So, you have got these children (most likely boys) who every time the door is opened stampede towards the outdoor area and plant themselves on a wheeled toy.
Then, the fun really begins...Crashing, banging, hurting, destroying, fighting. You know the score.
First of all you ask nicely for more appropriate behaviour. Then you tell, nay demand better bike etiquet. Then you threaten confiscation of the wheeled toys or compulsory eviction from the outdoor area until attitudes improve. The problem is...attitudes never do!
I work with lots of settings who resort to the 'lock away' method. This consists of locking away any and all wheeled toys to 'teach children a lesson'. In my experience this is HUGELY unsuccessful!
There are very few Early Years children, especially boys, who when their favourite thing in the world is confiscated and 'locked away' take time for a period of reflection, inwardly examine their misdemeanor and then vow to be better citizens! They just get grumpy and find mischief elsewhere.
You see, the fundamental issue is not about wheeled toys, it is not even about the children concerned, it is about us and the provision that we provide.
If you have children who are heading for the door, the simple fact is that there is nothing - I repeat NOTHING in the rest of our provision that they find as engaging.
Every area of provision that we create should have been placed there in response to a need that we have identified through assessment and observation. Our provision is there to support and extend children's learning. This could be social, it could be physical, it could be academic but it is there for a reason.
If we look at a group of children whizzing around a track at 50 miles an hour taking corners at 90 degrees, they are showing a very high level of skill and dexterity on the piece of equipment that they are using. In that respect this piece of provision is not providing challenge. The children find it easy to manipulate and that is why they like it.
Most children don't crash into each other on the bike track because they have poor coordination and direction skills. They crash into each other because it is fun, exciting and a little bit dangerous.
It is the THRILL that gives them the WILL to want to engage. What we need to do is capitalise on this and make sure that the provision on offer also develops their SKILL level.
The THRILL doesn't have to come from big physical activities. The THRILL comes from any activities with high levels of engagement. THRILL can be small and quiet as well as Ta-Dah!
How many times have you seen this scenario?
A bank of computers 3 boys deep. You could certainly say that you were getting the THRILL and the WILL but this is another one where the SKILL is often lacking. If you really observe what the children are actual doing, are they developing social skills and turn taking?(Very unlikely). Are they taking their learning forward with programmes that will extend and challenge them? (Again, unlikely). Are they engaged in low level provision thinly camouflaged as learning? (Yes! probably).
What I am basically saying is that if you have gang mentality on your wheeled toys and scrums around your computers and constant confrontations in your construction while your workshop area remains void of testosterone and full of sparkly pom poms then you need to have a small rethink.
Take some time and do yourself a THRILL, WILL , SKILL audit. Identify your areas of THRILL (easy) they will indicate high levels of WILL and then the harder bit...Take a long hard look at the level of SKILL development that is taking place and then adjust accordingly.
This is not only about children (often but not always boys) on wheeled toys it is also about children (often but not always girls) who will sit in mark making or workshop areas for long periods of time and produce beautiful pieces of work that do not challenge them in the slightest.
Regardless of their gender, find out what THRILLS your children and just make sure that you use that THRILL to actively support the development of SKILL.
Just remember that age old 'dumping' phrase, 'It is not you...it's me'. Only this time it's true!