Twice a year the pastoral carers are required to transfer this knowledge from note-taking, observations, record books, assessments of the children they care for, onto ‘progress reports’ for the parents to receive. “Sound reflection on the observations we make not only enhances professional practise, but also aids our understanding of children. ” (Advanced Early Years 2nd Ed: I Macleod-Brudenell & J Kay:Pg328:2008) We sit together and discuss each child and ensure we have accurate and up-to-date details to add onto the progress report. Any concerns are dealt with on a daily basis and are not collected to discuss just twice a year. A primary purpose of observation is to record in order to inform our response to the needs of children. ” (Advanced Early Years 2nd Ed: I Macleod-Brudenell & J Kay:Pg328:2008) The pastoral carers are then able to take time to sit and write a short report for the child, of which a copy is given to the parents and a copy is stored within the child’s file at playgroup. The parents are also invited to come along and meet with their child’s pastoral carer before the report is sent home. Observations and assessments of the children within our care may be required for the following reasons: Concerns about a child’s behaviour and/or development * Routine assessments (starting at playgroup, leaving playgroup) * Structured assessments in cases of special needs * Assessments for purposes of a case conference or court * Students for learning purposes * Assist with planning our curriculum * To assist with planning IPP’s (Individual Play Plans) “Observation is a diagnostic tool, confirming capability or progress at a point in time. It is a means of unobtrusively collecting potentially rich information about children’s development. ” (Advanced Early Years 2nd Ed: I Macleod-Brudenell & J Kay:Pg329:2008)
At playgroup we are aware of the following, but may only use a few within our setting: Observation: Observations can be taken inside or outside and at different times of the day and within different areas of the setting. They record what the child is doing in a subjective way, enabling you to support children’s development / be aware of their current stage of development? It’s most appropriate to use this method when a child’s development is causing concern. “Observations should be as objective, valid and reliable as possible; and conclusions should not be drawn from one observation only. (Special Issues in Childcare:M O’Hagan ;amp; M Smith:Pg37:1995) Information from colleagues and carers: Parents/carers who know the child and colleagues expertise are invaluable, especially when planning for social and academic success for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities. If we are concerned about child’s development it’s good to ask/share information. We also share information such as a parent pops in to explain they’re concerned their child might be feeling a little poorly one morning, a colleague lets you know how they saw a child achieve a milestone in their development. Your data should be discussed with appropriate persons and parents, compared, cross-checked and further assessments done where necessary. ” (Special Issues in Childcare:M O’Hagan & M Smith:Pg39:1995) Assessment framework: It is the way in which a child is assessed to decide whether they have any particular needs and what these needs may be. It is useful in deciding whether the child is reaching expected milestones of development in different areas. Assessment frameworks involve methods from the Welsh ‘Foundation Phase’ and ‘Birth to Three Matters’. Assessments should not be judgemental and negative but should accurately reflect your findings, based on observational and other sources of information where relevant. ” (Special Issues in Childcare:M O’Hagan & M Smith:Pg39:1995) Standard measurements: Tests/cognitive aptitude tests that demonstrate a snapshot of children’s academic ability or skill at retaining taught information and that might then be used to compare outcomes between a larger population of same-age children. Health programmes that might measure head circumference, weight, height, visual and auditory functioning.
Educational psychologists may use reasoning tests to assess an intellectual age in contrast to a chronological age. Types of observation we use within playgroup are: Naturalistic – where we observe the children during the general playgroup routine and in their natural surroundings. No attempt is made to structure the situation. This is used for general information such as how well an activity has been received or how well a child completes an activity – especially useful with our new style planning as we can gauge whether children are enjoying the topic and getting the most from it.
Structured – a situation is organised prior to the observation with a view to gaining specific information e. g. building blocks on the table, can the child build a tower of four blocks? This is used more for the child’s development book; we can record any progress or areas of concern. Snapshot – notes are made which capture what the child is doing at a particular point in time. This is useful to see what the most popular activities are and what children enjoy doing. Longitudinal – several observations over a period of time.
We use these types of observation if there appears to be a concern over behaviour or development. Table of different techniques that we use at playgroup: Method of assessment, recording, monitoring children| How this is used| Why this may be used| Time Sampling| Regular intervals over a set period of time e. g. every half an hour during the session| can be used to observe a child’s behaviour to identify possible concerns. E. g. a shy child who does not relate to other children| Event Sampling| Observing/recording specific events such as temper tantrums| helps to clarify what really happens during a tantrum.
For example is the child provoked, does the event happen at certain times of day, how long does the tantrum last? | Checklist of development| Record of child’s abilities within a development book| Good way of seeing where the child is with their development – do they need encouragement in a certain area? | Structured records| Usually given by Flying Start/1st Opportunity to update their records| Records that are passed to us by a third party regarding what the child is able/not able to do prior to starting with us. Sociograms| Recording how children relate to each other in a group| Good exercise to see who plays with whom. In older children you can observe whether they are starting to form more settled friendships. | Anecdotal, diaries and log books| Specific events recorded over time and recording situations as they happen, of what the child does and says, and more importantly how the child does and says things| Spontaneous observations can show surprising things about a child’s development that might otherwise never be seen. Target child| More specialised form of observation which focuses on one child within a group or situation| show a child’s unique all round development at a particular age and stage| Video recording / photographs| To document a child’s progress and enjoyment of activities whilst at the setting| Very useful to show parents what their child is able to achieve at playgroup and great for non-verbal children to be observed without missing anything. |