Idea sharing - Planned vs. unplanned sessions

What are the biggest differences between a planned and an unplanned session? Share your experiences Contribute your thoughts to the discussion forum below. Please feel free to comment on or reply to any other contributions.


Timothy M, 2023/05/05 10:21
Planned sessions typically run much more smoothly, and are usually able to keep children engaged through transitions, whereas unplanned sessions can be much more challenging to keep high engagement throughout.
Annette, 2023/04/05 10:52
Carrying out a planned session is much smoother as you know what your transitioning to next, whereas when there is no plan it's disjointed and can be confusing, to both adults and children.
Val, 2023/03/30 13:40
Being unplanned can mean there is opportunities for some rich learning that are overlooked, it can become a little too chaotic and this can erode parent/carer's confidence in what is being done
Amy, 2023/03/28 17:22
Unplanned sessions can sometimes end up being a bit chaotic, as you are having to make things up on the spot. I also think it is easy to fall into a 'performance' style of presentation as there isn't a clear goal in mind.
Planned sessions tend to feel more fun and relaxed (and be less stressful for the staff) as you have an idea of what key points you are wanting to focus on and what resources you need going in. If you have a plan for the session, it also makes it easier to adapt to the families needs on the day (e.g. if the age of the kids is older or younger than expected you might change the book you had planned on reading) so you can swap in/out books and songs that might suit better, but still achieve the early literacy goals that you had planned.
Lilly, 2023/03/29 15:12
An unplanned session leads to disorganization, rushed or incomplete delivery, uncertain goals which can limit the benefits to families
Daisey , 2023/03/28 10:41
A delivered session that is not planned becomes chaotic and stilted, where the staff do not give the most effective and efficient session to enhance the children's' development and learning. Whereas a planned session with clearly defined and structured deliverables/objectives enhances the children's learning and ultimately is more of a success.
Douglas Graham, 2023/03/16 14:46
Planned sessions gives structure, more monitoring expectations and deliverable outcomes.
Unplanned sessions are chaotic, rushed, and outcomes may be unexpected.
Kaye Kang, 2023/03/09 17:19
Planning improve the delivery of sessions by establishing objectives (goals) of the event.
Rae, 2023/03/01 16:02
Unplanned sessions are more chaotic, with staff jumping back and forth as they realise/remember all the different things they need to mention. They also tend to lack a clear goal or theme.
Corinna Baerhold, 2023/02/28 10:29
Things can go more easily wrong or be forgotten in an unplanned session. Also, if you share resources with team members or in case of sickness, it is better to have the session with all it's components and material prepared for a seamless delivery to the public.
Kate, 2023/02/16 12:14
Unplanned can feel chaotic and unstructured
Planned allows for movement, while also maintaining focus
Hyunjung Kim, 2023/02/01 16:19
Unplanned session can be a wasted of time for both customers and staff.
Planned session has clear guidelines to follow and goals to achieve.
Michelle, 2023/05/23 11:35
Yes, and not to mention how unprofessional it looks. i know its a childrens program but you want ultimate impact and not left looking like fluffing about adhoc
Lily, 2023/01/19 13:23
In an unprepared session, time can often be wasted figuring out the next steps rather than progressing the activity. In a well-planed activity, you have more confidence and things run more smoothly.
Allison , 2022/12/23 15:58
Much more confident when planned, and am able to ad hoc certain parts of the program when things go astray.

When not planned delivery can be very disjointed.
karen, 2022/12/20 05:44
The unplanned sessions didn't contain as much messaging and they were also less engaging for the children.
The planned sessions ran smoothly with less stress :)
Laura Elizabeth Kronk, 2022/12/05 15:53
Unplanned - can forget parts of your 'routine' and don't have a clear message for the session.
Planned - clear message - prompts for the next part of the routine, less stress during the session.
Susan Willoughby, 2022/11/09 13:41
My unplanned session felt rushed and didn't really have a definite goal or message beyond filling the allotted half hour. My planned session felt much more purposeful with a clear goal and had a much better flow to the session.
Susan, 2022/10/17 14:44
Fail to plan and you plan to fail. Cliche, I know, but it's true. Be clear about what you want the session to include and how you see it progressing and you will feel far better about it when all it is done.
Melissa Stansbie, 2022/11/16 14:00
Huong , 2022/09/12 13:07
planning make me more confidence and control the whole time
Jodie Hart, 2022/09/09 13:18
Planned sessions are more organised and free flowing ensuring better children participation and enjoyment by all.
Carla Devereux, 2022/09/06 12:48
Planned Session - structured, doesnt feel rushed and thrown together, and much more enjoyable for the families attending
Unplanned Session - Chaotic, messy, stressful and families can tell there was not much thought put into the program
Maura, 2022/08/30 15:57
Planning the session ahead will give you confidence and look more professional. I always make sure I have a plan B or C if things don't go as I expected. I like to keep my sessions organic but structured.
Chrissy Vass, 2022/08/11 16:44
Planned makes me feel much more in control and calm in delivering my message. Unplanned makes me feel more nervous and unable to deliver a concise message.
jacqui, 2022/08/23 13:42
planning creates a safety net during a session, and helps the session run smoothly.
GERARDINE LAAN NEWELL, 2022/08/08 18:16
I would be completely overwelmed without planning a session.
Planning a session allows me to feel confident.At the close of the session with a group of toddlers I would know I have covered each section thoughly
Laura Crichton, 2022/08/05 10:28
Planned sessions = calmness all around.
Unplanned sessions = chaos!
Jacqueline Smith, 2022/08/03 12:34
I am more comfortable and relaxed with delivery, I also have observed if the patron know what we are doing in the session they are comfortable.
Kristy, 2022/08/02 16:47
A confident presenter instils confidence in the participants and ensures everyone is enjoying the session and taking home valuable messages. Positive energy feeds a positive experience.
An unplanned session looks unprofessional and leaves participants feeling unvalued and overwhelmed if chaos reigns.
Sandra Young, 2022/07/31 18:24
Planning provides: energy & focus, organised but flexible thoughts and process in delivery of content, comfort in knowing the goal and content of the session. Better outcomes for the customer, with repeat customers, consistency programming to meet library professionalism and standards.
Not planning is being inconsiderate.
Emilly Mackie, 2022/07/28 15:43
I find being unprepared causes me to worry about presenting the session a lot more then when I am prepared. The session flows better as I know what I want to do next even if the session deviates.
Talisa Jones, 2022/07/01 10:12
Planning helps me to keep a less anxious mind and therefore helps me to stay on track to do whatever it is I need to do that day. Whereas without planning I find myself feeling very frantic and constantly like I have forgotten something. Planning presents a smoother deliver of service I believe.
Dani Kohn, 2022/06/07 13:29
I find that a planned session ensures that I am more focused and relaxed. I have an intention to pursue. Planning allows me to improvise if required. An unplanned session can be fun too - I find that if I am put on the spot I will just do what I am comfortable with. A planned session allows me to focus on the needs of the group.
Katie, 2022/06/01 14:53
A planned session allows for me to feel more calm and confident in my sessions. As it allows me to know how I want the session to go and what I want it to achieve.
Relly Richards, 2022/05/25 15:21
I like to have a plan as I feel more comfortable if I don't have to wing it. I like to have some idea of what we are going to do and what we hope to achieve. I like to get everything out ready in advance.
Donna Mead, 2022/05/19 14:18
A very loose plan allows staff to adapt to the children.
Relly Richards, 2022/05/25 15:20
A plan helps me feel more organised. I always like to have some idea of what we are going to do and what we hope to achieve. I feel more relaxed if I don't have to wing it.
Isabella , 2022/05/19 12:06
Planned session helps me feel more comfortable in the space and conducting the session, as I know what messages I want to share and things to point out in stories.
Angela, 2022/05/18 13:35
A planned session allows me to feel more prepared and organised and often runs more smoothly.
Sharynn Brigg, 2022/05/05 12:37
Unplanned sessions have no cohesion and become very messy very quickly with the participants losing interest. Planned sessions run smoothly with most contingents being planned for.
Joanne Pope, 2022/03/29 14:46
Planned sessions tend to flow better than unplanned sessions. Unplanned sessions can become disorderly very quickly.
Joanne Pope, 2022/03/29 14:43
Planned sessions flow better and it is easier to hold the attention of the adults and children.
Unplanned session can become disorderly very quickly and children will sense if you are floundering and will become restless quickly.
Sophie Piggott, 2022/03/29 12:32
Unplanned sessions don't go to plan most of time, where as a planned one you know what you are trying to achieve and what is going to happen.
Sheree Ryan, 2022/03/29 09:52
I find the biggest difference is that even though you cannot plan for the unexpected that if you do have a planned session than you do have most scenarios planned out and can plan for most things
Sabina Ryan, 2022/03/28 10:06
When running a planned session you have everything set out and organized for that session. We have had one unplanned session and it was not enjoyable by staff or families as we spent more time running around trying to find stories and set up.
Sharon, 2022/03/23 15:41
I am definitely more confident and calm if I have the session planned. I usually have 3 - 4 families attend my sessions and one day 23 people turned up. I was able to run the session with no problem as I had my plan in place. I remember to do everything when I have a plan.
Sue, 2022/03/18 14:05
When I run a planned program I feel much calmer and confident as I run the session knowing that I understand the content and first5foerver messages I want to share with the families attending.
Leanne , 2022/03/15 16:45
A planned session seems to run smoother, it gives a more settled feel
Toni, 2022/03/14 14:11
Having a planned session gives staff more confidence. You don't get as flustered or stress of trying to remember key messages to put across. Having the resources prepared and ready allows for easier transitioning. A planned session makes it look like "you've got it under control".
Sally Berry, 2022/03/08 13:10
Unplanned sessions are generally just winging it, the stories/rhymes/toys you have chosen may not be appropriate and the session may not go well. A planned session runs so much better because each aspect has been thought out and included for specific reasons.
Carolyn Beattie, 2022/02/09 12:19
Planned sessions flow better and tend to achieve planned outcomes
Susan Cruickshank, 2022/02/17 15:33
More equitable access to materials, resources, staff assistance, so more participants can accomplish and take home something satisfying. Staff less exhausted if not hunting and juggling - I certainly feel more fulfilled when I demonstrate the 'best' of my skills and our services.
Cassie VonB, 2022/01/28 11:29
A planned session runs smoothly, promotes confidence in the facilitator and makes for a fun program.
An unplanned session can feel chaotic and off-putting for the audience.

However, sometimes you need to make changes to the planned session on the fly.
Amanda Marten, 2022/01/25 10:14
A planned session seems to flow better. The messages and content seem to come across in a more confident way. It also helps me to feel more at ease with delivering the information as well as having the energy that is required in a session.
Ann Marie Shepherd, 2022/01/27 17:10
Unplanned sessions creates confusion, poor delivery and not worthwhile experiences for all involved.
van, 2022/01/24 11:56
Planned sessions would usually ensure a smooth flowing program and give staff confidence to deliver. However, sometimes partly ad hoc programs may bring unexpected fun to the session as well.
Sheridan, 2022/01/21 16:08
Unplanned sessions often make the facilitator seem unfamiliar with the content, make mistakes, unsure about certain elements, and sometimes not all the materials are ready for use by the participants. It also makes the facilitator more nervous going into the program.
Ciara C , 2022/01/05 14:27
an unplanned session can make a facilitator look not familiar with the material or uncomfortable with the messaging
Kirsty Wilson, 2021/12/22 09:50
An unplanned session often creates a sense of anxiety in the facilitator and lack of direction for the program. This can lead to an unprofessional and rushed session.
A planned session in contrast gives the presenter a sense of confidence leading to a professional and well timed session.
Otadan Evans , 2021/12/21 13:53
Unplanned Sessions tend towards the chaotic and unorganised and give the impression that I have no Idea what I'm doing as well as missing key messages

Planned Sessions tend to flow at a nice speed without jumping around between things and deliver the messages I'm trying to get across to parents as well as making me feel more confident.
Corrin Miles , 2021/12/11 13:30
Unplanned sessions - disorganised, chaotic unprofessional
planned sessions - professional, organised and run smooth
Jennifer Tzilves, 2021/12/11 09:52
For me the difference between planned and un-planned sessions is the difference between feeling confident when planned and not very comfortable when un-planned.
I like to put a lot of thought into the sessions so that not only the child enjoys the session but also the parent.
I try to imagine the session in real time as I'm planning so I can make sure I have the confidence to present a session.
Hopefully parents enjoy the sessions so they feel like visiting the library more often.
Antonia Mobbs, 2021/12/10 16:27
An unplanned session can be stressful and chaotic to present- and won't be as enjoyable for your attendees. When a session is planned it is easy to present confidently and gives you the opportunity to be flexible in your delivery
Chris Pulford, 2021/12/08 15:42
Unplanned sessions with no direction, leads to restless children, and you feeling unsatisfied, knowing you could of done better.
Laura Ellul, 2021/12/07 14:22
The biggest difference between unplanned and planned sessions for me is how I feel during and after.
For a planned session I always feel more confident and coherent in delivering messages and interacting with the group. I am able to pick songs/rhymes/stories that match what I want to say so it flows nicely. I always feel satisfied after sessions like this.
For some sessions (usually last minute ones) that have no planning I feel frazzled and to me the session does not flow well. I will forget to do key messaging when it would fit and tend to do them all together, which can be boring for children. After these sessions I feel drained and like I have not succeeded.
Julie Guteridge, 2021/12/06 15:34
Planning our sessions allow them to flow smoother and the more prepared that we are for Storytime, the better it is for the facilitator and the children.
In 2022, I have assigned a theme to every week through August for us to work from. This is a new process, and we will evaluate as we go to determine if this works well or if it is better to do month by month as we currently do.
Also, the Session Planning documents are included in our monthly report to Council.
Pam, 2021/12/02 11:58
I don't mind "winging" a session here and there. If I have to pull together something last-minute, I have less time for my perfectionism to kick in, so I'm usually very relaxed. But planning is definitely better in the long run. I can book a kit, read the books in advance so I can practice my tone, get all the craft supplies together, etc. I feel more sure that I've covered all the bases.
Bonnie Harrison, 2021/12/02 10:49
Planned sessions feel more calm and enjoyable, and are the most effective way to achieve program objectives. While it is important to also remain flexible to the needs of participants on the day, having sense of structure conveys that you have put thought into the program, and reinforces the value of the session to attendees.
Cathy Mckenzie, 2021/11/30 14:59
A planned session always runs smother and is more enjoyable to present. I agree with Jacquie the kids can sense if you are not "on your game" and will be more disruptive.
Karen Postle, 2021/12/01 14:08
I feel more confident as I know what I am going to deliver when I have a plan. If I don't have a plan like the previous ladies have said it doesn't run smooth
Jacqui Hayward, 2021/11/29 13:52
A planned session runs smoother and both the presenter and children seem to be calmer. An unplanned session can be difficult if the books are not read before and the songs struggle to make it into your head. Planning in important. The children sense weakness :)
Peggy, 2021/11/24 12:12
Planned sessions are easier to deliver and ensure that all of the important messages are conveyed. They can also be delivered by any staff member if the planner is unable to be there for any reason.
Robert Morgan, 2021/11/18 14:01
Pre-covid, I was often given the task of planning and delivering story-time activities. There have been instances in the past where I have been called upon to do a storytime last minute when the usual presenter was away sick, and I've had to plan the entire thing the day of. And so, I know from experience, just how important planning the activities is, as when I lacked the planning, the activity was a lot looser, the kids were less engaged and I was frazzled, very easily. When I had time to plan in advance, the session would invariably go a lot better.
Pamela McGowan, 2021/12/07 11:38
100% agree
Fiona Thackray, 2021/11/17 10:50
It is hard to evaluate an unplanned program as you have not set clear goals or purpose. I also find I am calmer, can connect more with audience and facilitate a more purposeful session for families if I have planned it.
Lisa Paterson, 2021/11/16 14:48
A planned program ensures a calm and confident delivery person, able to navigate any unforeseen circumstances because they know how to bring their audience back to the task (?) at hand.
Bronnie Carnell, 2021/11/10 12:26
Planned sessions flowed better, with staff feeling more confident in what they were delivering
Sandra Gherardi, 2021/11/09 10:27
Unplanned sessions have a more chaotic feel to them with staff feeling a lack of control and unsure of outcomes or goals
Alan Duncan, 2021/11/02 14:26
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ypf/first5forever/online_training_module3/discussion_q2.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/01 16:10 by Alan Duncan
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