So, we are watching but what are we seeing?
Make Observations work, don’t just tick a box!
A unique child + positive relationships + enabling environment = learning and development.
This is an automatic process but it depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments. Without observing I cannot know how effectively I are doing this for each child.
I will be flexible towards how I record our observation. Use the settings camera (photos or film) learning journeys, examples of children’s work. Making sure they contain the date, the child’s name, and if written details of Inside/outside/ alone/with an adult/with another child etc. By watching children I can see what they enjoy, who they enjoy, where they enjoy and build on it. I can also see what they don’t like and work on that as well. Being detective and using the results well can make a child’s time with me so rewarding.
O.A.P: Observation, Assessment and Planning.
The observations can be:
Formative; ongoing building on the child’s interest and learning style, wow moment or more focused.
Summative; looking at an overview or summary of the child’s progress at set periods.
They can be done by; simply note making, ticking a check list, photos, film clips, and examples of a child’s work.
They can be spontaneous, participant, planned, a mix is good.
Looking back at the observations can help us move forward.
Planning for an individual’s child’s needs.
Observing what a child likes and what they can do will help plan for tomorrow. Like us children will love somethings more than other. If you notice a baby giggling when their hands are under running water and note it down. Assess what the child liked; was it being held, or the water or both? The next step for that child could be setting up the paddling pool for water play, letting them splash in it; from this you can add toys, to encouraging reaching and grasping. Adjusting the amount of time and amount of water for the age of the child. Part of the EYFS is to have a next steps plan. Without a starting point (observation) the plan can be meaningless. By tailoring the plan to a child’s interest and needs it will make it more effective. The same applies if you notice a child all ways avoids painting or any kind of mark making. From earlier observation you can use strong areas to take this forward. For example, never joins in painting, loves puddles. Next step put paint in trays and paper on the patio and try running through the trays and on to the paper, or splashing the paint on to the paper. Next step trying make shapes with foot prints etc.
Early intervention, and how early intervention supports a child’s development
Using Planned observations in relation to milestone develop markers (but not the Development matters) can check a child is progressing in all areas. Identifying areas of concern early helps the child and the family. It is important to observe a child as soon as possible when they join me. If you have any concerns ask someone else to observe. It is really important once I have a concern to involve everyone and work in partnership with the parents, professionals and other settings but respect confidentiality. Parents may think there is no problem and they know their child best so it could be an issue in just our setting or they may be unaware of the fact their child should be able to do something they cannot yet do. A hearing issue left undetected will seriously effect communication, without communication social skills can suffer etc. A hearing issue like Glue ear picked up and treated early can mean there are hardly any if any long term effect. This is why these observations are so important.
Reviewing our environment
It could be easy to always get out everyone’s favourite but we can get bored so can children. Do they all look engaged or bored? Are there things that no one is using or are they all arguing over one thing (can we increase the numbers or sort out a timer for sharing) don’t let thing get stale. Stand back and watch for clues. Is someone sitting in a cardboard box pretending it is a house, can we get curtains, more boxes, poles cushions etc. Do they want others to join in or play alone (is there somewhere they can play alone) Do they feel the cold more than the others so curl up not because they are tired but because they are cold. Do they hate outdoors because they have grown up inside? Does taking toys they like from inside outside help.
Early observations are invaluable but must also take in to account transition effects. An inquisitive child maybe so over whelmed by the new surrounds and being alone that they don’t want to move or explore. A parent may only see this and be concerned, another observation later in the day of their child playing relaxed in the sand will reassure the parent. Getting ready for school can as help if there are observations, assessments and plans. Taking the child on a school run and observing in the playground can give a lot of pointers. They may be happy until the school children come out (next step: do they have enough experience of large groups of children, can you take them to a bigger playgroup) A sudden change in their home life may mean more observations would be helpful, assessing how they are dealing with a change emotionally. These observations again are worth so much more when shared in a working partnership.
Working in partnership
People change depending on where and who they are with, children are little people. Someone may babble away at home but not make a sound with us, so we would raise a concern that the parent wouldn’t have. In this case we have to look at what we can change as the issue is not the child’s ability to communicate but the child’s decision not to, a home visit may help or an outing with a parent coming. A child may babble with us and say nothing at preschool so again their communication would not be a concern we would share. Someone may eat nothing at home and loads when they are with us or the other way around. Working in partnership we can look together at what may be triggering certain behaviours in a child, good and bad, BUT at all times when sharing information remember confidentiality and make sure we have the parent’s permission to share information to share information with partnership we wish to share it with.