Techniques for Planning from The CATS.
There is no one correct way to plan for your program. Chances are that you’re doing some sort of planning already. Although most of the time when people talk about “planning” they’re referring to curriculum or children’s learning activities, you also have to plan and serve meals and snacks, help children with personal tasks including potty training and handwashing, and have a routine in place so that children know what to expect during the day. If you don’t have at least that much of a “plan” in place, you may be experiencing periods of chaos throughout the day and are wondering why things are so out of control. Young children thrive on routine and planning helps to ensure that.
We’ve talked about why planning is important so let’s think about Tip Number 5 from that list. Planning makes your work easier. You plan what you’ll be serving for lunch and snack most days, even if you need to make small changes occasionally. You may have discovered how difficult lunch time can be without having at least some idea what you’ll be serving. When you work with mixed ages of children you know that the infants and toddlers might not be able to wait as long as the preschoolers can, and will need something to “tide them over” until lunch is ready. It makes your day run more smoothly when you know that you have the ingredients you need and possibly even have them ready ahead of time. Even if you discover that you don’t have the exact vegetables you wanted to serve, if you’ve planned and shopped according to a plan you can easily make substitutions. It just makes things go more smoothly for everyone.
Curriculum and children’s learning activity planning is very similar. When you have planned in advance for a particular activity you have the materials ready so that children don’t have to wait – they’re ready to engage immediately. If you know that part of what you want to do with the children requires them to cut or tear then you’ll have the appropriate materials ready and waiting. If you know that something the children will be making as a gift for their parents needs time to dry, you know when you need to have the project finished. When you plan your daily activities you are better able to manage so that both you and the children have what you need to do the activity or project successfully.
Imagine that you’ve decided one of your outdoor activities will be a hopscotch game. When you have this in mind before you go outside, you can be prepared with the sidewalk chalk and perhaps even a diagram of the hopscotch board so that children can be involved from the beginning. Of course, the children might play hopscotch on other days, but when it’s intentionally included everything can be ready ahead of time. You can spend time observing which children can actually hop, which ones are still challenged by the skill, and which ones aren’t able to hop at all yet. Not only has this deliberate planning given the children an activity they enjoy, it’s allowed you to measure their competence with a developmental skill. It’s helped you collect information about children’s abilities that will help you plan other activities for them.
Planning really does make it easier to do your job every day.