Observations are essential in all life situations. Prospective educators have to carefully and systematically document each child’s development, so they could critically analyse their improvements and areas for further development. This essential information is shared with parents, support staff and the school administration, where necessary. The most effective observations and assessment will aid the prospective practitioners in improving their skills in planning, reflecting, analysing and discussing about the children’s development.
Furthermore, interaction with children can give practitioners a further insight into children’s development, understanding how they are learning and what further steps need to be put in place to help them learn further. Gathering information about children’s learning and development can be obtained in various ways, not just through observations and assessments.Why should one observe and analyse children? Observations in these setting can and will most likely enable: • Informed and up to date planning of activities• Informed understanding of a child’s current competence levels • Reflection on the appropriateness of provision • Sharing of information with other parties • Assessment of specific children, groups, interactions, the learning environment and staff.Purposeful observation offers benefits to practitioners, parents and children, and is a positive way of responding to the needs of all children. For those children experiencing special needs we should ensure that we focus on assessing the child and not the difficulties being experienced. In the case of an autistic child, for example, while practitioners need to understand the effects and implications of autism, we should focus on the child’s current skills, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes which will inform planning. With each child we are thus increasing our knowledge and considering each child as individual and unique.
In other words, observation and assessment should be an integral part of every early years establishment.Observations and individual children’s achievementsAchievements are usually gathered through the process of analysing and reviewing what we know about children’s development and learning, through observations. Practitioners often need to ask themselves critical questions in which they analyse evidence of learning that they have collected. These may involve some information from parents, photographs and video recordings. While doing this regularly, practitioners will gather evidence of the children’s progress, and over time they will gain insights into children’s learning, development and their needs. Effective assessment involves evaluation or decisions about the child’s progress, and their learning and development needs, and gives practitioners valuable information in order to establish achievements. Each child in the early years setting will have individual records kept. These may include basic information and details about the child him/herself, his/her entry profile, any previous involvement with other professionals with regards to their developments, early intervention strategies employed, parental information gathered and the records of progress review meetings.
In fact, records of the children’s progress are kept and are available to parents on request. Practitioners assess how young children are learning and developing by frequent observation, using information to document their progress and where this may be leading them. Practitioners should be able to make assessment summaries of children’s achievement based on our on-going development records. These form part of children’s records of achievement. Children’s records are kept to help practitioners celebrate achievements and by time, children are provided with enough resources that the child needs for her/his well-being to ensure good progress.Planning & enhancing stimulating and motivating experiencesEffective practitioners pull and match together the information they gather in their observations to identify aspects of the child’s learning and development. While assessing children, mentors are technically making judgements about the child’s progress and needs.
Practitioners actually use these to plan what they will provide for the child in the future. It is important that these practitioners make thorough observations of what they see, take time to think about what they have seen and heard, and then plan according to the children’s likes and desires, as these may very well have an impact on the well-being of the children in the classroom. Observations are perhaps the most powerful of all the methods we have available when working with children. With this being said, the ultimate goal of schools and practitioners are to transform its students by providing knowledge and skills and by building character and instilling virtue (Sergiovanni, 1991). Students are often affected by planning, and this should be tackled by practitioners in a way that helps them develop in different areas, such as in their intellectual and physical abilities. When planning, one needs to consider the multicultural and diverse socio-economic backgrounds that the children come from. How can schools ensure that all students, regardless of their social, economic, and intellectual statuses, learn and become useful and productive members of society? Are all students motivated to pursue and achieve academic goals on their own? How can schools enhance students’ motivation to learn?These are some frequent questions that are asked by practitioners while conducting their planning.
One should always keep in mind that to motivate the children requires lots of effort, as every individual child is different, and is willing to expend toward the achievement of a certain goal. Practitioners need to keep in mind certain motivation theories that should be endeavoured to provide the right conditions for student learning. These are: (1) the behavioural view, (2) the cognitive view, (3) the humanistic view, and (4) the achievement motivation theory.
ConclusionAs a conclusion, it can be said that while observing and assessing children’s development, it is important that practitioners fully understand their role in the observation and assessment process. They should always reflect and evaluate the observations collected, and assess the system used, in order to figure out if this is working or not working for that particular child. Therefore, it is vital that we reduce paperwork, and interact more with children. Interacting and observing children are crucial, because these methods render the best data possible for assessments and achievements. ReferencesBiehler, Robert F., Snowman, Jack. (1993).
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Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes.Mortimer, H. (2001) Special Needs and Early Years Provision. London: Continuum. (Chapter 8.
)Moyles, J. (1989) Just Playing? The Role and Status of Play in Early Childhood Education. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. (Chapter 7.)Sergiovanni, Thomas J. (1991). The Principalship: A reflective Practice perspective (2nd ed.
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Observing children. Retrieved on December 20, 2017, from https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/news/1102493/observing-children