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Children and babies at nursery or pre-school, or children looked after by a childminder, are usually "observed" by their carer or teacher. Parents may be familiar with an "Observation sheet" that comes home or is available to look at in the childcare setting. However, as parents we are often too busy to sit back and observe our little ones and yet it can be a fascinating exercise.
In order to understand and consider a child's current interests, stage of development and their learning, observation is essential. It allows us to see the child's responses in different situations, see what they choose to do or which toys they prefer to play with. It's a means to plan appropriate games and activities based on what you see.
How do you undertake an observation?
- Solo: Prepare a few different toys or activities for your child. Try not to guide or lead them, and watch to see what they do. Record what they do, how they manage the tasks and their movements. Use your ToucanLearn Blog so you can compare week on week.
- Together: prepare an activity or craft that you do together. Record how your child manages, how you interact, what is said, how instructions are followed etc. Try to be honest though - its only for your own benefit - and your child's!
- Photograph: Take a couple of photos to record what they do. Don't get them to pose - try to do it without them seeing; just snap them at play!
- Moving pictures: Take some video or digital movies of your child playing. Again, don't bother when they are performing to the camera or doing things on purpose. Just catch them when they are restful and playing without thinking about you.
- Notes: It's a good idea to have a little notepad to hand to scribble down anything your child does or says that's funny or interesting. Record these observations in your ToucanLearn blog at the end of each day or week so you can look back at them without losing the little bits of paper in the meantime!
Observation is a great way to get to know your child even better, see exactly where they are in their development and identify any area that may be weak and need extra help.