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Hi everone we are a small committee run preschool with 20 2-4 yr olds .We clear the toys away at 10.30.do the weather board and wash handsthen we all sit down for snacktime together.I have been told that Ofsted like you to have a snack bar that the children can go to when they wish so this does not interupt their play. I feel very strongly that it is important for us all to sit together and talk and eat together,as Family meal times seem to be a thing of the past.We also have children try new foods because they see others eating it so they try it too.We and our parent committee want to keep it as it is. Any views would be very welcome.Or if you use a snack bar system how does it work ? We have children with special needs who would eat all morning and we have some children who would not come to the snack bar as they get very into playing .We have also been told that the children should have access to outside at all times we have a secure garden area but it is grass and uncovered which would of course get very muddy.How do you cope with all the changes of shoes, coats and hats.If one child went out and all the others stayed in i would lose a member of my team outside.I know for a fact if i left the door open i would have at least 3 children who would never come into play and i feel that they might as well be at home in their own garden or at the park.So do my parents they send them to us to play and learn not dig in the mud or play on the slide and climbing frames.I would love to hear your views on these subjects thank you :o

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Hi and welcoome to the forum.

I've been through the business of having snack all together or having a snack bar. For years we have had snack together and it has worked well for us for the same reasons you say. We are doing our Quality Assurance and our mentor wanted us to try snack bar - she said Ofsted want to see it. I visited other settings that have 'rolling snack' and it looked good, so we set it all up and tried it. After a term we changed it back to having snack together. The majority of the children (about 75%) preferred being all together and so did the staff.

Recently a friend had Ofsted visit her Pre-school and she told them she had just started doing the snack bar and the children were not quite used to it. The inspector asked her what made her change - she replied that she had heard that Ofsted wanted to see it. The inspector said that others had told her the same thing but it wasn't a ruling from Ofsted. She said do what you feel suits your setting.

I think the same - we tried it, evaluated it and found that snack time together suits us better.

 

Sue J

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We all sit down for snack together too. I know Ofsted say they prefer 'self serve' snack but I think

if you feel strongly about the way you do something and can give reasons to justify it , then you should stick with it! I think you will be respected for it in the long run. We were inspected last January and weren't picked up on it. The children have plenty of other opportunities to 'self select' and I believe (like you) that they gain far more from having snack together.

Good luck! Rose

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As far as snack is concerned I agree with Sue-do what you feel is best for your setting and what you are happy with. We don't have snack altogether, we used to, but our rooms set up changed and we decided to have small groups of 8 children. But we don't have a cafe style snack either. We ask children to come for snack. If they don't want to at that time or they are busy doing something and we don't want to disturb them then we will leave them and go back for them later. This suits us fine.

I know a lot of settings have had great success with snack bars and really like it. But there is nothing wrong with the way you are doing it. Just give the OFSTED inspector the reasoning behind why you have snack together-if you are positive about it they should be happy with that.

Linda

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We have an open snack area which in some ways is good as some children are ready for a snack at 930 while other children dont seem to want anything until much later.

In the aftrenoon i tend to ask the children what they want to do, have their snack on the snack table or have it as a group and they often choose to have snack as a whole group.

I feel that there are positives and negatives for both ways some children may get up earlier than others and require a snack earlier than a designated snack time, but snack times can be such a good time for the childrens social development.

I agree with sue do what you feel is right for your setting and this group of children, you can always review it if necessary in the future x jojom x

I think ofsted are more interested in free access to drinking water than the free access to a snack

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There are many previous discussions on the pros and cons and practicalities of snack bar / cafe system / versus group snack time.

 

I use cafe system, have done for 10 years. However I agree with other comments, it really does depend on the children, and this means the children you have at present and their preferred style.

 

Last years intake used the snack bar consistently from opening time to end of session. this years intake are offered the same opportunity to access snacks / drinks at any time. However, they have evolved their own 'routine' which tends to be consistent on a daily basis. A few regularly have a snack at as soon as it is available for them to prepare. A few access it at around 10am, then the majority access it at around 10:30am. it is like they all have their individual body clocks as far as snacking is concerned.

 

Ofsted are inspecting under the question What is it like for a child here? So review and respond to that question.

 

I personally prefer continuous snack bar for these, amongst other reasons.

 

1/ Children learn to recognise their own hunger and thirst needs.

2/ Children learn how to shop for and prepare foods, of a very large variety.

3/ Children learn responsibility over concepts such as 'greed' is there enough for everyone?, can they really eat all that they have selected? How will others feel if there is none left for them? ( empathy, consideration of others)

4/ They set the area, prepare foods and wash up after they have finished.

5/ They choose who to sit next to, talk to, and try what their friends have.

6/ They learn that they need to wash hands, get their cup and plate and use the spoons to serve their food ( not their fingers) - the importance of hygiene practice.

7/ Healthy foods.

8/ Pour their own drinks, help others less able.

9/ donate foods from home - sense of community / sharing with everyone

10/ different ways to present foods, savoury and fruit, dips, toast cutinto halves, quarters, strips, cubes etc

11/ Many new children use the snack table as a place they feel secure in to 'look on' as they settle in.

12/ Many foster children ( who have experienced starvation) learn that food and eating is an enjoyable social activity, and that food will not be taken from them ( they tend to guzzle it down quick, whilst they have a chance).

 

We are full day so our children experience 'round the table', full group eating at lunch times.

I do remember many years ago when I worked in a setting that had group snack time that some children found this difficult, as they were too young to conform to the expectation of eating and drinking when they were not interested.

 

Our only problem, which isn't really much of one is that there are always some children who do need reminding that they may need a drink, especially in the summer time.

 

Outdoor play - you are really lucky to have access to secure outdoor space which enables free flo access. learning through landscapes is a good site to visit for ideas of how much potential there is for childrens overall enjoyment and development from the use of the outdoors. An old but good book is 'Puddle Jumping' by Peter Dixon. Your outdoor provision will only be like the garden at home, if it is managed like that. The idea that the outdoors is just for mud, and play and climbing is a bit like saying children don't learn through play and their environment. they do and they will, but more so if play is planned and adults are supporting their experiences and how they interact with their environment be it indoors or out. You can cove the whole FSC using the outdoor space, the only difference is the fresh air and climate :o

 

 

Peggy

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Everyone else has said it all, but I just wanted to add my voice, saying that I don't really think Ofsted mind how you do it, it's what suits you and your children. If it works and is a valuable experience, then it's good!!

 

Sue

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Hi. We are a committee run sessional pre-school in a church hall, registered for 20 children. We do both a free access snack table and a more formal snack time! The free access bit is from just after Registration until about 10.30/10.45 when they have access to water and healthy options provided on a rota basis by the children's families. We then clear away and have snack in our Keyworker groups prior to the focussed activity, usually a plain biscuit and the option of milk or water. We find it works really well - yes there will usually be a little group who would eat everything in sight if we let them but we put a little sign on the table with a No. 2 on it and some pictures showing that they can try 2 pieces of whatever is available. We do keep an eye on the children for health & safety and shoo away those who are just scoffing! There is always enough to go around and everyone is happy with the arrangement, staff and children alike. The children are free to make choices and are confident to point out when everything is gone and they would like more - when we will supplement supplies with either breadsticks, raisins or similar. The keyworker snack is limited to one plain biscuit and this presents no problems either. Our inspectors, foundation stage mentors etc have commented how well it works.

Interestingly, the children always have room for their lunch too on the 2 days they can stay!!! They are obviously growing!

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Peggy, that book called Puddle Jumping sounds good but I can't find it anywhere - who si the publisher? :)

 

 

It is a title and Author I was particularly inspired by in the late 80's. Unfortunatley his book is one of many I have 'lost' to students who have borred them, never to be returned :o .

 

I did a quick google search to no avail, it may even now be out of print.

 

However, I did find these titles from the same author.

 

Peter Dixon

 

Poems by Peter Dixon

 

The second link gives you a real flavour of his zany, fun style :DxD

 

Peggy

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whatever works best for you and children is OK, just be able to say why

 

we have similar to Linda, one table cleared mid morning and children come and join the adult in that area, some always come first, others wait to be asked , this allows those busy to stay where they are, no one is waiting for others to finish or waiting to wash hands or for others to wash hands etc etc which is what we found took too much time.

 

always a group sitting together with an adult, which was what Ofsted praised us for, the fact that an adult joined the children and there was a lot of discussion and chatting about what they were doing, had been doing were eating why etc.etc. we have toast and fruit or they can sometimes make their own sandwich at this time.

 

so in a way ours is a mix of the two, some children have opportunity to continue play and come when ready, others come immediately, and some need to be asked, if they refuse we all agree that it is their choice, as water is always available anyway some do want want a snack, we monitor this and find that it is only occasionally they do not come, and find when speaking to parent they have often eaten well at breakfast.

 

just do what you feel s best for your children.

 

Inge

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We changed from group snack to a rolling snack bar partly because of our special needs children, they seemed to find the large group snack time a real trial, noisy, too long sitting etc etc. To begin with we provided the snack items and we did find that certain children wanted to sit at the snack table and eat and eat and eat!!! So we then changed the system so that parents were asked to provide a healthy (small) snack for their child in an individual snack box! this has worked for us very well indeed and the children have all got used to this system, but I also agree with the other posts saying that it is whatever suit the group!

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We have decided to have a 'bit of both' snack is laid out at around 10am and children are made aware that it's there. They help themselves (an adult always sits at the table with them, helps to pour if needed) from a healthy selection (usually fruit).

However, it is only available for around 30 - 45 mins, we remind those that haven't had any that it will be going soon. The reason we don't believe in leaving it available all morning/day, is to protect their teeth.

We have water available for them to help themselves to all day.

Again, i feel that if you can justify why a particular system works for your setting, then that's fine - why use a system that doesn't suit your families, just to please ofsted.

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Off the thread a bit now I know....Peggy I picked up the Feb edition of EYE this morning and the last article is by Peter Dixon! Having never heard of him until yesterday I'm going to see him everywhere now aren't I? Anyway, the article was very good and amusing, very thought provoking!

Edited by Wolfie
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Off the thread a bit now I know....Peggy I picked up the Feb edition of EYE this morning and the last article is by Peter Dixon! Having never heard of him until yesterday I'm going to see him everywhere now aren't I? Anyway, the article was very good and amusing, very thought provoking!

 

 

I met him over 10 yrs ago and found him so inspiring, he put the 'fun' back into working with children. He writes great poems and has a passion about children being children and the curriculum being child led. Another favourite book of his, if I remember the title correctly was "Silver Toilet rolls" basically about how not to succumb to the 'fluffy duck syndrome' :D

 

Peggy

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I think you must alway do what suits your setting best. We have a drinks bar through out the morning where children can pour out their own water but we are very clear why we all sit down together at snack time. It we have heuristic play through out the morning and our snack time is a time where we all come together in small grups and discuss what we have been doing over the morning. We find that this is a really godd time to find out about children's home life and interests and this also helps us plan. I think so long as you have a reason as to why you do things a certain way then Ofsted cannot complain.

 

Debs

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we have a snack bar for our 3-4 year olds they have their own pot with their name on and a choice of different healthy snacks. they also have their own labelled water bottles which is next to the snacks, it is open from 9.00-11.30 we also have warm/cold milk in a flask which they can pour out themselves. at the end of a session we then all get together with a story and singing time this is also when we reflect on the morning and any conversations about home etc..

 

we have found it really good as the children use this as part of their routine and we then don't interfer with their play, we have had children who only have a little of their snacks and then go back later for the rest!!!!

 

because we are full day care we then in the afternoon sit altogether around 3 and have snacks. :o

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi! We have a Nursery attached to school but all Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) have a snack bar. I must admit I used to really like all sitting together and having snack. We used to listen to different types of music each week during snack time - praised by Ofsted. HOWEVER - we have now changed to a snack table and I love it! I was very reserved at first but would recommend it. I don't actually know how we used to have time for snack now! It took so long to all go to the bathroom, wash hands etc Snack table is opened at the start of the session - great for those children who may not have had breakfast - it also helps to develop the children's independent skills - taking own responsibility for hand washing, getting fruit, milk, tidying away etc I also think if the children choose when they have snack they will be more inclined to eat it; also they may sit with who they choose - after all we do in the staffroom!

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I have just started coaching nurseries that have previously had a bad Ofsted report, to help them through the next one. I think everyone has virtually said everything that I would of said. I think that what we must remember is that in some cases Ofsted give you what they would like to see but this isn't necesarily a requirment, in some issues there is no write or wrong way, it is the way that suits your setting the best. If you have a genuine reason that you don't want to work in a particular way then you must say.

 

Jem

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Regarding snack. We were advised by our Ofsted inspector that we should try a rolling snack. We decided to try it and to evaluate it so we had evidence to say why we weren't doing it. But we ended up liking it and have kept it!!

 

 

So do my parents they send them to us to play and learn not dig in the mud or play on the slide and climbing frames.

 

I'm amazed nobody but Peggy has commented on this... maybe it's different where you are but our children don't get to play outside because they might get dirty or hurt themselves. With us they can take risks and explore without fear of being told off. They can learn MASSES from mud, slides and climbing frames but surely that isn't all you have outside? We found that boys especially will look at books, do puzzles and mark make far more readily when those resources are outside.

I admit I did have resistance from staff about free access to outside and if it isn't too cold we leave the door open to avoid the whole issue of ratios. We have been told that a risk assessment is fine. If, for example, you have 2 children completing puzzles or role playing outside and you can position yourself inside but able to see them at all times that is fine. It's all a matter of risk assessment and being sensible.

 

We asked parents to send in wellies to leave at nursery and have a big box by the door. On muddy days, children are not allowed out without a pair on. We have plenty spare from children who have grown out of theirs or left to go to school. We have a few raincoats and are building that collection up too! Planning includes outside and we treat it as an outside classroom.

We have found cases of illness have dropped since we have allowed free access too!

 

Finally a sad story... it snowed last week and in the afternoon session a little boy kept weeping. In the end we discovered why. Nanny had looked after him in the morning and wouldn't let him play out in the snow as he could do that at school. But by the time he got to us it had all melted. So did our hearts poor little lad!

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