Observing children

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As a practitioner, building observations into your practice is something you’ll do on a regular basis. Observation of children as they play and interact will help you get an accurate picture of what each child knows, understands and feels.

Although many of the observations you carry out will be carefully planned, there are also spontaneous moments where you can observe important changes in a child’s development.

Good observations will call upon your knowledge of child development and how the child learns, as well as your ability to connect what you see and hear with the EYFS curriculum and Early Years Outcomes document.

There’ll be many opportunities for you to observe children throughout the day, but whether you’re actively involved in play or watching from a distance –there are some key pointers you should use to guide how you record observations.

Observations must be:

  • Focused on what the child did and said
  • Be factual
  • Be specific
  • Be brief

Practitioners must carry out two formal assessments of a child’s development progress by law. The first is when the child is aged between 2 and 3 years – at this stage you’re required to summarise the child’s development against the prime areas in the EYFS and then provide feedback to parents/carers. The second assessment happens in the final term of when a child reaches 5, at which point an EYFS Profile must be completed.

You play a crucial role in tracking, encouraging and supporting children’s development in the Early Years. How well you make daily observations and carry out activity planning will make a huge impact on the child’s life both now and in the future, so it’s important to take the time to get this right.

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