Adult Directed verses Child Initiated

abc doesChild Initiated Learning, Continuous Provision, Planning and Assessment51 Comments

The Early Years guidance is very clear that there needs to be a good mix of adult directed teaching and child initiated learning in your setting. What it is not very clear on is how much of each there should be.

The reason for that is there is no real definitive answer, as with a great deal of Early Years practice it depends on a range of other factors.

Before you even begin to discuss percentages and ratios, the first thing you need to do is to define what you mean and understand by the terms 'adult directed' and 'child initiated'. I often find that these definitions can be tricky to clarify within a team and that practitioners individual interpretations can differ considerably.


The next thing I would do would be to work out how you think your direct teaching is going to work because that is the easier bit.

Is it going to be every day? If so, how many times?

Are you going to teach whole class or group by ability?

Which members of the team will be planning and which will be delivering?

If you are following a programme like Letters and Sounds or Read, Write Inc. how are you going to fit those in?

So, you might decide that you are going to have 3 sessions of direct teaching each day. Theses will be at the beginning or the end of a session as you don't want to compromise the children's opportunities for sustained shared thinking, exploration and deep level learning.

Great. That is that sorted! Problem is what do you do when the children leave you after the direct teach?

Well you have a couple of options. Once you have finished the input then you will say 'red group you stay with me and the rest of you…go and get busy!' Shame for red group having to do more 'work' while everyone else gets to go and 'play'. Still I am sure that they will give you maximum engagement, after all who wouldn't rather count multi link as opposed to play in the water?!

Once 'red group' have finished, you have the eternal dilemma of what you do next. Most people opt for developing  a common condition known as 'tambourine elbow'. Common in Early Years practitioners and members of the Salvation Army. It occurs from excessive shaking of the tambourine!


So, red group have finished and while their seats are still warm you reach for the tambourine and shake it. Everything (well, nearly everything) stops. All the creativity, all of the sustained shared thinking, problem solving, deep level learning, imaginative play, everything! You then proceed with the 'I am looking for blue group mantra'. Now depending on the genetic make up of blue group, this could take some time.

After 5 minutes you have managed to coral 4 of the 6 children, but 2 are still AWOL. Outside on the bikes or making guns. Telling them that if they don't come in now they will never go out again, probably does nothing for their levels of engagement – but at least you have managed to rally blue group, safe in the knowledge that in approximately 15 minutes the tambourine will come out again and the herding of green group will begin!


I don't think anyone would argue against the fact that there needs to be some direct teaching in Early Years. Maybe with my idealist head on I would argue that every aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage can be taught through quality play based learning, but with my realist head on I know that in the majority of settings that type of learning just isn't practical and nor does that style of learning fit in with the way most settings operate.

My issue with grouping children for Literacy, Mathematics and then 'topic', is that the groups are too broad. At this stage of children's development they can excel and need support with different aspects of the same subject area. So I might be a brilliant talker but not such an adept mark maker yet I will be in the same Literacy group for both. I might be fantastic at shape but not so great with numbers but I will be in the same mathematics group for both.


I know what some of you are thinking…How could you possibly have a different group for each aspect of each subject area that you teach? The answer for me is…don't have groups.

When I say  don't group your children, what I mean is that you would group them in the aspect of the subject that you were planning to teach. Then (and this is the good bit) you take the next steps to the children not bring the children to you.

So… You might do a direct phonics, literacy and mathematics teaching session every day.

You would always place these at the beginning or end of a continuous provision session. You might ability group the children or teach them whole class.

At the end of this direct teaching session your children all go into Continuous Provision.

WARNING – When I say Continuous Provision I of course mean provision that is linked to assessment, leveled and dressed for attainment. NOT just places to play.


When the children are in CP the adults will go into that play not only to look for opportunities for assessment and observation, support children's play and discovery but also to teach, delivering an objective that had been identified by assessment as a need and has then been broken down into next steps  for each ability group.

This Objective Led planning might be linked to the direct teaching sessions or it might be linked to any other aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage that your assessment and observation has identified as a need.

This planning for adults in CP would last for a week.

During that week the adult (or adults) responsible for that objective would try to deliver it to all of the children at least once through play

They would probably not have a planned activity that they took around the setting. Instead they would look for opportunities to to deliver the next steps objectives through what was engaging the children most.


If a child you were working with didn't understand or achieve the objective then you could revisit  it  a number of times in a number of different areas across the week.

By the same token if a child clearly showed that they  were beyond the objective that you had set for them then you could revise that objective and deliver it to them again in a different play situation.

How do you plan for it?

For your direct teaching sessions you would differentiate your objective over 3 broad levels or more and direct your questioning to children based on their ability level.

For Objective Led planning you decide on which aspect of a subject you were going to focus on. It could be calculations, talk, upper body movement, pencil grip, ability to independently access the painting area. Anything that has been identified by assessment, observation or curriculum coverage as a need.

First you group your children by their ability within this aspect. 

Next, on your planning sheet, you make a statement of current attainment under each group of children. This is an important stage in the planning process because it crystallises your thoughts about what you think these children are capable ot and how you know it. It also lets the whole team know what you are thinking

Then you make a 'next steps' statement of attainment for each group. This is what you are going to take with you into the play and deliver.

If you go into play and you find a group of children of mixed ability, there is no need to syphon them off by their ability level, you just differentiate what you ask them guided by your 'next steps' statements on your planning sheet.

I have found that any more than 3 objectives led planning sheets  in any one setting becomes hard to manage and track. In larger settings adults often double up on one ojective and just present it in different ways.

Lindsay at Dee Point Primary has been trialling Objective Led planning with her two form entry team. 

Here is an example from the beginning of the year. The objective was centred around the children's independent use of paint.


The next step for each group is split into 2 smaller steps, hence the numbering nest to the children's names.

These planning sheets were on clip boards to make it easy for the adults to pick them up and put them down.

Where I would usually have a column for 'evidence' Lindsay has put in an example of an activity starter, just to give her team some support with this type of planning until they got their heads around it!

Any extra assessments and observations were written on the back of the sheet or on a seperate sheet.

Here is an example of a different objective with assessments and observations attached 


Of course there is no right or wrong planning format for this style of teaching  as long as all of the essential elements are there.

I have attached an example of my A4 planning sheet  here 
Download Objective Led Planning

Here is a n A3 wall mounted version of Objective Led Planning  done by Susan from St Augustines that we were trialling before the summer break


The focus here was writing. Once this sheet had been completed then a member of the team would look for writing opportunities in the children's play and then encourage the children to access their 'next steps' target.


Joanne and her team at Chester Blue Coat Primary are also using this form of adult directed and then Objective Led planning to great effect. They started the process in their setting by every adult having the same objective. This was done so that everyone in the team could have a shared experience of how the system works. Once everyone is comfortable with what they need to do then you would move to different adults having different objectives. Here is Joanne's planning


Joanne had some lovely examples of how you can translate this sort of planning and teaching into display which had been created by her and the Reception team.  (As this post is becoming a very long one, I will 'show and tell' those at a later date!')

I also popped into Halton Lodge  to see how Ruth and her new intake were getting along. Again lots to share later from that visit, including their new 'Infinite Playgrounds' outdoor area. But, this is the objective led planning that she was using.

So, you might happen across a group of mixed ability children setting up an ice cream shop in the role play (this happened to me in Durham). If they were engaged in some amazing play or learning you would forget your Objective Led planning sheet and observe/assess/support what was going on.

If their play is fairly low level and non challenging (which it often can be) then you would go in, play alongside and then introduce the need for some kind of writing. A menu, a sign, a brochure, a website…whatever. Once you have engendered some enthusiasm you match your resources and your expectations to the ability of the children and the next steps objectives.

You do NOT turn it into a 'red group' table top session! You are going for high level engagement so you need to keep it relevant to their play and not hijack their play with your planning agenda.

If it feels like it is going that way then drop it and pick it up again at another time in another place.

It really is THE most effective way of teaching within the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage and more than that, it allows you to be creative, have some fun and really 'teach' rather than just 'deliver'. 

Give it a try! If you have got any questions, feedback or ideas, then post a comment and we can all share in each others experiences.


51 Comments on “Adult Directed verses Child Initiated”

  1. I’m a nursery teacher in Wales and am hopefully going to be trying a new approach to planning and session delivery in my class. I am interested in your OLP approach but have a couple of questions.

    I’m not sure 3 objectives over the week would be acceptable in my school. They would be concerned about moving chn on in the other areas during that week. Am I right in thinking you may cover some areas each week purely through direct teach and then alternate what you do as OLP dependent on need. Would you recommend grouping 2/3 skills together that fit naturally eg directionality of print and explore mark making? That way helping to ensure adequate coverage over the year or does the OLP have to use 1 skill at a time?

  2. Alistair, I’m hoping to begin using OLP this September. However, I know my HT will not want me to abandon the more formal pieces of work in the children’s maths and literacy books – this won’t be negotiable! As a school we use marking in the children’s books as a record of progress and teacher/pupil interaction (Feedback/Action/Response). Is it possible to combine the two, i.e. a formal follow up to the lit/maths direct teach alongside an objective led approach when the children are initiating their own learning in continuous provision?

  3. Hi, I love this style of planning and can’t wait to try it in our Pre-School! Would this style of planning work for toddlers and 2-3s do you think or would you simplify it?

  4. Hi,
    Thanks so much for all the great ideas, I am starting slowly with OLP so that I do it properly and see how formats etc work best for me and my team. I just wanted to ask Alistair and everyone, when using OLP how do you evidence the end product. Our school is in special measures and our books are scrutinized all the time, would each child have something different in their book linked to the learning objective? maybe a photocopy of what they had produced, those that hadn’t made a product .. the learning was more an activity a photograph? I do this a lot with maths activities anyway it just takes quite a bit of time. I just wondered if anybody had any ideas / answers?

    Many thanks

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  6. Hi Elsa – I know that feeling well. It might seem like a bit of an uphill climb at the moment, but it will be worth it when you get everything sorted. The frustrating thing is that ‘good’ change on the scale that you are talking about takes time. If you overload your team too much then they are likely to burn out or stage a walk out! To be really effective with OLP, you have to be confident to go into play and deliver an objective over a number of levels. It is worth starting slowly and giving every member of staff the same OLP sheet and letting them get used to the idea and see just how easy (and enjoyable) it is. As you are only delivering one objective, you will have to mix this with activity led learning. Once they are more confident then you can start to give each member of staff their own objective to work on. Good luck – pace yourself!

  7. Hi Alistair
    I’ve been reading your website/blog with great interest. I’ve just started in a new role as Nursery teacher and I’m wondering how best to introduce objective-led planning to my small team of TAs. At the moment I’m in the process of many a number of fairly monumental changes to very old-fashioned practice; whole group snack, half an hour long whole group sessions and coloured bands limiting how many children can play in each area. The planning system I inherited is based solely on previously agreed topics that have generic learning objectives. It feels like an enormous leap to introduce OLP to TAs who are not yet fluent in carrying out long obs…. Can you offer me any advice? I love the idea of OLP, it makes complete sense to me and it values children’s interests, working within their chosen areas of CP rather than taking them out.
    Elsa T

  8. Hi Fredo
    I would have daily sessions of direct teaching that would be adult focussed and then deliver my objectives through OLP and not adult directed activities. The reason for this being that if an adult in delivering an activity then they can’t be in the provision supporting, observing, challenging and teaching.
    Each OLP needs a plan that shows the focus of the learning, the children’s current attainment and their next steps.
    Hope this makes sense!

  9. I am just wondering
    Recep/Y1 mix… I am trying to get planning sorted into a more manageable format
    for the reception children how many adult directed activities would you expect the children to do through the week?
    Do I do a focus plan for each of the objective led objectives through the week..
    is this on top of daily phonics literacy and maths sessions?

  10. I wondered if you had templates for your planning I could look at- always looking for ways to do planning and think you objective led planning is fab!

  11. Hi Toby
    Mixed age group classes can be tricky. My only concern about working it the way that you are doing is what they Reception children are doing while you are focussing on your Y1’s. Although they will be in Continuous Provision, if there is no other adult in there with them, it is likely to be quite low level.
    I have worked with settings where the children have been grouped by stage of development, rather than age. Then the Continuous Provision and the objectives on the OLP have been levelled to match their attainment. This way all adults are in CP at the same time making sure that you get high level engagement and attainment.
    Good luck

  12. Hi,
    I am an NQT working with a mixed class of 20 reception children and 10 year 1 children in a one-form entry school. This term I would really like to change my planning into objective-led. How should I balance this approach with my year 1 children. I usually use focus groups working with my year 1 children in two groups of five children on their literacy/mathematics. Would you suggest continuing this approach with my year 1 children still and objective-led with the reception children? Thank you.

  13. Hi, I work in a reception/Year One class, any tips on making this work with this mix would be much appreciated. Thanks

  14. Great idea, just to clarify though if you have three adults and therefore three objectives and next steps I’m assuming you change these weekly to be covering all the seven areas. So one adults objectives to deliver might be maths and the other writing gathering evidence as you go. Then when you are planning for writing objectives again you look back to see if they got the next steps and move on from there. So one week the 3 adults will be doing writing,maths,pd, and the next week objectives on psed,ead,uw.Have I understood correctly sounds great but hard to get people out of calling children over to do a focussed activity in the normal sense.

  15. Hi Anna
    Thanks for your comment. It is really hard to give you a definitive response, because how you work your Objective Led Planning will depend on how you do your direct teaching. The important part of the direct teach is that you do it through other areas of learning and other areas of the environment, that way you get more than enough coverage of all of the areas of EYFS. Your OLP needs to go where your assessment is indicating need.
    Hope this helps

  16. I tried this for a few weeks last year and I don’t think we really got to grips with it fully. I tended to find we struggled to get round all the children in one week. I am continually striving to improve our provision for teaching and learning so I’ve re-read your blog and all the comments(it is really useful to read others’ experiences/questions), I also have your Continuous Provision book and am determined to make it work this year! I think my concern was similar to the last couple of comments in how do I ensure coverage, particularly in Literacy and maths….I wondered about having 1 literacy, 1 maths and 1 other objective each week…although again I think I would struggle to cover all of these as I have 3 adults in the morning and just 2 in the afternoon with 30 reception children. This includes me trying to fit in reading groups etc. Sorry, this is me thinking out loud but any suggestions would be appreciated before I totally bombard my TAs! Also, what do you suggest in terms of “on-entry” assessments as I suspect these are key to by objective led planning?. Any help/suggestion much appreciated. Thank you!

  17. Hi Natalie
    You would usually have one focus per adult per week (ish). If you only had one single focus per class per week you would get enough coverage.

  18. I Love this idea, can i just ask, do you have a different focus each week? I am in reception so would you do one week writing,one week number, shape, creative etc?

  19. Hi Alistair,
    I have been following your blog for a few months now and am really inspired by many of the ideas, particularly the objective led planning. I want to start using Objective led planning but am still feel a little confused about some aspects of it and I wondered if you could clear some things up for me.
    If I choose 3 objectives per week as suggested, then how will this look over a number of weeks to make sure I am covering all 7 areas of learning. For example if there is a writing, EAD and CL objective one week then maths, PSED and fine motor the next week then that means that I won’t be moving children on in these areas (and the others) on a weekly basis? Or have I missed something? Also, with reading, I do group reading, shall I still continue with this? As parents expect this and I feel I need to write in reading records etc. Or do you know of a way of using objective led planning to teach children reading which allows them to apply what we are doing in letters and sounds?
    Sorry this is all probably really obvious stuff but I just can’t get my head around how it would look on a weekly basis.

  20. Hi Rachel
    The Gruffalo would be a ‘dressing’ for OLP. So if I had read the Gruffalo and lots of children were showing a real interest in it then I would still plan my next steps objectives in the aspect that I wanted to deliver as OLP but may do a Gruffalo starter or create some Gruffalo enhancements. Once the interest in my Gruffalo stuff had died down I would then go and find the children who hadn’t been engaged by the prospect of the Gruffalo and deliver their objective through something else that interested them.
    Lots of people think that if you choose to teach using OLP then the whole concept of a theme like ‘pirates’ or ‘dinosaurs’ disappears, but it doesn’t. You just don’t do it as a blanket ‘topic’. You dress some children’s learning in dinosaurs whilst dressing others learning in Disney Princesses.
    I have not worked with any settings in Bristol who are using this method of planning but if anyone reading this is having a go and is happy to share they can reply to your comment with their details. If not, you will just have to get me down for a visit!
    Hope that helps a bit

  21. Thanks for your reply Alistair, my mind is ticking over with so many ideas ATM. I read your book ‘From Vacant to Engaged’ again today. There are so many lovely ideas in there 🙂 I loved all the Gruffalo things that were going on but wondered how that fitted in with OL planning? I’m in Bristol, do you know of any schools doing this approach in the south west?

  22. Hi Rachel
    It is very much a case of running your day in a way that suits where your children are up to in their learning. I would imagine that you would need to put in some taught sessions somewhere unless you have a reasonably large team who are very aware of all children’s learning in all areas. Critical thinking often needs a fair bit of scaffolding to help children to pose questions in the first place and then extend or support the answers that they come up with. You will need to do some specific planning for this as well as trying to resource your space with open ended experiences that will help children to think critically and ask questions – I know that is easier said than done!
    Good luck

  23. Hi I am hoping to introduce OL planning to our Reception classes once i’ve persudaed the head and the KS1 leader. We have a 2 form entry and offer free flow between 2 rooms and a garden. Our children come in and plan from the CP straight away for 1 hour so as I wouldnt have had a group time I was thinking to use this hour for long obs and supporting children to develop characteristics of learning through plan-do-review. ATM when we analyse the long obs we are finding lots of eveidence of playing and exploring, some active learning but rarely any critical thinking. Wondered what you thought? We would then use the rest of the day for OL planning focused on prime and specific areas.

  24. Yep we are on the ball too 🙂 makes me proud to read it here for all others to see who seem to think topic is the way and groups is the ONLY way children learn!! You’ll never go back… Promise x

  25. Hi Camille
    Really glad it is making sense and that you are seeing some great results. The beauty of objective led planning is that you can pick up your objectives and run with them. So if some children weren’t accessing the skill in the creative area then you could take it to them. You could indeed also dress your creative are for interest but this might end up being very labour intensive!
    Good luck

  26. Hi Alistair,
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and would like to say a massive thank-you for all of the inspiring insights into early years education. I particularly loved this objective led planning post and have been trying it out in my reception class for a few weeks now with great results! Delivering the children’s next steps during child-initiated learning has resulted in maximum engagement and what is more the children are now independently applying these next steps in other situations too! I am now much more likely to see children writing or counting anywhere and everywhere – it s no longer something they only do when an adult calls them over to a table. This week one of my objectives was to use tools to create different effects. Having introduced this to the children and provided opportunities in the creative area for them to explore this, many children chose to use this area and I was able to support them in achieving their next steps. My question is, what do I do with those children who do not chose to come to this activity? If they are using tools in the sand or experimenting with tools (pens/pencils etc) at the writing table would this be an opportunity to meet my objective? Or should I be dressing my creative area to attract this group of children? Sorry if it’s an obvious question, just keen to promote maximum engagement!

  27. Hi
    Does anyone know if their is a school I could visit in the Wigan/Bolton/Preston area that is using objective led planning. I have tried it a little bit but would love to see how it works in action as I struggled to make it work in my Reception class.

  28. Hi Miss Leyland. Firstly, good luck with your teaching practice. It is exciting times when you get the children all to yourself! It is really good to hear that you are working in a school that uses objective led planning because not many do.
    I think that you are having difficulty getting your head round the medium term planning because you are thinking activity or theme rather than objective.
    There will of course be things that you teach the children that effect their every day lives like Christmas and winter weather etc but with objective led planning at the medium term stage you are looking at next steps in all of the areas of learning for each group of children. Then, you will ‘dress’ those next steps activities in what the children are interested in. Often objective led planning is far more focussed on attainment that your Medium Term ‘topic’.
    If you are doing it right your medium term planning should dovetail into your objective led rather than collide.
    Hope all goes well and that you enjoy having a go at being objective led.

  29. Hi there. I’m a PGCE Early Years student in my final placement at the moment, and I am due to take full responsibilty of a class in two weeks time that uses the ‘Objective led’ method. I have never experienced this before but the general principle seems very natural to me. However, because I am a student I am still learning, and I am really struggling to understand how one carries out Medium Term Planning using this very responsive method – the two seem to collide quite frankly! :/

  30. Hi Karen
    Yes, all adults work from the OL planning at the same time. They are likely to be delivering different objectives unless you have a large setting and the adults have doubled up. I have not got a ‘bloggable’ weekly plan. The ones that i make when I am working with settings are unique to them and also usually take quite a bit of discussion and explaining which is hard to translate to the blog. I am working on something that I will post as soon as I have finished it that might help you clear a few things up.

  31. Hi Vwood
    The answer is ‘it all depends’, which I know is not very helpful! It depends how many adults you have got, how many children and what your current timetable looks like.
    In an ‘average’ Reception class I would probably expect to see up to 3 sessions of direct teaching input and day and 3 objectives to be delivers in CP over a week. These could be linked to your direct teach or to something else completely depending on the need you had identified through assessment.

  32. Hi Angela
    In brief… what you have out in terms of provision should be directly linked to your last summative assessment. If your children need more language development then you should have lots of provision for it. If they are very ‘gross motor’ then you should have lots of BIG spaces for development. Your provision should change as the year goes on and your children’s skill levels increase.
    What you then put in your areas of provision should also match assessment. So in your mark making area have you got equipment/resources that have been specifically put there because they are going to take children forward in their learning at every level of development? How are you able to show that you have got that in place?
    Hope this helps to clarify things a bit!

  33. Always a tough one! If children don’t want to do something it is because they are not engaged by it. The problem is that if they never try a new experience then you are never going to be able to ignite their interest.
    If you say to the boy in question ‘come with me and write a sentence’ then you are going to get minimum engagement and therefore minimum attainment. It might be worth thinking about ‘dressing’ your request in a challenge tube or tin and telling him that he has to complete his challenge by the end of the day. I have often seen that approach work.
    Good luck

  34. Hi Helen
    Yes, it is a good idea to start with one to get everybody comfortable with how it all works then build on that.
    Good Luck

  35. Hi I think this way of planning is great and makes so much sense. I work in a two form entry Reception unit with free flow between the two class bases and the outside. Do all adults work from the objective led planning at the same time? Do you have any examples of a weekly plan for Reception to see how everything fits in e.g direct teaching slots/1-1 reading and long periods of uninterrupted time?
    Thank you, we love reading your blog so inspiring!

  36. Can I ask how many of this type of activity you would plan for in Reception or Nursery for a week? I really like the concept and can see how it will work ….. just wondering of the logistics.

  37. Hi Alistair, just came across this whilst looking for some fresh ideas to get us thinking about planning, assessment and continuous provision. This is a really useful, direct, thoughtful and also amusing post…great stuff. And many thanks for sharing it.

  38. I really liked this idea as it makes a lot of sense and answers the questions I currently have about a more systematic way of teaching the children the next steps.
    What I am less clear about is making the continuous provision link to assessment and objective planning. Sorry about being unclear but would appreciate any advice.

  39. I think I’m starting to do this a little. I’ve just put together my medium term plan for next half term which is basically a grid with an objective (or two) for each aspect for each week. I’ve added in things like ‘Bonfire’ night as a possible theme for some weeks. This is more to ensure that I don’t miss out or avoid providing for objectives (I don’t like doing money for example and could easily see myself getting through an entire year without mentioning it!). It was the easiest MTP I’ve ever done. I do have an overall theme for the half-term just in case children aren’t showing a particular interest in anything or we reach a bit of a dead end but the word POSSIBLE is used in bold print throughout! My question though – do you ever reach a point where you do just ‘make’ someone do something? I can think of at least one boy who is at the point where I want him to start writing sentences but no matter what suggestion I make in whatever aspect of his play that might involve writing a sentence he’d just politely smile and say “No thank you” or “I don’t think so”. Have I just not found the right way to package things for him yet?!

  40. I found this really helpful and yes it does make a lot of sense. I’ll be looking to trial some objective led planning this half term.
    From your experience with other settings would you suggest starting with just one objective to focus on?
    many thanks

  41. Ji Jbarr
    You are spot on about the Wolf Hunt book. It could be that after reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and rehearsing the language and patterns of speech that you introduced the children to the concept of hunting for a wolf using all of the same patterning etc. You might get 30 children who are captivated by the idea and ‘bob’s your uncle’ – this does happen. With objective led planning you would focus on the objective not the dressing. You might start with a wolf with some children and end up with Ben 10 with others. As you rightly say, you would dress the objective in the interests of the children if they weren’t interested in what you had dressed them in!
    Objective Led planning is rarely about topic, it is all about the objective. Sometimes you can dress your objectives in one theme, but often you can’t.
    Having said that there is no hard and fast rule. There is room for lots of experimentation – so have some fun!

  42. Hi Clare
    Glad that it is working for you and that it makes sense. I know from the experience of working with lots of settings that it can be a bit of a leap of faith to start with, but it is definitely worth it! Few things reek havoc more than a run away child with an abandoned tambourine!

  43. Thanks. This has really helped clarify objective led planning for me. After coming across your blog in the summer I was keen to try objective led planning on my move into Reception this September but I do feel I have slipped into activity based plans rather than objective led. I just wondered if you would clarify a few things for me. An activity I have done recently is make a whole class book ‘We’re going on a wolf hunt’. Children contributed according to their level, initial letters or whole sentences. All children contributed, a lot of children came up and asked if they could help but others I did call over. If I am being more objective led would I still have this type of topic based activity as a starter but if they don’t all come then I would take some sort of writing into their play? (This may seem obvious but just want to check).
    Also when planning for a topic and I’m coming up with activity ideas these are really just starter activities and continuous provision opportunities, it doesn’t really matter if their final piece fits in with the topic.
    Thanks again for the article anyway it’s made me feel ready to have another proper go at it this half term. Sorry if I’ve bombarded you with questions with obvious answers.

  44. I love this way of planning – it makes such sense. I have been using it in my planning for a while and what have been pleased with is the way that all the adults in our setting are now much more responsive to the children both day to day and as the week goes on, rather than just plodding through ‘the plans’ – everyone is constantly thinking about how are we moving learning on with those next steps (rather than panicking that not everyone has iced their pumpkin biscuit)
    As for the tambourine – my favourite has to be when a child gets hold it and makes everyone else stop and tidy up!

  45. This comment made me chuckle! I am not saying ‘never use a tambourine’! I am just saying don’t use it every 5 minutes and interrupt learning. We all like a good shake every now and then. Just make sure you have planning and teaching systems in place that keep your tambourine acrobatics to a minimum!

    1. I’ve just discovered your blog and can I just say I am so inspired!! It is just what I needed! I have been a reception teacher and moved to nursery 2 years ago. The problem has been that my school do not understand adult led vs “play partners” if I’m seen sitting with children playing it is assumed that I’m not doing my job! Thank goodness I’m moving on to pastures new. I’m opening a new nursery in a new school and will definitely be using objective led planning. All I can say is thank you! PS refreshing to hear that you also agree with uninterrupted play!

  46. now i use a tambourine and i am in a preschool , we use it for gathering the children for register and maybe once another time to gain their attention and it means not having to raise my voice to e heard !

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