Monday, 14 April 2014

Documenting in Home/Family Day Care Part 2 - Finding your programming style.

I must say a big thank you to all those who commented on the Part 1 blog in this series....I had no idea it would prove so helpful to so many and was therefore certainly worth the weekend it took to write for you!

This week I want to focus on finding your programming 'style' or 'rhythm' and I will also be discussing the fortnightly plan I use in more detail since I have had many requests for information on how I use the 'boxes'.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

What is a programming style?

This is just a term I made up actually (I can do that because I am an educator ;) so perfectly acceptable obviously )but seriously, I have found it useful over the years when trying to help others find their groove as they begin to document their planning.

Consider these five factors when searching around for program templates or when designing and editing your own....

1. Do you like to write a lot when you plan things ?(anything)

2. Do you write lists often? (I love lists, my twins now hand me paper for Mummy's lists!)

3. Are you an organised and methodical person or do you prefer to go day by day and see what happens?

4. Are you confident on the computer or do you prefer to work with hard copies of forms?

5. Do you feel more comfortable planning for a weekly, fortnightly or monthly program? Does your scheme have an expectation of the time frame you should work to?

6. Do you like to use apps on the go or prefer the use of pen and paper to keep notes throughout your day? Perhaps you prefer a combination of both?

7. Do you like to take lots of photos of the children engaged in play and activities throughout the day?

8. Do you seek and value parent/coordinator input within your service?

9. Do you like templates or do you prefer something more organic that can build as you progress through your week/month?

10. Do you understand how to link child observations effectively to your program plan or do you just put something because you 'have' to.

How did you go with those questions? Can you see where I am heading with this?

Everyone is different in the way that they understand and plan their program for their service. It's important to recognise this because you can have the best program template in the sector but if you don't fully understand how to use it or feel comfortable doing so then I have to be very honest with isn't going to work for you or the children in your care.

I'm not a fan of schemes that hand out templates that all educators must use for their planning. People have different strengths and levels of understanding for certain areas. What works for some may not suit others, no matter the best intentions. In my experience many educators give up on the planning side of things because they aren't sure about the process or what is expected of them with templates that are perhaps handed out with little communication about how to use them effectively.

So, think about the answers you gave to the questions above and consider the following....

If you are a methodical person who often writes lists and always plans ahead in your everyday life then you are probably going to be suited to a more structured plan, perhaps something like mine with box categories and clear areas for definition/linking and forward planning. There is more writing and planning with a program like this but that probably doesn't faze you as you prefer to have everything sorted before your week starts and doing it this way helps you to feel more in control of your week and able to deal with spontaneous events more confidently. 

If the thought of all that boxed in planning ahead makes you shudder then you need to take a different angle. You will probably prefer to start with a few focus areas and expand upon those as your week unfolds and incorporate focus activities and children's interests as they arrive. If it doesn't concern you that you can't see ahead to far into the week or plan accordingly then that is perfectly ok. There is nothing wrong with that approach as long you are able to EXPLAIN your method and how you are covering the bases.

To be really honest with you...That type of planning is  actually my worst nightmare because as you may have realised I am a bit 'Type A' in my personality and planning and organising make my day! I love a list and a box. (Yes, I am truly an exciting person!) and I always write to much (as you may have noticed!) But it is the way I make sense of things and help others to understand my vision or thoughts.

I know that most parents won't have time to read this type of program but some do and for the others I always ensure I have plenty of other methods of information and communication available to them so they can gain an understanding of the direction of their child's play and learning. You can see more of my parent communication examples here.

If you would like a blank printable version of my 'Our Day' parent communication and daily reflections form just click on the picture below.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You don't need to solely rely on your program as a method for communicating your planned activities, play and learning to parents. Too many educators (just in my own experience) seem to feel they are writing a program for parents and coordinators and get awfully deflated  and frustrated when they don't stop and take time to read all that hard work

"What's the point, it's not like parents read it anyway!" Yep, I have heard it many times and what I reply is "But that program is to benefit you and the children first and foremost and I'm pretty sure you read it and the children get to enjoy the activities and pre planning! Perhaps time to rethink who you are planning for and who you are trying to please, you might be surprised at how much simpler the process then becomes!

Hopefully now you have a bit clearer  understanding of the direction you want to take. I'm not going to go through all the different templates available, i'm sure you have already got a collection, it's a matter of figuring out what works best for you or perhaps modifying it until it does suit you. Don't just settle with something if you don't fully understand it or find it way to much work just because everyone else you know is using that one...even mine!

I know many educators have expressed interest though in how I use my program plan since I mentioned it in the part 1 article so I'm going to try to briefly (stop laughing now) describe the main areas for you and then you can decide if it really is the template for you. I don't mind you using it at all but I actually do think you will find it easier if you modify it a little bit to suit your own personality, comfort level and individual service.

You can find a blank printable version by clicking on the picture below.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

What time frame does this program cover?

I write a fortnightly program (but if my Coordinator is reading this I am maybe doing weekly ;) ) I don't mind weekly programming but for the children I have at the moment and the days that I work I find that fortnightly allows me to plan more effectively and complete the planned activities while leaving room for spontaneous and child led activities. That might change depending on the children. It's all a matter of balance. If you were using this template for weekly planning then obviously you would write less.

How do I include parent input?

I speak with parents about our activities, what's happening in their child's life at the moment, what they did on the weekend, what they loved doing today and have they done this at home too? I use my parent communication books to also inform my program. There is a box on the program template just for parent/coordinator input and I will usually fill this in at the end of the week or during the week if I feel there is something I have discussed with the parent of a general nature that can be included. I don't expect them to write in the box but they are more than welcome to!

What are the box headings for?

The headings are my way of making sure I am planning to cover all areas of the EYLF and meet outcomes without needing codes, numbers, colours or tick boxes everywhere which seriously do my head in and makes the planning process very lengthy in my opinion. Don't make work for yourself if you don't have to (like the way I think?). I have developed these headings after much reading of the eylf document and calling upon everything I have previously been taught in early childhood. I didn't see the need to throw away all that I was comfortable with, it was just a matter of finding a way to incorporate my own style together with the new expectations and wording of the eylf.

But what do the headings mean and how do they relate to the EYLF Outcomes?

Well, as usual this post has become way to long so I'm not sure I can cover all of the thinking behind my box areas. I'll try to add a few dot points under each to give you an idea but as you can see from my example one below, the areas also crossover and link well together at times for certain activities - I add arrows sometimes for my own benefit, there is no need really as coordinators or assessors will be able to see the links for themselves I'm sure!

I haven't included the detail I normally do for focus activities due to privacy reasons but I normally include the planned focus activity from my individual forward planning sheet with the date of relevant  initial observation/collage/reflection.

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Here're still there aren't you?

Intentional Teaching Opportunities

This is the section I list  a few activities that I would like to really focus on encouraging and initiating learning experiences. They are usually planned experiences and will quite often crossover with other areas but I don't always need to be involved, I might set something up and then observe the interaction and play to further extend upon later.

Children's Ideas & Interests

This box I use to write down a few activities directly related to the children's ideas and interests from the previous fortnight or sometimes during the current fortnight. These may come from direct observations, photo collages or the 'our day' reflections sent home to parents. They may be planned in advance or come up during the week and I extend from there.

Individual Focus Activities

The activities I list here are from my individual forward planning sheet and previous observations. They might also be activities that stem from things I have seen in the previous weeks but not actually formally documented.

You can get a printable version of the individual child linking form by clicking the pic below (I hope....)

Developing a template for weekly planning in a home day care service by Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Exploring Our World

I mainly include activities here that will encourage an exploration and understanding of the environment around them... food, pets, gardens, land, sustainability, recycling, natural and man made materials/environments, technology and research in these's one of my favourite boxes as there are always interesting ways to learn in this area no matter how young the child!

Inviting our Imagination In

Another area that can incorporate many different activities. It really is about anything that might encourage children to explore their imaginations. Props, invitations to play, opportunities for role play, dramatic play,communication and creative self expression. They might be indoor or outdoor activities.

Let's Get Moving

This is pretty self explanatory...any activities that get the kids moving indoors or out and more aware of their bodies and the movements they can do. It's about offering activities that challenge those gross motor skills and muscles! It might be with music & dance, games, stories or songs.

Manipulative Play

This is where I list planned activities that will encourage strengthening of fine motor muscles, problem solving, spatial awareness, you get the gist! I include puzzles, blocks, tong games, some craft and anything fine motor here.

Creative & Sensory Play

This area often overlaps with many of the other areas obviously but I still find it useful to have a separate section so I can see at a glance our crafty and sensory activities as they are the ones that often require more set up and pre planning. I quite often write the days beside them that I want to do them as this works in with the ages I have on those days currently. No need to do that, I just find it helps in my planning.

Encouraging our Identity & Independence

This is the section I include group and individual activities to encourage and promote self help skills, a feeling of belonging, pride in achievements, respect for diversity, understanding and managing of emotions, feeling part of a community,and an increasing responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. 

This area can be pretty broad so I try to just incorporate a few activities for each program.

Connecting through Communication

This is where I list activities focusing on verbal and non verbal communication, media, technology, music, singing, puppets, dramatic and social play prompts,stories,group games, language skills....basically any activity that will invite discussion and communication in some way.

Spontaneous Moments

Moments recorded and added to the plan during the week that were initiated spontaneously  by the children or myself - I try to add a few sentences about who led the activity and how it came to be.

Parent/Coordinator Input

Don't really think I need to explain this one...ask your coordinator to add a little input next time they visit and you can let parents know it is there to add to but I usually just write in a few relevant comments from discussions with parents at the end of the week.

Ok, I think you might possibly be glazing over about now and personally I'm falling asleep (programming will do that have you noticed?) so let's leave part 2 here. I hope it has been a little helpful to you .

I'd love to hear your feedback or questions below in the comments section. You can always comment under anonymous if you feel more comfortable asking questions that way.

In part 3 of this series I will be sharing some tips for understanding the outcomes and how they apply to planning, programming and your activities. Let me know if there is a particular outcome you are finding difficult to decipher.!

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Warm Wishes...

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

You know you are ready to be a home educator when.....

I think you have to be a special sort of person to work as a family day care educator...You really do have to love kids and not be especially fond of holidays, sick leave or a big income!

There are many articles on the web that will tell you what you NEED to do to become a qualified and professional home based educator but today I'm going to share with you a few things you might not have considered but I personally think are just as important. might need to smile as you read this list....and yes I am being serious, you need to know these things before you make your decision...TRUST ME ON THIS!!!

Are you ready to be a home educator?...a few funny things you might not have considered! By Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You know you are ready to be an early childhood home educator when......

  • You have superior bladder control and the pelvic floor muscles are in tip top shape because trust will never get a toilet break when you need one again. If your bladder isn't that great then get used to having your toilet break to the sounds of banging on the door and little fingers sliding underneath as they hope to snare you by the ankle.

  • You stop in at the shops quickly shops after work to pick up some essentials and then realise as you hand over the money that your hands are a lovely shade of red and green after dyeing pasta and painting with the kids that day and the checkout operator is looking at you rather weirdly and then you remember you were doing handprinting today and the kids were grabbing at your bottom....and there are probably some lovely red handprints you are displaying to everyone behind you. It's at that moment that a work shirt with a logo explaining you work with children seems like a good idea.

  • You have mastered the acquired taste of every cup of tea or coffee being lukewarm...or to be honest...cold, stone cold....but you will drink it anyway.

  • You are fine with no lunch, morning or afternoon tea breaks. No seriously, who do you think is going to come in and cover your butt while you sit and relax and munch on that sandwich you lovingly made last night 'to save time'.?

  • You are able to change what seems like your 100th pooey nappy in a day and no longer wonder how such a small child can poop so much and what parents actually  feed their kids!

  • You are able to pinpoint the exact time in the future week you will be sick after correlating the number of direct sneezes and coughs into your face as well as snot wiped on your hands and legs from children in care that 'seemed fine at home'.

  • You don't need actual adult conversation or someone who understands what you are talking about in your workplace each day because you like the sound of your own voice anyway and hey, you even crack yourself up sometimes! Hehe, see?

  • You walk into the budget friendly $2 shop for some paddle pop sticks and paper and come out with two full bags...large bags! $100 poorer but your mind is already buzzing with the activity ideas and smiles you will receive from the kids for your bright didn't need to do food shopping this week really anyway, that rainbow foam was too awesome to leave...and you NEEDED it.

  • You can justify your own children not really needing a bath that night or a nutritious dinner because frankly you are too tired and you have been looking after other people's children all day...and you don't get paid to feed your own.....they will learn to eat well at lunch times obviously ;)

  • You sit down at night finally after finishing the endless paperwork and realise you have half filled a kiddy plastic cup with wine...and can't be bothered changing it as you are too tired. Tastes the same anyway, you can only afford the cheap stuff now that you are an educator ;)

  • Late at night you find yourself in a dark, quiet corner rocking as you savour no one touching you, asking 'why?' or 'Can you wipe my bum now'...Ahhh the serenity....except now it's late, very late and you have to be up early in the morning....but the serenity pulls you's a trap that can be hard to pull yourself out of.

  • You're happy for your conversation skills to revolve around poop, wee, bottles, sleep, poop, smiles and wee even when you do get to talk to an another adult.

  • You're ok with having to constantly clean, vacumn and mop your house and pack away toys. And then listen as friends and family tell you it must be great to be able to 'stay home all day and get your housework done' Even though you barely have time to scratch yourself during a busy day. And you will tire of trying to explain that you are actually WORKING at home, you are a qualified professional and not just 'playing with kids all day'.....except when doing messy sensory play....that's a great stress reliever and a little bit fun but don't tell anyone.

  • You don't mind paperwork, and computer work and accounting and paperwork. In fact, you are so good at it you enjoy it now ;)

  • You are ok opening the door to the postie or courier dressed up with a funny hat and scarf while leading everyone on a Bear Hunt...I'm sure they've seen it before anyway....

  • And the biggest indicator of all that you are ready to become a home educator is that you don't mind coping with all of the above because you love working with children and their parents and enjoy the challenge of offering a professional and quality child care service for the most important little people in our world today.

You know you are making a difference to their childhood and it doesn't matter that perhaps this isn't recognised by others because that isn't the point. It would be nice but those smiles and hugs and breakthrough moments are too special to ignore.

You are ready....You are an educator , be proud of your role in a child's life.

Keep smiling and enjoy the laughs that will come your way! 

Warm Wishes.....

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Documenting in a Home/Family Day Care Service - Part 1 Developing your Planning Cycle.

Working as a family day care educator is a rewarding job and there are some dedicated and talented professionals in our field of work but let's be is a lot of work and government and scheme regulations and requirements are many.

There are no lunch or morning tea breaks let alone a toilet programming time while another staff member takes over the children's care, no cleaner, no gardener, few sick days or holidays. It can get overwhelming...I know, I've been there this month as I try to combine running a business and family with all the usual household tasks and the landscaping we are trying to finish.

I've learnt it's important to use your time efficiently and ensure you have systems in place that work for you. I know from visiting forums, emails through my blog and messages on my facebook page that many educators are struggling the most with the new Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and fitting in their planning and programming.

Although programming does take time and often has to be completed at night or weekends it doesn't need to take over and it certainly doesn't need to be as stressful as I am seeing many educators make it. I think in their quest to understand and ensure they are meeting all requirements, educators are often trying to do more and more to show potential assessors and scheme coordinators that they are fulfilling programming duties.

Don't fall into the trap of doing a little bit of everything to try and cover all areas which takes a long time and yet often doesn't actually achieve any of the outcomes well. But it does ensure stress!  I firmly believe quality is better than quantity when it comes to programming.

Let's step back a little and briefly explore what we as family day care educators actually need to do to ensure we are programming correctly and meeting regulations. I will give examples below of the documentation and strategies I personally use to meet those steps but please keep in mind that this is a system that works for me and won't suit everyone. I will discuss later how to find the system and documentation templates that work for you.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, think of it as an overview to use as a launch pad for extension perhaps.

The Planning Cycle - What Do I Actually Need to Do?

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Your Philosophy

Develop your own personal philosophy and ensure you understand your scheme philosophy. Keep it simple. Mine is only a few don't need to write an essay, just list a few of the methods, beliefs and passions that are important to you as a professional working with children in your home and that also reflect the core elements and wording of the EYLF. Refer to it often when programming.

Your Planning

Decide on a program template that suits how you work and understand things. Don't try to copy one you don't fully understand or that takes you hours to complete. Draw up a few drafts to get something you can work with comfortably. I went through about 5 different templates before I settled on the one below.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I needed to try them out and see how it all came together before I was happy to move forward confidently. Keep in mind that you are not just doing all this work just for a CDO, assessor or parent to see. Most won't have time to read them at great length but you will!

I do a program for my own benefit first and foremost so it needs to work for me as well as to show how I am meeting regulations and EYLF outcomes. Don't fall into the time consuming trap of writing a fancy program for others that doesn't actually make sense to you. Don't feel you need to link every single one of your activities to an will be obvious to those who need to know and if you have a thorough understanding of the EYLF you won't need to be continuously writing links to outcomes down.

On the template below you can see that I prefer the old style box method of planning. It's how I was first taught many years ago and it is how I am most comfortable. You don't need to throw away all that you have previously used or learnt just because the EYLF is new to you...what you need to do is modify. 

After reading through the EYLF document I devised area headings for each box that directly relate to outcomes and the I know that if I have all of those areas filled in I am covering all outcomes.I don't need to add links. Some weeks the program will focus a little more on some areas than others but this is ok. It depends on the children's emerging interests and our current learning focus and it is the ongoing learning that is important to show across all of your programming.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I display the first 2 pages for parents on my noticeboard and the third page has space for me to reflect on the week's activities briefly...what worked, what didn't, moments that stood out, activities I could extend on and ideas for next week's planning. This reflection takes me 10 minutes and also provides a clear link to the next program.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You don't need colour coding, tricky symbols and complicated linking systems to demonstrate your planning for individual children and groups is focused on the 5 learning outcomes. Your activities will do that, your environment will do that, you parent communication and your individual child records and documentation will do that. But you do need to read the EYLF and think about the activities and environment you plan and present to the children.

You need to show spontaneous activities that have occurred during the week, intentional teaching opportunities, space for parent feedback or questions, some activities that have developed from the children's interests (things that you noticed last week), and individual focus activities (from your observations and analysis - see below). How you do this is up to you. I'm not going to go through all the different methods as i'm sure you have explored most of  them already at length! But remember to find or develop a template that works for you.

Decide whether it is a weekly, fortnightly or monthly program and don't be afraid to go back and re edit areas that might not be working for you. I'm a writer so I find it easy to fill in the form I have devised. I tend to write more than I need to but it makes sense to me and only takes me around 15 minutes and then another 10 minutes to do the reflection and forward planning.

Observing and Recording

Again work out what suits you and how you work rather than what you have seen others doing. I take a lot of digital camera photos and find them a wonderful prompt when I get the time to sit and reflect on individual and group learning, interests and achievements. The idea of individual records is so that you can identify and note strengths, interests and goals. There are many ways of doing this including...

Formal Observations
Learning Stories
Photo Collages showing the process of an activity, interest or strength with or without text
Portfolios containing information about each child's personality, interests, needs, artwork and activity examples, documentation of learning and progress achieved.
Mind maps
And many, many others!

What is important to know is that you don't HAVE to do any of those things listed above.

It is not a requirement, there is no regulation that states you need to use these documentation formats and if you do with what frequency. Yes you read that right I promise!

What you do need to demonstrate is written evidence of a planning cycle which can show you are observing, noticing, recording, planning and evaluating. There also needs to be written evidence of children’s progress towards the Learning Outcomes. But once you have your own system in place it's not as time consuming as it seems.

If you have been in early childhood for a while you will have learnt to observe and evaluate according to children's developmental stages and progress. This can still be important but the EYLF asks us to consider the child's strengths and what they can currently do rather than their deficits which I find so much easier!

Once you identify a strength or skill that is of particular interest to the child or you as an educator you can then plan to extend or challenge this strength through your planned activities rather than noting what they can't do according to developmental checklists (as in previous years) and plan to 'improve' their skill or developmental level which could often be rather limiting to both the child and educator.

I have heard some educators express concern that we are no longer focusing on developmental stages and something 'might be missed' but all educators should still have a good working knowledge of developmental milestones and early childhood development and stages so this will also continue to inform your practise. Just in a different form.

I personally don't have time to be constantly taking notes, I prefer to be fully engaged with the children and take lots of photos of special moments and general play. I use photos later when I have child free time to really reflect and as the basis for my parent communication, my observations of their learning, my critical reflections, my forward planning and as a way to bring my cycle together. You can see some examples of how I use them in my planning below.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

My advice would be not to get caught up in what you 'have' to show, not to get down about the time it takes you away from the children and play, not to overthink the process. Just do what you can manage in a way that makes sense to you. Sometimes I don't get to my observations until the weekend but a quick scroll through photos or the daily communication forms I write for parents prompts me to remember something I wanted to acknowledge and extend upon.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Remember to take into account how often a child attends your service and their current needs. I know you already know the children in your care well and if I asked you what they are currently interested in, doing well, having some trouble with or asking questions about I know you could tell me so let that be an indicator of what you can record.

You don't need to be constantly writing and assessing or plastering sticky notes everywhere no matter what people might tell you! You just need to be looking and documenting when something really stands out to you over a period of time. The reason for observing and documenting regularly is to ensure no one child is being overlooked so don't go overboard with the frequency . Don't write an observation just because you as the educator need one for this month. It's a waste of your time and the child's. If you feel your scheme has this expectation of you then question it from an informed position, understand why you are doing them and explain your process.

Use what you see each day and already know to inform your documentation and grow from there.

Be able to explain your system and the reasoning behind it to others.

Analysis, Reflection and Evaluation

I need to see things clearly set out to be able to make sense of a planning cycle. I don't like to clutter my program or my individual and group observation forms with lots of links and reflections so I devised a separate form to tie my observations and planning template together. I keep it in my programming folder until completed for that child and then slip it into their personal file folder. This might seem like too much work to you but it's how I need to document to allow my system to be efficient, useful, show clear links, critical reflection and above all not waste my time.

Ok...stay with me friends...So you have a planning template you are filling out weekly, fortnightly or monthly, you have decided on a method or two (or 3 or 4, whatever works for you) for documenting individual and group you need to show how your individual and group observations inform your forward planning. This is where your reflection and evaluation comes in.

I use the form below to tie everything together easily. I simply tick the observation format I have used in the left column which might also include the daily reflections I send home for parents as they always include the children's voices and moments of importance and learning. I then write a brief  analysis of the learning evident from this observation and then add a few ideas to extend on this skill, learning or new interest. Pretty simple really and doesn't take much time.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I then write in a date I plan to add this activity to my program template (and add this to the child focus box on my plan with a link to the obs date) and later come back and reflect on the planned activity briefly. This might not happen straight away but it does happen eventually!

 I then file into my children's learning record folder which contain photos of their artwork, observations of learning, special moments captured through photo collages and any input from families. They aren't a pretty, fancy scrapbook I need to keep updating - They just get the completed forms and photo collages from the documentation listed above. They require little extra work other than adding to a plastic sleeve!

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Environment and Evidence

I don't have lots of little boxes that tell everyone I am linking to certain outcomes. I have a wide variety of planned and spontaneous activities occurring in my program, I have an environment indoors and outdoors that reflects children's current interests and developmental levels, I have a comprehensive parent communication system in place which offers opportunities for parent feedback and program input, displays of children's artwork and photos of past and present activities, evidence of welcoming children and helping them to belong when they attend my service.

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Documentation strategies using the EYLF for home/family day care services . Find more at  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I offer activities each day that I know will promote learning for each particular group but I also plan additional activities, intentional teaching opportunities and interactions that form the basis for individual development and learning.

My documentation merely helps me plan activities for learning efficiently and effectively and helps to demonstrate over time the children's ongoing learning while in my care.

What I'm trying to say is your environment, everyday planning, parent communication, health and hygiene practises and interactions with the children are just as important in the context of evidence as your planning cycle and documentation are so if you are getting stressed about the planning, work on your other areas first and gradually tie it all together in a way that suits you and the children..not an assessor or coordinator.

This article has been huge I know so well done if you stuck with me to the end! In part 2 of this series I will discuss finding your own style and rhythm with developing your templates and in part 3 I will discuss some strategies for understanding the EYLF outcomes and how they can easily inform your planned and spontaneous activities and learning.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you have any questions at all please leave them in the comments section below or on my FB page and I will try to answer as best I can. I am definitely not an expert!

Please remember that this is just my interpretation of planning, programming and documentation as a home/family day care educator, what works for me may not for you or your scheme may have more specific requirements of you. Hopefully you will feel more confident to ask for clarification or support if you don't understand their expectations though!

I have worked as a FDC Coordinator and child care centre Group Leader and Director so I have experienced all sides of the planning spectrum, requirements and associated meltdowns!. What I can tell you for sure is that I have been on visits with assessors and what they will look at first and foremost is your interactions and activities with the children, parent communication methods, the materials and resources you have in your environment, evidence of a strong commitment to outdoor play and sustainability, photos of previous play and learning activities and a clear planning cycle that works well for you and shows a pattern of children's ongoing learning. Not pretty portfolios, reams of scribbled notes, fancy charts, colour coded programs and lots of ticked boxes.

Take the stress off your shoulders and get back to doing what you do best....helping children in your care to Belong, Be and Become!

What do you find most difficult about planning and programming?

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Warm Wishes

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