Planning in the early years is such a vital component of any program but it can have many different meanings and interpretations. Preplanned experiences, planning in the moment, program planning are all common ways of preparing engaging learning experiences for children.. We use the Environment as the Third Teacher, planning the physical environment with the materials is extremely important and how those materials can impact play. But what about planning for the different types of interactions that will occur. Between the child and materials, amongst the children, and between child and adult How is this possible?
We may not be able to know exactly what will happen, but examining our observations of children's play over time and using them to self-reflect on our practice we can make some predictions as to what may potentially happen. As well as combining these observations with our theoretical knowledge on how children play, such as schemas, social development, and physical development our planning of the potential interactions becomes more predictable. For example, a common observation is transferring of items out of the sensory bin. Tom Bedard shared his experience with this, and its a perfect example of planning for YES! He observed that the children wanted to transport the sensory fillers out of the table, so to follow their lead and encourage their ideas he simply began to place a large pail next to the sensory table for the children to transport their filled scoops and containers.
Why Plan for Yes?
There are many different reasons to plan for yes:
When I really started to plan for yes in my own practice and program, I felt a calmness and ease occur within me on a regular basis. Thinking of the potential issues that may arise, such as messes and cleanup, transporting items, adding new items, dumping, etc. allows you to be prepared and encourage their ideas in ways that work for your program. When I prepared a messy play experience, I had extra towels on had, opened the door to the bathroom so the children didn't have too, and planned for the experience to be located close to washing facilities. I also preplanned by having a messy play policy and we went over this when families were registering for my program. This allowed me to be highly engaged if invited, could document what occurred easily, and I could follow their lead with ease.
Plan for Yes - In The Moment
How to Plan for Yes!
There are a couple key strategies I recommend to plan for yes:
In the book, Brining Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman the French paediatrician in the book makes a great comment, "Children need very distinct boundaries, but lots of freedom within those boundaries." This statement has impacted me greatly as an Early Childhood Educator and a parent. If my boundaries are strict and closed-minded then imagine what that will do to a child's play and development. The more we open our boundaries and challenge ourselves the children will have the freedom to explore their ideas and theories that they are naturally creating. Noticing how it makes me feel when I am uncomfortable with the moment helps me relate and understand what the child is also feeling but might not be able to communicate or understand why then can't explore their own idea. That can be so limiting and impacting on a child's willingness to try new ideas or even express them if consistently not "allowed" too. I see our role as Educators is really as a facilitator, to observe, listen, adapt, and learn alongside the children. I found that when I really embraced planning for yes, I loved my job and role even more. I wasn't afraid to embrace mess or go off on a different path. The children LOVED this, and I could see it in their play, social interactions, independent skills, problem solving, and self-regulation.
Although Preschool Clues discuss screen time and how to choose and identify quality programming for your child, the whole book is tied to child development and Angela Santomero does an eloquent job of explaining how children play, learn, think, develop and grow as individuals. I highly recommend all three of these books!
I am an Early Childhood Consultant and very passionate about supporting and inspiring my fellow Educators. I will share my reflections and experiences about implementing my philosophy, views, and ideas into my practice.