31st March 2023 All Posts

Planning in the Moment

Whilst attending the Childcare and Education Expo in London, I took the opportunity to attend Dawn Rigby’s seminar on ‘planning in the moment’.

During this seminar, Dawn focused on how to incorporate ‘in the moment planning’ in your setting. She discussed going from the children’s interests and how this supports their learning and development. We learnt how to identify teachable moments and use the planning cycle in the moment when it has the most impact on the child. Dawn referred to this as sprinkling teaching over the top of children’s play and exploration.

What is in the moment planning?

In the moment planning is nothing new, it is something that practitioners do very naturally, every time they look at or listen to the children, they are assessing and planning how to respond to that child. The response is then planned in the moment.

This method of planning has to start with the child and is led by the child. The idea is to find ways to respond that suit that child. It is called ‘in the moment’ because the staff in settings will be seizing that moment and supporting the child immediately.

Feeling safe and secure

Dawn stated that for learning to take place, children need to feel safe and secure. Feeling anxious, unsure and ignored does not enable children to take on or process any information. In settings, starting from the child’s interests, ensure the child remains content so new learning is possible and that child’s progress is maximised by putting their well-being first and responding in ways that respect and value their unique identity.

Following children's interests to support learning and development

In the moment planning allows children to take ownership of their play and learning experiences. Children need to be leaders and facilitate their play and learning experiences in order to fully engage and learn from them. The adult role in ‘in the moment planning’ is to identify, respond and react, by providing opportunities, resources and experiences as a result of the children’s expressed interests. It is not the role of practitioners to then lead/dominate this play or learning as this devalues the children’s ideas and dampens their curiosity and creativity as they extend, develop and immerse themselves in play and learning inspired by their own ideas. 

There is so much more value in reacting and responding to children’s needs and interests rather than planning topics/themes and activities for weeks and months. The ideas come from the children themselves, which instantly makes the entire learning journey more valuable, beneficial and engaging for the children.

High-level involvement occurs most often when children are able to pursue their own interests and settings using this approach will encourage this by ensuring the setting is enabling for all children, accommodating their interests and that they are supported by skilled staff. Planning in the moment helps to make this possible.

How to spot teachable moments- the role of the adult

You may be wondering what the adult’s role is in child-initiated play. Well, the adult is there to facilitate learning through observations and interactions. The adult’s role is to remain observant, interested and responsive – ready to interact if they can add anything of value to the play. When children are playing can be tempting to join in to ‘enhance’ the children’s play experience. This can often be the case, but sometimes adults can spoil play for children by taking the play and learning in a new direction. The adult’s role is to encourage and support children’s learning – they do not solve their problems – that doesn’t allow the children to learn anything.

Dawn described ‘in the moment planning’ as sprinkling teaching over the top of children’s play and exploration. When this method of planning is fully used and utilised by knowledgeable, confident and responsive practitioners, it encompasses the excitement that early years is all about. There are endless benefits to the children’s well-being and learning and development as a result of this engaging approach to play and learning, which is invaluable.

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About the Author

Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare