself right by the door. we are in an elliot building wiht 10 or so steps down to an enclosed outside area.

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I agree-no point exactly replicating what is going on inside, but with more of a focus on 'bigger' resoucesand movements. How do you arrange your free-flow. I would love to have free-flow, but we have 16 Y1, 15R with an outdside area that you can't view from the classroom, unless you place yourself right by the door. we are in an elliot building wiht 10 or so steps down to an enclosed outside area.

47010[/snapback]

 

 

We have 44 children with 2 teachers and 1 nursery nurse we have 2 adults inside and 1 adult outside. We use a band system- we do have to limit it to 14 children out at once but they are free to come in and out as they wish and when children see a band on the peg they know there is a space outside.

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Another important factor we have found of outdoor literacy and numeracy activities is our boys are more likely to access these than if the same activities were offered in the unit. We have a large tent and find the boys love to read quietly (or not so quietly) in there. We also have a large whiteboard which they use more frequently than the board in doors. Lots of imaginative play takes place outdoor and we find the boys will write independently.

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I agree-no point exactly replicating what is going on inside, but with more of a focus on 'bigger' resoucesand movements. How do you arrange your free-flow. I would love to have free-flow, but we have 16 Y1, 15R with an outdside area that you can't view from the classroom, unless you place yourself right by the door. we are in an elliot building wiht 10 or so steps down to an enclosed outside area.

47010[/snapback]

 

I also find free-flow can be a challenge. We have 1 teacher and 1 nursery nurse in our nursery, plus a student one day a week, and an LSA for 1 morning and 1 afternoon a week. This means we usually only have 2 members of staff. I have a rota for who goes outside, and when we use the outdoor area it is free-flow, but it means there is only 1 adult inside and 1 outside, so any accidents etc. cause problems. It also means the adult inside is not only working on a set activity (otherwise we wouldn't get any adult-led activities done) but also trouble-shooting for all the other problems which occur in the nursery: accidents, computer troubles, help with dressing up clothes/aprons, breaking up fights...

Of course, I can't use any students we have to do unsupervised jobs, such as going outside or staying inside (alone) or taking groups of children to the ICT suite, which I have to say I find very frustrating: there are some that you just wouldn't give that responsibility to, but others who are fantastic with the children and really responsible, but, hey - them's the rules.

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Most of my thoughts echoed above, but just to quote Helen Bilton, Inside and outside should be two halves of the whole. She says access to either should be continual - if the inside is open then the outside should be open too. I didn't actually limit the numbers who went in or out - we adjusted adults (I had a team of 3)we started with 1 out and 2 in, but if lots more chn went outside then an adult would flow with them if needed. However I didn't really worry overly about limiting to13 outside say, (I had 39 full time) because what if your friend gets the band and there's only one left and you can't go with them?? Equally if less than 13 were outside, i wouldn't have shut outside or sent chn out to make it remain 13:1 inside.....if the learning environment was safe and had been risk assessed I was satisfied with chn making their own free choices without my limitations on their movement. The adult outside had focused tasks , but they could still observe what else was going on around them and intervene if necessary. I also didn't have a separate outside plan, it was all integrated into what the Learning outcomes were and what we were going to do/have/provide and choices were made as to the best place either in or out. I tried though to have an adult directed/initiated activity linked to each of the 6 areas outside each week if I could. Also planning to take the curriculum to the boys outside,which is where they wanted to work. Outside learning is wonderful!

Edited by catma
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I am in a preschool and I have access to the use of two rooms. I want to split my under 3's from my over 3's for some parts of the session-storytime for example but my EYAT said I can't because I only have 3 staff, and this would leave one member of staff on her own with the children.

 

This would also be the case if I did free-flo to outside play.

 

My EYAT said that I would be leaving my staff open to accusations (of abuse) if they are on their own with children. She said it would still be unacceptable if I had one staff in one room, one staff in another and one floating between the two. Other than installing CCTV, I don't know how to manage using more than one room / play space at any given time with only 3 staff.

 

I see that most replies on this topic show that staff are on their own, how do you justify the staffs safety against accusations?? I'd love the answer because I feel it would be in the childrens best interest to have access to 2 play spaces in a free flow manner ( either another room or outside space)

 

I've argued the case that all staff are qualified and vetted, and a childminder is on his/her own, so why can't my staff be, but my staff heard her comments and have said they don't want to be deployed in this way.

 

Peggy

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Not sure if its different rules for schools Peggy as a reception teacher I was alone with 36 children at a time. We have 2 ajoining rooms and a secure outdoor area and 4 adults in the unit so it is usual practice for 1 adult to be alone in each area.

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don't really know what to say to that one Peggy, cos I wasa nursery class in a school we had a 13:1 ratio so had 3 adults for our 39 children, but sure someone would be on their own inside or outside wherever we put them, unless the HT employed another full time person which they wouldn't because it would be over ratio. In my reception class you would also be on your own when the LSA's had their lunch break after doing dinner duties, but in any case the ratio is 1:30 so you could be on your own full time technically! So practice probably varies maybe in school settings to other settings? Discuss!

Edited by catma
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There has been research that indicates that children with respiratory problems, such as asthma and, in the past TB, are healthier if they have access to the outside environment. LOts of children we know today live in flats where there is no access to outside and many do not go to parks with their parents so if we can give them the opportunity to get outside then we should as they will benefit from it health wise. (Assuming you are not right next door to a very busy road!!)

Also from my experience when children are givcen the choice to plan the working environment they want to work in a large majority always seem to choose the outside rather than inside. Do others get the same response, I wonder???

We do regular welly boot days where we do everything, except lunch, outside for the whole day. The children talk about their experience for days after and seem to remember what they did a long time after the event. It does us adults good as well and we always have lots of fun on welly boot days.

Anyone else do welly boot days or similiar?

Trudie

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In each of our Reception classes we have one TA and one teacher. It is inevitable with outside play on offer that one adult is frequently on their own with the children inside whilst their class partner adult is on their own with other children outside. This has never caused us any concern (indeed, one assembly each week is taken by the head on her own with the entire school!). However, we do try and avoid being alone 1:1 with any child and especially if they need changing for any reason.

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I have been reading the ratio/deployment of staff with interest and it has certainly made me think!

 

In my pre school there is a maximum of 14 children per session with 3 members of staff.

 

We regularly 'split' for various activities and inevitably there are times when one member of staff is alone with a small group of children.

 

During our last OFSTED the inspector observed our circle time where all 14 children were involved. She then watched as I took 6 children into another room, one member of staff stayed with the remaining 8 and the third member 'floated'. Mrs Ofsted came and sat behind me as I worked with the group of 6, the floating member was next door with the other group.

The only comments I got were positive. At the feedback the comments about ratios and deployment of staff were all positive.

 

I don't see how we can do it any other way! Our rooms are not huge and for all the children to be stuck in one room all the time to ensure no member of staff was alone with children just wouldn't work.

 

However, we do ensure that no member of staff is alone with one child.

 

I know the guidance on the official ratios but now wonder is there anything specific on how staff are deployed in pre school settings. It does seem a little silly that one minute a four year old supposedly cannot be in a small group with one adult but the next minute he/she can be in a reception class as one of 30 with possibly one member of staff :o

 

I wonder if the actual layout of the setting matters Peggy? Ours is part of the downstairs of a house with internal doors removed so though separated by walls the rooms are in very close proximity and you can virtually hear what is going on 'next door'. Maybe this is seen differently than a setting where there is maybe a corridor between rooms or rooms are further apart. Mmm maybe I have no idea what I am prattling on about but it's certainly given me food for thought and I feel a chat with my manager is now on my 'to do' list!

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we are a pre-school and take small groups thru to another room to do activities on our own.

I get so irate over this,if there was any doubt that a member of staff were to harm a child in any way they simply would not be working at our setting!

We have all been police checked for heavens sake!!!

As a childminder for many years I worked on my own all the time.

on a child protection course recently it was said we were not to have them our knee at any time!well sorry but when the day comes someone stops me I quit.

We are expected to have these children younger and younger and for longer hours they need some tlc surely!!!

And where i can accept that when changing a nappy or soiled clothes can be opening yourself up to being vulnarable it isnt possible to have another member of staff looking over you and what about the poor childs privacy!!

We are good caring well respected child practioners and I refuse to let anyone make me feel differently!!!

sorry :o rant over

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