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Planning From Children's Interests...help Please(:


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Hi, i just can seem to totally grasp the idea of this and could do with some advice if possible. So in our setting (Reception unit) we are to plan/teach mostly based on childrens interests but have a long term topic of seasons if we get stuck for ideas etc. In theory i love the idea of child led teaching but i worried that in reality im flitting from one topic to another without covering in depth as you would with say a 6 week topic on 'baby animals'.

 

If you have time could you help me with the following (or just some of them)...

 

How do you all find this and manage it in your classroom?

How do you get the ideas without always asking (we are told not to ask but to observe but i do find it hard to get this from quieter children.

Do you find that its always the more vocal children's interests that your following?

How long do you teach each one for. Ive found in some things that i do lots of researching and finding resourse then i need to change it the next week.

 

Also i sound like im anti child-led and im not but i sometimes wonder..if one child loves say diggers...why is it that the whole class are then taught all about this? Its just if we soley went on obseervations last year out topic would of been very boy based topics as they were more vocal at expressing interests.

 

Phew, thanks for reading that far... :o

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Hi ScoobyDoo,

 

Just struggling with the same thing myself - have spent all my PPA time this afternoon trying to sort it out and just seem to be drowning!!!!

 

Am going to try a circle time activity tomorrow to see if this works to establish children's interests so that I can plan the next 2/3 weeks - I am not very hopeful.

 

Putting away the computer now before I throw the whole lot through the window - a LARGE glass of wine is needed I think.

 

Catch up with you tomorrow to see if anyone can help us. Bye for now :o

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I agree too, its so hard to feel you're getting it right and you do feel that the more vocal children are the ones whose interests you follow! I am going to try out suggesting a topic to the children (e.g. Autumn for next week) and then doing a mind map to find out what they know and to get their suggestions for activities. There is a really good thread on here somewhere about Floor Books which I found helpful.

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We have a mixture of topics that are set in our long term plan but we don't specify the number of weeks so if we want to follow a theme based on children's interests half way through a topic we do!

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Scoobydoo I watch the children and see what it is they enjoy playing with and what it is they like to chat about during child initiative. Also on home visits we found out from parents what it was that children enjoyed playing with. It is difficult but I think so early in the term it doesn't really matter it is more about getting to know each child.

At a training course in my LA we have an A3 sheet with all the Dev Matters for reception age range in a box for each term and as we cover an aspect we highlight it, we highlight what we cover in our routines and also in our continuous provision. We can then see easily where our gaps are and we then plan adult directed activities to cover these areas and resource the environment to enable the children to take it inot their play at child initiated time.

You will be amazed at how much you cover and how many times you cover the curriculum over the course of the year so don't worry too much.

Lorna

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We make it more spontaneous though we are a nursery, when we hear a child mention something we plan something around that in the day.

 

So say a child comes in and just got a new puppy we would do something on that in the day. Planning ahead does not always work with childrens interests as they are always changing.

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Hi

 

I'm a pre-school not reception so don't know if this will work, but noticed one of the other posts mentions it as well so thought I would add to. In pre-school we do mind maps, heavily supported but it still works. Children then can say what they would like to learn about and you can then pick the most popular choices (or if you can put a bit of everything in) floor books also work really well and there is a bood on this which looks quite good, I found it on here but have lost it again, but its here somewhere. We also display the mind maps so that children, staff and parents can easily see what the ideas were

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I am a Reception teacher in a Foundation Unit and we share our class space with Nursery, I'll do my best to explain how we do it :o

 

How do you all find this and manage it in your classroom?

We have an over riding topic for each half term (for example our topic this term is Healthy Me) and this is our starting point for the adult focus activities. We then use the children's interests to inform where this topic goes. Sometimes children don't know they find something interesting until you give them a new experience, if you see what I mean. For example I would never have found out that T is fascinated by the skeleton and x-rays had we not been doing this as part of our topic as these are not resources we have freely available. From talking to the children using our floor book I have really branched out on what I would have considered teaching within that topic and we have a full topic web that we revisit every week to tick off what we have learnt and to add new ideas to. I have a copy of all the development matters (oldest band) and the ELG's and when we have given each statement coverage then we highlight it. Each term has a different colour and I can easily seee where there are gaps.

 

How do you get the ideas without always asking (we are told not to ask but to observe but i do find it hard to get this from quieter children)?

I ask, observe and listen to the children talking to each other. I have also started floor books this term although would like to do some more research on this and am considering buying the floor book from Mindstretchers. Don't forget it isn't always what they say but also what they do that can give you the information you need.

 

Do you find that its always the more vocal children's interests that you're following?

No, as we have target children each week. The week prior to them being target children we observe them to see what they play with/ show an interest in and use our knowledge of those children to plan activities that will appeal to them. These aren't even necessarily things all the children will do but is more often in the continuous provision and then their needs are addressed through the adult focus activities and their interests.

 

How long do you teach each one for. I've found in some things that I do lots of researching and finding resourse then I need to change it the next week.....

This varies depending on how many children show an interest and what tangent we go off on. I do find myself, like you, trying to find resources and doing research and than filing it away for use at another time. We are also finding storage a huge issue as we have lots of resources left over from the 'Reception will do the same topics as KS1 who follow a two year rolling topic plan' and as we have added to that we have resources and no space!

 

I hope this helps. Following the children's interests is wonderful in theory but can be a lot harder in practice!

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A great post- very interesting! We have been asked to show how our planning is aimed at the stage and interests of our new children using their nursery transition notes etc. Any ideas anyone?

Lorna- could you post the A3 sheet you mentioned, I would like to have a broader overview than just the profile points and this sounds ideal.

thanks

 

:o

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I don't really believe "following children's interests" doesn't just mean just waiting to see what turns up and doing just that. Obviously using your observations to extend individual interests etc is crucial but I think you do have to also know what you want children to be more competent with in e.g. a terms time. The contexts sparked by using children's interests can change your plans and will be all the more potent because of that, but the planned learning doesn't have to necessarily change. (Of course other learning will come from adaptations that you may not have expected, but that's the magic of early years teaching!)

 

E.g. Over the next 1/2 term, from analysis of your observations you want to impact on children's abilities to use tools single handedly and with control - that is your Medium Term aim. Your MTP will outline but not in minute detail how you will make that happen in the classroom: additional resourcing you will add to your continuous provision, particular activities that will promote this skill, what adults will do differently to bring that learning to the fore. It's the big strokes.

 

Your weekly/daily plan is then the current way that you think will bring the learning alive ie the context you will put that into - so e.g. you plan to allow children to paint with water and brushes on the walls outside. This links to the more detailed, smaller learning outcome of developing anti clockwise movement in the arms. This is one small step of many towards the MTP outcome.

 

HOWEVER children start to show an interest in the mud because it's been raining. SO you adapt the activity to be a focus on drawing with sticks in the mud puddles but still include anti clockwise actions as adult input. The context changes because of what you saw the children doing but the intrinsic underlying learning you are focusing on doesn't have to.

 

Cx

Edited by catma
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A great post- very interesting! We have been asked to show how our planning is aimed at the stage and interests of our new children using their nursery transition notes etc. Any ideas anyone?

Lorna- could you post the A3 sheet you mentioned, I would like to have a broader overview than just the profile points and this sounds ideal.

thanks

 

:o

 

chocisgood I don't have an electronic copy of the A3 but this is what I made after seeing someone elses, using development matters and can be printed on A3 if you wish.

 

Lorna

40_60_months.doc

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My children are starting to show an interest in dinosaurs and am thinking that it would be good to take the learning in that direction. However my work colleague thinks that we should be covering autumn, hibernation etc, as it only happens once a year and dinosaurs can be done any time. I agree partly and also think it's a topic children will love, I don't however, think that I can successfully run them side by side and do either of them any justice.

What are your thoughts? Does it matter if I don't cover autumn?

In F2 by the way.

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Can you not incorporate Autumn with the dinosaur theme - habitats in boxes or the builders tray using leaves and other autumn type things, decorating the dinosaur cave with cobwebs , look at the changing seasons and talking about what the dinosaurs will eat ( especially the herbivores when all the leaves are gone ) , the cavemans bonfires and wrapping up warmer, how will the animals keep warm ? :o

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This is a tricky one and not sure what the best thing to do it, something i have been thinking myself actually. But I have decided to do autumn for a couple of weeks and enhance the provision with their other interests and then expand their interets aftr autumn work. Not sure if this is right but think experiencing the seasons is important. Its a tough one!

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I don't see that as the important consideration though - children won't suffer from not knowing about dinosaurs and they'll certainly have been observing autumnal changes for many years in their families etc so to assume they need to "learn" about those things detracts from the real focus which in my estimation is what skills do they need to develop. If it's investigation skills than dinosaurs or autumn is a good context for this learning to take place in but the "doing" of a theme is not what planning should focus on. Identify the learning you want to take place then the context that will make it most real to the children.....

 

Cx

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That's such a clear way of putting it Catma, something to really think about when we get lost in the tangle of following chidlren's interests. It's always good to remember that the focus should be on developing skills as well as learning new knowledge.

 

Although as a side note in some areas it might actually be doubtful whether they will have "certainly been observing autumnal changes for many years in their family". I've taught children who'd never been any further than the supermarket (3 blocks away from their housing estate), never visited a park and obviously rarely been talked to by anyone in their family. These were not exceptional children within the cohort or school either. In an area like that the basic knowledge of what happens in autumn might be just as important as the skills you want them to develop.

Edited by Guest
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Yes, I agree - there will always be children who don't have those types of things pointed out, and for every child who lives by the sea there is another one who doesn't! I suppose my point is that we cannot teach all children about everything and what makes dinosaurs more important to know about than say the seaside or minibeasts or any of those themes we get obsessed with!!! We are selecting themes on the basis of what what we think is most "important" to know about rather than keeping a balanced focus on understanding what are the skills the unique child will need to be able to find out and observe and question for themselves.

Cx

Edited by catma
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Yes that's a great way to put it! I agree too - I think its easy to get lost in following interests so thanks for the reminder! I guess its all a balance. I always think its possible to cover elements of the seasons just by being outside and pointing out changes/the environment as you experience them without actually doing a whole topic on it. x

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Hi,

This thread had been great for me as it is something I am wrestling with at the moment. My Head is happy for me to lead EYFS where I think is best (which is great) but I am struggling to format my ideas into planning formats.

From reading this I am guessing that most of you don't have a medium term plan as such but it is more of a topic web of where the topic may go.

Am I right? Do you have a MTP? How detailed is it if it a child interest based idea? Or am I completely wrong and you all have detailed MTPs?

Sorry for all the questions.

 

I love the idea of linking back to Dm on the A3 sheet so thank you so much for that. It will help me to check coverage.

 

Thanks for the help. x

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I'm not adverse to a medium term plan but I try to encourage the settings I work with to look at it in terms of the learning outcomes they have identified. From this the various contexts for the learning can be decided plus the look, listen and note assessment foci to inform practitioners on what they might see happening as a result of the taught input.

 

Cx

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I think you may have misunderstood me, I'm not saying that dinosaurs are more important to learn about than autumn etc, just that the children are interested in Dinosaurs.....

So should I teach the skills that they need

  • Comparing lengths and using the language of length
  • Recognising numbers 1-6
  • Identifying alliterative words
    • Establishing the difference between something that is melting and just pouring water on things.

(These are just a few nest steps that I have identified)

Should I teach these skills through a topic that they are telling me they are interested in OR should I teach these skills through an autumn topic, which is what my colleague believes, because autumn is important for them to experience and learn about.

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Just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading this thread, it's good to question why we do things. I'd do both too, some children will get the skills through dinosaurs others through Autumn.

 

I'll be brave and say we don't have a medium term plan! (preschool setting)

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Guest jenpercy

You could do length etc through any topic you like (probably). Autumn gives the opportunity of discussing changes, ripening, decay and observing, recording change, experiencing textures, that you can't get from dinosaurs.

 

Pepole talk about following children's interests as the be all and end all. the real truth is that you should be able to follow children's interests by challening them with different materials etc, picking up on their observations, and encouraging them to explore, through doing and talking. children of this age, before they get school phobia can become interetd in anything.

 

for me, folowing the children's interests also means expanding their horizons and making them intersted in new things.

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  • 3 months later...
Scoobydoo I watch the children and see what it is they enjoy playing with and what it is they like to chat about during child initiative. Also on home visits we found out from parents what it was that children enjoyed playing with. It is difficult but I think so early in the term it doesn't really matter it is more about getting to know each child.

At a training course in my LA we have an A3 sheet with all the Dev Matters for reception age range in a box for each term and as we cover an aspect we highlight it, we highlight what we cover in our routines and also in our continuous provision. We can then see easily where our gaps are and we then plan adult directed activities to cover these areas and resource the environment to enable the children to take it inot their play at child initiated time.

You will be amazed at how much you cover and how many times you cover the curriculum over the course of the year so don't worry too much.

Lorna

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