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Staffing Snack Table.


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Hope you guys can help.We are currently running an open snack table for our pre-school sessions.However

we have up to 24 children and 3 staff .We also have free flow provision between indoors and outdoors.Consequently it is difficult to staff.Does anyone run snack bar without an adult always present?If so does it work?Any ideas welcome we really dont want to always have group snack although we do sometimes.

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Hi

We run a snack bar system which the children help themselves to we do not have staff always manning the table but we tend to keep an eye over the area and let the children help themselves obviously we are quite luck that all our children are without allergies and are able to eat everything on offer

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One of the concerns I would have about not having an adult present would be a child choking. I suppose if you are not too far away and could get to them quite quickly it would be ok but, personally, I would want somebody very close by.

Linda

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We are having just this problem! One staff member is taken up at every session on the snack bar!! We do have children with allergies and feel that it cant be un-maned! Also lots of the children need help opening Yogurts, snack bars etc etc etc (the children bring their own healthy snacks) and there are often spillages and children will bring chairs from other areas and try to all crowd round so without an adult it would be manic!!

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I know it can be very successful and give children lots of independence but surely if it is so difficult you would be better having a dedicated time when children sit in groups for their drinks and snack - there are lots of positive learning outcomes that can arise from this and in a day and age where children rarely sit and eat with an adult at home surely this is something we can offer in our settings? and not feel guilty about?

 

Just a thought.

Sue

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For me one of the main points to snack is the socialisation the children gain from it. An adult can focus and extend the children's conversation. We use the time to talk about healthy eating, sharing and taking turns as well as just having a general chat with them. I know these can all be done at any time during a session but it can be difficult to pin some children down when they are having a good time playing so at least they all have this time to sit with an adult.

As Sue says not all children have this opportunity at home. We don't have a snack bar system but we don't all sit down together either. We have small groups of about 8 children and this does need an adult to supervise it.

Linda

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Our snack bar has an adult present during preparation, supporting children cutting the food etc. For most of the session the children use it independently, although all the staff enjoy a snack themselves, with the children during the session. When else wuld I have time for breakfast. :o

 

I think it really depends on the children within your setting, how independent are they. I know that on Wednesdays we have a particular child who needs more supervision at the snack table than other children, but on other days it more or less self manages, including the children washing up after they have eaten.

 

With 3 staff and 2 areas I can see that you may be stretched, does this mean that an adult is on her own either outside or indoors at any given time? The reason I ask is that we have been advised against this. I wanted to use a different room for younger children for 5 min story time with 1 staff and was told by Ofsted inspector that although not written in standards as not allowed, it needs careful thought due to possibility of allegations against lone staff.

 

Peggy

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  • 3 weeks later...

We have free flow indoor/outdoor, 3-4 staff and up to 22 children. We found it easier to compromise on the snack table.

Instead of a whole session snack bar, we have a set hour when children are free to visit the snack table.

The first four children help the adult to prepare the snacks (we note who has helped each day to make sure the same children aren't doing it all week), the children are informed of snack time and can come when they are ready.

The children sit at the table in fours with the adult so they still get to socialise, with each other and the adult. The adult has a book noting who comes and what is eaten, avoiding allergy issues. Children choose their snack and pour their own drinks. (Drinking water is also available throughout the session from a dispenser).

There's no chaos of everyone having to stop what they're doing for snack time (we've done that before. Never again!!) xD:o

They are warned well in advance of the end of snack time. Most children come during the hour, however if they don't, it's no big deal.

We've been doing it this way for years and it works well. I personally believe children shouldn't be eating whenever they want at a rolling snack bar, however I also believe they shouldn't be made to stop what they are doing and wait to eat as this will inevitably lead to disruptions. So this way is a comprimise.

When there are only 3 staff, one does the snack, one is inside and the other outside, obviously if all but a few children are outside then 2 staff go out and vice versa.

Hope this makes sense. Good Luck with whatever way you choose. :)

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Peggy I also was concerned how free flow could work with only 3 staff. As to snack - whatever syste is used it has to fit with your setting and staffing. There is no right or wrong way. I also think that it needs to reflect some of our concerns about eating generally i.e. is it right to encourage 'grazing' or is it right to force a child to group snack time when they are involved. ?????

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I am the teacher of a nursery class (20 children 2 adults). We have run our snack table as rolling snack from September and no longer have an adult to sit with the children. We too have free flow access to outside and could not have a member of staff at the table at all times.

 

However for the first half term we did have to have an adult at the table in order for the children to learn the routine. Which is they pour themselves a drink, (paper towels on table in case of spills) eat their snack and then they move their picture from a board to a basket and put the cups into the sink. We use the pictures to see who has forgotten to have their snack towards the end of the session. We have found that it works very well and children are very happy with the system.

 

Alice

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We find that due to space we only have our "cafe" open for a set time, as we use the table for other activites both before and afterwards.

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