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The Age Children Start Pre-school


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I work in a lovely small pre-school, we have 13 children each session. There is a 'bulge' of two and a half year olds at the moment- great for numbers but I feel there is such a broad gap between these littlies and the four year olds. I feel that I am not doing a good job by either age range.

Does anyone else feel this way?

I am a new member and already so impressed by the wise advise and helpful information I have already gained from you guys.

 

Rosalind

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Hi Rosalind,

 

I don't think I've spoken to you before, so welcome!

 

I can sympathise with your concerns, but am sure you are doing a grand job - let the children guide you and how you organise your setting and I don't think you can go too far wrong. You know the children in your care and where their interests lie. Have faith in yourself and your team! When your 'littlies' become the 'biggies', they will be so ready for the experiences you offer them through the preparation you are doing now, and I'm sure they will be eager to follow your current 'biggies'. Peer coaching can be so effective!

 

Let us know how things go

 

Sue :D

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I feel the same. We are starting to feel more and more like a day nursery - that is no criticism of DNs just that they are a different set up to sessional preschools aren't they?

We have children in with hardly any language, in nappies and just not ready to be in a group situation like this.

We adapt the routine and activities as much as we can for them but often feel this then leaves the other end of the scale unchallenged and with less of our attention.

With government moves to extend the hours we offer I can't see it getting any easier either :o

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Hi

We have split our age group now, they actually start at 2. we do a 2 to 3 age group. then when they are 3 they move up to the next group.

The 2-3 age group have a ratio of one adult to four children. we have found that when they come into the three year old session they are very settled and can cope with the more structured routine.

Our 2-3 session is shorter (12.45 till 2.30pm) they come in and do free choice for an hour, snack, physical play(bikes etc) then we do a group singing. We mainly use this session to seperate from their main carer but we also do follow the birth to three.

This does help with the planning as well because we know the children very well when they come up to the 3 yr old session, we know what they can and can't do!!!!!!!!

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Do the sessions run at different times or do you have 2 rooms or do they run in the same room with different staff?

I'd like to do similar in that we have 2 routines but we only have one room and at the moment we run 10 sessions that have ages 2y9m to school entry in each. We have staff ratio of 1:4 for the under 3's and 1:8 for over

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I have children from 2half to the rising 5's. we did have two groups but now have joined them as we found that the older ones can teach the little ones so much and vice versa. The little have the biggies to look after them it brings out the mothering instinct in the older ones. We just make sure that the older ones have times when they can be big ones to extend what we do with them. I think yoou have to go with your setting and team and the children that you have. Each year can be different depending on your children. Good luck Rosalind you'll soon find a way to juggle the children into a happy balance.

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Do the sessions run at different times or do you have 2 rooms or do they run in the same room with different staff?

I'd like to do similar in that we have 2 routines but we only have one room and at the moment we run 10 sessions that have ages 2y9m to school entry in each. We have staff ratio of 1:4 for the under 3's and 1:8 for over

50857[/snapback]

 

I hope this is the right way to reply! We are all in the same room and run at the same times so could not split into age groups. I think it might be an idea to only start taking the children when they are 2years 9m- even a few months can make a difference. Thank you for your interest! I am going to have a big think of how we can make things better. I would love to be able to offer more appropriate stories for each age group...

Rosalind

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Hi

We have them at different times, we have 7 3 yr old sessions on 5 mornings plus 2 afternoon and 3 2 yr old sessions on 3 afternoons

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We are open for 8 sessions (5 x am, 3 x pm) and have mixed ages in all sessions (2 1/2 - 5) but I am thinking of changing things from September. It might be better to have a couple of riser only sessions and then adapt the other sessions so that the younger children are not sitting for so long at circle time. We have tried it all ways but each group of children are different and the goal posts seem to continuously move. I agree with Steph that the older children can help the younger children to settle.

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I open 10 sessions and some children stay through lunch for a whole day.

We take children from age 2 yrs. Ratio under 3's 1:4 over 3's 1:8.

 

We have access to two rooms but not always enough staff to split the groups. Story time was difficult but now we split our large hall into two sections using the furniture. We have lots of screening a small carpet areas so the under 3's are able to group for story seperate from the older ones. Quite a few of our youngest children stay all day. By the afternoon they are obviously more tired. Whilst children are sitting for lunch we put away about 1/3 of the furniture, and once lunch is finished ALL the tables and chairs.

We have found the young ones respond really well to an open space where they can play on the floor- we use a variety of activities such as large boxes, lots of large and small sheets of materials, carpet role pipes ( propped up) to push balls or cars down. Footprint painting or any large scale painting like car tyre tracks etc. Plus sand/water trays- lots of sensory stuff. The older ones really use the role play areas very well in the afternoons ( numbers are a bit lower). I agree with others that the relationships between older and younger peers works well, our young ones certainly seem to become independent and able to make their own choices in purposeful play, very quickly.

 

This was a new idea we started a few weeks ago, The children still have access to books, writing/drawing, snack bar, 2 types of role play ( home and theme), paint easel, music corner, construction and physical equipment such as bean bags to throw into buckets etc.

I would recommend getting rid of all tables and chairs for parts of a session it really opens up the play opportunities - less is more :D

 

Plus we have less to clear away at the end of the day. :D

 

Peggy

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We have been able to resist the move to taking younger than 2 years 9 months. I will take them early but only if there is a specific reason to do so, such as a family problem or language delay.

Our children are all in at the same time no matter what the age but we do split them into groups for certain activities. They all have a keyworker session each day, one older group and 3 younger ones. The older children have a physical activity session while the younger ones are split into two groups for story. The older children then have story while the younger ones have their physical activity session. The rest of the time during free play they are all together. I suppose it all depends on the space you have. We are fortunate in that we have 3 main rooms and use the cloakroom and office for story and keyworker group times.

I do agree though that having a mix is good for both age groups. The younger children have the older ones as role models and the older children like to look after the younger ones. It gives them a real confidence boost to know that they have their little charges.

Linda

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Peggy, my old playgroup were thinking of getting some new tables but had an Ofsted before they were able to order. The inspector said she wouldnt like to see any more tables and that lots of activities on mats was great. I love watching the children crawl and sprawl and lollop when they play, they look so much more engrossed. :D

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I've been following this thread with interest. We've always taken children from 2.6 years, though some clearly weren't ready the majority have settled really well. I have to say that without them I think the group would have folded long ago. Even yesterday I was making phone calls to offer places to parents of rising 2.6's, only to find that most of them had already accepted placements at other preschools in town Maybe I should start a thread on that one - children's names being on multiple waiting lists!]

 

We haven't been doing daycare, 9 - 3 for so long. Our experiences are quite similar to Peggy's, except it's our own building but we only really have one room, plus a small one called 'the Quiet Room'. So splitting them isn't a realistic option. We find exactly the same thing with role play, and some of our youngest children cope with a full day every bit as well as the older ones.

 

I hadn't thought about putting furniture away, as we don't really need to and it might raise a few safety issues, but I'd have thought staff/child interaction would have to increase by doing that, & that can only be good. Food for thought - thank you again, Peggy!!

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three years ago we dropped our age limit to accept children from the age of 2 years and at first it was difficult juggling the wide age range such as organising activities for the older children and fending off the younger children from spoiling the activities

 

We found that having the wide range of children allows times for the older children to learn responcibilities and consideration, the younger children like to tag along with the older children and learn skills from their older peers. so much of childrens learning is from their peers any way?

 

we have found that having the younger children has seen alot of our special needs policy put into practice ie differential learning, supporting ranges of abilities and needs, and it has meant that as children with special needs have moved through the group their ability has blended in with the rest of the children.

 

its nice to hear Ofsted like floor activities, one member of staff keeps moaning about floor play and risk assessments....

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The floor thing is interesting as I have a real thing about it. Kids at home play on the floor. I don't think it is natural for them to sit at tables that young and even taking the chairs away so they can stand at the tables seems to attract them more. We have just secured some funding and I am ordering rugs so we can have more on the floor. Glad to hear Ofsted approve :o

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Re:  Lolloping. A child lying on the floor with the train track today was told to sit up. He dutifully did  :(  :o

50940[/snapback]

 

 

But how can you see the train coming through if you are above the tunnel?

I agree with you xD:(

 

Peggy

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large rugs on a budget - we bought 2 large carpet remnants(10ftx10ft) from the local carpet shop and used thick carpet tape and edged them ourselves, it was a fraction of the cost of even the cheap rugs from ikea (we have got some ikea rugs there very good too!)

 

some carpet shops are keen to get rid of remnants that dont sell and if you can be cheeky, some might even give them away for a good cause??

we arent fussy that our rugs are not the lastest colours and styles.

 

I can picture the child on the floor playing with the trains, we have a child that will lie all session playing with the trains, cars and other small world things and some times he has been known to fall asleep!!! but thats nice to see a child comfortable and relaxed, its so much more homely.

 

I think that wide age ranges in settings work well for creating that same homely feeling, its not typical in the home environment to only have peers who are all the same age, siblings are on average around two years older or younger so for the child to play in a preschool where the children range from 2 through to 4+ years its nice to get that family atmosphere, and yes at times that does include arguments!! but its all part of the learning process.

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