‘Early Years Foundation’ (2011), Section 3, Unit 9 – ‘Observation, Assessment and Planning’, Open Study College.
Observations are an extremely important part of a childcare setting as it allows practitioners to assess each child’s progress. It is vital to a child’s learning and development for early years practitioners to observe the children’s actions, expressions and behaviours to establish their needs, interests and what stage they are at. “Without observation the assessment and overall planning in the setting will be affected” (in Early Years Foundation 2011, Section 3, Unit 9 ‘Observation, Assessment and Planning’, p.105). Effective observations consist of five essential skills which include looking, listening, recording, thinking and questioning. Practitioners need to look at and analyse the children in their care in order to gage their responses to different situations. By listening to children’s interactions with each other and adults practitioners are able to see how they will respond. It is extremely important for practitioners to accurately record their observations to allow them to reflect and think about how they will plan ahead for each individual child. It would be useful for practitioners to involve the child’s parents and the children themselves, if old enough, to answer some questions and clarify some of their observations. This will help ensure the observations are not “preconceived ideas or assumptions” based on the practitioners initial judgements of the children (in Early Years Foundation 2011, Section 3, Unit 9 ‘Observation, Assessment and Planning’, p.106/7).
There are many different types of observations. Participant observations are the most common and take place whilst the practitioners are playing along side the children. Spontaneous observations are when practitioners may notice a significant thing during the everyday routines. Planned observations which involve the practitioner “taking a back seat and watching the child from a distance” and are usually carried out over a set period of time up to ten minutes (in Early Years Foundation 2011, Section 3, Unit 9 ‘Observation, Assessment and Planning’, p.108).
Observations involve closely watching and listening to the children in order to assess and plan ahead to provide appropriate activities for each individual child. It also helps practitioners to determine when children are ready to move onto the next stage and to identify areas where some children might be having difficulties. Observations ensure activities are based upon the children’s likes and dislikes in order to meet their needs and not what the practitioners think they might find interesting. By