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Planning Worries


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Hello all, this is my first post so be gentle!

 

I took over as manager of a preschool 4 weeks ago. The existing planning consisted of a long term plan which is the EYFS areas of learning divided into the weeks we are open, so we concentrate on a couple of areas each week, which is fine. Other than that there was just a sheet with an adult led activity for each day. The children's records consisted of a photo album with some annotation (J sticking for example) but no dates.

 

So, we now have clipboards dotted around so that staff can now do on the spot obs, as well as the cameras, which is working well. The only issue is starting 30+ proper records for the children from scratch, which is taking ages! I will get the staff onto longer obs as well at a later date.

 

I have also changed the planning so that we have a sheet detailing our focus for the week, from the long term plan, continuous provision areas with enhancements for the week, as well as the adult led or special activities. On this I also add things which the children have shown an interest in the week before. During the week we scribble on the bottom any child initiated activities which can then lead in to the follwing weeks plan. Hope this makes sense. I type up an evaluation of the weeks activities at the end of the week, and add these child initiated activities with names of children who have been particularly interested in certain activities, adult or child initiated.

 

My question, quite simply is, is this right? I'm concerned that I may not be meeting every child's needs and interests enough, but I'm not sure how best to do this. Any advice would be gratefully received. Do I need to add next steps to every snapshot observation. If so, how do I incorporate these into planning for the whole group? I'm hoping that as I hand over the children's records to their key people to maintain, then next steps will become obvious as the staff become familiar with their own key children, butI'm still not sure how I/they will record this.

 

To be honest I'm feeling a bit out of my depth now as there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to catch up with everything.

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Wow! firstly, welcome and congratulations on making you first (of many to come) post

 

It sounds to me like you've made a great start, and are putting workable systems in place. Hopefully your staff can replicate what you are doing and will take it on board - you may need to do some training here by the sound of it. Annotating a photo is important, I think, and adding the date certainly helps. I get the older children to tell me what to write, as their memories are often surprising. If they look at the picture with a different adult at another time and recall something else I add that too.

 

Next steps - no, sometimes there isn't anything 'fresh' - it really depends on how often you do the observations and whether it's a 'new activity. for the child. With next steps planing you may find there are several who would benefit from a similar thing, or an activity can be planned to encompass several children. For example we have children making dinosaur footprints today then washing them - this covers the need for some messy play for some children, manipulation and working in a group understanding that other children have needs too.

 

Is that any help at all? have a good day today

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Hi Devondaisy,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for making your first post. :(

 

It looks to me that you are doing more planning than you need....but this is just my opinion! I think you could dispose of your long term plan, where you're dividing up the areas of learning across the year. If you have suitable and effective continuous provision (and you offer enhancements now, so it looks like you do!), wouldn't this cover most of the aspects within the six areas of learning anyway? You could create a "provision plan" detailing your continuous provision and how it offers experiences across all aspects and all areas.

 

The other thing you may want to lose is the focus for the week. Why do you feel you need it, when the enhanced provision is good, and you plan adult-led activities now? Is this a level of planning you could get rid of too? If you mean the focus might be a topic, something you can hang activities on, you might want to try an experiment and stop using topics! I did, and after the initial shock from my staff (!) we found it allowed for a much freer way of working from the children's interests. You might want to read Sue Ridgway's articles in the resources section for inspiration and courage :o

 

Do you need to type up the evaluations of the week's activities? Could you write them as the week goes along, modelling what you'd like your colleagues to do (share the load when you feel they are ready).

 

You certainly don't need to add next steps to every observation......that would be such a mammoth task and you'd get overwhelmed I think.

 

You're doing the right thing by starting off the observations and children's records, bit by bit, and I agree with you that once the key persons take over their responsibility, next steps become easier to define because the staff know the children do well. A setting I visited today shared observations of their key children with each other at the staff meeting, talked about possible next steps, and then put them on the planning sheet for the following week. Very often, what was decided for one child was very often relevant for another.

 

Good luck, they're lucky to have you xD

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Thanks for the replies!

 

Helen, the only thing I inherited was the long term plan, so I don't feel I can get rid of it really. It doesn't have much impact, I just tweak some aspects during the week to focus on that, so for example this week one area on the long term plan is CLL writing, so I'm making sure there are a variety of resources to encourage mark-making an as many areas as possible. When I said we have a focus each week, I meant this. We don't have topics (although they did when I arrived!) I tend to just follow seasonal events which seems to work fairly well.

 

I have just been reading a debate about why we do learning journeys/records of achievement at all, who are they for? I have to confess I believe there must be better ways of gathering the information we need to plan for the children's needs, and they take so long!

 

I must say I'm really pleased to have found such a supportive and friendly forum!

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Thanks for the replies!

 

Helen, the only thing I inherited was the long term plan, so I don't feel I can get rid of it really. It doesn't have much impact, I just tweak some aspects during the week to focus on that, so for example this week one area on the long term plan is CLL writing, so I'm making sure there are a variety of resources to encourage mark-making an as many areas as possible. When I said we have a focus each week, I meant this. We don't have topics (although they did when I arrived!) I tend to just follow seasonal events which seems to work fairly well.

 

I have just been reading a debate about why we do learning journeys/records of achievement at all, who are they for? I have to confess I believe there must be better ways of gathering the information we need to plan for the children's needs, and they take so long!

 

I must say I'm really pleased to have found such a supportive and friendly forum!

 

We don't have topic set down but have them when the children start to focus on something IE at the moment its Space/rockets etc think its come from all the fireworks around. I think think planning is so individual to the cohort of children you have and also your resources and provision, as a professional you will soon see what works well

 

QUESTION ????please could you tell me where you have been reading about this learning journals this is currently an area I am looking to reflect on further as part of my EYFD - they do take some time to complete mine are going out to parents in the morning and I am trying to get them ready TONIGHT :o

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There has never been any need to actually do learning journals and many settings don't do them, including the reception class of the school I work in. Yes they're lovely and the parents can take them home and feel proud but when you have a class of 30 it's just not practical sometimes.

 

As long as you are keeping a folder of evidence for moderation then you're ok. This folder might show for example children a, b, and c meeting scale point 4 of KUW and b, d and e meeting 6 of PD etc etc. covering each scale point (unless no one had achieved it obviously) If you are in a nursery setting you might do this for whatever criteria you are using to assess them.

 

The idea is that if your evidence for children a, b, and c is accurate then you clearly know what you are doing with regards to that scale point or early learning goal and therefore your professional judgement would be trusted for the other 10 children who you say have met it without you actually needing to show evidence of it.

 

I'm not sure how this would work with planning next steps though. Maybe the same, as in you don't need to show evidence for all of them or for why you're saying that is the next steps for each child, as long as you can show some.

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Helen

 

Can I ask do you think there should be an adult planned activity each session ie am and pm for full day care if we werent to do a focus?

 

We are struggling showing the individual childs planning or a format any ideas?

 

I think it works well to have an adult planned activity at each session, but you have to avoid the "every child has to do this!" syndrome! Sometimes we had the same adult-led activity on the go for several days, adapting it, etc until it became a child-led one because they just ran with it and turned it into something of their own.

 

Many settings I've visited put the planning specific to individual children in a box on the following day's or week's normal planning sheet, with the children's names in brackets. This flags up suitable experiences for individuals to your colleagues, and they can keep referring to the sheet during the day/week.

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Thanks for the replies!

 

Helen, the only thing I inherited was the long term plan, so I don't feel I can get rid of it really. It doesn't have much impact, I just tweak some aspects during the week to focus on that, so for example this week one area on the long term plan is CLL writing, so I'm making sure there are a variety of resources to encourage mark-making an as many areas as possible. When I said we have a focus each week, I meant this. We don't have topics (although they did when I arrived!) I tend to just follow seasonal events which seems to work fairly well.

 

I have just been reading a debate about why we do learning journeys/records of achievement at all, who are they for? I have to confess I believe there must be better ways of gathering the information we need to plan for the children's needs, and they take so long!

 

I must say I'm really pleased to have found such a supportive and friendly forum!

 

I see what you mean now about your focus. That sounds fairly manageable doesn't it? :o

 

As for the LJs and who are they for debate: I think they are first and foremost for the children and their families, as a record of the child's learning, development and interests when they were at the setting. From a practiioner's point of view, I found the LJs were a great way of reminding me of the details of each child, and when we completed them at our weekly staff meetings, we would share with our colleagues elements of the observations, etc so that we all felt we knew the children very well. We could then use these collective observations to plan for the following week. It seemed to tie up so well, but we did have a small setting (18 children per day, around 40 on the roll) and six staff, all of whom attended the weekly meeting of 2 hours. I know we were very fortunate xD

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We've started this term to use observation pro-formas - we print up 4 to an A4 sheet so they're for snapshots, not narrative obs. all staff have really found it helps them to focus - it asks you to record child's name (doh!), age (I put years & months), the date, observer's name.

Then you've a section for the observation, record which area of development it comes under by circling the initials of that area (I mean it says PSED, CLL, etc), brief assesment based on EYFS (but our Liasion teacehr who gave them ot us & cam e back to discuss how we were getting on said you don't need to look it up, though it helps staff if unfamiliar with assesment), and Next Steps - to then put that onto the planning sheet. We paste them straight into the learning journeys - well, I do though I've poointed out the other staff that when they write it on a piece of paper and transfer it over to the form, they're making more work for themselves...

 

Something like that might help your staff - it would show what you want (date, what child did, etc) but because its so short, they wouldn't feel overwhelmed. Then you can break the news that longer narrative obs are a good idea for time to time!

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We've started this term to use observation pro-formas - we print up 4 to an A4 sheet so they're for snapshots, not narrative obs. all staff have really found it helps them to focus - it asks you to record child's name (doh!), age (I put years & months), the date, observer's name.

Then you've a section for the observation, record which area of development it comes under by circling the initials of that area (I mean it says PSED, CLL, etc), brief assesment based on EYFS (but our Liasion teacehr who gave them ot us & cam e back to discuss how we were getting on said you don't need to look it up, though it helps staff if unfamiliar with assesment), and Next Steps - to then put that onto the planning sheet. We paste them straight into the learning journeys - well, I do though I've poointed out the other staff that when they write it on a piece of paper and transfer it over to the form, they're making more work for themselves...

 

Something like that might help your staff - it would show what you want (date, what child did, etc) but because its so short, they wouldn't feel overwhelmed. Then you can break the news that longer narrative obs are a good idea for time to time!

 

Lyanne, this sounds like an idea we were going to try.

 

At the moment we do long obs at the beginning of the 6 week half term, and post-it snapshot obs as and when but needed something in between the 2 which would allow us to show the relevance to the EYFS and possibly next steps as well.

 

Might have to devise a form - yet another thing to take to supervisor!! :o

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Lyanne, these are what I have on the clipboards, 4 to an A4 sheet, and the staff have really taken to them. I don't have links to EYFS though or next steps, just bthe areas of learning which the staff circle. I find it easier to link to EYFS when I paste them into the records.

Daily_obs.docx

Daily_obs.docx

Edited by Devondaisy
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Lyanne, these are what I have on the clipboards, 4 to an A4 sheet, and the staff have really taken to them. I don't have links to EYFS though or next steps, just bthe areas of learning which the staff circle. I find it easier to link to EYFS when I paste them into the records.

Daily_obs.docx

 

They look similar to ours, I like the bit to tick if there's a photo - if it's not me who's taken the photo/written the obs, its hard to remember what goes with what...

 

Are you hoping/planning to get the other staff doing more with the learning journeys next term? Just thinking, it might be worth your adding the assesment & next steps in if you are - I know that's something some of our less experienced staff have found more of a challenge than the inital recording of the observation. We've got a couple of staff who aren't key people & they'll write up the observation note but leave the assesement/next step to the KP. When I write my notes, sometimes the assesment&/or next step is obvious & I put it down straight away, sometimes I want to think about it more so do it when sticking in the learning journey.

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I'm hoping the staff will take on some of the learning journeys from next week, we've got a meeting on Tuesday about it! Next steps are one thing, but I think linking to the EYFS straight away is asking too much of them at this stage. As everyone becomes more familiar with the statements through updating the learning journeys, I'm hoping the obs will become more relevant at least!

 

I do find the photo bit helps, as I don't spend time searching for ones that don't exist!

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