Starting from children’s interests

Following the Early Years Foundation Stage we explore children’s interests and observe children in their play. This enables us to understand the age and stage of their development. When a child first comes into our setting we follow this procedure to get a child’s baseline assessment. From here we can establish where the child’s development is for their 2 year check. By this time the children will have naturally establish a bond with their key person. Below we bullet point what is important for practice guidance for children’s interests.

  • The value of settling children in
  • The role of the key person in building a positive relationship
  • Using children’s interests to inform planning

To be able to plan challenging and enjoyable experiences for children that help them make progress, you need to know the child well.

The child is central to any planning that takes place.

You need to consider the child’s individual needs and interests and know where they are in their stage of development.

It is not the amount of observations, assessments and planning that are completed but the quality of the planning cycle. What is observed must inform the planning. What is planned must be evaluated and assessed by further observation to ensure the needs of the child are met. This then informs further planning.

By working in partnership with the parents and carers, the child’s needs and interests are noted. Parents and carers are observing their children all of the time and with the parents/carers input; you will build up a picture of what the child likes doing, his/her family connections and lifestyle in their home environment.

Parents are central to the assessment process.

This information helps you to know the child, build up a relationship and then plan activities and opportunities that will excite, stimulate and support. Observations should not be a chore, but part of the everyday practice when working with young children. Discussions with parents, colleagues and where appropriate the child, will help build up the big picture.

Evaluate constantly what is happening, using these evaluations to plan and do further observations. *Information supplied by

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See our slide show which represents how we work closely with children, parents, families and as a team.


“A schema is a pattern of repeated actions. Clusters of schemas develop into later concepts” (Athey, 2007).

Schemas are often described as children’s fascinations.

What types of schemas are there? There are many types of schema, listed below are some of the most common ones.

  • Trajectory – creating lines in space by climbing up and jumping down. Dropping items from up high.
  • Positioning – lining items up and putting them in groups.
  • Enveloping – covering themselves or objects completely. Wrapping items up or placing them in containers.
  • Rotating – enjoys spinning items round and round. Likes to run around in circles or being swung round.
  • Enclosing – adding boundaries to play areas e.g. fences around animals. Adding borders to pictures.
  • Transporting – carrying or moving items from one place to another; carrying items in containers or bags.
  • Connecting – setting out and dismantling tracks, constructing, joining items together with tape or glue.
  • Orienteering – an interest in positioning themselves or objects in different places or positions e.g upside down or on their side

How does this influence how we work with children to enhance their development?

“Schemas are patterns of repeated behaviour in children. Children often have a very strong drive to repeat actions such as moving things from one place to another, covering things up and putting things into containers, or moving in circles or throwing things. These patterns can often be observed running through their play and may vary between one child and another. If practitioners build on these interests, powerful learning can take place.” EYFS (2008) Glossary

Watching children move through schemas shows the practitioner how to form next steps and create activities which meet the needs of that individual child.

“A child may be interested in moving the soil from one area of the garden to another. This means we provide opportunities for extended learning by offering a selection of carrying containers and equipment” Miss Brooker (2017)



What is it?

Iram Siraj-Blatchford defines Sustained Shared Thinking as:

“an episode in which two or more individuals ‘work together’ in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate activities, extend a narrative etc. Both parties must contribute to the thinking and it must develop and extend”

Put simply it is those lovely moments when you and a child are completely absorbed in something together. This could be a conversation or an activity, for example exploring something new. Research has shown that children learn (and remember what they have learned) at a higher level through opportunities such as this.

Sustained Shared Thinking can also happen amongst children either in a peer group of mixed age group situation. (Pacey 2017)


This picture is a perfect example of sustained shared thinking within a peer group. Each child suggesting how the story will begin or end, offering ideas and then taking it in turns to share the book.

What have we learned?

At the end of each week the children and staff mind map what they have learned. Each child reflecting on some aspect of their learning and sharing it with their peers. Children join in by drawing pictures and sticking photographs or objects onto the paper. This is an excellent way of gathering information which leads us onto to the children’s next steps and the week ahead adult-led activities.




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