What is planning in the moment?
At Studham Church of England Village School, children are at the centre of what we do and we believe that children learn best when they are interested, inquisitive and engaged. Research tells us that for young children, learning and development is best achieved through play. Play gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests, enquire, plan and take risks. Additionally, play also allows children to use their creativity, develop their imagination and build on their dexterity and physical skills, not to mention supporting the development of cognitive and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children engage and interact in the world around them.
Delivery of the 'Early Years Foundation Stage' curriculum (EYFS) involves a continuous cycle of three parts:
Planning in the moment is all about seizing the moment for children to progress when they are highly engaged in their chosen activity. This way of planning relies on skilled practitioners using quality interactions to draw out the children’s knowledge and build on it there and then (in the moment). This means that practitioners need the skills to be able to identify the teachable moment from the child’s perspective and be skilled enough to know when to intervene and when to stand back and observe.
Planning in the moment is all about capturing the moment of engagement and running with it to make sure the children progress.
The teachable moment
‘It is in the moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference.’
Learning, Playing and Interacting, Good Practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage DCSF Publications (2009).
What does the child gain from the teachable moment?
The child should feel valued, important, interested, capable, and able to learn, as well as gaining knowledge, skills, attitude and understanding. This level of engagement provides an excellent foundation to make progress in one or several areas of the Early Years Framework.
What does the practitioner gain from the teachable moment?
The practitioner gains a deeper level of understanding of the individual child’s personality and interests and becomes better equipped to support and extend their learning going forward.
The Ofsted Early Years Inspection Handbook (August, 2015) provides a definition of teaching in the early years taken from the Statutory Framework for the early years foundation stage (March 2014).
‘Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term that covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn.
It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities, communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment adults provide and the attention given to the physical environment, as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do, as well as taking account of their interests and dispositions to learn (characteristics of effective learning), and how practitioners use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.’
Planning in the moment is an ideal approach to meet these challenges, each and every day.
The Teacher’s Role
In this model, the role of the teacher looks a little different from what we have come to expect. The children will have free-flow access to the provision, which means that the children can choose what they play with and where their learning takes place. The adult will stand back and observe what the children are doing, assess what they need to do/know/learn next and plan their teaching, which will be delivered there and then. This means that next steps for individual children are not something that are to be delivered at a point in the future, but right there 'in the moment'.
You may notice an adult standing back and watching. This is important part of the cycle, as adults need to be understand what the children are doing, to ensure that they can engage appropriately and enhance, not interrupt their play.
Therefore, through play, children have access to all aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, all of the time, without limits or adult agenda. This mean that we can meet the needs of individuals more effectively.
Planning on paper
Using this approach means that all written planning is retrospective (there is no forward planning). Each practitioner records what they have done to help the children progress each day on our online system, Tapestry. Phonics and maths are still taught during whole class carpet sessions as well as one to one during continuous provision.
We have a weekly sheet on which we make notes about what the children have shown interest in and the learning we have observed in each area. We use this to reflect on what is going well, what could be further developed or improved and how we can respond to this as soon as possible.
This style of planning allows children to reflect on their learning and in many cases provides an opportunity for the teacher to extend learning and consolidate knowledge, during whole class sessions, small group work or individually.
The Early Years Framework 2014 states:
“1.6. Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care, and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development.”
As we spend the majority of our time interacting with the children, we get to know them well and understand their interests and passions. This knowledge provides a background for enhancing the environment and learning invitations that appeal to individual interests.
The Learning Environment
Our learning environment consists of three areas, the main classroom, the creative area and outdoors. Each area is equally important and provides children with a range of resources and equipment to support their learning and development and work towards the achievement of the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) at the end of the reception year.
We continuously review the environment and available resources to meet children’s interests to ensure that children are highly engaged in their learning and demonstrate high levels of wellbeing.
Our observations of the children are built on quality interactions between children or children and practitioners. We record any teaching that has taken place or progress that a child or group of children have made. All staff are responsible for using language that encourages progress in observations.
Emphasis is placed on using a collaborative conversation style. Statements such as ‘I wonder…’, ‘I wonder if…’, ‘I wonder what…’, ‘I wonder how…’ are used frequently to encourage children to speak freely in a risk-free atmosphere. This type of language reduces the pressure on children to give the ‘right’ answer and supports the attainment of creative thinking and making links in their experiences.
All our observations are uploaded into our online system, Tapestry. Parents are given a log-in and password and are able to log-in and view the observations made of their children. In addition, parents are able to upload their own observations of their children participating in activities that can be shared with the class. Our children thoroughly enjoy sharing their experiences with their friends and the school staff.
Instead of having focus activities, we select two focus children per week to work with and observe closely. This means that each half term every child will have the opportunity to be a focus child. This does not mean that the other children are not learning, or getting adult interaction, but rather that they are continuing with their own learning journeys independently, whilst we ensure that each child has equal opportunity for quality teaching and learning. Any ‘wow’ moments for any child are recorded and uploaded onto Tapestry.
Each week, a letter is sent home to parents, asking them to provide information about their child. Photographs can also be included or can be uploaded to the child’s Tapestry account, which can then be viewed in class at the beginning of the focus week.
During the focus week observations are collected by school staff and cover all areas of the curriculum. These observations are loaded onto one record in Tapestry and published at the end of the focus week so they are available to the child and the parents. A letter reviewing the week is also sent home with the child.
Progress and Attainment
We believe that allowing our children to lead their own learning results in strong progress and attainment. Our approach supports children to become lifelong learners by providing a strong foundation. Children at Studham demonstrate a common range of personality traits, including; independence, confidence, resilience, self-motivation, curiosity, creativity and the ability to work co-operatively with other people.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to us, we are always very happy to talk.