“Be afraid not of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still”
– Chinese proverb
As a childcare practitioner, you should already be familiar with the term “reflective practice” as a way to help you provide the best possible care for children. Reflective practice allows you analyse activities you have carried out in the past with the aim of improving or developing the way you work in the future.
In your day-to-day activities, you need to question what you do and why you do it, rather than just doing what you have been told to do. This will help you fully develop your skills as a reflective practitioner, as well as enabling you to take responsibility for your own personal development.
If you're a reflective practitioner, you will:
- Think about how you work
- Acknowledge your strengths, but also recognise your weaknesses
- Consider the impact your actions have on children and their families
- Review your methods to improve the quality of your practice
- Identify and resolve problems
- Be open to listening and trying out new ideas
So, what you can do?
Keeping a reflective diary is one way you can capture a range of thoughts, feelings and reflections about what activities you carried out throughout your week. Gibbs' reflective cycle (1988) can be really useful in making you think through all the phases of an experience or activity:
Description – what happened?
Feelings – what were you thinking and feeling?
Evaluation – what was good and bad about the experience?
Analysis - what sense can you make of the situation?
Conclusion – what else could you have done?
Action plan – if the situation arose again, what would you do?
Reaping the benefits
Going through this process on a regular basis may be uncomfortable at first, but it will mean you’re taking the important step of questioning whether your working practices are correct and whether there’s anything more you can do to improve outcomes for the children.
Taking part in reflective practice has the added advantage of making you more efficient in your role and provides evidence to Ofsted that you are constantly trying to improve quality of care at your setting. So, now you know why effective means being reflective!
If you’re interested in developing your skills further, why not take one of our courses?