Teaching and Learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage
The cycle of observation, assessment, planning, observation is carried out on a moment-by-moment basis. We have focus children each week (approximately 10% of the group). Some interactions and activities that occur are recorded when the cycle is complete. These records are on the learning journeys for the focus children and on ‘in the moment’ planning sheets for activities in which a group have become involved.
We work in this way because…
“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 skillful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), 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 always 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.”
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 occurs most often when children are able to pursue their own interests in an enabling environment, supported by skillful staff. Planning in the moment helps to make this possible.
An Enabling Environment
We have an environment where resources are available to the children at all times so that the children can select what they want to do in each area. The principle 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.
The Role of the Adult
The adults are there to teach. They do this through observing and interacting. 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 for each unique child.
The children become involved in activities of their choice. The adults observe the children carefully, join them, when appropriate, and engage in quality interactions (teaching) to move the learning on.
“Early Years provision is only as good as the quality of interaction between adults and children.” Sir Michael Wilshaw
Planning in the Moment
We use the observation cycle on a moment by moment basis. The focus children are given extra attention, but all the children are busy and learning all the time. The planning sheets are a record of activities that have occurred.
It is particularly important that the adults’ input is recorded. The symbol “T” indicates “adult”. Adult input (teaching) is highlighted in yellow:
“T suggests … encourages …models …asks ponders …helps … offers resources ..” etc.
The planning sheets are blank at the start of the week. They are then filled up gradually during the week. All adults contribute to these sheets. When possible, photos are printed and added to the records. In addition, “wow” moments are recorded for all children on Tapestry, an online learning journey system, as and when they occur.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning (Revised EYFS)
Playing and Exploring – do they investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’?
Learning Actively – 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 spontaneous planning sheets and learning journeys, the children are learning effectively all the time.