EYFS and planning
So, what paperwork do you use? Does it work for you or do you wonder how on earth you are going to fill it in every day? I was speaking to a childminder who has a form that gives her 30 boxes to complete every week and she said she felt overwhelmed struggling to find things to go in them all... 30!!
Other childminders tell me they are sick and tired of planning activities that the children do not use because they are happy playing with something else! Other childminders tell me that they plan something and the children don’t come and they feel so let down that their precious time at the weekend has been wasted.
So how do you make everyone happy? How do you show Ofsted you are providing planned activities linked to the 7 areas of learning and development of the EYFS while at the same time making sure your family see more than the back of your head?
The answer came to me when I was struggling to make sense of a planning form that a childminder had shared with me. She wanted to run it by me to see what I thought... my first impression was complicated, followed by unnecessary. So, how to simplify the process?
There are 2 types of planning we need to consider doing. Here’s an overview of how I intend to plan for each type...
1. Individual planning
John has an interest in animals. He has been to the farm with his parents at the weekend and arrives clutching a leaflet to show you.
You need to plan for John’s interests... you might set out some plastic animals in the messy tray with bark and leaves... you might include a book about animals in your reading session... you might play a game outside where everyone roars like lions and reaches up high like giraffes... then you can link these activities to the 7 areas of Learning and Development of the EYFS. Or of course you might already have some animals planning sitting in your files from a previous themed activity or child's interest and you can whip that out and use some of the ideas.
However, this is just one aspect of my weekly planning - I don't want to swamp the poor soul! It will turn him right off if everything is animal based... and planning has to suit every child, not just John.
What paperwork to use?
Mine is very simple and comprises of 4 boxes...
· What I am planning for the child and why...?
· Any comments or notes from their parents or other settings...?
· An evaluation of how things went, what the child thought of the activities, whether I could change anything for next time;
· Ideas for next steps to enhance the child’s learning experience.
2. Group planning
You can do as much or as little preparation for group planning as you like... it really is up to you... so long as you have a clear idea of what you are doing, what you would like to achieve, how it all links to the EYFS and how you will support each child to succeed.
You can put your group planning in a folder to come out if the children look like they need stimulating or, if they arrive excitedly asking what they are doing today, you can use it first. Then you need to give children time to work through the activities themselves - let them take it in their own directions through role play, dressing up, small world, outside play, reading books etc. Your job is to provide stimulating and exciting resources that they will enjoy exploring and ideas for activities that they will want to join in and do.
Some of your planning (both individual and group) will be written up in advance... taken from next steps you have decided after assessing your observations; some will be carried over from the previous week; some will be new to cover a festival or celebration that is happening in the world; some will be noted down after the day has happened and taken from spontaneous play and the odd moment of inspiration from yours truly.
So your group planning for this week (9.2.09) will have focused around Valentine’s Day. For ICT (Understanding the World) we looked up some card designs on Google images and for Arts and Design we made them. We counted hearts to cover Maths and looked at their shapes, drawing them freestyle and using some stencils (Physical Development - Handling - fine motor skills). Outside, we drew big hearts on the patio and jumped in and out of them until we were puffed, then came in for warm drinks (Physical again but this time Moving - gross motor skills).
I also made sure I followed the children’s interests and as John wanted to put a picture of a dog on his Valentine’s card, I researched for him and found a nice one here he could make from DLTK.
Your group planning does not need to be long and complicated... and it certainly does not have to feature 30 boxes a week! It should be loose and easy, so that the activities are not set in stone and they do not all have to be done. The reason I don't care if we do them or get sidetracked? They didn't take long to put together and they can be used next year.
What paperwork to use?
The paperwork I am currently experimenting with for group planning follows my continuous provision - books, construction, food (cooking and snacks), games and puzzles, outside play, ICT and audio visual, malleable and messy, mark making and crafts, music and movement, outings, small world, role play. It gives an activity idea for each area of continuous provision through the week - I work with part timers so it is perfect for me. It also shows whether the activities link with... the outside, other settings, children’s interests and the 7 areas of L & D so I can make sure I am getting the balance right.
It is easy to complete and it does not take ages ... I can write it up while the children are busy playing. Nobody knows what Ofsted want to see and every inspector is different, but I believe what I have done ticks all the right boxes.
I think a lot of childminders are getting so worried about filling in paperwork or meeting every aspect of every part of the EYFS every week that they are worried they are forgetting how to play. You need to design paperwork that suits you and use it to enhance the children's experiences.
For more information e-book 15 covers EYFS planning and is fully updated for the revised EYFS (2012). It is available from my website.