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Since moving to our lovely new building and being able to leave most resources out, I had expected things to be so much easier: Unfortunately this hasnt happened.


We used to (in the old building) have 5 staff to 24 children, we now have 4 staff to 26 children in a smaller space (albeit much nicer space!), this staff cut and increase in children is due to having to pay a large mortgage.


Last week was awful. The staff all seemed unhappy as 1 member of staff is always at the snack bar, leaving 3 staff to do the rest, such as show visitors around, change nappies, clothes and all the other 101 things that happen during a pre-school session. This is together with the children being able to access all resources at all time, this they will get used to I know, but I feel strongly that our planning plays a huge part in the pandimonium that goes on.


The overall Supervisor does the planning for the 1/2 term, basically putting what is going out on each area, each day then a different staff member doing 1 focus activity per day, the focus activity is based around the topic (not children). I have had only a handful of days in the past 6 weeks that I have enjoyed and that I believe is because the activities offered met the needs of the children (I changed the plans).


Sorry this post is going on so long...but I have tried to say that we NEED to be planning on children's interests and doing daily plans, not having the full 6 weeks already filled in! But we have 74 children and the supervisor says this will be impossible!! I supervise 5 sessions a week and can only change so much, but it is driving me to distraction. Any advice would be appreciated.



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Sounds horrible mate! I plan weekly at the moment and whilst my plans are topic based, the childrne are also allowed to ask for/get themselves alternative toys and activities. We also have a group time where the adult chooses an activity based on children's needs - possibly like your focus activity. If I was there every day I would prefer it to be daily planning but I only work in the room part time (and only for one more week....)

Does your supervisor work in the room at all to witness what you are experiencing?

I would definitely raise it ASAP as low staff morale is no good for the children is it, let alone for your own health...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, I am reading all the posts on the forum about giving the children total freedom with choices of resources and planning activities based on their interests and I am really struggling with it. I can see that it is the way to go and that of course if they are interested in something they are much more likely to have an enjoyable learning experience, but i think I am struggling with finding the right balance.


I am a nursery teacher in an international school abroad and i am very lucky as i only have 14 children in my class and one full time assisstant. They are however mostly second English language speakers and at the beginning of they year we have to have more structure activities as they havn't got the language to express their interests to me. Now that they are all settled I really want to work in a way that they can access all the resources and want to use my observations to show me what their interests are and use that for future planning. But I also struggle as quite a lot of the topics that we do introduce they love and if we hadn't introduced them they wouldn't have learn't all about them. We just finished doing 'Under the Sea' and they really enjoyed learning all about the animals that live in the sea and the vocabulary that it involved - if i hadn't done this topic with them they wouldn't have had that rich experience. I have mostly girls and left to their own devices they would choose Barbie all day long. Should I then be using Barbie to help introduce the topic - i.e. 'Barbie goes under the sea'? That we we are both happy?


And what about cooking activities - its not something we are able to have arranged where they can access this themselves so if they never show an interest in it does that mean we never do it - how do they know they are interested in it until they have had a chance to experience it for the first time?? Sorry to bang on, but as you can see I'm stuck between the 'old' ways and wanting to change for the better. I have arranged the class a bit better to give the children more choice to choose resources, but I do still have a structured or focussed activity that i plan and implement.


Any other ideas would be greatfully recieved. I guess i'm just finding it hard to let go of my more formal planning and let the kids guide me and i struggle with knowing if its OK to have a mixture of structured and free choice activities or if the children really should choose everything themselves - even if they then don't get a chance to experience something I might choose for them, knowing they might enjoy it for the first time.

Edited by Emaloo
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What you say is very true, I too am trying to move from topic led planning to follow the children's individual needs and interests more.

At the moment we are still following vaguely our long term planning and therefore the topics that were chosen, but we are adapting them if and when children appear to be focusing on paricular interests - a recent safari park visit for one child has led to an interest in animals - our topic was The Farm, but we have incorporated other animals too focussing on mother and baby animal names, matching animals, animal homes etc.

If a pre planned topic meets with little enthusiasm, we again 'pick up' the thread of the children's interest, let the parents know about the change and 'go with the flow' so to speak.

I do feel that because of this, we are often going with the interests of the children with the more dominant characters, as they seem to initiate role play and other children join in.

I feel the way in which we can support other children who do not come in full of a recent experience - is to support the 'ways' in which particular children enjoy playing, e.g. We have a little boy who likes to carrying things around in bags/buckets etc, a child who likes posting balls down tubes, through holes etc - in this way topics or other children's interests can be followed, but we are ensuring that the other children's styles of learning are accommodated.

Seems a bit muddled at the moment and lesson plan writing seems to be non existent - so am planning to record lots of observations and evaluate the day generally and hope this will satisfy everyone until I devise a better system.

By the way - check out Sue R's 'Motivational Planning' article - it's the way forward.


Good luck.....PS don't you sleep !

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And what about cooking activities - its not something we are able to have arranged where they can access this themselves so if they never show an interest in it does that mean we never do it -


Sorry haven't got all the answers we are just starting the journey to planning from children's interests so its very much a learning process at the moment.


You mention cooking activities the way we would approach this is by having a cooking activity that links with the children's interests (loosely) for example a group were really occupied with dinosaurs so we made 'rock' cakes when they had a big interest in penguins (polar animals) we made icecream as I say very loose links but fun!

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Like Marion has already said, you can loosely base activities on interests so that you meet all the children's needs.


To pick up on your cooking question - What are the children doing when they are in the home corner/role play area - do they pretend cook and lay the table? Listen to what they are talking about and use that as the basis for cooking.

If they are interested in Barbies, get the children to plan a birthday tea - what food would Barbie like, what colour icing would she like on her cake (durr - pink!)

How about cooking for a purpose i.e. to make their own snacks, rather than just buns to take home... children can make pizza, sandwiches, dips etc


It's always scary looking forward into the unknown, but the rewards when it works will make all the hard work and struggles worth while.

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Firstly, Hi emaloo and thanks for posting!


You are all making lots of sense, in that to follow the children's lead, you need to follow your children, no one else's! Whilst support and advice from other practitioners is helpful and can be a godsend if you're feeling unsure, that's all it is - support and advice. Have the courage and confidence in yourself as a practitioner and work your way towards your new ways of going on alongside and in partnership with your children - how better to help them 'Enjoy and Achieve' and 'Make a Positive Contribution'!! :o


Although we've been working this way for a while now, it's still very much a learning journey for us, as well. Good luck everyone, keep us posted.


Sue x

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Hi everyone


Wow - thanks so much for all your support and comments. I will certainly take it all on board and try to make improvements. I think I tend to panic as I want it all to be perfect straight away - but of course we all know that working with nursery aged children is rarely - if ever like that!! I just have to remember to take it slowly and try to make little adjustements and build from there. I shall keep reading all the postings on this subject with interest!!


Thanks again


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Hi Emaloo, welcome from me too. You are right to take things slowly and make adjustments within yours, your staffs and your childrens pace.


With regards to cooking activities, I saw a fantastic training video quite a few years ago, which was from the Penn Green centre.

The video showed a 4 yr old girl make a cake, entirely on her own apart from placing it in the oven ( oh and lighting the oven).


All the resources, including ingredients were available. Resources - bowls, spoons, laminated visual recipes etc and ingredients - food store cupboard at child height, fridge for butter / eggs accessible.


She followed the recipe, got everything she needed and just got on with it. Only asking for adult help to place it in the oven.


The lesson learnt was after being taught a skill a child can follow a basic sequence with visual clues.


Remember our roles as teachers do include instruction, direction ( whilst enabling experiences of instruction) and enabling plenty of opportunities for children to practice new skills when they choose to do so, thus embedding their learning. :D



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