Observing children forms a fundamental part of the Early Years Foundation Stage, childminders are required to observe children and make notes. This helps to record each child's progress through EYFS and also helps you to plan ahead and work out what areas of learning to focus on for the medium term. Key to observing children is simply that - watching what they do without offering any external direction, or offering only minimal interaction. Childminders are so used to interacting with their wards that it can feel a little strange just stepping away and watching!
Make notes of what you observe; you might choose to do this straight into a diary, or you might prefer to take notes whilst you watch and later write them up more formally. A written record creates an invaluable resource both for you and to share with parents, or indeed to carers in other settings.
When you undertake your planning, go back though your diaries of observations and work out what areas of learning you need to concentrate on over the coming weeks. Compare your notes over time to ensure that your children are progressing. Although keeping a diary seems a big chore, if you write it regularly you will quickly find that it takes very little time and becomes part of your routine. A number of ToucanLearn members are using their private blog spaces to record their observations and this is an area that we intend to improve to facilitate better records for professional childminders and diligent parents alike!
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?
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.
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