Friday, 22 January 2016

Moving from basic to enhanced.



Yay my first post of the new year. I'm half way through January and I've only just got my first post up. Gone are the days where I could blog every day. Its not been a great year so far. I've been up down and on my side more than once but since Christmas I'm beginning to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

To set this post in context within my classroom I should explain that we have 4 children in our Nursery with Autism. Their learning needs have meant that any provision which we set up is often pulled apart, hidden, swallowed or destroyed in some fashion.  Thats not to say they can't access provision, its just that they aren't able to access generic enhanced provision. They need provision based on their needs - which has been hard to provide for until now due to staffing constraints.  However we have luckily got 3 people in place who are doing a simply wonderful job.

So, provision.  For those who don't know, provision is simply the collective name for resources which we provide for children to help them learn. They are toys, creative/messy resources, books, paper etc.  We often place linked or similar provision on one set of shelves or within a contained space and call this a 'provision area.'

In September, most Early years settings will have basic provision established.




Basic provision works to adjust children to their environment (new settlers etc.) and to reacclimatise children who are returning to the setting from a holiday. However as the term progresses you can begin to 'enhance' your provision based on interests, topics, themes, holidays, events or just about anything you think the children need to continue their learning.

We recently began to enhance our provisions properly since our SEN children had their own provision in place which supported their needs better.  We have gone from quite a drab set of areas to far more exciting and engaging provision that is purposeful and excites the children to learn more.

Building your basic:

Basic provision is a difficult thing to get right if you're not used to it. Its important to have an idea of what skills you want the children to be working on. For our sand area, filling and emptying always come at the beginning of our year because it develops their fine motor control but satisfies schema which many of our children are still engaging in.  So in order to achieve this we provision buckets, spaces, rakes, scoops and moulds.  We provide other toys such as small trucks and a sand/water wheel which enhance the basic provision whilst remaining on the original skill track.

In the role play area we will have a home corner which is styled (as best we can) in a way similar to the homes of our children. Traditional cookware as well as familiar towels, nappies, cutlery etc.

Enhancing:

When the basic is established and is being used well you need to continuously evaluate whether or not the children are developing the desired skills.  Tweaks made to develop those skills further are fantastic but eventually you're going to want to move onto enhancements. These enhancements begin to take the learning deeper and draw in a wider range of skills and knowledge whilst anchoring them in their interests or the topic you've selected.












An example would be the sand area mentioned above.  I decided to bring pirate play into our sand area. Its something I've done before very successfully and the children had reached a good skill level with filling and emptying.  So I introduced a treasure chest, doubloons (coins, for the surprisingly large number of people who don't know what these are!!) chunky keys, jolly rogers, eye patches, vests, shells and Jake and the Neverland pirate small world figurines.
Now I want to begin to draw in the deeper learning. the children can begin to role play. They can count, order, match, compare.  They can hunt for treasure, share experiences.  However I have kept a lot of the 'basic' provision there because this is the familiar aspect (the anchor) which they're used to and which needs to stay present.
Its also worth remembering that for continuous entry nurseries, some of your new children will still need a lot of this basic provision.

Sometimes enhancing provision takes a completely fresh approach. Sometimes we completely strip out all of the basic resources and start with new things.  An example of this was last year when we removed our home corner and introduced a garden centre.

Its tricky to introduce something that hasn't even been used before. It takes modelling (as do all new resources) as well as a lot of roleplaying to get the children to participate the way you want them to.  In our garden centre we had a till and money and we quickly realised that we hadn't actually had any kind of money role play before. All of the pennies just kept disappearing! We had to scale back and focus on introducing money, what is it for? What did they know?

Pitfalls and perils:

Style over substance-  Too many people want their areas to look fabulous but when you begin to play in them you realise its all for show. The children will highlight this by not engaging and fall back on the basic provision.

Too basic: If you're in reception don't have a home corner with very basic homewares. Ensure the resources are age appropriate and are more advanced than you'd see in Nursery. Consider real life machines (toasters, kettles) which have been rendered safe (I'd just hack the plug off..) Equally if you're in a nursery for toddlers or babies you need to focus far more on matching cups to saucers, or even just playing with the textures from a kitchen such as rolled oats, syrup, rice, pasta etc.

Adult led:  Most provision areas are established by adults and consequently the activities you have from this are influenced by yourselves. For those who want more child-led/initiated activities you could construct provision areas alongside your children. Sometimes you will get great ideas. One of my colleagues ended up with a superhero area filled with old tat (aka mobile phones, remote controls, cd players) and the children went nuts!

Planning:



Our planning format is here. We don't make particularly detailed planning with regards to our provision areas. In general we try to only list the enhancements and even then its not every area - you simply can't split yourself amongst them all to introduce and engage within them.

I hope you found this useful.  Provision has been pertinent in my school recently as our reception NQT's continue to develop their provision and the Nursery team works on creating their first set of enhanced provisions.  See my instagram, facebook, twitter and pinterest feeds for more information and ideas about provision areas and to glean any ideas for your own settings. Best of luck! - James

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