Every time I see an EYFS planning sheet uploaded to forums, blogs and Facebook groups I just … wanna … cry. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones with the box in the middle with the topic inside and then the 7 branches coming from there outlining the 7 areas of learning and development and exactly what is planned to ensure that that area of learning and development is comprehensively covered. Oh, and how they all now embed Fundamental British Values. But I only want to cry if a Childminder has created it. Because I know how long it took that Childminder to do it. Too long. Trust me, I used to do exactly the same thing myself. Guilty as charged. But I’ve moved on. I’ve seen the light.

And, since the everyday Childminder generally works alone, I know that that Childminder has done that planning after the children have been collected; after their own family is fed; after the home is tidied, cleaned, laundered, re-organised and re-risk assessed for the baby whose parent has just sent a text saying she’s just started crawling; after shopping for the next day’s food (carefully checking for allergens) and other supplies and getting that day’s photos printed from their SD cards; after doing homework with their own children, taking them to dance and karate classes, bathing and getting them ready for bed and reading the bedtime stories. After setting the Tivo to record all of their favourite TV programmes that they have no idea when they’ll be able to find the time to watch because they’re on a training course all day Saturday and they haven’t spent any quality time with their family in goodness knows how long. After they’ve put their observation notes in the children’s learning journals; typed up their childcare fee invoices and emailed them to parents, colleges, universities and the council; redeemed their childcare vouchers; typed up their 2 year old progress checks; updated one of many policies, procedures & permission forms and printed out a copy for each family; read their emails and news bulletins from foundation years, their local safeguarding children’s board, CYPNow and many others; flicked through Nursery World, Early Years Business and The Childcare Professional magazines to make sure they’re on top of any changes in legislation; done a bit of research and tried their very best to write another 500 words for their college assignment or dissertation; and… made a mental note to self to remember to get little Freddie’s Mum to return the permission slip allowing him to go to the farm with the nursery tomorrow. Oh, and that the 4 school school run will have to be walked tomorrow because Felicity is doing cycle proficiency at school and has to take in her bike.

And it’s not just how long it took that Childminder to do that planning that makes me want to cry, it’s the fact that they didn’t have to do it at all. It has never been a requirement for Childminders to have written planning. Ever. And when does this planning ever go according to plan? Umm never. I survived the last 3 OFSTED inspections without written planning so please, unless you’re doing it to inspire and support others who don’t even know where to begin to plan for children’s learning, do yourselves a favour and get a modicum of your life back – no more planning sheets. You’ve enough to do as it is.