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Getting to Good

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by Hedda Gabler, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. I am an ex teacher who volunteers in a nursery, which is not in a school setting.

    Staff have been on a course about getting to good.

    They have come back with an idea about sustained play- play should not be interrupted - stop start play should be minimal. No waiting for snack, no queuing for the two wash basins or two toilets .I suppose constructivist play is the pedagogy behind this but I am not sure that the adult role was made clear here

    Today I have seen chaos...

    Help me out here.

  2. dbu

    dbu New commenter

    we run a similar structure of uninterrupted play but it is built on strong foundations of core routines. ie, snack, sign in your name, wash hands, eat snack, wash up - we spend the first few weeks in September ensuring we constantly reinforce these through 'busy time' and will pull all the children together in small groups to initially explain and recap. it then allows staff in 'busy time' to plan in their role, which maybe for instance to develop imaginative language by modelling and joining in play. we have teach focus' in each room and the adult keeps an eye on routines alongside doing their adult role for that session.

    Is this what you meant?
  3. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    We started this last year in the Nursery I was working in, the idea being that stopping and starting regularly for snack/ washing hands/ short taught sessions etc stopped children really getting involved in their play - we found it worked really well but remember that children need adults to be the 'co-explorers' helping support their play and language development. Adults need to be engaged with children in their free play, extending their thinking and learning - Follow interests displayed by the children, have adults working in popular areas, either playing and extending learning or in focused activities. I would say children still need routine such as snack time/ stories/ phonics/ maths but try to structure the timetable so there are longer, more extended times to play in between. You will probably also need a longer tidy up time at the end of these! Good luck.
  4. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    I have seen this often...A setting that thinks free uninterrupted play means 'a free for all'. It seems that the practitioners need support to understand their role in play. Perhaps they don't have much experience of this?

    I would absolutely recommend the book 'the role of the adult in early years' by Janet Rose which explores all the different roles.

    Are you able to influence practice in any way?
  5. Thank you for your comments. They are very nice women and I did think that I was able to influence practice a little but I think that they are unsure of my advice since this course.

    I agree that staff and leaders do not understand the pedagogy behind the uninterrupted play and their role and I am not sure that this was explained in any detail on the course which was led by Inspectors.

    I think routine is part of the learning environment too and it was working quite well, until the course ? Getting to Good? The old routine still allowed two blocks of 45 minute uninterrupted play on most mornings.

    I like to see children sitting together at a table sharing food and I like to sit with them. The children are 2 and half to four and a half. I think asking a child to stay at the table until most of his peers have finished is quite acceptable and isn?t it at meal tables that we learn to communicate? As a volunteer I seem to be spending more time mopping up spillages and clearing up the toilets than interacting as the children bustle around being independent.

    Although waiting or queuing to wash hands, pour milk is not desirable, it is inevitable because of lack of space. The setting cannot have a dedicated eating area without clearing away table top games. There are just too many activity tables required and the floor space reminds of maggots in a tin.

    I have suggested that during the uninterrupted blocks of play sometimes I am not always seeing sustained play, I am seeing chaotic behaviour. I am not seeing or hearing sustained shared thinking as it is just too noisy for child peer SST or for the adult to engage with child. I have suggested that at these times a little quick carpet time and re direction might calm things. I did that quite a bit in the early stages of Yr R.

    I was told that things have changed in five years?and that does not happen now.

    How do your routines work? How long are your uninterrupted play sessions? How do you deploy staff?
  6. I am not currently working in a nursery, but did until a couple of years ago. Our uninterrupted play sessions were from approx 9.30 - 11.30. We had myself (Nursery Nurse) and the Nursery Teacher, with 26 children per session. We had freeflow indoor/outdoor play most of the time. It was very hard work, but the children gained a lot from it.

    As for snack time - drinks and snacks were freely available from around 10-11 o'clock. The children would access this in their social groups, and would often automatically wait for their friends to finish before going off to continue the play. The role of the adult was to keep an eye on the area to ensure hands were washed, and that behaviour was appropriate. Usually the adult would join in with the children for part of the session, particularly when accessed by target children.

    When this was first introduced the children needed a lot of support, and it did take a few weeks before the children were able to independently and appropriately access the area.

    Two hours of uninterrupted play did mean a lot of tidying up, but whilst the adults were involved in the children's play, we would role model things like tidying up as we go along.

    Good luck with it all
  7. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    Hi Hedda It sounds like you have some real issues to try and iron out, and its hard when you are a volunteer too.

    OFTSED really shouldn't be that interested in whether or not you have free flow or set snack times, they should be more interested in what happens during that time, eg developing Independence, sharing, taking turns, conversation etc. Ive seen both work well and very badly.

    Some short interactive carpet session are not a dirty word. But equally they can result in stop start so need to be well placed in the session. What about short key person small group sessions..is that or could that be happening?

    I think you may have hit the nail on the head thinking about deployment. What are the adults actually doing during free play? Are they fixed to one spot, or moving around? Videoing this can be very revealing..adults constantly on the move can be very unsettling for young children. Equally you dont want staff fixed like glue to one spot or activity. How is your staffing ratio? One setting I worked with last year actually had too many adults (yes really), and when they had one less, things ran more smoothly.

    The other thing that crossed my mind was is that actually too much 'stuff' out and consequently the children just really don't know what to do with it all? Sometimes a period of less is more works. Is it worth looking at room layout (is this packaway?) and where and how things are stored and located in relation to each other?

    Finally, and this is no quick task, its worth exploring what people actually believe and value in early years. So not doing it because OFTSED said so, but doing something because you actually believe in it. In my experience, however the set up runs, its success or otherwise seems to depend on what the settings really values as important as this is what produces the most effort to making it work.

    Keep coming back as it evolves.

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