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What is good Programming?

Part of being a good Family Day Care Provider is ensuring that you have a quality programme that you can follow. I must admit, the programming aspect of Family Day Care has always overwhelmed me. When I started out I had no idea of how to “officially” portray my programme. I wanted to look professional, yet I wasn’t sure exactly how to break the programme down. Did the parents want to see the official ‘gross motor / fine motor’, ‘cognitive skills’ headings or did they want something that they could read in simple terms? I put so much work into compiling the programme only to have people take a glance at it. I don’t mind the fact that the parents don’t go through the programme with a fine-tooth-comb, but what I did mind was the fact that a lot of the stuff on the programme was not being done! I couldn’t justify saying “Come children, the programme says that today we are going to paint” and all the kids want to do is play with the farm animals set out in the play dough.

You also have no idea how much a little ladybird crawling in the grass can put an entire programme on hold for. We have to watch the ladybird, all take turns holding it. Sing songs about it. Draw it. Talk about the shapes and colours on it. Read up about it and then finally try to make it! None of this can be done in the space of one day because we have to eat, wash hands, nappies, wash hands, eat, toilet, wash hands, sleep, clean up, eat, wash hands and then get ready to go home. Of course there are a few other things that the children want to do to. We want to read stories, chat to the delivery man who has dropped off an interesting parcel and we want to pretend that we are Mommies and Daddies too!!! By that time, the wonderful programme that I have done has been put on the back-burner to maybe never be revisited again. But that’s okay, because now I have a programme about insects that I could follow.

So we start leaning all about insects, we sing about them, read about them, draw them, examine them, chat about them and while looking for them one of the children notice that some leaves are starting to fall off the trees.

“Jo, look pretty leaf”

“Wow, why has it changed colour? It’s not green anymore?”

Insects? What insects? We need to make orange, we need to chat about Autumn and we need to find more trees with different coloured leaves! And so the cycle continues.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my programme is a Work in Progress. It evolves daily and most importantly it’s all about what the children are interested in. Don’t get me wrong, my Drama Queen daughter still loves insects and she is still looking for them. But now we’re trying to find insects that are orange, yellow and all the other beautiful colours of Autumn.

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10 Responses

  1. You are so right…it is a constantly evolving process! How do you record it all on paper? I find that writing up a formal program plan with all the dev’tal areas (which is never looked at by parents: they are happy just to know their children had a good day) can then make it difficult to figure out where to add all of the modifications and detail what didn’t happen and why. Do you take each day as it comes, and just write what happens, or do you plan beforehand and then evaluate and list modifications? Also, how much detail do you put into sorting them into dev’tal areas, and now the EYLF outcomes?

    • At the moment I have a blank template which I have readily available. I will see if there is a possibility of me loading it on the blog somewhere. I basically break it down into the areas that I have set up and into activities. So my headings right now (as this is a work in progress it might change a bit) are:
      – Create (blocks, puzzles, construction toys)
      – Games
      – Let’s Move (Gross & Fine Motor)
      – Pretend
      – Let’s Communicate (Book Corner)
      – Experiment
      – Music
      – Nature
      – Baby Play Area
      – Make (Craft Activities)
      These are my basic areas and I adjust them every day according to the children that I have in care. I like having an activity or area set up that is done specifically for one child. That way, when they arrive in the morning I can chat to the parent and know that the child already has something that he or she likes to play with already available. I then plan my day according to how the child has responded to the activity. I have one little boy who loves playing with cars and every single morning he goes straight to the cars. The other morning 2 other children went and sat with him (even though they are normally doing something else). They added another dimension to his game and before I knew it they were building ramps and lining cars up. I then take a few pictures for my records (because I still want to try and develop an evaluation ‘diary’ for my files) and write down what changes have been made to an area or activity. On the back of the page I list some ideas that might add another dimension when I see the children need more inspiration and I even write notes about activities that don’t work out. The programme then gets adjusted accordingly. When my page is full of writing I will print out the next one and jot down the activities that the children are interested at that time. And the cycle continues…..

      With regards to the development areas I have age appropriate checklists and a few times a month I will sit down and ensure that the children I have are more-or-less on par with the checklists. I have found that as the years have passed it has become easier for me to identify any concerns that I might have. If I feel that something isn’t right I will programme a bit more specifically for my observations. That is a whole other discussion though.

      As for EYLF, I have been wanting to ‘officially’ incorporate it into a programme, but just haven’t had the peace and quiet to try and figure out how I’m going to do it. Any suggestions?

      Finally, you say that parents are happy just to know their children had a good day, well I couldn’t agree more. What I do for them is I have a Communication Book that I put together for each child. Every day I will make sure that there are pictures, comments, information about food, toileting, sleep and activities in there for them. That book is my pride and joy! (It’s another template that I will try and add to this blog, so keep a look out for it….)
      At the end of the day, the programme is a work in progress and the parents don’t mind because they get the full run down of their child’s day anyway. I hope that I’ve answered your questions and I would love to get ideas from you.
      Hope you have a great week!

      • Well, it certainly sounds like that is working, so it sounds great. I think it is fairly similar to what I do, but I find that the children I have this year are a lot harder to plan for long term with regard to their interests, as they seem to change their interests regularly, whereas last year, the children in care had “long-term” interests. I would really love to see your template if you are able to upload it. I have just changed mine recently, and now my categories are:
        *Language / Literacy / Quiet Areas
        *Dramatic / Imaginative Play
        *Manipulative / Construction / Art / Craft
        *Group Experiences / Music & Movement
        *Gross Motor
        *Cognitive / Tech/Exploring / Science / Sensory
        *Routines / Transitions / Self-Help Skills

        Then, I have a column where I write which dev’tal area each activity covers. I no longer program daily – my plan is now for a full fortnight, which means I can choose out of the planned activities for the fortnight which ones I set up each day. I also have a column for modifications, etc., but I don’t find there are a lot, in comparison with last year (again) where chn would ask me to get certain toys out or go certain places, and more things were “discovered”. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that every fortnight I am planning according to my categories and developmental areas more than interests. Maybe I just haven’t found the right thing yet. I wish I had more space so that I could have some things (like dolls, cooking and maybe dress-ups) permanently set up. These do seem to go down well, but when they are out other things that are interesting to other children cannot be out, so it is a constant juggle. Oh, to have the space of a centre! *Sigh*
        I don’t do individual communication books any more, as they were not being read. I have “tick-and-flick” type sheets that I made up on the computer for the children whose parents wish to know about sleeps, food, etc. and for the group as a whole I have a diary in which I write a little about what we have done and include pictures. This seems to be working well so far, as all of my parents are reading it, and they love to SEE what their chn have done. I think (hope) they also see the effort I go to in order to present it.
        EYLF…where to start? Well, I have read the principles, outcomes, etc. and I think the concept is great, but I find a lot of the outcomes are things that we tend to promote indirectly (i.e. not on the program. for example, giving encouragement). My main worry about it is how to incorporate those principles into our current program? Do we change our headings to reflect the outcomes and slot activities that reflect children’s interests into each? Or will it mean a whole new format? I really am not sure at this point. We are meant to be doing some training on it with our scheme in May, so hopefully that will help. 🙂
        Thanks for replying to my comment so quickly!

      • It does sound like we are more or less on the same path. I’ve also found it a bit more difficult to programme the last 2 years because the children are so much younger. There are more routine activities and less ‘structured’ activities. I find that if I set an activity out I have to be involved in it with them. The problem arrises when the door bell rings, or I have to change a nappy… when I come back to the activity it has all been tossed out, messed up or thrown on the floor! So now I have washable texters always available along with some crayons and pencils. My structured craft activities are more often than not spontaneous activities. For example, the children found a lady bird and we ended up making one out of a paper plate. If I have a child call in sick, then I try pull out the paints because it is easier to supervise when there is even one child less. What’s the average age of the kids in your care?

        Space, space, space, don’t get me started on that one! I know exactly what you are talking about. I also wish I had more space, I wonder if we would ever have enough space! I will try and post some pics of my set up on the blog. It’s also one of those things that changes according to what the kids want. Sounds like you’ve got it under control though, but I know what you saying about it being a ‘constant juggle’! Your diary sounds wonderful! Great idea and it’s a perfect observation record too.

        How long have you been doing Family Day Care? As for ELYF I agree with you 100%! I would love to incorporate the headings into my programme, but I still need to play around with it a lot more. If you get any good ideas from your training let me know! Let me try and attach photos and all the rest now. Keep an eye out for my programme template.

  2. Everything you said hits the nail exactly on the head. Last year I had a lot of 3-5 year-olds. This year, most of mine are around 21 months and I have just had an 11 month-old start. Most of my children are in for 2 days a week; some for one. I have no full-timers this year, and only one child who is in for 2.5 days
    It’s funny how you say, “I wonder if we would ever have enough space”. I have often thought that, and had similar thoughts regarding toys and craft bits’n’pieces.
    I have been doing Family Day Care for about 1.5 years, and was in a Long Day Care centre before that. What about you?
    I did see your program posted, but have not had a chance to look at it yet. Have a great day. 🙂

  3. Oh Jo – it’s so nice to see how much you are enjoying this. You’ve finally found your niche – well done darling – I’m so proud of you. If only there were teachers like you around who cared as much when you and Spi were growing up!

  4. Gday every1,

    v nice post…I also saw some useful articles in one of the site that also has some forum discussion on “Early Years Learning Framework – EYLF” and “Implementing the EYLF!” that I would like to share. The site URL is: http://www.AussieChildcareNetwork.com/.

    Here, I would recommend you reading this article “Understanding Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)“. This article provides you with a simple explanation of the key concepts within the EYLF – Belonging, Being & Becoming, Principles, Practices and Learning Outcomes. It also provide tips on implementing the EYLF within your early childhood setting and more..

    This site is also expected to update resources and article on “The curriculum planning documentation” soon. This article will ensure you are collecting information, communicating children’s learning and reflecting on your daily practices as referred to in the EYLF.

    You can also find some useful info and Resources for Childcare Professionals and ECTs.

    So, Click Here to view resources.

    Hope this helps….

    Cheers,
    Claire

  5. Such a tough question! You will find your own groove and way of programming that suits both the children and yourself 🙂 good luck with your journey.

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