Observations of babies and young children
There are many different types of knowledge that can be found out about a child when carrying out observations on babies and children. Observations can help a practitioner gain an understanding of a child and whether they may need help or support within any of the areas of their education, personal life, home life and problems that the child may be trying to deal with. We as early years practitioners carry out observations on babies and young children to record and observe their
physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social development.
It is important to observe these areas of development to make sure that children are meeting their developmental norms in all of these areas. We also observe to be able to find out different techniques of how to promote these areas of development.
Communicating with children appropriately within observations is extremely important; the child within this observation could be shy and find it hard to talk to adults, so therefore it is important that the practitioners get down on their level, have a genuine care for them, use open body language, an example of this could be uncrossing your arms and using an appropriate amount of eye contact, for example, not staring at the child, so that the child may feel uneasy and insecure but looking at the child in an ensuring way and trying to connect with them. According to, www.bestpracticenet.co.uk, EYPS Standards, It is important to, 'Have high expectations of all children and commitment to ensuring that they can achieve their full potential'. This can be done by showing a child hat you have faith and confidence within them and their ability's to grow and develop. This could be done by something as simple as using positive facial expressions, these are important; by doing this it could reflect your happiness onto the child and by a practitioner being positive and smiling at the child, a young child may look up to you and think of you as a role model. Children will respond to this positive attitude and this may affect their self esteem, confidence and therefore they may want to form a relationship with you. If a child that you are carrying out an observation on is shy or withdrawn, there could be many reasons for this, so it is important to be aware and also to be sensitive to the child and their feelings, as by not doing this, it could affect a child’s self esteem. Good skills of language should be used within observations, for example, a practitioner should vary their voice tone and not be too loud or quiet when communicating with a child.
By carrying out observations, early years practitioners find out all of the individual needs of the children. This could vary from many different things, for example, if a child needs more support, such as whether they have any special needs or one to one requirements or whether a baby or young child may have problems with their recognition or sight ect. Many problems or abnormalities will be common within babies and young children and could go unnoticed, if observations aren't carried out successfully.
Observing the development of children can be fascinating. It is important to remember that each child is a unique individual. Children develop as they grow and learn new complex skills. The sequence of development is not the same for all children. An individual's ability progresses at different rates depending on inherited characteristics and the nurturing that child receives. Growth and development will progress well when a child's basic needs for food, warmth, sleep, exercise, encouragement and love are met by reliable adult carers.
Development is holistic including physical, intellectual, emotional and social aspects. These areas of development are integrated into a whole special individual.
From carrying out observations we can find a general indication of how a baby/child behaves and who they interact with also we can get a general overview of their interests, and what they don’t appear to like; which is why it is important to observe so that we can encourage the youngsters to try new things. For example, if a child doesn't seem to be interested in reading books. Then a EYP could find out one of their interests, for example, Thomas the tank engine and then adapt this theme to the book corner. Observing a child's unique development is a rewarding skill to learn.
As with all skills within life observation requires practice and it is important to perfect this skill whilst working with children. It is also important to carry out observations so that parent’s can be aware of their child/ baby’s progress and this will help the child's parents gain a knowledge and an understanding of their child's ability. It is also important to inform parents and carers about a child's development, as they will also be able to be a part of their child's education, for example, setting up an activity that promotes their child's overall skills and development.
It is important to be objective when observing children, this is done by not judging a child and taking everything into consideration and having a positive outlook. EYP's should not have fixed views or a subjective manner before observing a child. For example, if someone tells you that a child that your going to observe is very naughty and very behind in their development stages. An early years practitioner should observe the child with no fixed views and not judge the child on what others may have said.
When children are born, mid-wives or nurses come to the mothers house to be able to monitor and observe the child and make sure that they are developing properly, for example, putting on weight. When children go to nursery and school EYP's have many different observations that they carry out on the children for all of the different types of development. And they also plan activities on the basis of these observations.
Before an observation is carried out it is important that many Ethical considerations are taken in to account. This includes many different factors that may affect the observation, for example, EYP's have to make sure that get permission from the supervisor of my placement, this is done by simply asking if it was acceptable if they carried an out an observation. It is important to consider getting the document signed after it had been completed. EYP's should know that they need a teacher or supervisor to advise them on their observation or whether it needed their advise and at what level they needed them to consult at. They also had to know what information should be shared with the teacher and the parents about the observation I have done.
They also have to take into account the health and well-being of a child. According to, www.bestpracticenet.co.uk, EYP's Standards, Early years practitioners should, 'Plan and provide safe and appropriate child-led and adult initiated experiences, activities and play opportunities in indoor, outdoor and in out-of-setting contexts, which enable children to develop and learn'. This is done by making sure that when the observation or activity is going to take place a child should be safe at all times and there should be no potential risks to the child.
Also they have to think about how they would report the information, how they would set out the observation, whether the children could have been ill or could have suffered from a virus recently and wasn't their self, the child might suffer from a disease or a behaviour disorder. The time of day is important because if the child is hungry it might not be it's normal self and might not be up to showing its skills, so therefore the observation might not be as successful. It is important to choose a random child and make sure that differentiation is included. Early Years Practitioners should also consider their own health, hygiene and well being before carrying out an observation.
When carrying out an observation it is important to use the correct method for the certain type of development that is being observed or monitored. For example, if a child has special needs, etc. Then an EYP may observe them to see if they need any additional help, such as, one to ones, being seen by a nurse for its overall well-being or other issues. A child with special needs may need a translator for sign language or they may need their work or activity's put into Braille. Children with special needs may enjoy or learn more when doing sensory activity's. Additional needs children may require many specialists opinions or help, for example, speech therapists. Also it is extremely important that all children are treated equally and with dignity and respect. It is important that we inform parents of their child’s progress regularly and that they are aware of any under development seen from observations; we must inform parents who can then take further action in involving a doctor, psychologist, pedetrition, school worker.
Children that are non-English, for example, they don't understand the English language and they cant speak or communicate the English language. This is can be quite a difficult situation; I have observed in one of my placements a similar situation. A girl came over from India and she could speak a little English but did not understand fully, to be able to succeed in many activity's within the classroom. This child was helped by the teacher using, phonics and the child was also provided with one to one help. However in extreme cases where children may not understand or speak any English at all, translators are useful. For a child that may struggle with the English language there are many ways or helping them understand and learn, for example, picture card activity's as this will stimulate their recognition of different objects. Also a child may benefit from, ICT and audio facilities, interacting and playing with other children. And it is crucial that a child that doesn't speak any English has lots of contact and communication with English speakers.
From the ages of 0-3 children have strong social needs. At a very young age children form strong attachments. The Psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist, describing attachment as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194). He believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life. According to Bowlby, attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother, thus improving the child's chances of survival. The main theme of attachment theory is that mothers who are available and responsive to their infant's needs to establish a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.
So from a very early age children require eye contact and smiles. Also children need to hear language as this may comfort them or stop them from crying, this can be known as a distraction technique. When dealing with children its important to use your initiative, for example, if a child is crying, they may be tired or need feeding.
Children enjoy listening to music and enjoy taking part in activity's that have an audio input, for example, According to, www.earlychildhoodeducation.co.uk, under how singing and music classes can benefit children, 'As a baby, hears the voices of it's parents singing. Hearing songs, rhymes and simple rhythms can be very comforting for young children, especially when they’re feeling upset, irritated or tired out. It can help them relax and go to sleep, or music can be invigorating and exciting'. By providing children with musical activities it will help them to thrive socially and increase their social development. As activity's like this encourage team work, for example, sharing.
Children need to feel safe and secure around the people within their environment and their environment should be positive. This creates a foundation of which children can build on for social development.
Children of this age have strong physical needs, Children need to be in an appropriate environment in which they will be allowed to grow and develop properly. For example, by experimenting and playing with different things both inside and outside of a setting. Children should be exposed to gross motor skills such as, running. And fine motor skills such as drawing and painting.
Children that consume an unbalanced diet will be at risk of developing many problems. A balanced diet is important to maintain health and a sensible body weight. No single food will provide all the essential nutrients that the body needs to be healthy and function efficiently and properly. The nutritional value of a person’s diet depends on the overall mixture, or balance, of food that is eaten over a period of time, as well as on the needs of the individual. A diet which includes a variety of different foods is most likely to provide all the essential nutrients. Children need energy for our bodies to function properly but the balance between carbohydrate, protein and fat must be right for us to remain healthy. Too much fat can lead to overweight, obesity and other serious health problems such as heart disease and cancer. Too little protein can lead to problems with growth and repair in the body. Eating sugary foods or drinks too often without appropriate dental hygiene can lead to poor dental health. We need enough vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre for health. A variety of different foods and particularly plenty of fruits and vegetables will help to ensure that we get the right mix. Research has shown that there are other naturally occurring substances in foods, particularly plant foods such as fruits and vegetables which are also beneficial to health.
(School age children and youths, Nutrition notes)
EYP's should know that children need a routine to be able to feel safe and secure; they need to know and feel that they know what is going on and that they are in control. Each child within my setting has a different routine, however I am familiar with all of them. For example, when a child cries they may need a bottle or they may just want or need a cuddle, (physical attention). When feeding a child it is important to make eating a fun thing to do, so it is good practice to smile and communicate with the children throughout.
Children should be provided with sleep and rest as this will restore their energy within their bodies. Activities such as lullaby's and story's should be provided to a child. As this will be a fun activity to be part of.
When dealing with children, it is important to take into consideration all the areas of hygiene, for example, when changing a nappy, an apron and gloves should be worn and children should be cleaned with either cotton wool or wipes, or in some cases by bathing.
When children get mucky during a day at my placement, for example, after an activity, dinner or tea. Children may need their clothes changing even though most children do wear bibs. Also within my setting we have alcohol gel that we use to make our hands clean and I make sure that I wash my hands throughout the day. As this will get rid of germs and therefore you will be more hygienic.
Children's emotional needs are to be cared for and to be loved and to be shown affection. Early years practitioners must, establish fair, respectful, trusting, supportive and constructive relationships with children. It is also important to communicate sensitively and effectively with children from birth to the end of the foundation stage. Children should be listened to, and EYP's should pay attention to what they say and value and respect their views. Early years practitioners must also demonstrate the positive values, attitudes and behaviour they expect from children. As this will help them grow and develop and help them achieve their goals.
There are a whole range of recording methods that can be used when observing children it is important the correct method is used for the type of observation, for instance: a mapping observation can help record and monitor the child's attention span. But this observation must be recorded accurately and using the proper format. It is vital that when observing a child you do not make anything up, exaggerate a situation, be imprecise and that all information and recordings are accurate and true; this is why is is important that a supervisor signs the finished copy.
Many settings use tick charts and check list's, this is good for monitoring the child's fine and gross motor skills and then linking them to the norms to then evaluate their needs or to find out activity's that may promote their skills. Tick charts work better if comments and evaluations are also used to bring them to life or when you link them to other observations that you have done.
Observing children over a long period of time is a lovely way of both observing children and providing a structure for planning for individual children. This method works well with all age ranges and is popular with parents. The idea is that you carry out a short written observation, take a photograph if possible and then draw some conclusions about what you have seen. You also include some suggestions of what the child’s next steps might be and ways in which they might be supported.
A narrative observation includes noting down all of the child's language; this is good for recording and monitoring their language and social development. Event sample is good for attention span, behaviour or for looking at all of the different activity's that a child may take part in. A child's intellectual development can be monitored it includes noting down everything a child says and who they communicate with.
It is important to have many methods of observation to be able to observe all of the child's skills and different areas of development. Children have a right to be observed and monitored to make sure that their development is at the right level. From observing we are able to see if there are any delays in development. Which in some cases, a doctor or other specialists would need to be informed and a child maybe taken in for tests or other procedures. After each observation, EYP's link the child's development to the norms of development; by doing this you could find out whether the child is behind, on the right level or in front of their years. We will also be able to see whether a child has hearing difficulties, which they would probably be told to go see a doctor and a doctor would recommend a place to go to or a treatment which a child may need. It is important that as an EYP we try and communicate with children and this is done by singing to a child, talking, asking them questions and taking part in audio activity's, such as, nursery rhymes or singing activities. According to, ecrp.uiuc.edu, 2007, 'Children are unique and complex and thus often difficult to comprehend. And they do not readily engage us in dialogue in order to explain the reasons for their caprice as they explore the world that surrounds them. Yet, as practitioners it is important for us to know our children deeply, to flow with their currents, and to extend their nascent theories about how the world work'. This can be done by observing and evaluation a child's needs.
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