The following is an overview of my setting, what my practice involves and how children learn whilst in my care. I reflect on my ideas and the changes that are happening in early years education. My Setting(335) My setting is a private playgroup in a London borough. The building is a scout hut and used by other members of the community. Each day all equipment and resources (including tables and chairs) have to be put out before the children arrive and away after they leave. There is a small storage area and an outside area with soft rubberized flooring.
Fabrics and posters are hung on walls to create a welcoming, learning environment and display panels detail children’s learning journeys. The setting is registered for a maximum of 26 children between the ages of 2 – 5 (although the majority leave to attend nursery school), for 3 hours per session, opening 39 weeks per year. Local authority nursery schools have changed their intake policy to September (from previously staggered throughout the year) for all children who turn 4 within that school year, this has affected the ages and numbers of children in my setting has reduced.
There is a diverse mix of children from different social and ethnic backgrounds, the majority of children live close by. Some children have English as a second language. The setting is available to all members of the community and holds strong links with local primary schools, to aid children’s transition from playgroup to nursery school. Teachers visit us to meet the children and we visit them in return. The setting has 5 members of staff all of which are qualified to level 3 including myself and all hold a current paediatric first aid certificate.
I am one of 4 preschool assistants who are responsible to the play leader and the owner/manager. All staff work as a team, and are key workers to approximately 6 children each. The owner/manager works alongside the other staff but is also responsible for finances and keeping policies & procedures up to date. The play leader is responsible for long term planning but all personnel have input and are able to make suggestions freely, day to day planning is shared equally. My Responsibilities(319)
Reading roles in the workplace (study topic 1 p12 -p13) made me realise the diverse responsibilities I undertake within my role (See appendix 1 for full list). My principal responsibility is always to ensure the children’s well-being. As a key worker I build secure relationships with my key children to enable them to develop and learn as detailed in the EYFS Principles into Practice Cards DCSF,2007a,card 2. 3, ‘… warm trusting relationships with knowledgeable adults support children’s learning more effectively than any amount of resources…
‘(KU3). I do this by being warm and approachable and creating an inclusive environment. By forming strong relationships with parents I am able to identify the child’s individual needs, finding out a child’s likes and dislikes helps me plan activities that will hold their attention. Children in my setting are encouraged to be independent and choose their learning experiences; I am there to facilitate this learning and to give reassurance and guidance when required.
All practitioners, within the setting, support each other and share ideas. We rotate between being responsible for: Health and hygiene (toileting/hand washing), Creative (painting/drawing/junk modelling/ sticking/cutting), Snack preparation, Outside area planning bikes/slide/trampoline/ tunnel/climbing frame), Adult led activities (cooking/gardening/craft) and a key person focusing on specific learning goals. These roles are variable and the children’s needs come first. I observe children and keep records of their development.
Subscribing to early years magazines and websites helps me to keep up to date with government policy and provides ideas for learning resources. Safeguarding is a priority as outlined in the Statutory Framework ‘… the provider must take necessary steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of children… ‘ (DCFS, p25, 2008a) I do this by ensuring doors are kept locked, the outside door bolted and that no child is ever released to an unknown adult. When responsible for activities in the outside area I make sure the gates are secure and carry out thorough risk assessments.
The Curriculum(270) Learning through play and allowing free choice are the main factors of my practice. Mark making is encouraged and made available using various medias and numbers and shapes are incorporated around the setting. The intended curriculum is planned in advance and the environment is arranged so the children are free to choose their own activity and be independent. The planning is flexible and can be adapted day to day. Parents contribute with language translations and information from their various ethnic backgrounds.
One instance of unintended curriculum was when a broken toy train was brought to my attention – instead of throwing it away immediately, with a small group of children I safely dismantled the toy and looked at how the toy worked to ‘… use experiences they have and extend them to build up, ideas, concepts and skills…. ‘ as outlined in the principles into practice cards (DCSF 2007b, card 4. 1). One activity I found endorsed by my studies was involving hand puppets depicting facial expressions and mirrors for the children to see their faces and I noticed a similar activity used by a practitioner on DVD 1 (E100, DVD 1 2010).