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Our Lady's Catholic Primary School

Jesus the teacher guides our every step

Planning in the Moment

In our Reception class we follow the children’s interests daily. Our reflective practitioners work with the children in a play-based environment to ensure the best outcomes for all pupils. We do this through our “in the moment planning”.


What is planning in the moment?

Planning in the moment is all about seizing the moment for children to progress. Based on what the children are already deeply involved in, this way of planning relies on skilled practitioners using quality interactions to draw out the children’s knowledge and build on it there and then (in the moment). This means that the practitioner needs the skills to be able to see the teachable moment from the child’s perspective and be skilled enough to know when to intervene and when to stand back and observe.

Planning in the moment is all about capturing the moment of engagement and running with it to make sure the children progress. The teachable moment National Strategies document states: “It is in the moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference.”


What does the child gain from the teachable moment?

The child should feel valued, important, interesting, capable, and able to learn as well as gaining knowledge, skills, attitude and understanding, therefore making progress in one or several areas of the Early Years Curriculum.


What does the practitioner gain from the teachable moment?

They should feel valued, important, interesting, capable, and able to teach as well as gaining a sound understanding of the child’s knowledge, skills, attitude, understanding and progress. Ofsted Jane Wotherspoon HMI (quoted in an Early Years Course by Anna Ephgrave 24.01.14) states:

 “Teaching… is all those different things that you do as an adult that help young children learn… communicating, modelling language, working with children as they initiate their own play and activities, being ready to intervene on the moment, demonstrating how to do something, explaining why something is as it is, showing children something, exploring ideas with them, encouraging them, questioning them, checking what it is they are understanding, helping them to record something that they did so that they get the structure and sequence of events, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating what they are doing, setting challenges, all those sorts of things are the sorts of things we mean when we are teaching.” (Conference 9.10.13)


Planning in the moment means that Early Years practitioners should be doing all these things, all day, every day. Planning on paper with this way of working means that all written planning is retrospective (there is no forward planning). Each practitioner records what they have done to help the children progress each day on Focus Pupil Planning sheets or on the tapestry app. When planning this way, time is used at the beginning or end of each session (morning and afternoon) to give the children an opportunity to talk about what they have learnt and in most cases the teacher can use this as a whole class teaching opportunity or to consolidate knowledge.


The Early Years Framework 2014 states: “1.6. Practitioners must consider the individual needs, interests, and stage of development of each child in their care and must use this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience for each child in all of the areas of learning and development.”

Planning in the moment fully allows this to happen and encourages the children to pursue their own interests.


The Learning Environment

This way of planning means that the learning environment (both the indoor environment and outdoor environment) constantly need to be reviewed and adapted to ensure that the children’s level of involvement in their activity is constantly deep (level of involvement/well-being). The resources in each area also need to be plentiful and engaging.



All observations made of the children must be based on high quality interactions between children or children and practitioners. They must include any teaching that has taken place or progress that a child or group of children have made. All practitioners are responsible for highlighting progress in observations. Emphasis is highly placed on using ‘I wonder…’ statements i.e. ‘I wonder if…’, ‘I wonder what…’, ‘I wonder how…’. We feel that this approach to questioning is a lot less pressurising and allows the children to open up more readily.