There is the never ending search to find a perfect template that will spell out the best and most time efficient way to document the planning cycle and define when, how it is important to factor in the service, the children, the families, the other educators as well as the community and in doing so it is almost impossible to have a one size fits all prescriptive template. Just as each child is individual so is the requirements and planning cycle for each service and because there is no specific template enables and empowers educators to establish something that works best for yourself.
Additionally, each service may have a specific style and approach; or it may be more relaxed and be open to your own interpretation. Either way, there is no magic formula as to what works best, and it really is an individual educator’s ability to work with their environment and specific setting.
Having said that, if you are searching and are looking for support and guidance there are many options which will ensure you are to make informed choices about meeting the requirements of the National Quality Framework (NQF). The first place to start is with the service you are working at to establish if they have a preferred or they should provide support.
Effective planning encompasses observing, planning, evaluation and reflecting and encourages educators to draw on their knowledge and professional understandings to decide and plan accordingly. There are many elements to take into consideration such as your knowledge, the child, the family situation and the community, past experiences, beliefs, and The National Quality Standard (NQS) helps to focus on outcomes and acknowledges all children as capable and competent learners within the context.
Having a more analytical approach to planning facilitates more discussions, questioning and reflecting which in turn contributes to continuous improvement. Every child in care should have their learning and development monitored and assessed as part of an ongoing cycle of planning, documenting and evaluation.
Planning a curriculum for children not only is the evidence for a service and a requirement under NQF, it is key in promoting and supporting children’s learning and development. Additionally, it provides the opportunity for educators to reflect on and continue to develop their practices, share the learning with the child’s family, link with the community it encourages educators to discuss and reflect on the learning experiences they offer and why.
Having a good planning cycle enables a smooth implementation of a curriculum which supports the best educational needs for the child. It will compliment the services philosophy and approach.
Good planning and documentation of planning provides for:
About me: This document helps the educators within the service learn more about the child in the family context as well as opens the lines of discussion between the family and the service in terms of goals and expectations for the child while attending the service. It should be completed upon entry to the service; when the child progresses to another room and if there are additional requirements as a means of communication between educator and the family.
Individual & group learning stories: These documents provide documented evidence of the child’s learning both individually as an individual learning story and within a group with the group learning story. It helps to demonstrate the progress of a child in their learning journey as well as assists educators to plan and extend on their learning.
Daily learning journal: This document may be displayed in many variants within the individual room or depending on the service. It may take the form of a book, a sheet, on a whiteboard or electronically. Despite the way it is displayed the information remains the same. It is about sharing the learning that has occurred during that day and generally includes photographs to share the learning and enable the families to feel more connected to their child’s day within the service.
E-journal: Some service may as an additional element to the service documentation also provide email interactions throughout the day with photos and/or information about how their child’s day is. This is often more the case in the younger years for the educators to share the daily sheet with the information about their sleep times, food intake, nappy changes, etc rather than in print form or via conversation only at the end of the day at collection time.
Room curriculum: This document cements the planning cycle by displaying the child’s interests and learning which is occurring in the room.
Summative assessment: this may also be called a developmental summary. The principle of this document is to provide a clear, progressive summary of child’s learning over a period of time. They are generally completed every 3 or 6 months. They will be placed into the child’s portfolio. Often a service will complete them twice a year.
Checklists: Checklists are one element that can be utilized to track a child’s development against a general milestone and provide a clear, concise way to monitor and measure a child’s development. Not all services will use a checklist, however, they still have a very valid place as part of the overall observational technique and documentation for a child at a service.
Wonder Wall: The purpose of a Wonder Wall can portray the thoughts and wonderings of staff, children and families. Using this type of documentation permits the “parking” of ideas for future follow up so as they are not lost during the workings of the day. A Wonder Wall may also be utilized to reflect on the services community interests.
Mind Maps: Mind Maps document the journey of a project or specific series of planned and spontaneous experiences. They do not have a fixed time frame and can form part of continual planning if they remain purposeful to the currency of the curriculum. As they are not the curriculum and are complementary to it and are for a project or series of events more than one mind map can be displayed.
Other observational documentation: These types of documents are predominantly used for specific purposes when a precise observation is required, and the observation style is more suited to the situation. Observation techniques include jottings, event sampling, running records, time sampling or sociograms.
Gather meaningful information- this includes from family, community. Be observant as to what is happening, is there a pattern that’s visible in their learning? Does the area/environment need things added, removed or changed? Recognise interests, strengths, needs. Recognise what learning is taking place.
Question what you have observed. From observing and interpreting the learning observed and identify the needs. Document this reflection. Ask yourself questions such as: Am I growing as an educator? Are the child’s needs and ideas being acknowledged, supported and nurtured?
Plan the experiences that will scaffold and continue to support learning and development. Plan for learning both in the short and the long term. Planning for individual and groups, routines, experiences, interactions, inside, outside etc…. encompass all situations and environments.
Put the plan into action by providing the environment that supports learning that is linked to the observations using the EYLF to guide the plan.
Critically reflect on the program, the practices, the environment. Reflect on how the child and the family have benefitted from the plan or if not why not. Evaluate what occurred- the effectiveness of learning opportunities, environments and experiences offered, the approaches taken to enable children’s learning/ wellbeing. Reflect on the EYLF learning outcomes, principles and practices linking the learning that has occurred. Identify any additional support needs should there be any,
Renae is the founder & CEO of SK who has been working with families for decades. Her educational background in Early Childhood teaching as well as Social Science and Community services has given her a broad base to her approach which focuses on balancing the informative but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read.
From working in the private setting, not for profit, as well as government agencies and at times combining her love of travel and work on a global scale, she is also a mum who has experienced the poo blowouts, the shopping tantrums and the sleepless nights.