Monday, 25 August 2014

Establishing a routine

Its a new year and with it comes new challenges!  One of the biggest challenges which we are practitioners face is establishing a workable and recognisable routine for our children.
In the Early Years we don't want this to be too disruptive to the children because its all about free flow and the longer these periods, the more chance they have of engaging in deep and meaningful play.  However there are times when regardless of this play you need to stop and do something else.  We have worked hard to create a routine in our setting which the children have responded very well to.  The routine below is last years routine and we are hoping to stick to this again this year:

Before 9am: Children enter the setting and choose an activity.
9am: We ring the bell and all the children stop, raise their hands and then we sing a song about wiggling our fingers.
9am: Carpet - To encourage children to come to the carpet (and telling them tidy up time is done) we sing a rhythmic song 'Clap your hands and tap your feet.'
9:05-9:15am: Group time with key worker:
Each key worker stands and calls their group in turn.  Key workers go in a particular order and try to sit in the same place each time.
9:15-11:25: Free choice -
Shortly after group time snack is set up and opened for the session as well as the doors open to outside.
11:15am: Tidy up time again, same use of bells and songs.
11:25Am: Carpet - To encourage children to come to the carpet (and telling them tidy up time is done) we sing a rhythmic song 'Clap your hands and tap your feet.'
11:25-11:40ish: 'Ability' group where children work through differentiated activities. Each child is in one of three groups, 'Egg, caterpillar, Butterflies,' and they work with a specific adult.  They also have a picture prompt of each creature to aid with understanding.
11:40: Children are brought to the carpet and sent with their parents.

The routine repeats on the afternoon but in a slightly different order.

The children understand this routine and when it is not followed they often ask why or when we will be doing group time.

We find this type of 'auditory' timetable very beneficial in addition to the visual timetables we use for some children because not all children are visual or kinaesthetic!

Establishing the routine:

The most effective way of establishing a routine is through repetition.  If you follow the same routine, do things in a set order day after day, the children will understand what will come next.

We have had challenges with new children who find the change in a routine difficult, especially if they are new to nursery and are settling in.

An established routine helps children to understand their time in Nursery but to feel comfortable to know they can play and explore without being chastised.  They know "choosing time' is time set aside for them to explore and they can do whatever they want - including pushing their own boundaries.

Change in the routine:

Last year we had a slight change in our routine because of room and weather changes.  This meant we abandoned the first group time and the children come in and choose throughout the session with the outdoors open immediately.  It was a hard change to the routine and children found it difficult to adjust initially, expecting group time to be "any second."  But as we progressed, the children became more accustomed to this change.  Also it made our children more relaxed to come in slowly and find a place to play outdoors in the calm of the morning.
Its also give our children the chance to sit and listen on the morning. It became quite common to come outside, sit on a chair and listen or watch the morning begin.  I likened it to that feeling when, whilst on holiday, you're the first to the pool on the morning and the sun isn't quite hot yet.  Everything is cool and calm but you know something is going to happen during the day.

Its really important to consider what your children need from their session and choose whether it is important to interrupt their play to have a group time or some other focus group.  Our children need to have this focus group to help with their social skills and speaking and listening.

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