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Nursery Spontaneous Planning


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I visited a nursery recently which has a teaching vacancy. They described their planning as completely based on the children's interests, and done on a weekly basis. At present I teach in a reception class where the planning is topic based, and I feel that planning based on the children's interests would enhance learning much more than topic based. But I do have a few logistical questions, probably some which are a little obvious, but I would welcome some expertise from someone who has tried and tested this system.


On a day to day basis, how does it work, obviously there are some times which can't be planned for eg, finding a snail in the outdoor area, events which might be happening in school eg building works, but, are there times when the children's interests are not so obvious, and therefore harder to plan for? What do you do for planning for a new group just starting, whose interests may not be apparent straight away - do you plan an interim topic? Would you plan something around a visit which may have inspired the children - but which may not be based on their interests - I'm thinking here in terms of visits which need to booked months in advance, by which time interests may have changed......


Some of these questions may seem a bit elementary, and some may have been answered elsewhere on the forum, but I would welcome someone elses expertise..





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In our nursery we work exactly like this and it does get some getting used to after a structured timetable, but it is great and does work.


No you can't plan for every eventuality, like finding a snail, but that then may bcome a focus or area of interest which could be followed up for any interested children.


You get to know what the children are interested in because you observe them and see where they go and what they do and to extend anything you can for example take it outside/inside, 'invite' them to come and try something new with familiar things. eg one new boy I have is fanatical about animals, but was reluctant to move to any other area of the nursery. Solution? We took animals with him all over the place.


For new children we chat to parents to see what they enjoy doing and observe and then begin to plan for them as we get to know them.


We also operate a PIP system where all keyworkers, once a week, plan for 4 individuals from the nursery. We discuss interests and enjoyment in each of the 6 areas of learning and then develop their learning through extending these throughout the nursery.


As to planning on a daily basis, well we plan for spcific or interested children in a particular area and thhis becomes (hopefully) a focus. However, the planned child(ren) do not always attend the activity, but others do. This is noted in ourteam evaluations at the end of each am and pm session. A note is then taken by keyworkers of what worked or was popular and plans are made for the next day. Clear? as mud probably. Hope it is of some help:D


Kate :D

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We are attempting a combination of planning :o We plan for the first 2 days of each week then let the children take over and plan the rest of the week retrospectively. Finding it very strange at the moment but hopefully will get used to working this way.

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Thank you for your explanation, in theory I am totally behind this way of doing things, but am not sure yet I have completely got my head round the practicalities of it - probably caused by too long on a topic based curriculum..... But am certainly wanting to give it a go... Do other people use the same system


BTW - what is a PIP system, I'm intrigued!!!



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  • 1 year later...
marion and andreamay how is your planning going :) desperatly want to change mine got the deputy on side today :( just got to sell it to staff now!!!!! xD



At the end of last term we were talking about our planning which was still loosely 'topic' based in that our long and medium term plans had topics included and agreed as a team that this wasn't working for us and the children in practice. For example our topic last half term was toys which we had completed medium term plans similar to those produced by Norfolk but in reality the children just weren't interested :( and we'd followed their lead. Selling Sue R's non topic based planning to the team was easy after that and selling the concept to the head was even easier :D Sooooo from next week we are totally abandoning topics and planning from the children's interests. We have scrapped out Long term planning and I am working on two ideas one based on the old medium term planning so we can hi light what we cover each term and the other similar to that Sue R posted in her article and Monday which is a training day we will get to together and decide which we are going to use :o We are scrapping medium term planning except for Literacy and numeracy and will plan daily from children's interests. Really not sure how it will work but we are all very excited and probably slightly mad as we are expecting OFSTED next term :(

The first day back with the children we have planned to look at polar animals which came from interest at the end on last term (could be theyve forgotten all about it :wacko: ) but will give us somewhere to start and chances to observe.

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