Children playing + messy floors and Ofsted inspections
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    Default Children playing + messy floors and Ofsted inspections

    I have read a few Ofsted inspection reports recently commenting on the messiness of the childminders floors when children are playing.

    The reports say that the floors present trip hazards and the childminder should have encouraged / supported the children to tidy up more regularly.

    My children sometimes make a dreadful mess when they are really engaged in what they are doing and I am loathe to interrupt them because they are learning so well and really concentrating.

    Plus I have a little man who is a box tipper!!

    So, I thought as part of my own CPD I'd ask you all what you think.

    Is a tidy floor more important that children's deep, concentrated play?

    Do you ever focus on the risk of a child tripping so it becomes more important than their learning?

    Do you work like the Montessori schools and ask children to tidy up between each activity? How does this work with the little ones?

    How would you meet the needs of box tippers who are compelled to put boxes on their heads or throw everything around and move it with their legs if you were constantly worrying about a messy floor?

    Any other thoughts guys please?!?

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    One of those reports was mine! It is difficult as I don't have a huge space indoors so looks messy quite quickly. I think you need a balance. Whilst you don't want to interrupt something which is good for their learning you also can't allow the children to just tip boxes everywhere to the point where you can't see much of the floor!

    I'm hoping with the nicer weather that we can go outside where there is more space and this hopefully becomes less of an issue.

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    I will be interested to hear other views on this too as I regularly look at my floor and think 'I'm sure there's a carpet under there somewhere!!' lol
    I have a box tipper here too who doesn't want to play with the toys, just to use the box as a hat, car, boat etc

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    I don't have a lot of space, so do need to make sure the floor stays tidy. Nearly all the records in my accident book are for children tripping on toys, so it can be a real problem!

    Our play goes something like this:

    X (age 2) gets out the basket of headscarves and tips them all over the floor, B gets some cars off the shelf & C stands at the table playing.

    X hunts through for her favourite headscarf & goes off to the dollies, so she can wrap her baby up. She leaves the rest of the scarves tipped out on the floor. I know her well. I know she only tipped the scarves out so she could find her favourite. I ask her if she wants any of the other scarves and she says no, so I say "should we put these away so no one slips on them?" She helps put them in the basket & I leave it near the dollies in case she wants a different one.

    Y is 18mths old and enjoys pulling the toys off the shelf. He pulls them all off, then walks away, so when I know he's not going to play with them I put them back & he goes back later & pulls them off again. I do think that if I hadn't put them back he wouldn't be able to pull them off again, so perhaps I'm doing him a favour! He's also a tipper & transporter, so I have plenty of bags, baskets & boxes around that he can use to put anything in. He'll often get an empty bag, fill it with Happyland people, carry it round for a bit, then sit tipping them on the floor & putting them in the bag again. If the toys get spread too far round, I'll push them a bit closer to him. And if he wants to sit in a box or wear a basket on his head, there are plenty of spare ones about, so he doesn't need to tip toys out to get one.

    Z is 3yrs old. He is playing with the magnifying glasses at the table. He goes backwards & forwards to the treasure basket, looking for things to investigate. When he's finished with each item, he drops it on the floor, most of them rolling away! I put a basket on the floor next to him & suggest he puts the ones he's finished with in there. It means he can still drop them on the floor when he's finished with them, but in a more controlled way.

    If children have definitely finished with one activity, I do encourage them to tidy up before they get anything else out. We also have a big tidy up at snack time and lunchtime, although if the children are in the middle of a game I leave it out for them.

    I also use colourful bathmats that I spread out on the floor. The children get to know to play on the mats. They might set out a tea party on a mat, or play with animals on a mat. It means they can spread out, but in a contained way. Having colourful mats down also acts as a marker to the others playing, ie. don't step on a mat because that's where someone's playing! And if I need to, I can move the whole thing, mat & activity, out of the way.

    I do sometimes think I spend a lot of time following children round putting stuff away, or telling them to pack one thing away before they get out another, but part of that is necessity....part of that is my need for things to be tidy!

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    Really??
    wow , they would have a field day here then! 3 of mine are currently really into playing shops and birthday parties. one child sits on the sofa and receives every available toy bought from "the shop" as a gift! They are generally buried under them! Tidy up time takes forever but they do help once they have finished. To stop them from do this ,I think , would be detrimental to their imaginations so i would have to argue with ofsted on this. My playroom floor is generally covered in toys. Different ages and stages need different things to play don't they. So to have all 3 engaged solely in duplo for example isn't going to happen here!
    I do keep a quiet tidy area, I'm lucky to have 3 rooms to work from. At tidy up time it's a general tidy and I ask whats still being used in play. The rest gets put away.
    When I Worked in a playgroup ,. I was in the middle of doing an on the spot obs on a really quite distant child.i was trying to be discreat as always to not make him feel pressured. he was making a house from wooden bricks, taking up quite a large area. it had a garden, was near a park with swings and the path leading up to it etc. I only knew this as the people bricks were talking to the other people bricks. He came over to show me his people And along came a staff member saying " look at this mess lets tidy up a bit " and before I could shout stop, his creation was destroyed. I felt so sad for him. He didn't want to start again....
    It wasnt end of the day , or snack time etc, she simply wanted to clean up the areas a bit.
    So if you walk into my house and see a bombsite... It may well be just that, or hopefully it's child led play!

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    we have a two basket rule.

    we get two baskets out and if they want another basket then a tidy up is in order. The los understand this quite quickly, it means they have to negotiate and make joint decisions. I do allow things out of a basket (but basket put back IYKWIM) when things are needed. The baskets all have picture and word labels on so it is easy to see what is inside.

    we also regularly tidy up as we go along....play flows and i notice when things have been shoved to one side....we tidy that up etc.

    we tidy up before a meal and if we are going to do a craft things at the table.


    i only have my dining room so i need to be tidy. Los learn very quickly

    sorry about rushed post.....cakes in the oven


    wibble the baker x
    The bats have left the bell tower.....

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    We also have a tipper and a couple of little people that like to be surrounded by baskets/buggies...anything they can get hold of and they are in their own little cave if you can imagine what I'm trying to describe The tipper is only 19 months old and I'm hoping he'll grow out of it one day but meanwhile I must admit I do take some of the boxes out of my playroom when he comes The cave dwellers well you can't clean what looks like a mess up because to them it isn't!

    We do have a 'tidy up time' before snack and lunch which they all help with and I have a sneaky tidy up in the playroom if they are all engaged outside.

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    What's important is to differentiate between 'untidy' and 'unsafe' ~ safety comes first before learning.

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    You can make as much mess as you need to here, tip out every box if it is needed. However doorways are not play areas though, and we walk slowly so we minimise risks and don't trip over things. How can kids learn fully if they are not given the chance to combine play sets, to sort and organise all the resources to suit their playing style, to stand on a lego block?
    I see it as similar to knives and scissors. They can easily amputate a digit, but do we prevent children from using them? No, we educate, risk assess, and teach the kids to minimise the risks.
    If an ofsted inspector tried to say having toys on the floor was harmful to childrens well being, I would be glad to educate him/her as to how to safely wind their neck in!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
    I don't have a lot of space, so do need to make sure the floor stays tidy. Nearly all the records in my accident book are for children tripping on toys, so it can be a real problem!

    Our play goes something like this:

    X (age 2) gets out the basket of headscarves and tips them all over the floor, B gets some cars off the shelf & C stands at the table playing.

    X hunts through for her favourite headscarf & goes off to the dollies, so she can wrap her baby up. She leaves the rest of the scarves tipped out on the floor. I know her well. I know she only tipped the scarves out so she could find her favourite. I ask her if she wants any of the other scarves and she says no, so I say "should we put these away so no one slips on them?" She helps put them in the basket & I leave it near the dollies in case she wants a different one.

    Y is 18mths old and enjoys pulling the toys off the shelf. He pulls them all off, then walks away, so when I know he's not going to play with them I put them back & he goes back later & pulls them off again. I do think that if I hadn't put them back he wouldn't be able to pull them off again, so perhaps I'm doing him a favour! He's also a tipper & transporter, so I have plenty of bags, baskets & boxes around that he can use to put anything in. He'll often get an empty bag, fill it with Happyland people, carry it round for a bit, then sit tipping them on the floor & putting them in the bag again. If the toys get spread too far round, I'll push them a bit closer to him. And if he wants to sit in a box or wear a basket on his head, there are plenty of spare ones about, so he doesn't need to tip toys out to get one.

    Z is 3yrs old. He is playing with the magnifying glasses at the table. He goes backwards & forwards to the treasure basket, looking for things to investigate. When he's finished with each item, he drops it on the floor, most of them rolling away! I put a basket on the floor next to him & suggest he puts the ones he's finished with in there. It means he can still drop them on the floor when he's finished with them, but in a more controlled way.

    If children have definitely finished with one activity, I do encourage them to tidy up before they get anything else out. We also have a big tidy up at snack time and lunchtime, although if the children are in the middle of a game I leave it out for them.

    I also use colourful bathmats that I spread out on the floor. The children get to know to play on the mats. They might set out a tea party on a mat, or play with animals on a mat. It means they can spread out, but in a contained way. Having colourful mats down also acts as a marker to the others playing, ie. don't step on a mat because that's where someone's playing! And if I need to, I can move the whole thing, mat & activity, out of the way.

    I do sometimes think I spend a lot of time following children round putting stuff away, or telling them to pack one thing away before they get out another, but part of that is necessity....part of that is my need for things to be tidy!
    Good advice and good tips there

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    i make little paths between the toys with my feet or with the toy sweeping brush if it's startign to present a tripping hazard. If there is lots out and say the childrne want to dance or do a floor puzzle we then have a tidy away of the blocks etc. Or if all the smallworld has come off the table we pop it all back up but not every second only say before lunch, before dance/story time.

    How are they supposed to engage and revisit play if you are constantly tidying up after them
    if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got

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  16. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Juggler View Post
    How are they supposed to engage and revisit play if you are constantly tidying up after them
    This is my main question Juggler - on the one hand we want to promote child initiated deep play... on the other we are nagging at them to tidy up, be safe, put things away...

    I know we need a good balance - and all of you thank you for your thoughts and suggestions - but I do worry for those childminders who are new or not confident at arguing their corner with Ofsted.

    Any more ideas guys please? Keep them coming

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    When you have limited space I think it's not a case of constantly tidying up after them, it's a case of finding ways to allow them to play so it's safe for everyone. That might mean putting away the bits they're not playing with, or moving their play away from the middle of the room to the side of the room.

    For example, I had one after school child who loved building quite intricate structures with bricks. It was a bit of an obsession with him. Every day he had to build, and every day he had to leave it to show his mum when she came to collect him. He would normally start off building in the middle of the room then get very upset if anyone knocked his building, or pinched his bricks (as the little ones would do). Every day I had to remind him to move to an area where he wasn't in the way and where the los couldn't reach. Sometimes he'd build at the table, other times in another room where he was by himself.

    I don't think it does children any harm to learn to think about where they're playing. They should be free to spread everything out on the floor if they want to, but help them chose a suitable area of the room to do it in. As with most things, it's a case of finding a compromise. My brick builder could build as much as he wanted, but he had to do it in a suitable place.

    For new childminders I think it would be a good idea for them to understand the importance of allowing free play, but at the same time letting them know it is OK to tidy up after children if the toys are becoming a hazard.

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    I have a sign outside my house which a friend gave to me saying 'Please excuse the noise and mess, the children are making happy memories.'
    This was a very appropriate gift for me as my house is usually 'messy' during work hours and immaculate on evenings.
    To me, its organised mess, and I would hate to have a spotless clinical house where children are playing. Of course theyre going to make mess, but I do understand the safety issues this raises. I usually let them have, say, an hours play with any toys they like then we put on our 'Tidy Up' CD (just a nursery rhyme CD to see if we can put all the toys away before a certain song ends'
    Mrs Ofsted didn't have an issue with how tidy my home was, in fact she said 'Oh it looks like we're having fun in here' when she came in. I usually tidy up as we go, or I will be picking up stray toys at childrens meal times or nap time to keep my house from looking like a total bomb site! The children are at my house to have fun, and yes, learn some skills like tidying up but I wouldnt want them thinking 'oh we must be tidying this up' while doing messy activities, I want them to be enjoying it

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    When I had my local authority grading one of the things I got right was 'activities are not routinely tidied away' . Confused why ofsted would be different as my DO said the categories were taken from EYFS

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    I do encourage the children to tidy up after themselves but equally it can look like a bomb site quite often before tidy up time as the children will often have more than 1 box out and mix it all up - after all the children are exploring: experimenting and learning and I have no problem with this :-)

    Interestingly, I have a friend that has always worked in childcare and when we meet up with the children she gets very funny about her lo playing with more than one type of toy (such as happyland/ cars etc) and often says 'that doesn't go with that, put it back in the box". I have found it quite interesting seeing how we all do things and love to learn from others but I do think mixing toys up and exploring makes for a better learning experience (sorry went off on a bit of a tangent there!).

    That said, there have been times when I have thought "this is getting a trip hazard and someone is going to get hurt" and at that point have encouraged tidying away a certain amount of what is out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Becci26 View Post
    Interestingly, I have a friend that has always worked in childcare and when we meet up with the children she gets very funny about her lo playing with more than one type of toy (such as happyland/ cars etc) and often says 'that doesn't go with that, put it back in the box". I have found it quite interesting seeing how we all do things and love to learn from others but I do think mixing toys up and exploring makes for a better learning experience (sorry went off on a bit of a tangent there!).

    That said, there have been times when I have thought "this is getting a trip hazard and someone is going to get hurt" and at that point have encouraged tidying away a certain amount of what is out.
    Continuing the tangent , I went to our LA childminding conference yesterday and one of the keynote speakers, Helen Moylett, was talking about how it is important to let the children use the resources in their own way, so if they want to make a trail of beads all the way through the house, into the sandpit and around the flowerpots, then we should let them - So we can all tell Mrs O she said so.

    With the nursery children I used to work with, with my own children and with mindees, I let them investigate and combine resources according to their own ideas - as long as I can see that we could all leave in a hurry if need be, and if not, then like pp I will say that we need to make a clear path for walking.

    Thanks for the tip re inspections, Sarah - I may make a point of talking about ^ in front of Mrs O!

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    Quote Originally Posted by lisbet View Post
    Continuing the tangent , I went to our LA childminding conference yesterday and one of the keynote speakers, Helen Moylett, was talking about how it is important to let the children use the resources in their own way, so if they want to make a trail of beads all the way through the house, into the sandpit and around the flowerpots, then we should let them - So we can all tell Mrs O she said so.

    With the nursery children I used to work with, with my own children and with mindees, I let them investigate and combine resources according to their own ideas - as long as I can see that we could all leave in a hurry if need be, and if not, then like pp I will say that we need to make a clear path for walking.

    Thanks for the tip re inspections, Sarah - I may make a point of talking about ^ in front of Mrs O!
    LOL, i was at a training session yesterday with Katharine Finkill ( who is a friend and colleague of Helen Moylett ) who said pretty much the same thing

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    what happened to continuous provision? my lo are allowed to take toys from one area to another and yes on the way may make a mess I will pick up some things but the children are having fun and learning so would be a shame to spoil it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by loocyloo View Post
    LOL, i was at a training session yesterday with Katharine Finkill ( who is a friend and colleague of Helen Moylett ) who said pretty much the same thing
    Lol!

    I think we need to lock a certain government minister in a room with these true early years experts and not let her out until she's actually understood what children need to flourish!

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