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Linking observation of children to developmental theory and policy

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 1733 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Written Report Linking Observation of Children to Developmental Theory and Policy

Watching and listening to children is an important part of a Nursery Practitioner's role. This is how we learn what stage of development a child has reached. Bowlby states “a further principle of the theory of learning is that an individual cannot learn a skill unless he has a friendly feeling towards his teacher.” (pg65) Observations enable you to compare to the expected development milestones which are the basis of our Social policy they are Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Every Child Matters documents. As all children develop at their own pace, there are influences that affect the rate at which a child develops, and these are environmental and also genetic. A child's surroundings, their family, and culture are very important in placing particular emphasis on some aspects rather than others.

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Rousseau proposed” that development proceeds according to an inner, biological timetable; we have a picture of development unfolding fairly independently from environmental influences. Children are no longer simply shaped by external forces, such as adult teachings and social reinforcements. They grow and learn largely on their own, according to nature's plan." We call this method “Biological Maturation.” Within the first week of a child starting in the nursery setting, an initial child profile checklist is carried out. This profile gives the basis for the key person to discover at what stage of Early Years Foundation Development the child has currently reached; it also aids the key person in planning activities to assist in the child's development in moving on to the next stage. Practitioners will also be able to see any child development concerns. This can assist the key person in devising an individual educational plan if necessary.

The methods of observations used for this report are a Sociogram and a Developmental Checklist. However these observations are only a snap shot of the overall development of the child. The aim of this Sociogram is to discover what child A's interests are; who she interacts with; and what stages of development she has reached.

Art Area Painting

  • Choosing painting
  • Putting apron on correctly
  • Asking for help
  • Painting lines and circle
  • Writing L for name
  • Speaks to child B

Home Corner

  • Dresses doll
  • Speaks to doll
  • Has conversation with child C explains what she is doing

Book Area

  • Talks to staff about rules
  • Speaks to child D and E about rules
  • Reads story to two children.

The checklist focus's on the physical and intellectual development of child A as we can see from the checklist, the child's physical development is on line with the milestones stated. Also intellectual assessment is on line with Early Years Foundation Stage and Mary D Sheridan From birth to Five Years.

E. Y. F. S. Personal, Social, Emotional

Making Relationships 30-50 months

  • Form friendships with other children.
  • Demonstrate flexibility and adapt their behaviour to different events.

40-60 months

Value and contribute to own well-being and self-control.

Early LearningGoal 40-60+ months.

Form good relationships with adults and peers.

Sheridan 4 years

Inclined to verbal impertinence with adults and quarrelling with playmates when wishes crossed.

Bandura said “in social settings, we learn a great deal through imitation, and imitation involves cognitive processes.” (Cited Theories of Development).

Dispositions and Attitudes 30-50 months

Shows confidence in linking up with others for support and guidance.

E.Y.F.S Communication, Language, Literacy

Language for Communication 30-50 months

  • Use intonation, rhythm and phrasing to make their meaning clear to others.
  • Responds to simple instructions.

40-60 months

Have confidence to speak to others about their own wants and interests.

Linking sounds and letters 40-60 months

Hear and say the initial sound in words and know which letters represent some of the sounds.

Vygotsky states' the acquisition of speech is of a major importance to the growing child, it enables the child to participate in the social life of his or her group. `

Sheridan 3years Hearing and Speech

  • Large vocabulary intelligible even to strangers, but speech still shows many infantile phonetic substitutions and unconventional grammatical forms.
  • Speech modulating in loudness and range of pitch.

4 years

Matches and names four primary colours correctly.

Reading 30-50 months

  • Handle books carefully.
  • Begin to be aware of the way stories are structured.
  • Know information can be relayed in the form of print.
  • Hold books the correct way up and turn pages.

Writing 30-50

Sometimes give meaning to the marks they make.

Montessori claims “four year olds usually master writing before reading. This is because writing is the more concrete and sensory activity and therefore better suits the young child's style of learning.”(Cited Theories of Development).

Handwriting 30-50 months

  • Use one handed tools.
  • Draw lines and circles using gross motor skills.

40-60 months

  • Begin to form recognisable letters.

Sheridan 4 years

Holds and uses a pencil with good control in adult fashion.

Montessori says 'first, the child is shown how to hold a pencil and then practices drawing by staying within outlines.' (CitedTheories and Development).

E.Y.F.S Knowledge, Understanding of the World

Exploration and investigation 22-36months

Use others as sources of information and learning.

Brunner believed children can do more if they have guidance and help from another person who is more experienced than themselves whether it is peer or an adult. His scaffold approach, giving the child more support at first then reducing that support as the child becomes secure (Brunner 1973).

Time 30-50 months

Remember and talk about significant events in their own experience

E.Y.F.S Creative Development

Developing Imaginative play 40-60 months

Play alongside other children who are engaged in the same theme

E.Y.F.S Physical Development

Using Equipment and Materials 30-50 months

  • Engage in activities requiring hand eye co-ordination.
  • Show increasing control over clothing and fastenings.

Sheridan 4 years Posture and Large Movement

Walks or runs alone up and down stairs using one foot to a stair.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The methods of observations used had advantages and disadvantages the Sociogram disadvantages:-

  1. Subject to considerable distortion.
  2. Another child may need your attention; therefore you may have to stop and start again.
  3. Also another member of staff can not take over form you.
  4. A lot of language can take place which is not obvious in the Sociogram.
  5. Not explanatory for parents.


1. Shows how many contacts a child has during the time observed.

“Interesting to test out the theories that young children are more likely to have

changing friends” states(Sharman C et al)

Checklist disadvantages:-

  1. Children don't always perform to order.
  2. A lot of language can take place which is not obvious in the checklist.
  3. Parents can miss interpret results.
  4. Information is closed data.


  • You can put checklist down and return to it later.
  • Quick and easy way to record.
  • Any colleague can take over from you.
  • You are able to identify a need while you are doing this.
  • Does not require completion in one day.
  • Does not require to be filled in the order given.
  • It's an on going profile for the Early Years Foundation Stage Development.


The milestones for a four year old (Sheridan) states “walks up and down stairs alone one foot to a stair and matches and names four primary colours correctly” (pg 55); child A is 3 years 3months. This shows us that she is above her milestone development. Child A interacts well with staff and relates well to her peers; she thoroughly enjoys books and taking the lead and reading stories to her peers; a lot of the time from memory. The information gathered does not give a holistic view of the child but of her performance on the day the observations were carried out.

Conclusion As we have assessed child A's milestones through the observations we now know that she has reached the milestones relevant for her age range. We also note that she has reached several developmental milestones in the next stage of her development. Other methods of observation used in the setting are Target child and Time sample along with photographic observations. We know that children's development is not straight forward and that they all develop at a different speed, so for the practitioners to be able to monitor these milestones they need to have the knowledge and social policies in place to be able refer to them. Sharman, Cross and Vennis say “The most appropriate way to monitor progress and compare it with what we are learning, or know, about the way children and young people mature and develop, is to understand observation.” ( Sharmon C, viii 2006 ).


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