Planning and Assessment Resources for Early Childhood Educators

Planning and assessment are the book-ends for early childhood education (ECE). They transform play into meaningful learning experiences. 

Essential Resources provides practical guides for early childhood educators to turn planning and assessment theories into practice. Intentional Teaching offers real-life teaching solutions to promote purposeful practice. Learn how to engage children in inquiry-based learning through floorbooks by Planning with and for Children. Also, better understand Reflective Practice for your own professional development.

By using our ECE resources, you will learn the best teaching practices from qualified and experienced early childhood educators. With their help, you will become enthusiastic about teaching practices – like planning – you previously tackled half-heartedly.  


What is intentional teaching?

Intentional Teaching is where early childhood educators work purposely and deliberately. Therefore, it begins with creating specific goals for each child - then adapting these as the child progresses. The aim is to identify children’s strengths and needs, engage their interests, and help them think creatively.

Intentional teaching practices are both planned and spontaneous. Learning opportunities can emerge through planned activities, or via child-initiated responses. It is the role of early childhood teachers to encourage children when these situations arise. 

The intentional teaching approach places early childhood teachers as active participants in the learning process.

Intentional teaching involves incorporating a variety of teaching practices to encourage learning. These practices and examples of intentional teaching include:

  • Intentional curriculum design – Including opportunities for literacy and numeracy in activities. 
  • Intentional pedagogies – Incorporating a range of play opportunities, from free play to adult-guided experiences. 
  • Intentional interactions – Setting up activities with no expectations of the results to reward creativity. 
  • Intentional environments – Placing materials to create learning experiences. 
  • Intentional assessments – Informal assessments where you observe, listen to and interact with children as they do activities. 

Why is effective planning important?

Effective planning is important because, “Planning is at the heart of curriculum and program implementation in early childhood settings.” This is from Bridie Raban’s Assessment for Learning.

Planning involves deliberate decision-making about the priorities for learning. The priorities need to align with each child’s needs, as well as Te Whāriki. Educators need to ensure learning occurs across the four Strands of Te Whāriki. Planning helps this to happen. 

Additionally, effective planning is important because it:

  • Prepares and organises educators for each day’s activities, for example, are there enough floorbooks? 
  • Provides documentation of what an ECE teacher is doing, as well as how and why. This makes their decisions clear to parents, whānau and other colleagues. 
  • Ensures early childhood educators are responsive to each child. It allows them to individualise activities to meet children’s capabilities, culture and dispositions.  
  • Provides documentation for ECE teachers to look back on for reflective purposes.    

What is reflective practice?

Reflective practice is when teachers think intentionally about their practices with specific goals or problems in mind.

Liz Rouse’s Reflective Practice traces reflective practice back to the early 20th century to the work of John Dewey. Dewey saw reflective thinking as “being purposeful and active” when thinking about a problem, the first step in reflection. 

Additionally, reflection is a process by which we use inquiry to find a solution to a problem. Here the search for the solution is organised, structured and active.

Once a solution is found, the process does not end though. The knowledge gained from the inquiry must be applied to the early childhood setting. 

Following the change, there needs to be further observation and reflection on its impact on children’s learning or teacher practice. This leads to a never-ending cycle – the reflective action cycle.