Planning in the eyfs

The EYFS has changed… but has this changed your own personal planning?

Are you continuing with what you know or seizing the opportunity to try something a bit different.

Where do I start?

For me, planning always starts with the learning environment. The continuous provision… thinking about what is always available to engage the children and extend it without the presence of the adult (If you want to read a little more about CP then check out my blog from back in August about CP and Enhancements).

When your planning in the EYFS, there is so many approaches and ways of tackling it, from in the moment to a more structured adult led approach and of course mixes of approaches (that’s me- a little bit of this, a sprinkle of that and… BAM! EYFS learning!) But most of these approaches (bar the very structured classrooms which are becoming fewer and fewer) have some sort of continuous provision in place. But planning for CP can be hard- here’s my 5 points to consider…

This can be a big task- but it’s one worth doing.

My CP plans include all of these key thoughts- plus they’re totally editable so if you want to change them to work better for you- go for it! It’s all about what works best in your setting.

Curriculum Mapping

This is where different methods of planning in the EYFS tend to begin to branch out… some prefer a completely child led approach and may not map out any curriculum skills at all, doing it retrospectively. However, that doesn’t work for me (and I know if you’re a school setting it’s usually an expectation to have some sort of curriculum map in Autumn Term 1- ready for the all important school website).

Circular Model

Curriculum mapping takes many forms, for more fluid settings, who are using a child led approach and simply want an overview of the knowledge and skills a cyclical and building block map works well. You’ve probably seen me talk about them before! The prime areas of learning are laid out in a cycle which works inwards towards the end of year goals and allows you to see how your provision “spirals in” and how you can ensure progression. The specific areas are laid out in learning building blocks- chunks of learning that build on one another to achieve end of year goals.

The two below are both available to purchase and are designed for children in Reception:

And Nursery:

Both versions are based on the Department for Education’s Development Matters document, which can be used to help settings design and mould their individual learning experiences.

Linear Model

For those settings working on themes or, my preference, enquiry questions then a traditional linear map can be helpful too. It maps out the key themes or questions, key texts and then learning for each area. For me (and many other teachers I know!) it works. It allows you to see progression- build on previous learning and be on top of where you are going for the year. It is particularly effective if you have mixed age classes as it ensures that learning is built on and not repeated!

Check out the learning packs page of the website and search for “Curriculum Map” and you’ll see circular and linear models.

Medium Term Planning

It’s the start of the spring term:

  • Your environment is ready and planned out
  • Your curriculum map shows you your theme/ enquiry question
  • You know what the building blocks of learning look like for progression from last term (even following the gin induced haze of the works night out!)
Planning in the longer term in the EYFS
What’s next?

Medium Term Plans when Planning in the EYFS

This is where the MTP comes into action. A plan which shows what the learning experiences you will provide will look like this term. What is the breakdown of knowledge and skills? Is there a balance of adult initiated learning alongside child led? What are the focus tasks? What might you add into your provision to engage children and develop their understanding.

For many years, I used a traditional MTP, it included all areas of learning. It mapped them out to exactly what I would do each week in each area. It demonstrated the adult input and the environment enhancements for each session. We were all exhausted! We hardly ever got the whole thing completed! It took us away from the children’s real learning! So I started trying something new…

The shortened MTP!

The first version- which is what many of my fellow teachers like to use now still works. It had the key learning intentions and a focus task linked to each area for if it should be needed. It also showed the key texts and vocabulary. I liked it- but I wanted to make it even better!

Then I had a brainwave- our learning intentions were about enquiry. Even when there was an underlying theme, I wanted children to lead the learning, I wanted it to be based on their interests- so I designed something new!

This is a free short version of the plan based on Seasonal Change- have a look and see if it’s for you!

This plan maps out the knowledge and skills for each area in a progressive grid, provides some ideas for focus tasks (if needed), includes key vocabulary, demonstrates further enquiry questions and shows how the provision can be enhanced throughout the learning. I have now been using these plans myself for 12 months… they have been so beneficial to me, and the other staff planning in the EYFS. Furthermore they have supported my conversations with other subject leaders who can see exactly where their subject fits. The other great thing is you can adapt the knowledge and skills continuum dependent on your cohort and to fit in with the needs of mixed age classes.

What’s available to support medium term planning in the EYFS?

As you know I have lots of enquiry based MTPs available on the site including:

  • Who am I?
  • Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Lion?
  • Celebrations
  • Light and Dark
  • Seasonal Change (free sample)
  • And there’s more coming- let me know what you want to see and I’ll do my best to deliver

Making it work for you!

As with everything planning based you need to make it work for you… we want to lighten teachers’ workload and free them up to be spending time doing what they should be doing- interacting with the children. The changes to the EYFS statutory framework 2021 caused wide spread panic with all EYFS providers (in and out of school settings) believing they needed a written document. Ofsted, 2021, has clarified this saying “it is for schools to decide how they talk about their curriculums with inspectors” (read the full article here).

For me… I need the written documents. There is (rightly or wrongly) often a school expectation for providing the written curriculum map. And honestly… my memory is shocking at the best of times! I need the structure to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum. It doesn’t take away from the child initiated learning in my classroom, it enhances it with further enquiry.

You do you!

I hope this helps you see how I map out the curriculum in the long and medium term. But as always the message is the same… you do you! Do what works for you, your staff, your setting and most importantly your children!

Coming soon is a blog post on short term planning of focus tasks, enhancements and using planning banks.

Any questions, as always- ask,

Emma x