Planning in the Moment
Over the last few weeks we acquired some slightly less traditional resources in our nurseries – massive wire reels (looking a bit like cotton reels) and colourful cardboard tubes etc. This is following our new-found passion for loose parts and leads us very nicely into our next subject for setting improvement.
After much reflection of our practice and how well it supports deep levels of involvement for the children we have decided to implement ‘Planning in the Moment’.
Young children live in the here and now. ‘Planning in the Moment’ allows us to make a real difference to the children’s learning by seizing the moments when children first show curiosity and supporting their next steps immediately.
Planning in the Moment is nothing new, it is exactly what a responsive parent does with their child every day. It is exactly what skilful practitioners have always done. Every time an adult looks at and listens to a child, they are assessing and ‘planning’ how to respond. These assessments and plans are based on the adult’s observations of the child in that moment and draw on any previous knowledge of the child. The response is ‘planned’ in the moment and is uniquely suited to that unique child in that unique moment. The adult will be considering (both consciously and instinctively) whether they can add anything in that moment to benefit the child. If so, they will respond and interact accordingly, supporting the child to develop.
How is it achieved?
The nursery setting is organised so that each child can decide where to go (inside or outside), which resources to use, what to do with those resources, whether to be alone or with others and for how long to pursue an activity. Thus, they become deeply involved in their task, their brains are ‘lit’ up, and progress is happening constantly.
Their level of involvement may drop for a variety of reasons: they might not know how to do something, they might not be able to use a piece of equipment, another child might be disrupting them, they might need another resource, they might not have the language to communicate their ideas etc. When this happens, the child will persevere for a while and will then seek help – either from another child or an adult. This then becomes a teachable moment – a chance for a skilled adult to join the child, assess what is needed and then give them the skill, knowledge, resource, vocabulary or advice that they need in order to carry on. Some such moments are recorded as observations. or as “WOW moments” for parents and in setting.
We endeavour to keep paperwork to a manageable level. One way to help with this is to ensure that what we write is meaningful and useful. Doing lots of observations becomes mundane and repetitive – not serving any purpose – either in terms of ideas for future learning, as real evidence of WOW moments, and most importantly while adults are writing observations they are not interacting with the children!
We will be doing at least one long (1 hour) observation of every child every half term. This will be a tracking observation where we will follow the child in their play recording what they are doing, saying, learning etc. We will also interact as we see fit to action ‘teachable’ moments and make notes of these and the ‘next steps’ (learning) that has been achieved. This observation will be recorded on the setting’s online learning journal (Tapestry or Capture) with links to ‘areas of learning’ for you parents to view and comment on. We also encourage parents to do the same; photos and notes about learning that is happening away from nursery help us build a more rounded picture of each child.
Each child can flourish, and progress can be maximised if we, the practitioners:
- Develop a meaningful relationship with each child and their family
- Provide a superb enabling environment
- Establish clear and consistent boundaries and expectations
- Give children long periods of child-initiated play (with genuine autonomy and choice)
- Remain observant and fascinated
- Plan in the moment – teaching next steps in the moment too.
This blog article includes some material from “The Nursery Year in Action” by Anna Ephgrave