Planning In The Moment
‘In The Moment Planning’ (ITMP) is all about seizing the moment for children to progress. Based on what the children are already deeply involved in, this way of planning relies on skilled practitioners using quality interactions to draw out the children’s knowledge and build on it there and then (in the moment). This means that the practitioner needs the skills to be able to see the teachable moment from the child’s perspective and be skilled enough to know when to intervene and when to stand back and observe.
ITMP allows every child at pre-school to be engaged in purposeful activity, feeling in control as they choose their own activity. Therefore, every interaction that a child has with an adult is a meaningful one.
Progress and Development
When children show high levels of involvement, that is when there is progress and development occurring – when the brain is at its most active. High level involvement happens most often when children are able to pursue their own interests in an enabling environment supported by skilled staff. Planning in the moment helps to make this possible.
"So, you pull me from my play, my all consuming play to learn maths with brightly coloured bits of plastic. Whilst I sit there learning with you, all I can think about is getting back to my play…my all consuming play where I was measuring, using shapes, making patterns, counting, solving problems and THINKING – until I got pulled away to come and learn maths with you"
– Elaine Bennett
“Babies and young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment).”
– From National Standards document Learning, Playing and Interacting P.22 – 23. The revised EYFS advises us to continue using this document.
We have focus children, not focus activities. The adult goes to the child. The child is not called to come to the adult.
We work this way because high-level involvement occurs in child-initiated activity
ITMP promotes children to be
Highly engaged and independent learners (concentration, creativity, energy & persistence)
Confident to tackle challenges and enjoy achieving next steps
Organised and show respect for their learning
ITMP helps children to
Learn to empathise and self regulate
Master key skills across the EYFS
Ofsted Definition of Teaching (2015)
The Ofsted definition of teaching (2015) fits exactly with our way of planning and teaching – in the moment:
“Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment they provide and the attention to the physical environment as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations. Integral to teaching is how practitioners assess what children know, understand and can do as well as take account of their interests and dispositions to learning (characteristics of effective learning), and use this information to plan children’s next steps in learning and monitor their progress.”
An Enabling Environment
We have a workshop-style environment indoors and outside. Nothing is set out on the tables. The children select what they want to do in each area. The principal is that resources are accessible to the children and they are varied, open-ended and high quality. This gives children the opportunity to select resources to support their chosen activity.
We aim to establish an environment that
Is accessible to all
Is organised and clearly labelled
Has flexible resources that can be used in a variety of ways
Is reflective of the needs and interests of all learners
Has open-ended, high quality activities
The Role of The Adult
The adults are there to facilitate learning. They do this through observations and interactions.
Our adults know the children very well and have a sound understanding of child development. This ensures that the adults enhance and extend the learning at the appropriate level.
Key characteristics of a highly effective practitioner
Highly engaged and involved with children. Interacting, not interfering
(levels 4/5 Leuven scale)
Uses calm effective voice. Is consistent and fair
Maintains high expectations of learning and promotes care of the learning environment
Uses open ended, high level questions
Adds provocations to extend learning when opportunities arise
Has high quality interactions which are sustained, two way, agenda-led by the child and involve commentary, suggestions and modelling
Has a great impact on children’s progress
Uses body language reflecting that of the child
Cut it for me,
Write it for me,
Open it for me,
Set it up for me,
Draw it for me or
Find it for me
All I learn is
You can do it
Better than me.
Focus Child, not focus activities
The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, observation is carried out on a moment-by-moment basis. We have focus children each week (approximately 20% of the group). The focus children are given extra attention, but all the children are busy and learning all of the time.
Teachable moments that occur are recorded on the focus child’s learning journey. In addition, “Wow” moments are recorded for all children as and when they happen.
Three Characteristics of Effective Learning (Revised EYFS)
Playing and Exploring
Do they investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’?
Do they concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements?
Creating and Thinking Critically
Do they have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things?
With a system of focus children, a workshop style environment and records kept on planning in the moment sheets and learning journeys, the children are learning effectively all the time!