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Child Observation: Learning in Child-Initiated Play

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 1100 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Observation Record Front Page

Observation Number: 1  Date: 23/09/2019

Aim:  The aim of this activity is to reflect on the rights of the child and the practitioner’s image of the child prior to our workshop.

Rationale: The rationale of this observation is to identify the learning perceived to be happening during child-initiated play.

Number of children in room: 10  Number of Adults in room: 2

Child being observed- Age: 3 years 2 months 

Gender: Female

Brief description of child: TC is one of three children, TC has one brother and her mother has recently had a newborn baby girl. TC used to get dropped to preschool by her granny. TC now gets dropped by her mother, this child gets dropped off at our preschool at 9 oclock in the morning as is collected at quarter to 2 just after her mother collects her brother from school.

Start time: 10.20am  Finish time: 10.30am

The setting: The ECCE room

The immediate context: TC is over beside the window next to the dolls.

Observation Method used: Narrative

A)    Observation:

TC is lying flat on her back on the soft mat with her legs straight out. She is holding a small empty water bottle in her left hand. She has both her eyes shut. She lets go of the bottle it falls beside her left side. Her lips turn down and she begins to make loud sounds. She stops making the sounds, sits up, opens her mouth wide and stretches both arms straight up. TC puts her arms down and picks up the bottle using her left hand. She turns over onto her knees and stands up onto the mat. TC puts her left foot in front of her right and walks over to the doll lying in the buggy. She bends both knees and places the bottle onto the floor. She stands up straight and puts both arms into the buggy and lifts the baby doll. She pouts her lips and places them on the doll’s right cheek. She bends both knees and picks up the empty water bottle with her left hand. She walks over putting her right foot in front of her left to the soft area and sits down on her bum. Holding the bottle in her left hand she places the top of the bottle touching the baby’s mouth. After approximately one-minute TC stands up, puts her right foot in front of her left and walks back over to the doll’s pram placing the baby inside. She holds the handle of the pram with both hands, takes 4 steps backwards putting her right foot in front of her left and turns the pram clockwise, pursuing to walk around the room wheeling the pram.

       B) Evaluation:

The purpose of the observation was to determine what learning the child was receiving through self-initiated play. The Aistear aims and learning goals are used for this evaluation.

Wellbeing: Using the doll as a baby, TC is demonstrating being creative and spiritual. Learning goal of this aim is that children can develop and nurture their sense of wonder and awe whilst expressing themselves creatively. Children will be strong psychologically and socially which will allow children to handle transitions and changes well which is important since the arrival of the newborn into the house.

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Identity and belonging: Child shows themselves as an independent learner, experiencing learning opportunities that are based on personal interests, and linked to their home, community and culture. TC made the crying sounds of the baby and then picked up the bottle and fed the baby, the child has obviously seen this being done before at home and learned from it. TC was able to express their rights and show an understanding and regard for the identity, rights and views of other by demonstrating the skills of co-operation, responsibility, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

Communicating: TC yawning meets the aim of children being able to use non-verbal communication skills, a range of body movements, facial expressions, and early vocalisations to show feelings and share information. TC showed how children will express themselves creatively and imaginatively, use language to imagine and recreate roles and experience.

Exploring and Thinking: One of the aims is that children will learn about and make sense of the world around them, TC has experienced a lot of change in her life and the learning goal of this aim is that children can develop an understanding of change as a part of their life.

C)    Recommendation:

As a child’s independence is crucial, time for self-initiated activities becomes a huge part of the day in a childcare practice. The next step to improve children’s learning from self-initiated activities is to allow free play to take up more time within the day. Materials need to be easily accessible for children to access within their own time, given them plenty of time to explore the materials and their properties, children then get to use their knowledge of what they have discovered to play creatively in whatever way they choose. Water and sand play are a great tool for this, by childcare practitioners offering children a water table, a sand box and a few props, tools and containers, the learning is endless. The preschool discussed in the observation consists of many different cultures and children of different nationalities. Children of different races need to play with other children from all different types of backgrounds to be able understand and respect different cultures (French, 2007). Child initiated activities allows just that.

  • French, G. (2007) Children’s early learning and development. Research paper commissioned by the National Council and Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), available at www.ncca.ie/earlylearning. 
  • National Council and Curriculum and Assessment (2009), Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.
  • United Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child. Geneva: United Nations


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