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Our Teaching Approach ‘In The Moment’ Planning


The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, observation is carried out on a moment- by moment basis. We have focus children each week (approximately 10% of the group).

Activities that occur are recorded when the cycle is complete. These records are on the learning journeys for the focus children and on “planning in the moment” sheets for activities in which a group have become involved.

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 ready 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 document Learning, Playing and Interacting P.22 - 23 The revised EYFS advises us 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. Progress and Development When children show high levels of involvement, that is when there is progress and development occurring – when the brain is at its most active. High level involvement occurs most often when children are able to pursue their own interests in an enabling environment supported by skilled staff. Planning in the moment helps to make this possible.

An Enabling Environment

We have a workshop style environment indoors and outside. Nothing is set out on the tables. The children select what they want to do in each area. The principal is that resources are accessible to the children and they are varied, open-ended and high quality. This gives children the opportunity to select resources to support their chosen activity. The Role of The Adult The adults are there to facilitate learning. They do this through observations and interactions. Our adults know the children very well and have a sound understanding of child development. This ensures that the adults enhance and extend the learning at the appropriate level.

The Ofsted definition of teaching (2015) fits exactly with our way of planning and teaching – in the moment. 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.’

Recording the learning

We use the observation cycle on a moment by moment basis. The focus children are given extra attention, but all the children are busy and learning all the time. We use planning sheets when it is the child's focus week. The planning sheets are a record of activities that have occurred. It is particularly important that the adults’ input (teaching) is recorded. The symbol “T” indicates “adult”. Adult input is high-lighted in green:- “T suggests … encourages …models …ponders …models …helps … offers resources .. etc.” The Child's voice is also highlighted as this is important. So the actual words a child says are highlighted in yellow. She added “its bigger than that one…”

The “planning sheets” are blank at the start of the week. They are then filled up gradually during the week. All adults contribute to these sheets. When possible, photos are taken and added to their tapestry account in an observation titled ‘focus week.’

In addition, “Wow” moments are recorded for all children as and when they occur. These can be recorded by both parents and staff in a paper format or as photos on tapestry.

We also look at the way children are learning. This is called the Characteristics of learning. There are Three Characteristics of Effective Learning (Revised EYFS)

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.

Finally we also consider how content and happy the children are and use the Leuven scales of well being and involvement. This is important as a happy and content child will learn a lot more than one that is worried or anxious.

With a system of focus children, a workshop style environment and records kept on spontaneous planning sheets and learning journeys, the children are learning effectively all the time!!