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In The Moment Planning

Planning structure

In September 2016 we changed our planning techniques and recording to ‘In the moment planning’.

This is based on the new Anna Ephgrave approach.

This, we feel, will ensure the setting is more child-led. We have completely re-structured our way of storing our equipment in order to ensure the children are given more free choice during play.

This will give a more enabling environment and will allow the children to explore and investigate through their play. We are also asking parents to only bring children in using pumps or slippers for indoor, and shoes/wellingtons for outdoor. Children cannot fully engage with their play unless they have the correct clothing and footwear to keep them warm, dry and comfortable. Heavy footwear can limit their movement during play.

This system will also bring our parents in to our planning structure, and allow them a more in-depth sight into their child’s pre-school life.


The cycle of planning, observation and actual ‘next steps’, is carried out on a moment-by-moment basis. 

We aim to have ‘focus children’ each week. This will give us more thorough observation and future planning for each individual child and not just as a group.

Your child will still have their specified 'key person'.

The parents/carer’s role in our system

If your child is due to be a ‘focus child’, we may give you a parent consultation sheet to fill in the week before.  We value the knowledge and understanding you have of your child and would really appreciate it if you would share anything significant happening in your child’s life at that moment with us. Together we can plan activities to meet your child’s needs. This will help us to plan for their future learning and development.

Activities that occur are recorded when the cycle is complete.  These records are in the learning journeys for the focus children and on “planning in the moment” 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’ – which 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), 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

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. Children need to be children, they have their own ideas of what they’d like to create or play with.

Play should not be interrupted or challenged by an adult, unless a child willingly engages the adult, we need to stand back and allow them to investigate and explore in order to learn.

How many times have you been watching your child play, completely caught in the moment… you then interrupt or ask questions “what are you doing?” for your child to then stop and lose their trail of thought in their play?

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 skilled staff. Planning in the moment helps to make this possible.

An Enabling Environment

We have a workshop style environment indoors and outside.  Minimum items are set out on the tables.  The children select what they want to do in each area. Due to us having two year olds, we do put some toys out.

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.

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.

The Ofsted definition of teaching (2015) fits exactly with our way of planning and teaching – in the moment.

Ofsted definition of teaching (2015)

Teaching should not be taken to imply a 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.’ 

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