We aim to provide a personalised and exciting approach to learning, consulting children and following their interests, through planning in the moment. 'Planning in the moment is nothing new. It is exactly what skillful practitioners have always done.' (Anna Ephgrave). We strongly believe in this way of working with children and how this approach provides the children with the best learning potential. Nationally there seems to be a change in the tide of early years, as more and more settings are embracing this approach.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is how the Government and early years professionals describe the time in your child's life between birth and age five. This is a very important stage as it helps your child get ready for school as well as preparing them for their future learning and successes. From when your child is born up until the age of five, their early years experience should be happy, active, exciting, fun, and secure; and support their development, care and learning needs.
Planning in the Moment
Planning in the moment involves ensuring all environments are enabling environments, which provide the right amount of challenge, with lots of open ended opportunities and follow children's interests. Our skilled practitioners then have the role of observing child led play (this is when children are engaged and therefore learn the most). Practitioners then consider how they can "teach" the children to further their learning in that moment based on what they are seeing. We won't be setting up activities, instead we will be observing and responding straight away, supporting next steps immediately and allowing play to flourish.
We work in this way because "Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest - the 'teachable moment' - that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child's thinking (assessment), and always rerady to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children's well-being and learning (planning for the next moment)." (From National Standards learning document, Playing and Interacting P22-23. The revised EYFS advises to continue using this document).
We have focus children, not focus activities. The adult goes to the child, the child is not called to come to the adult. We work this way because high-level involvement occurs in child-initiated activity.
Each week we will have a small group of focus children in each room. All key persons will work together to observe, teach and document key learning for these children. At the end of the week, an A3 page will be created of all these observations. We will then ask you to have a chat at the end of the week or the start of the next, to go through progress and share how your child is developing through the EYFS. Ideas can be discussed in how to support your child moving forwards. This will replace how we have previously done parents evenings. In Kindergarten we will aim for every child to have three focus groups a year. In Babies and Toddlers we will aim for more frequently than this, as children develop so quickly during these ages. At the end of the focus group week we will also publish an observation of their week on eyLog and will update their assessments accordingly.
In the week prior to your child being the focus child, we would like parents to complete a sheet to share their interests at home, anything significant happening e.g. birthdays, pets, trips as well as anything you would like us to focus on. We value the knowledge and understanding you have of your child and really want to continue to work closely.
When your child isn't the focus child, they will still be learning and developing just as much, their learning is just not being documented (on eyLog). This will free up staff to spend maximum time to observe, decide how they can teach and interact with the child/ren to further their learning.
On top of receiving an eyLog observation during focus weeks for your child, we will also occasionally do a 'wow' observation, to document any wow moments and also to support with children settling in and moving through rooms. After focus weeks are completed, we share our observations and assessments with parents/carers at informal parents meetings.
Planning in the moment, gives staff the opportunity to focus on the enjoyment of being with the children, maximising all learning opportunities, without getting bogged down with the stress of excessive planning and observation sheets. We value the importance of handovers and the daily journals in all rooms to share what your child has been busy doing. It is so refreshing to see this trend beginning to take off nationally, and we are excited to be a part of it. At Great Wood Farm we believe we are a forward thinking nursery, and believe this is the best way we can support our children and ensure they are happy. When we started Forest School ten years ago it was hardly known, we were one of the first settings to offer this in Lincolnshire, and are proud of the journey we have gone on. As I'm sure you are aware Forest School has now developed into a national phenomenon; being embraced in both early years settings and primary schools. I quote our mission statement 'We build foundations for life, through excellence in action.'
There are a couple of you tube videos which explain planning in the moment really well, and I would really recommend watching them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DupP16PTErc&t=21s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efeizNuuEo0
Ofsted definition of teaching (2015)
Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which 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 they provide and the attention 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 take account of their interests and dispositions to learning (characteristics of effective learning), and use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.’
All of the Three Characteristics of Effective Learning (Revised EYFS) are planned for in how we set up our environments, to ensure they meet the development needs of all children; they support children with 'how' they learn. They include:
Playing and Exploring – do they investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’?
Learning Actively – do they concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements?
Creating and Thinking Critically – do they have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
With a system of focus children, a workshop style environment and records kept on planning in the moment sheets and learning journeys, the children are learning effectively all the time!!
Ofsted commented in our latest inspection "Children make rapid progress because staff have a very good understanding of how children learn. They accurately assess children's progress and plan and provide activities to promote their development. Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities receive excellent support from staff so that they make significant progress in their learning."
The EYFS Framework explains how and what your child will be learning to support their healthy development. The full document can be found at http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files/2012/03/Development-Matters-FINAL-PRINT-AMENDED.pdf
Your child will be learning skills, acquiring new knowledge and demonstrating their understanding through 7 areas of learning and developing.
Children should mostly develop the 3 prime areas first. These are :
- Communication and Language (CL);
- Physical Development (PD) and
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
As children grow, the prime areas will help them to develop skills in 4 specific areas. These are :
- Literacy (L);
- Mathematics (M);
- Understanding the World (UW);
- Expressive Arts and Design (EAD)
These 7 areas are used to plan your child's learning and activities, which are suited to your child's unique needs.
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, being active, and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both inside and outside. These are known as the 3 characteristics of effective learning.
It is important that you and the professionals caring for your child work together to benefit your child. Your child will be assigned a Key Person. This is the person who :
- Is your main point of contact
- Helps your child to become settled, happy and safe
- Is responsible for your child's care, development and learning
- Takes a careful note of your child's progress, sharing this with you and giving you ideas as to how to help your child at home.
Your child will receive a Progress Check at two years, and at the end of the Reception Year at school there will be an assessment known as the EYFS Profile. When your child leaves Great Wood Farm we provide a summary report to send home as well as your child's reception teacher. If you have any further questions about the EYFS please speak to your Key Person.
Parent Guide to the EYFS
There is a great guide, called the 'What to expect, when', this is aimed at parents in helping you gain an insight into children's development. Children all develop at different rates and we value and support every individual child's progress. The guide can be found here: https://www.foundationyears.org.uk/files/2015/03/4Children_ParentsGuide_2015_WEB.pdf