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Observing Children During Play

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, ToucanLearn, Child Development, Preschool Children, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: blog, diary, observing, record

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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!


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Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Parenting, Child Development, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, blog, observation, records, toucanlearn

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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.


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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!

You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.

Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.

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