The importance of having a ‘room intent.’

From recent audits that I have done, it has been highlighted to me the importance of having a ‘room intent’. I have seen this being delivered extremely successfully, and children have flourished, but I have also seen the impact on children when the room’s intent is unclear.

As early years practitioners, it is our responsibility to find out as much information about the children we are caring for and understand what our children need to know next and build on. This is fundamental in ensuring that children make good progress through the setting.

To fully understand how to create a room intent, we must observe and understand what the needs of the children are in the room. For example, babies need support to build on their communication skills. This can be as simple as incorporating more face-to-face interactions with staff to build on those skills. Toddlers may need support in turn-taking and sharing. Games and activities can create these opportunities to support children in learning these skills.

Once you have got that clear intent of learning for the children, it is vital that all staff members fully understand this. Talk to your staff about this, why this intent and why for these children now? Staff should be able to explain why and how they are going to implement this. Resources, activities and interactions from staff should provide lots of opportunities to support children with the identified learning intent. When staff fully understand the room’s intent, they can weave this through their teaching, ensure that activities and resources reflect, and provide opportunities for children to build and extend on this intended learning.

The other thing to consider is if you have split age groups in the room. Children of different ages have different needs. Therefore the room intent should reflect this. A room’s intent should not be ‘the prime areas’. That is a given that you will be working on these with the children. Room intents should be more specific. There is nothing wrong in having two room intents to differentiate for the needs of the children. This will support those children as they transition to the next stage of their learning.

If you are a manager, it is vital that you know and understand the room intent for every room in your setting. That way, you know what should be happening in the room. You should be able to walk into a room and hear and see staff delivering that intent confidently and successfully. This can help you to monitor staff practice and ensure their teaching is having an impact on the children.

So next time you walk into a room in your setting, ask yourself these questions:

As a manager, do you know the room’s intent?

Do the staff know the room’s intent?

Is the room intent appropriate for these children now?

How are staff going to implement this?

Are you seeing this through staff practice?

If we get the room intent right and the whole team on board in delivering it successfully, we can positively impact children and help them build on the skills they need for future learning.