The Federation Approach to Learning
Action in the Moment
We believe in making every moment count, in children ‘gently’ learning to appreciate the ‘magic’ of the natural world. We recognise that every child is unique, every moment is precious, and every day is different.
Our pedagogy has been influenced greatly by the innovative and inspiring Reggio Emilia approach. We value our children as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. We appreciate that every child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.
As ‘Educators’ we make a conscious decision to offer our children daily opportunities to encounter many different types of materials, many expressive languages, many points of view, working actively with hands, minds and emotions, in a context that values the expressiveness and creativity of each child in the group. We do this through our ‘actions in the moment’.
‘Action In the Moment’ – Our Approach to Planning
During their earliest years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, and adventurous learners throughout their lives. We value process over outcome (an end product) - in other words how children learn rather than what they learn.
The EYFS explicitly states that “Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care.” Child-led learning is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways of doing that, while in the moment planning is one of the most effective ways to introduce child-led learning.
We believe that spending time interacting with our children is the most important thing we do. We have a responsibility to ensure that every child is given the focus of our interactions and not our paperwork so have developed a unique way of planning which cuts down on paperwork, leaving us more time to work with the children.
Watching, Waiting and Wondering
Our ‘Educators’ begin by noticing and listening; we are watching; watching to see what they do; watching to see what is happening. During this time, we are noticing the characteristics of effective learning that the children are demonstrating and waiting to decide whether our interaction is needed or necessary. Finally, when we have decided on our response we may begin our wondering. We want our children to be excited and to be fascinated to see the ‘extraordinary’ within the ‘ordinary’.
Adult interactions are therefore incredibly important to us and may take the form of adults;
Observing, modelling language, learning and behaviour, suggesting, supporting, explaining, praising, showing, exploring ideas, encouraging, wondering, questioning, recalling and reminding, commenting, providing a narrative, facilitating and setting challenge.
Planning – ‘Actions in the Moment’
‘Key Worker Books’
We are observing all the time so that we know and understand where each child is within their learning and development and thinking about where they need to go next.
Each of our Key workers has their own ‘Key Worker Book’. To this they add ongoing observations and evidence with a focus on the characteristics of effective learning;
These profiles reflect the child’s journey over that term; their progress. We document and celebrate their unique achievements. We encourage all the adults within our setting to contribute to this profile and include specific areas for development as well as suggest further opportunities to reinforce skills. Parents and carers are encouraged to contribute to this through sharing their child's learning from home or with their other care provider. We hold regular progress meetings with parents and carers to talk about their child's learning and how this can be supported outside nursery.
Our ‘Children’s Book’ is a simple and effective way to show that we value a child’s/children’s interests. We look beyond the ‘obvious’ and see the real interest that is being displayed for example It’s difficult to extend an interest as superficial as ‘football’. But moving things around, propelling objects, or throwing and catching? That’s something we can work to extend and expand into the different bands of the EYFS.
The ‘Children’s Book’ provides an opportunity for parents and carers to see what learning has taken place and encourages children to revisit learning to reflect upon their activity. It also provides the adult with an opportunity to extend and expand this learning for other children when its shared by our Educator during the session or at the beginning of the session during our Gathering time. It is also a perfect opportunity to reinforce positive and friendly behaviours that we wish to encourage.
Our environment forms part of our core provision and is designed to be engaging and stimulating so that children can approach things themselves and so that it allows children to take the lead within their learning. We value space and natural, open ended materials. These allow children to engage with the environment and resources in a wide variety of ways giving opportunity for children to be creative, to be thinkers, to be explorers, to be resourceful and independent. Each Key worker is responsible for an area on a termly basis and it is their role to make sure that they have an environment that works for the children. They are constantly reviewing their area to see how it is engaging the children, considering their changing interests and how the environment has impacted upon this.
Sometimes the planning may develop as the result of one child’s interests or of a group which the Key worker notes in the planning book. Our ‘Educators’ use their knowledge of child development, sustained shared thinking and schemas to help them to find a child’s interests more precisely.
Next the key worker documents the ‘Educator’s’ response, their action in the moment. This action is central to the planning process and having the confidence and ability to think on their feet, answer the right questions, and come up with suggestions is essential. Sometimes the action may be to just continue to observe, sometimes it may involve some modelling of language, learning and behaviour. On other occasions the ‘Educator’ may be explaining, such as ‘a reason for a rule’.
Letting the child lead their learning is crucial in planning for the next steps for the child/ren. At this point our key workers are thinking about the ‘teachable’ moments that can follow and how they can create more opportunities for making progress in one or several areas of the EYFS.