Let’s Explore: In the Moment Planning

Introducing: In-the-Moment Planning

There have been many discussions concerning workload for those working in the early years and the relevance and requirement for so much written content.

Studies and reports have shown that increased paperwork detracts childcare practitioners from interacting closely with children. This impact is that practitioners spend less time engaging, nurturing, and supporting children’s learning and development.

Following the changes to the Ofsted Inspection Framework Guidance (2019) and the Early Years Framework, there seems no better time to change the way we do things here at Tommies Childcare.

We want to explain to parents who access our nurseries and other childcare workers how we will reduce paperwork for our staff, provide them with more time, and inspire learning with the children in our care. To do this, we use what is referred to as “In-the-Moment Planning”.

What is In-the-Moment Planning

Usually, parents are rarely involved in the planning or delivery of activities and learning that take place at their child’s nursery.

But imagine how enriched children’s experiences could be if their first educators were actively involved at a nursery level.

‘In-the-Moment’ planning has been around for some time now, and the theory and ideas behind it are in keeping with how we support our children’s development at home; by being led by them and their interests.

Responsive parents and skilled practitioners use In-the-Moment planning daily without realising it. Tuning into children’s learning by observing, listening,
assessing and planning how to respond has always been a fundamental part of our role as practitioners.

Our nurseries have adopted an ‘In-the-Moment’ approach to observation, assessment and planning. By doing this, we believe we will be providing outstanding experiences to young children, as well as reducing heavy workloads for our staff.

Children are born curious. They have an insatiable interest in learning and absorbing the world around them. Our aim by utilising an In-the-Moment planning approach is to truly embrace children’s natural curiosity, follow their lead, and place them at the heart of everything we do.

How Does In-the-Moment Planning Work in Practice?

Children’s interests and focuses change almost daily, so waiting until the following day or week to create an activity based on a new interest is too late.

Additionally, written observations add heavily to the workload and aren’t always relevant to what is happening in practice.

With this in mind, In-the-Moment planning will mean that children will be observed and supported with their next steps and new interests at that very moment. Children will be selected as ‘Focus’ children, and during that week at the nursery, staff will record and share these experiences with you. When your child isn’t a ‘focus’ child, they will still have access to the same level of provision and be supported in their development. However, this won’t be recorded formally or shared with you as an observation.

There will be no documented planning, as practitioners will respond to children’s learning ‘In-the-Moment’.

Combining ParentZone with In-the-Moment Planning


There are two types of observations which will form part of the In-the-Moment approach:

1) Focus Week

Each week, each Wednesday, each room/age group will choose a group of children who will be part of a ‘focus group’ for the coming week.

Once the children have been selected, their parents will see an information request on ParentZone.

The request is designed to find out from parents what areas of interest, special celebrations, or milestone moments that may be happening in their child’s life outside of the nursery. Parents must ensure that all information is submitted to the nursery through ParentZone by the following Friday.

The request isn’t mandatory, though; the child would continue to be part of the focus group for the coming week. Therefore, the request on ParentZone will look like this:

“Next week, there will be a special focus on Harry! We will be observing them whilst they play, find out more about their interests, and watch how they are progressing. To support this, we ask that you take some photos (maximum of 15) of things that they have enjoyed doing outside of the nursery.

“We value the knowledge and understand that you have of your child, and would appreciate it if you would share this with us so that together we can plan activities to meet your child’s needs.

“Is there anything special happening in your child’s life at the moment? For example, trips, new pets, holidays, family celebrations, etc.? Is there anything that you would like to tell us about your child? Do you have anything that you would like to ask us about your child’s development at the nursery?”

(Please note: Whilst staff will be observing the children in the ‘Focus Group’ more closely, all other children will be interacted with as they usually would.)

2) ‘WOW’ Moments

‘WOW,’ moments are essential to children’s learning and development and should be recorded to celebrate their achievements.

WOW, moments can be defined as when children do something independently for the first time or have had a new experience.

These moments will be photographed and accompanied by a short observation published on ParentZone.

Other Changes to Note

Annual Assessments

Children will be assessed in-depth, and a formal written report of your child’s progress will be sent to you once a year. In addition, you will receive 3 further assessments outlining your child’s progress. However, this will be graded only. Any concerns relating to children’s development will, of course, be discussed with parents in detail ahead of assessments being published.

Daily Feedback

All children will continue receiving daily feedback via ParentZone on any day they attend their nursery. Daily feedback will include a selection of photographs and may feature a brief description of their day. Sleep, nappy checks, and meals will also be published to ParentZone. 

If you want to know more about In the Moment planning or have any queries, then get in touch.

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