Recently I recall being presented with a wonderful pretend cake created from recycled resources. I smile and remember the children who spent time having fun and working together to create this glittery wonder of deliciousness!
Believe me when I say, I know how much needs to be planned and co-ordinated to create a fun, inspiring environment for the children’s leisure time; especially taking into account the wide range of ages accessing your service. Setting up an exciting environment from the store cupboard; collecting and greeting children, ensuring the tea time snacks or meals are nutritious, having interesting and exciting resources, providing equipment for the wide age range of children to explore and play, getting outside to play, not forgetting the time spent talking and playing with the children so as to get to know them well, liaising with parents and other professionals – and the list goes on………….
But many people think you’re only playing with children’ right?
Wrong….. it’s so much more.
I thought I would just share a few points for consideration on how to retain the balance of keeping children safe as well as learning life skills along the way.
Transporting Children to and from club
How do we do this?
Always the potentially most risky time of the day and one of the biggest challenges facing out of school clubs. Whether using vehicles, buses, or walking children to and from the club there are many safety aspects to consider. But, let’s not forget how it also shows our children how to be independent, support others and to understand risks and how to manage them.
Do you regularly consider?
- What staff to child ratios you have?
- The route used – away from busy roads if possible?
- Are risk assessments of the route sufficiently taken into account?
- Do all staff have ID badges or uniforms?
- Do staff have First Aid certification and First Aid kit available?
- Do all staff have a good knowledge of safeguarding procedures?
- Are there clear procedures in place and understood by staff and children?
- Do all vehicles used have up to date documentation – MOT, insurance etc?
As often as possible! – Outdoor play experiences provide wonderful opportunities for children as long as the adults make sure there are a variety of resources and play areas to keep children sufficiently engaged. Always consider the balance between the benefits and the need for children to play, alongside the duty to provide a safe & secure environment.
I can hear some people now, ‘it is quite cold do we have to go out?’ – But, there is no such thing as bad weather……… it’s un-suitable clothing!
Some clubs are fortunate to have wildlife areas or playground equipment to access and some are based in schools and have fencing all around. Every club faces different and sometimes challenging complications. Those of you using public land probably have to think carefully about boundaries, rules, strangers and dogs on a daily basis. Whatever the barriers we can always find ways to ensure children have a fun and stimulating environment outside – just keep thinking:
- How can outdoors be made really really exciting today, interesting and challenging?
- Does the risk assessment appropriately identify hazards for children in the outdoor area?
- Where are the boundaries – do all staff and children know exactly where they can go?
- Who is the first aider ready to act in an emergency, do we have a clear plan for children with any life threatening allergies or medical needs?
- Where is the portable first aid kit, where will it be kept when we venture outside?
- What do we do if a child goes missing?
- How do you summon help quickly from other staff? – does the setting have a Walkie-talkie?
Children always arrive at club allegedly ‘starving’ – Probably as a result of all that listening and learning at school. Tea time or snack time is a great time to take a load off, sit down and unwind from the day chatting with one another. There is always so much to talk about whether it is new experiences, funny quips or worries that children may be sharing, make the most of the free from screen time tea time, a relaxing time that’s calm and enjoyable for everyone.
Try and reflect for a moment on your club’s tea time measures up?
- Are staff sitting down with the children and taking part in or instigating conversations, being good role models?
- Are children provided with ample opportunities to be independent – serve themselves, pour their own drink and spread their toast etc.?
- Are they picking up good manners?
- Are children actively encouraged to try new foods?
If you have any queries don’t forget we at HfL are here to help.
If you have any queries or would like a little help or support with your out of school club, HfL can help with – Out of school club factsheets for guidance on snack times, transportation and outdoor play, or you can book a consultancy visit which is tailored to meet your club’s needs.