The youngest public childcare setting

The youngest public childcare setting I worked in was a naval nursery with children age from four months to two years nine months when they will move on to a naval pre-school until school age. There was not much of curriculum planning here at all as most of the children at the placement were not yet able to speak with a wide vocabulary. But there were many skills that children learn at that age that are not curricular which the staff helped them learn using encouragement and praise such as learning a new word or helping the children become potty trained.

The staff at the setting did plan and carry out activities which were age relevant so in many ways it was fairly similar to plans at the pre-school and school only the plans were a lot looser. One factor I discovered whilst working in this work placement setting is that children at a younger age are a lot less willing to co operate with staff and it is a lot harder to persuade them to carry out an activity they don't want to do so staff had to persuade certain children to do some activities and if this was not possible they would have to adapt the activity to make it more inviting for the objecting child.

Children were given lots of time to do creative work with paint and other craft materials as this is always a good way for children to work freely and express themselves in the pictures. My first work placement setting was in a pre-school working with children aged 2years and nine months up to school age so although they had term plans to follow they were not set in stone and could be changed easily to accommodate different factors such as absent children or staff and often were.

Children were given lots of free time to do what they wanted to do and play with what they wanted to but only a certain selection of 'special toys' were put on the tables each day which were rotated in different weeks so that the children did not find the games, puzzles and other toys tedious by playing with the same toys everyday. The toys were also chosen so that they were relevant learning tools for the age group in each session.

Children were allowed to play outside in good weather and were given bean bags, balls, hoops and other outdoor toys to play with as this would encourage hand eye co-ordination and also as they did not play in the garden the outdoor toys were novel and therefore the children had trouble and had to be encouraged to share all the equipment with their peers and perhaps play together with it. Children in the setting were taught and assessed on their arts and craft skills so staff could see who needed help with skills such as holding a pencil comfortably and cutting with scissors among others.

Children who had trouble with certain things would be worked with one to one or in a small group with other children who had the same difficulty to help them progress quicker and learn the skill with encouragement from staff. I completed two work placements within infant schools one of which was year one and the other was a reception class. Their daily plans were very different and it is surprising to see how much the child's daily routine changes as they go from reception class to year one.

When I did my work placement in the reception class of an infant school I found it was very similar to pre-school only the days are longer and there is a more well planned and structured than in pre-school. Children were still given free time to play, interact with others and freely explore toys, books and surroundings. But they were also taught things from the national curriculum that they are all meant to learn by a certain age.

The class teacher would plan each day on paper in advance. There would also be a long term and medium plan which would often be created by all teachers teaching reception classes it must comply to the national standards and key skills for the right age group. These would then be assessed by the head teacher to ensure the staff are following the policies correctly. All activities are carried out in a way that won't bore the children and so that it is easy for them to remember doing.

There is an even balance of activities and the day is planned so that there is free time and play time at regular intervals as the children would be used to this after going to pre-school before attending the school in most cases. The work placement setting which had the most curricular activities following the key skills and standards for the age group was the year one placement I completed recently at a local infant school. I found many differences between this one and the reception class placement.

One of which was that I was handed a literacy and a numeracy plan at the beginning of each day. It stated the amount of children would be in my group and which group I would be working with depending on their abilities and the task I had to carry out. The three different classes were mixed up in literacy into able, fairly able and not very able groups. When in these groups they were split up again into four groups also decided by ability and each group had their own work to do.

This was a good way to carry out the class because then all children could keep up and nobody would either be held back by other children less able than them or pushed ahead by peers being more able. The groups were decided by carrying out tests on the children in class time which I helped with. Children were watched closely to ensure they didn't cheat but we also tried to make it all seem very normal so the children did not seem nervous of getting it wrong.