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 you...it 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 goes...you'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 areas...it'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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17 comments:

  1. Wow, AGAIN, thank you!! Taking my time, sucking it all in, downloaded your templates to have a play with them & see where/what I'd like to change to fit into our FDC home. Looking forward to your future blogs - What a woman you are!! Gee I hope I can get my head around all this, because I DO LOVE my job, but these days it seems more like my life than my job - not good for me, my family or my day care families ;)

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    1. Im with you Bec I love my job and the kids I work with but its consuming every spare moment I have and I have a good program etc. doesn't help that I also do my husbands paperwork etc for his business too.

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    2. I'm so glad the blog posts are proving helpful for you Beth! That's the best idea, have a play and find what works for you. I'm going to be sharing some routine and time management blogs soon that could help. It can be overwhelming, don't let it take you over, happy to help if you need further support with the programming. You can contact me via email or my FB page messages :) Thanks so much for reading.

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    3. I can't imagine having to do another business paperwork on top of FDC anonymous! That's a big job!

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  2. Wow, ive done fdc for nearly a year and before my two little ones I fid my diploma and worked in centres.
    Having time off to have my 3 yr old and 20 minth old was right when the eylf come in. Ive been so confused but wow your blog helps alot :-)

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    1. I'm so glad to hear the blog is helping. I came back to child care after a huge break away so I have had to get my head around it too and I know how time consuming it can be so that's why I thought I would share with others what I have learnt :)

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  3. So many great ideas and such awesome info... pinning this because I'm going to need all the help I can get if/when I go back to teaching!

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    1. Thanks for pinning Kate...and you won't need any help at all ;)!!

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  4. Hi Jodie, I have just recently discovered your blog and I am in love. Just one question. How/where do you display your plan with so many pages?

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    1. Hi Kerry, so glad to have you here :) I display the first 2 pages on my noticeboard and the third I keep in my planning folder for my own records. Hope that helps!

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  5. This is an amazing site . I am a Coordinator of a FDC service and am using many of your methods to help my educators. SO... thank you thank you thank you! for being brave enough to share your ups and downs so others can learn along with you.

    Louise

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    1. Thanks so much Louise, your comment is why I am trying to share here on the blog. I love that i can help support others and I love that you are such a committed coordinator. I definitely have a lot of downs as well as ups and think it is important to share them all! Do let me know if you have any ideas for future FDC topics :)

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  6. I love the way you write, it really appeals to my sense of humour!! Thankyou for your informative blog and ideas. Adaption is the key!! Thanks again Jodie.
    Katrina

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    1. Adaptation is so the key Katrina! And thank you so much for your comment...I think I would go a little nuts without a sense of humour!!

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  7. Thank you for sharing, will be sharing with my staff to ease the documenting process! :)

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  8. Thank you so much! I am an educator at a centre and am starting to get organised ready to open my own FDC in January. Your blog is amazing, a great insight into FDC life.

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  9. Nicki Grannells19 June 2014 01:57

    Looks awesome but still seems like so much paperwork - even if it's not all on paper! I don't know how people come up with so many ideas for their plan. Do you do it all after hours or do you get some time during the day for it? I don't get much during the day and I have no inclination to do paperwork after hours - but I have to do some!

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