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Planning To Meet Children's Needs/interests


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Is it only me that finds planning to be somewhat inflexible, too structured and time consuming? ~ i work in a pre-school room (in a private day nursery), we come under Cheshires LEA.


I find that our plans although linked to aspects of the foundation stage (all 6 areas covered in a week) do not really pertain to the children's interests.


Also because the setting im in, like many others as well, plan long term (for the year) so topics are planned ahead, and the yearly goals linked to the foundation stage are broadly planned here.... this i feel is a bit inflexible and last month i found that i struggled to fit the children's needs into the areas which had initially been planned 6 months ahead, ie for PSE the goal we had planned for was 'making relationships', i think that our children have made very good relationships thus was not essential nor relevant to cover it again, but it was (in my opinion) more relevant to work on 'behaviour and self control' with the children in my group. I hit a brick wall with my collegue because she felt that the long term plan was set in stone and had to be followed, i did not agree i felt it more appropriate to plan for the children's needs at the time... i wonder if i was right to do this?

We did reach a compromise (be it more work for us) and this month had two PSE focus's ~ so that i could incorporate the children's needs (at the time) and the initial long term plan.


we then do a medium term plan which looks at the 6 areas and breaks them down into stepping stone focuses, ie ss1, ss2, etc... we plan which we think is broadly relevant to our group, but often i feel im missing individual children, their needs and interests.


after our medium term plan comes our weekly one, this breaks down the 6 areas again, and we choose one focus (from the medium plan) for each area, we then plan into our weekly plan how we aim to achive the goal... ie if one was physical 'uses equipment for climbing, scrambling, swinging' we would then plan to go to the park and use the large apparatus so that we could cover that goal.

However we obviously can not cover all 6 areas from the weekly plan each day, (we do cover them all throughout the week) but say on monday we did the physical activity but some children don't do monday's so we seem to be missing them in the activities/observations....

I guess thinking about it i just need to be a bit more methodical with my planning in the month and make sure that i try and cover all children (sometimes easier said than done! when we have no spare time to plan in the first place!!!!)


but what im worried about is that i feel we aren't using our observations to inform our next lot of planning, i don't feel that we work with the children's interests at all really.... its all adult planned, even down to the toys we have out, the 'accessories' we ahev in sand etc... none of it comes down to the children's choice.... feels too ridgid for me.


I don't feel i know where the children are at, granted i have only been there 7 weeks, but still nearly two topics in i would struggle to tell you who knows what.

I truely don't know what the children get out of our topics/plans...

i can see the value in many of our activities, ie crafts, imaginary stories and in those instances i could probably say 'child A got this, or that out of the activity'... but the times this happens, it seems spontaneous and is not planned for anyway....


so the value in planning is??????????????? im just hitting walls with myself, i have worked in pre-schools now for 5 years and everyone does it differently, i can't for the life of me remember how i used to do it, but i did used to know where my children were at....


so im wondering how do you use your observations to inform you planning, how do you show on your plan that your working with your children's current interest/needs in mind... because right now none of my planning shows this.


we do observe an activity a day, and write in next steps for the children but this gets put in a file never to be used again...


obviously we don't all have all the time in the world, but right now im struggiling to show that i plan with the children in mind... if im honest i feel i plan simply to meet the Foundation stage, and the requirements of OFSTED,, but in the process of this my children are being overlooked as individuals, there just 'grouped'(not literally, but mentally) together according to the areas they should be achieving in the FS..


so where is the individual in the child?,


and where is the FUN, and the children's choices in all this.... come on there is a blinking charter on children's rights, all children have a voice apparently.... well sadly in my nursery there voices aren't heard much... there directed by the adult all to much and it makes me sad..... sorry mini rant as well :D


im questionning my practices, which is good, i know im a good nursery officer, BUT i feel im failing a system that i don't really like anyway.


so id like to know how you all do it, can anyone answer my million questions in this post.





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I do not plan E.L.G's and stepping stones this far ahead for the very reason you say. I do plan topics, which are a vehicle for them to develop knowledge, skills and understanding. I plan an overview of a half term and then weekly. We look at these and use if appropriate. If the children are doing something that we feel we should adress I simply cross out and change on the planning. Later I highlight the areas we have covered and make sure anyE.L.Gs that are not covered are included in next half terms planning and also include areas of need taken from observation and assessment. I think you need to feel free that the planning is not set in stone. In fact I write down POSSIBLE activities at the top of my medium term plan to reflect this

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I think we now adays have a real tough job, it changes in every setting we work in - there are no clear guidelines, and everyone does it their own way.... and the poor children just want fun!!


I wish I had a simple soloution but like you say the children's needs and interests should come first... maybe time to change their thinking... SLOWLY!

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aaaah, I've just spent 15 mins responding to your post and somehow deleted it all, I shall attempt to attach my planning for you tomorrow ( off to the pub-well it is Friday night) :o



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I do sympathise, I have felt all the same frustrations that you describe. This term I decided NOT to have a topic but to focus on an area of the curriculum. each week. For instance, this week was CLL. We read Mike Inkpen's The Blue Balloon and did work around that. I had already picked out the learning intentions I wanted to focus on and we planned activities so we specifically make observations on where the children are at as regards to these intentions. (not very well expressed!)

I felt 'by narrowing down' what we were focusing on meant that we actually did find out information about the childrens learning. Sometimes smaller steps are better!! We also have more two and a half year old this term and a nappy change or a puddle in the play house and half your 'work time' has gone!

I do plan termly though so I can incorporate the children's development and interests in the plans.

Good Luck! Rosalind

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In order to plan for individual needs we evaluate each session and highlight any identifiable concerns or incidents, this along with child records that highlight any areas of learning that may need attention provides us with lots of literally 'highlighted' areas that we can easily look at to plan accordingly for. The general plans are made by setting out themes and meeting the criteria for ELG's for the week and we add on personal aspects as and when they occur, say "M.Y to work in small group promoting his sharing and cooperation skills" this might be added to one day after identifying his reluctance to share and respect other's feelings (PSE).

Planning individually for us means constantly referring to records and good communication with staff and of course knowing your children.

As for choice our children have a chance to choose what they want out at a certain point in the session, or sometimes we will gather them on the carpet and ask them what they would like to do.

It is difficult trying to meet all they're needs and meet the expected requirement, trial and error and homing in on interests?

Good luck

Oh and looking on here for ideas how other nurseries do it is a great way of implementing new ideas, we can but try.

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