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Letter of the week

GIVE US THE TOOLS

I was interested in 'Tools of the Trade' (17 June). I work in a busy playgroup with children aged two years and nine months to five years. We regularly include woodwork in our planning, introducing the children to real tools including hammers, hand drills, screw drivers and, yes, even saws.

We teach them how to use them safely. Our rule is that only two children are allowed at the woodwork table at a time with one adult supervising. Those children waiting for a turn ask for their name to be put on the waiting list, thus ensuring that everyone gets a turn.

Parents donate off-cuts of wood. We also collect wood in the park as well as buying some, such as balsa wood, which is light and easy for the younger children to work with.

When they have drilled and hammered and sawn, the children often go in search of the paints and glue to add the finishing touch to their creation.

As an added bonus, this activity covers all six areas of learning, so for any playleaders slightly dubious about offering this to their group, wait no longer - the children absolutely love it.

Hilary Lawrence, Lewis Lane Playgroup, Cirencester Gloucestershire

Letter of the week wins £30 worth of books

STAND AGAINST FRAUD

I read with interest 'Pay us tax credit, says owner' (News, 22 July). It is curious that HMRC say that fraud is not a problem or extensive. I would suggest that every nursery owner makes a post on the Government's spending challenge website if you have fees owing to you which parents will have had tax credits for.

Unless we all stand up and show that the system is not working, nothing will change. We need to show the extent of the problem of unpaid fees. Changing the system will also keep so many parents from getting into debt, and also save nursery owners time and money trying to chase these debts.

Sandra Haynes, owner, The Bungalow/Busy Kids, Hayfield, Derbyshire

You can find the spending challenge website at http://spendingchallenge.hm-treasury.gov.uk

A LINE ON BEHAVIOUR

Are any other readers experiencing problems with negative behaviour? Recently in our setting we have had a complaint made against us from our INCO (I thought they were there for support!) because we use 'calming down time'.

We ask the child involved in the negative behaviour to sit on a chair (any chair available, not a special chair with 'I'm bad' written across it) and to calm down and think about their actions. Then we discuss with the child what they should have done. I hasten to add that this is only done when a child is doing something harmful to themselves, another child or the equipment, and everyday behaviours such as sharing toys are dealt with my distraction and discussion.

We were told that our actions 'humiliated the child in front of their peers' and that we should ignore bad behaviour. Are we therefore supposed to ignore a child who has hurt another? What do we tell the parents of the child who's been hurt? Surely, if we ignore it, that is tantamount to bullying.

We generally embrace the EYFS and the freedom of choice it gives the children, but we feel that we are doing the children a disservice if no one is going to teach them right from wrong and respect for others.

We were also told that we are no longer allowed to bring the children together for a five-minute group activity at the end of the session because we shouldn't expect them to sit still or be made to join in with a large group.

In my opinion, sitting still and being part of a group are life skills, and we should be able to encourage this development. What happens when a child is expected to sit on a bus or train, or to be examined by a doctor or dentist, or when Ofsted are visiting and we have to do a fire drill?

Name and address supplied

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The Editor, Nursery World, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP letter.nw@haymarket.com 020 8267 8401.

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