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Developing Practice: Boisterous boys lead the way

In this Children’s Centre there was a large group of 4-year-old boys who craved boisterous play, but their rough and tumble desires were starting to disturb other children. The setting responded by setting up a movement area. 

Team Leader Pre School Room, Children’s Centre, South Elmsall

We have different areas of provision in our setting - a maths area, a mark making area, and now a movement area, which doesn’t take up much room at all. When I started I just put the mat out in the corner. Every time I looked over, there was somebody lying on the floor with their legs in the air. I thought, children know how to use the movement area without me explaining. They know, in their bodies, just what to do. Everybody has access to the area and every child has used it. 

‘Every time I looked over there was somebody lying on the floor with their legs in the air...’

At first the boys were always in the movement area being rowdy. Now they have learnt the simple rules - children look after their own, and other people’s, safety. The children take off their shoes and socks in the area and there are three shadows on the wall showing how many children can be in at the same time. (‘That’s me, that’s you and that’s Brendan’.) Negotiating in the movement area has developed the children’s turn-taking skills. They say, ‘I am coming out now and you can have a turn’. The children are get- ting good at respecting boundaries. If the boys are in for too long, we put the egg timer on to help them bring the moving to a close. It didn’t take them long to learn the rules. 

Changes we notice 

Since we’ve had the movement area, the children seem calmer and more settled in their daily routine throughout the nursery. They understand they have time to move as they want, whether it be boisterous play or time to be alone in the area. Children engage in all sorts of movement, from full-bodied push and pull, to tummy time, or moving and relaxation on the floor. They know there is a place to move, available throughout the day. 

Using the movement area they have grown more aware of each other’s space, and their sense of themselves, so they are less likely to bump into each other. There are definitely fewer disputes now. Children have more spatial awareness when they are playing outside as well, dodging in and out of people whereas before they were charging into each other. Accidents in the movement area are not a problem and we have fewer bumps throughout the nursery. 

Children who seem quiet or withdrawn in other areas are building their self esteem by spending time experimenting in the movement area, gain- ing the confidence to interact and talk with others. 

It takes time to make changes and for everybody to go along with them. At first the noise of the movement area did disrupt other children. Now that children use the area all the time, they have learnt to differentiate between the need for quiet and loud voices for inside and outside - we still have that distinction. 

Practitioners enjoy spending time in the movement area themselves and they are often found buried under the scarves and lycra. Some children may say ‘You are too big to come in here!’ 

Practitioners feel that their observations are more useful now. DMP provides more evidence to add to the EYFS assessment files - and it is quality evidence, because you can see it happening in front of you. It is so lovely to have quality observations coming from the movement area. 

Parents and carers are excited about the movement area when they realise it is there for a reason and the children are doing more than ‘messing about’. Photographic evidence has been most useful for parents and carers as well as practitioners explaining the children’s movements and how they link with overall child development. Parents and carers enjoy having a part in that learning, at home, realizing that it’s not hard to do - they just need to clear a space and encourage their children to move. 

Drawing in response to moving 

The children’s drawings have changed and have become a talking point
in the nursery. When we role modelled movement in the movement area we included some drawing. The children knew exactly what to do; they marked every movement we had done in a sequence. I just could not believe they would go from movement to drawing so smoothly. I felt it was an extraordinary process. They are feeding their movement experience back to practitioners through the drawings and they are so excited about it. In turn we can feed that back to parents and carers. Instead of just sending the picture home with the parents and carers we meet them at the door and say, ‘Look, this is what your child was engaged with in the movement area’. 

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