04.02.08e - Teacher's Planning Procedure

Teacher's Planning Procedure Policy Number and Last Update


Illinois Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (IMSHS) recognize that teacher-child interactions are the foundation for children's learning and development and an important criterion for a high-quality early childhood program. IMSHS strives to establish and maintain warm and trusting relationships with children and families. The relationship teachers build with each child and the guidance they provide to help children develop friendships and work cooperatively with others can have lasting and positive results both academically and socially. IMSHS believe that the best way to assist children's learning and development is by emphasizing the quality of classroom experiences; and not by spending prolonged amounts of time preparing lesson plans, doing extensive research for activities, or making paperwork look spectacular.

It is IMSHS's philosophy that the best strategies to help children learn are those in which teachers:

  • Develop and use child/teacher interactions to guide and enrich children's daily learning experiences;
  • Respect children and are sensitive to their needs and ethnic backgrounds;
  • Validate children and their work without empty praises;
  • Make purposeful observations an everyday practice; and
  • Use the information to determine how best to use the learning areas, equipment, and materials in their classrooms to enhance children's development and school readiness skills.


Required Forms

  • Teaching staff should use the following lesson plans:
  • Monthly Infant Plan (AED) for children 6 weeks to 12 months;
  • Toddler Weekly Planning Form (IMSHS) for children 13 months to 36 months;
  • Preschool Weekly Planning Form (Creative Curriculum) for children 3-5 years
  • Lesson plan modifications, except for enlargement of the Monthly Infant Plan, are not allowed;
  • Additional lesson plan inserts, e.g. individualized goals and objectives, detailed description of activities, etc. should not be used.

Planning Process

  • Decisions regarding weekly planning are based on what projects are studied and/or children's interests;
  • Teaching staff should use naptime productively for planning and completing all paperwork. This will allow at least five hours a week (child-required rest periods per licensing standards) to complete paperwork. Except for infant classroom teachers, programs should not use IMSHS program funds to provide planning time outside teachers' classrooms;
  • Teaching staff should review their observations, portfolio work-samples, and reflect on recent events and interactions weekly. This information should then be used to plan activities for the following week. Staff should take into account changes they notice in routines and new materials that they would like to introduce.
  • What experiences interest the children now?
  • Which areas or materials are the children using the most, or the least?
  • What skills are the children developing, or need to develop?
  • What is working well, or not working well?
  • What actually happened with this week's activities ,and what changes need to be made?
  • In addition to planning the weekly activities, teaching staff should use the planning process to make needed adaptations to their daily routines. For example, replacing "free play" with "independent reading" just before lunchtime or asking that lunch is brought 15 minutes earlier because toddlers are falling asleep before the meal arrives.
  • Teaching staff will be allowed flexibility when planning children's activities and permitted to revise lesson plans as often as needed. Individual modifications to the environment or activities are made in the child's observation forms; therefore, no individual weekly objectives will be required.

Instructions for Completing Lesson Plans

All Classrooms:

  • Activities - Use the Creative Curriculum and knowledge about the children in your classroom to plan age-appropriate experiences that support their development and learning.
  • The following activities do not comply with IMSHS curriculum practices: drill worksheets, alphabet recitation, mandated phonic instruction, pattern art, food used for art or play, or handwriting lessons.
  • Document health, mental healthy, transportation, and safety activities (emergency drills, etc.) in the lesson plan, when appropriate.
  • Changes to the Environment (Room) - Record major changes to your learning areas or room; these are based on observation of children's interests and/or project work. Reflect on how and when to promote classroom materials and equipment to teach individual skills.
  • Notes - Send home bi-weekly notes to share children's classroom experiences with parents.
  • Timeframe - Lesson-planning activities should start on Monday and end on Friday.

Infant and Young Toddlers:

  • Arrival Information from Parents - Information that parents give you, such as scheduled appointments, health, or current behavior concerns. This information can be recorded on a dry erase board but only write the child's initials.
  • Arrival and Departure Routines - Recommendations for receiving the child and preparations for departure.
  • Diapering - Diaper size, use of ointments or other special diapering instructions.
  • Eating - Food the child is currently eating and timeframes (Refer to Infant Feeding Procedure in Education Manual)
  • Bathing - Routine for bathing or parent's request not to do it.
  • Sleeping Routine - Child's sleeping pattern and routine. (Record feedings, diapering, and bathing in Daily Infant Record)
  • Individual Activities - Individual development objectives planned for the month and activities.
  • Health Activities - Appointments or health objectives like potty-training. This information can be kept on a dry erase board.
  • Tooth Brushing or Gum Cleaning - Specify which is to be done. (Refer to Tooth Brushing Procedure)


  • Planned Indoor Activities - Books, games, sand/water, music/movement, or discovery activities you plan to offer the children during the week. Toddlers need daily access to art materials, crayons, paint, and books.
  • Planned Outdoor Activities - Outdoor experiences you want to emphasize or scheduled field trips.


  • Group Time - Group activities like songs, games, or discussions, and materials needed; However, calendar, time, weather, or alphabet repetition activities are not allowed, these are not necessary for school readiness.
  • Stories - Books to be read to the children during story time. Books can be listed more than once a week.
  • Small Group - Activities and materials needed for small groups of children (3-4).
  • Special Activities - Scheduled special events such as field trips, special visitors, and preparations for them.

Requirements for Cooking Activities:

  • Follow IMSHS Guidance for Nutrition Education in the Classroom. Since objectives for cooking activities are listed in the guidance, teaching staff should not be required to provide further justification for the activity. Teaching staff, use purchase order forms to list ingredients needed for the activity.
  • When planning cooking activities for the following week, consider the amount of time needed for purchasing ingredients.

Requirements for Planning Field Trips:

  • Follow the IMSHS Field Trip Policy & Procedure;
  • Complete the Field Trip Request form;
  • Complete the Parent Volunteer form, if necessary. (You can only use enough volunteers to comply with licensing adult/child ratios, notify parents of slots available, and due date to respond.)


  • Teacher Involvement (verbal) - Current research has shown that when teachers use more suggestions, open-ended questions, and elaborate statements with children, the children exhibit higher levels of social and cognitive developmental competence (Clarke-Stewart, 1987; Erwin, Carpenter & Kontos, 1993; Pellegrini, 1984).
  • Teacher Involvement - Teacher involvement can range from ignoring children to sitting close to them while playing interactively (Kontos & Wilcox-Herzog, 1997). Researchers have suggested that when teachers are interacting with children at higher levels of involvement, this involvement is positively related to children's development. For instance, when teachers are more involved with children, those children rate higher in attachment, security, they spend less time wandering aimlessly, and they score higher on language development assessments (Kontos, Howes, Shinn, & Galinsky, 1995; Whitebook, Howes, & Phillips, 1989).
  • Teacher Play Styles - Teacher play style refers to the overall role that teachers take on when they are interacting with children. Examples of such roles including socializing with children, playing with children, monitoring their behavior, and assisting with self-help tasks.