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Does anyone have any advice. I'm the owner and manager of a playgroup and am finding that most of my weekends are being taken up with planning for the following week. If I'm not completing focus plans: 1 per day as suggested by my advisory teacher, I'm trailing around the shops looking for resources. It's a complete nightmare and as lucky as I do feel to have my own setting I feel it is important to have a work/life balance if not for my own sainity then my families. If I can remember rightly my advisory teacher told me that staff too can be expected to participate in planning. My worry however with this is asking the staff to do it in their own time. I mean childcare isn't exactly the best paid job and to expect them to give up their weekeneds too just seems unreasonable. Suggestions please!!

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Is there no opportunity to do it together?

 

I know how time can be though.......

 

We put a planning sheet up for the next week and all staff can write on it activities that they feel would be good next steps, or good to revisit, build on skills etc..... thus we are using the childrens own thoughts and interests to plan.

 

We only just started doing it this way but it is working for us!!

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Have you considered whether the trawling round the shops part is really necessary? I know it's lovely to have exactly what you think of to make the best activity each time but maybe you should review it. Have a look over the last week's activities and see if you could have completed the activities as successfully (in terms of the children's learning) with resources you already had in the setting. If you could have then that will give you food for thought.

 

Would it be worth planning some non-contact time for yourself during the week to do this (if you don't already)? I can see that this would make money tighter but you are paying for it at the moment in quality of life for you and your family which is a lot more expensive (in my view).

 

Perhaps the money you saved by buying fewer resources each week could pay for a bit more staff time?

Edited by Upsy Daisy
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Our job descriptions state that practitioners are responsible for ensuring plans are in place for their own key children. We begin each week with a blank plan, and staff chat, refer to their key children's interests and areas for development, and fill in areas of the plan - with continuous provision becoming such a huge focus, this has made planning even easier! We often complete the plans retrospectively as we follow the children's lead through the session which may involve different activities than those we first consideredm - went to a conference recently where Marion Dowling stated: we cannot decide what the children will think (or words to that effect!).

 

This may mean that staff will have to think a little in their own time, but we emphasise that their wages include all aspects of work with the children - not just those that happen during a session. I do find that those who are most passionate tend to be e-mailing queries and ideas late into the evening and at weekends!

 

I hope you find an easier system.

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Our planning is pretty much all 'on the spot' or retrospective. We do some general medium term planning to incorporate festivals or mini projects, but weekly planning is a big sheet which gets filled in as and when (often during sessions).

 

If the planning is taking over your life, you have to remind yourself that 'good enough is good enough'. Let the children lead you and focus on responding to their interests.

 

The best resource in the world can't be bought in the shops, because it's a relaxed and happy practitioner!

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Is there no opportunity to do it together?

 

I know how time can be though.......

 

We put a planning sheet up for the next week and all staff can write on it activities that they feel would be good next steps, or good to revisit, build on skills etc..... thus we are using the childrens own thoughts and interests to plan.

 

We only just started doing it this way but it is working for us!!

Thank you for your reply I think this is something that could work for us so am definately going to give it a go. How do you decide on focus plans if you don't mind me asking? My advisory teacher suggested we have a written focus plan for each day so 5 per wk. Do you write yours down etc? I'm really reluctant to ask staff to complete these in their own time but can't see another way around it unless they have time out during session on a quiter day. Sily question but how do you decide what you'd like to focus on e.g. do you go on the children's needs/next steps or simply let the staff which activity they'd like to focus on. Hope I've made sense. This forum is great :o

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We do one focus plan/activity per week. each staff member decideing what she is doing for the week based on her childrens needs but it would be available for the whole group. Each focus plan is based on a different area of learning. As some of our children dont do every morning this also ensures that each child has the opportunity to access the activity as well as doing it for how long they wish to, Very often the plans are filled in retrospectivlly or scribbled all over as they can change from one day to the next. Does this make sense?

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We do one focus plan/activity per week. each staff member decideing what she is doing for the week based on her childrens needs but it would be available for the whole group. Each focus plan is based on a different area of learning. As some of our children dont do every morning this also ensures that each child has the opportunity to access the activity as well as doing it for how long they wish to, Very often the plans are filled in retrospectivlly or scribbled all over as they can change from one day to the next. Does this make sense?

Hi, thank you for your reply so if each key person was to take it in turn each day to choose an activity based on their child's needs/next steps interests and so on would I be on the right track. Sorry did you say you use the same activity and repeat it during the week to include all childrens needs.

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Hi there Titchy. The number of focused plans you may have for each week could potentially vary according to the activity you have in mind, and the number of children that you have attending different sessions. So for example if you have children attending at different times and days during the week you may repeat an activity several times to give everyone an opportunity to do it. Cookery is a good example of this, where you may have just one plan for the week, but it is happening every session, just with different children. If on the other hand you have the same children coming every day, you may need more than one.

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As Mundia is saying depending on the activity and children, Last week it was a cooking activity that went on all week each with the same plan. Next week may be a fingerpainting activity or something to do with clay and this probably wouldn't last all week. We may also get weeks where no focus activity is planned in advance as the staff member will decide to focus on something that the children have initiated themselves. Really it depends on your children, Last year we had 24 out of 28 children doing 5 mornings with us, so focus plans tended to last for the first 2/3 days of the week only. This year we only have 15 children doing 5 mornings so things tend to last all week. I am firmly comvinced now that we all stress far too much (and I include myself in this) over planning and always think that 'they' know better then us. Well they dont always and if we can show them happy children at play and that are progressing, well then we must be doing something right and I for one am not going to keep wasting my time wrtiting stuff down over and over again. I think to do 5 focus plams/activities per week is a lot

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Hi this i how we do our planning.

There are 10 staff and the supervisor has devised it that 2 people plan together with one qualified and one unqualified member of staff. The supervisor determines the medium plan for the half term and this is mainly the devopment matters statments for various areas and ages. She tracks which matters are planned for each half tlrm to ensure none is repeated and with the aim of covering all areas, ages over the year.

 

She then gives each staff 6 development matters statments covering the 6 areas to plan for in a week. Staff also plan for two focused activities per week. Our room is split for part of the session to be young ones (2-3yrs) and the older ones (3-4 yrs). We have a focused activity for each age group done when thy ar split. We determine what activity to do by all keypersons putting forward their next steps. Many are duplicated between us. The keyperson that is planning for that week will then choose the 2 focused activities from a list provided of everyone next steps.

 

Staff use the continuous provision, organise events, games etc to cover their planning and focused activities and also ensure any special events are incorporated. eg my planning week falls when children in need is on so we wil be doing lots of activites involving this g sorting bears, goldilocks. We also take into account children interests that are noted down by look, listen note every week eg young ones like bubbles outside so I was really brave and planned for bubble painting!! The boys enjoy gams eg snakes and ladders.

 

So, our supervisor does not actually do any of the weekly planning. She sorts out the medium plan and we take it from there really. All staff are comfortable with this. Somtimes things do get changed eg chalking did not work one day so we swapped for glitter and glue the pictures!

 

Again this is done in our own time but when 2 staff are doing it tog it doesnt take long. Lots of fresh ideas with lots of staff too.

 

Hope this helps.

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