Why is the sofa in the garden Penny ?   9 comments

A very good question from the children who attend Penny’s Place – for this morning (24th July 14) there in the garden, balanced on top of the sand pit was the sofa that had been in what we call the ‘middle room’ when the children had last attended.


As can be seen in the photo



So WHY was the sofa in the garden?

WELL – I consider myself to be a very reflective practitioner (even if the inspector who inspected me does not think I am), and I reflect all the time, I make changes all the time, as and when I feel changes are needed. I don’t have an action plan – other than the very short term one that is in my head. because I action things straight away. I make a note in my diary about what I have done and why – and that is it – unless of course I reflect about the changes made – and decide further changes are needed, or indeed that the changes are not working and need to revert back to how things were. And in my opinion this is how it should be – constant reflective practice to ensure that the needs of the children and families attending are met. Any inspector worth their salt should be able to recognise this through observation that the practice and environment of the setting – ON THAT DAY are working, and meeting the needs of the children attending. A quick check of documentation – either photos or notes in a diary or folder should provide evidence that changes have been made – as needed.

In my opinion – putting stuff in a SEF or having a yet to complete action plan – are not the only ways of  demonstrating that you are a reflective practitioner – it is one way – but not the only way – in fact Ofsted themselves say this.

Anyway, I need to get off my soap box otherwise this blog is going to turn into another ‘moan’ about my inspection and further evidence how deeply upset, frustrated – and indeed angry I am about the flawed inspection that I experienced and the failure of the complaints system to be able to deal with tool kit evidence and inspectors word – that is not based on honest, factual recording.

So to get back to the children’s question – Why was the sofa in the garden?

Over the last couple of weeks, I had realised that the layout of my setting and the storage of resources was not working very well – and in particular I was spending a lot of time before children arrived setting up, moving the large 2 sided mirror and heavy book box, getting resources out of the garage (or the conservatory where inevitably things ended up being put at the end of of busy day and before rushing out for meetings) . and at 5pm moving it all again, when I cleared the lounge, and then after the children had gone home when I put everything else away for ‘family’ use of  the house.

On average – 1.5 hrs a day – which made my typical 10 hour day of hands on childminding into a typical 11 hr day (as the 5pm clearing of the lounge children were still present)

This issue now has further relevance as Mr.Penny’s Place and myself are foster carers and have a 12yr old foster child living with us – who has his own needs including that of space, of privacy, of family time.

It was Mr.Penny’s Place who had first mentioned (a few months ago)  that I would have more space if the sofa went – but at the time the layout was working reasonable well, and the children in my care at that time were more or less the same age and so their needs were similar. However, things are changing and those older children will be starting school in September, and there will be more babies attending in September as well as 2 and 3 year olds (different combinations each day) Plus the toll on myself of moving resources so much is begin to tell ( especially important as the doctors have still not got to the bottom of why my haemoglobin is so low).

And so during a fairly relaxing weekend in the caravan last weekend, I did some reflecting in my head  and came to the conclusion that changes were needed. So my in my head action plan was started.

First stage – speak to Mr. Penny’s Place about how he felt about the ideas in my head – his opinion was – if it makes it easier for you – go for it. Although I do wonder if he was fully listening ! ( as comments made later will show).

Still – the go ahead had been given – and as I finished work slightly early on Wednesday 23rd July) – I set about the mammoth task – you see I had decided to change the layout of the conservatory and the middle room to create an environment that did not need setting up every day ( or putting away every evening) PLUS I wanted more resources to be available for the children to select themselves (without the need for me to get out of the garage for them) PLUS I wanted the lounge to just be used as a ‘free space’ not as a  space that needed setting up on a daily basis – not a lot to ask but incredibly difficult to achieve.

So first I had to take nearly everything out of the conservatory, and push the rest around as I made the changes. My pre planning – and use of tape measure had informed me that there was only one place to have story corner set up all the time – and that space was in the conservatory. However before I started to put the resources and equipment in their new storage places – I had to do some cleaning! Rice from previous rice play sessions had managed to get into the places where the no one normally see (such as behind the play kitchen, and in the very small gap under the skirting boards) – and of course it would have been silly not to clean surfaces before putting the equipment /resources into its new place.

Meanwhile while I am doing this, visitors arrived – daughter 4 and her husband – as the thing I have forgotten to mention is that the 23rd July is actually Mr Penny’s Place birthday – so a break was taken and birthday cake eaten – a very welcome break and lovely to see family members – and to chat about the impending arrival of grandchild 9 (due in a 3 weeks time) and about the visit to Ray’s Farm, that day with mindees and foster child (a duel purpose visit as was also a contact visit for foster child with his siblings.

However the break did put me a little behind schedule and as I was very aware that minded children would be arriving as usual in the morning and as it was the setting was far from re organised and not safe – I had to make the decision to carry on with the grand reorganisation. By the time Mr.Penny’s Place went to bed., I was still far from finished – although I could see that the basics were in place and there was light at the end of tunnel. Mr.Penny’s Place however could not see this and commented – ‘I can’t see how this will benefit the children’ – and – ‘Why are you moving stuff from the garage?’ and ‘WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THE SOFA?’

The first two comments made me realised that he had not fully grasped what I had explained before – and when he gave his OK for me to go ahead (so a quick check was needed to ensure that he was OK for me to continue with this major reorganisation – he was) but his last comment was very valid as at that moment in time the sofa had been pushed out of its usual place in the middle room and was jammed into the only available space blocking movement between middle room and conservatory and restricting access to the kitchen – plus it was piled high with ‘stuff’ that needed to be found ‘homes’.

So Mr.Penny’s Place goes off to bed and I continue reorganising, cleaning and so on in an effort to be ready for the children to arrive in the morning.

Around 11pm I realise that I need to move the sofa somewhere and the only place to move it to is the garden – so I start to move it – and almost straight away regret doing so.

Luckily it is a 2 seater rather than a 3 seater – but even so it is solidly made, and not easy to move it on your own. I managed to tip it on its side and drag it the few inches to the door between the conservatory and the middle room – and get it stuck!!!

However as no one available to help – I had no choice and had to get it free, jiggle it around until I finally get it through the door way – and down the step into the conservatory. THEN I had to turn it 90 degrees, tip it on end and get it out of the door into the garden – these are double doors – but the one side was locked – and the keys were – yes in the middle room on the hook where they always are, ready in case an emergency exit is needed – and I was in the conservatory with the doorway to the middle room blocked – by the sofa. More jiggling of the sofa – which appeared to be getting heavier by the minute and my patience and strength was getting less by the minute. Still I eventually got the keys and opened the door – and dragged the sofa into the garden – and was presented with two more issues – one gravel is not the best for dragging sofa’s across; two I needed to find somewhere that I could risk access as safe from a childminding point of view and also somewhere I could protect the sofa (as hope to recycle it / find it a new home).

I do of course finally do it – as can be evidenced by the photo at the beginning of this blog – but by the time I had it on top of the sandpit I am shattered and shaking – not good with my health issues – so a sit down, a drink and something to eat where needed. Still the job was almost done – a bit more sorting and I could finally go to bed.

Still needed to get up extra early – so around 4am to finish sorting and putting things away – and to run the vacuum round – but mission completed in time – WELL – NO – not completed as still need to do more reorganisation of drawer / cupboard / shelf storage – and some downsizing of resources also needed – but that could wait (hope to do at the weekend)

So how does the reorganisation look like? Judge for yourself!

The middle room first










Now the conservatoryIMG_4239IMG_4240IMG_4241












I really like the new layout, and set up takes just a few minutes, the children loved using the space – and before he went to work this morning Mr.Penny’s Place said ‘This works, doesn’t it’ – but to ensure I don’t forget the task is not yet fully completed he added – ‘If this was it – the childminding space – I could live it’


Yes – I know – more sorting needed and some downsizing of resources needed – a never ended story here at Penny’s Place – BUT – I will do my best to recycle / sell / get rid of things – and more importantly to try really hard not to buy anything else

(Ok, Ok – I can hear those that know me well saying ‘IMPOSSIBLE’ – so will change that to ‘Will try really hard to buy less in future )


9 responses to “Why is the sofa in the garden Penny ?

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  1. Well if that is not reflective practice in practice then I don’t know what is!!! Well done Penny a lovely read as always, you sound so much like me as I will often deside to have a majour move at late at night or in the wee hours. Because as we all know we risk assess as we go on and it simply must be ready for the children when they arrive in the morning. Denise

  2. Wow Penny it looks amazing. Very lucky children and families. The sofa is like a piece of modern art in the garden! 🙂 well done you.

  3. Penny it look amazing well done. I love the sofa in the garden you can relax while you observe the children!

    • Not sure the sofa can stay – as it will suffer when it rains – and it would need to be moved as can’t stay on top of the sand pit – however I have an idea to put to Mr. Penny’s Place

  4. Love your blogs Penny, so normal, practical and down to earth. “Why is the Sofa in the Garden Penny?” great title for a book, think about it! evidence of refective practice in action, brilliant.
    I’m a great furniture mover, and frequently changed the layout of my practice with the help of children in my care, planning together we discussed the best place for everything, drew plans, stuck them on the wall, discussed again if we’d made the right decisions, when every-one in agreement the children would check with my husband when he had a day off work (obviously I knew when he’d be around so sneakly planned accordingly) and enlisted his help in moving the bigger pieces, checking the plans to see he’d putthemin the correct place, great fun, dusting, finding things we’d forgotten about, washing and rearranging resources, so much hidden learning! and of course like you a new exciting setting to explore, then as so loved by Ofsted reflecting on our moves “are they working”, “how can we improve it” etc.
    (Ive even been known to move the bedroom round whilst my iusband has been out of an evening with his friends, then lying there in the dark watching and listening to him trying to work out where things, hystericaly funny, good job he has a sense of humour).

    • Love your idea of a book on reflective practice called ‘Why is the sofa in the garden Penny’ – I will store that one in my head – as due to returning to Uni in September (to finally complete my degree) I will have to wait to start this book – but as I say – Love the idea.

  5. Lots of smiles as I read this, I to have struggled with a sofa stuck in a doorway and regularly moved the furniture in my classroom to meet the needs of the children. In fact, by the Spring term they’d often make suggestions about reorganisation themselves! I completely agree about reflective, immediate changes. As an Area SENCO, so often settings would have very impressive paperwork but couldn’t look at situations from the child’s point of view. Other settings had brilliant practitioners who would continuously make changes to successfully include children. I also think the world is ready for a book with the title ”Why is the sofa in the garden Penny?!! “

  6. Pingback: It is a good thing that there were no childminded children attending this weekend, because …… | Penny's Place Childminding

  7. Pingback: All change – time for a transformation | Penny's Place Childminding

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