The EYFS requires that parents are involved in assessments of their children because there is a recognition that parents spend more time with their little ones than any individual carer does and therefore knows them best.
Carers should take the time to talk with parents as a key part of undertaking assessments. In particular they should solicit the parent's views on how their child is developing and what milestones they have noticed the child has hit or is progressing towards. They should talk about what each child enjoys doing because what they do in a domestic setting may be different to what they do with a childminder or at nursery.
Parents may have a better insight into how language is developing and should offer their observations to the keyworker undertaking the assessment. They should also discuss other patterns that they have observed in play or development.
Parents aren't trained child practitioners so may not willingly express the information required so the childminder or key worker should spend the time asking relevant questions to try to ascertain information from the parents that is useful for the assessments.
Ideally parents will interact with childminders and key workers regularly so that this information is gathered frequently and not only at junctures where formal written assessments are being made. This will help the key worker plan next steps for children, taking into account emerging development.
As a parent, if your work life restricts the time you have to interface with your child's key worker, perhaps you have to drop off quickly before work and pick up quickly once done before your next scheduled engagment, then look at setting up meetings with the key worker on a regular basis so that you have the opportunity to feed into assessments.
One of the new requirements introduced in EYFS 2012 was the need to conduct a progress check at some point during each child's second year. The exact timing of the check is left open - the government recommends that it is undertaken at a suitable point that the child moves setting, or at another point by agreement with the parents. The check may even be undertaken after their third birthday but ideally it will be done between 24 and 36 months.
There is no prescribed format for progress checks, indeed they should very much be unique for each child. The purpose is to clock the developmental progress of the child and ensure that any issues are identified and flagged. This will help child carers concentrate on areas that may be lacking, or even to build further on strong areas. The assessment helps to inform parents of porgress and allows both parents and carers to plan for future activities with the child.
The child carer should assess each of the prime areas of learning: Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Physical Development; and Communication and Language. Only one assessment is required so if a child attends more than obe setting, the check should be done by the setting that the child spends most time in. The check should be undertaken by the key person who has most exposure to the child and who knows them best.
The report should be drafted in a manner that is easy for parents to understand and that informs them clearly of any action the carer would like the parents to undertake. It would be a good idea to encourage parents to write their own brief response to file with the report to demonstrate that they have read and understood the report. The better you document future actions, the easier it will be to refer back to them and ensure that progress is maintained as planned.
While the check forms a mandatory part of the EYFS, it is only relevant for children who spend time with a child minder or carer. Children who are raised by 'stay at home mums' will not be affected.
It's official - parents are spending three times as much time with their children as they did a generation ago. Some of the findings concluded by Dr Sullivan and his team at Oxford University inlude:
- Working mothers spend more (and not as previously thought less) time with their children.
- Mothers are still the main carer (which is not surprising) but fathers are doing more childcare than before.
- Fathers spend up to half an hour a day more with their children than in 1975 and do more of the household chores!
The research was carried out by analyzing diaries kept by parents between 1975 and 2000. The people were then divided into three separate groups: those with no O Levels or GCSEs, those with one or more and those with a higher education qualification, such as a Degree.
When it comes to domestic chores, men do more now than they did and despite the advent of domestic appliances with "time-saving" claims, both men and women spend more time on domestic activities today than 25 years ago.
The results showed that in 1975 fathers spent a matter of minutes each day with their children on average. By 2000, this figure is more like 35 minutes. When it came to mums, in 1975 they spent about 20 minutes with their children and by 2000 it was over an hour.
This goes against the common opinion that suggests because more women are working they actually spend less time with their chidlren. This could be explained by the fact that parents are more aware of the need and benefits of spending time with their offspring.
This is where ToucanLearn comes in - we wish actively to encourage parents to spend more time with their children; with hundreds of ideas, games and crafts to do with your children, there's no excuse not to play together! Tell a friend about ToucanLearn and share the fun!