What is the value of observation in early childhood studies? And how can observation be used to support children’s learning and development and inform practice?
In this essay I am going to focus on the ways in which observations have been used in early year settings. I will comment on their importance and the information they provide practitioners, parents, student and government agencies. I will address this question in two parts I will first mention the values of observations. Then I will go on to comment the on the ways in which observations help support a child’s learning and the ways they inform practitioners on their practice in the setting. This allows early years practitioners to evaluate and assess activities and equipment. I will finally discuss the ways in which observation may not be so good for early year setting and how they may affect the children. An observation is the process in which an individual watches the actions of others, listens to what they say, who they speak to and how they speak. It can be a certain person, group of people or place over a period of time, to find out information suggest Fulcher, & Scott (1999). The observer can participant and become part of the activities taking place, or they can be non participants and watch from the sidelines. Observations are seen as important as we are able to discover children’s unique qualities and strengthen our knowledge about child development. They are beneficial and valued in early childhood studies as they provide educators, students, children and parents with compelling information about a child’s development. Through observations the children will display the mile stones they have reached; an early years educator will also get a better understanding of why a child does something. With this information educators, parents, and children can come together and discuss ways in which, they can encourage the child to flourish in a healthy and happy environment, which promotes their best interests. Observations are vital in early years setting, when there is any concern of a child being abused or mistreated an observation can be helpful to look at behavior and attitudes of the child. Focusing on how they relate to adults and their peers, are they showing any signs of withdrawal. Maher (1987) believes observations “ have underlined the iceberg nature of the problem for each child know to have been abused” (1987:37) this illustrates the necessity of observations when promoting children’s well being. Once a practitioner has spotted any signs of abuse they can then bring it to the attention of staff and government agencies. Observations are beneficial to parents, as they want to know how their child is emerging in the setting, and if the child is meeting their developmental stages. Parents are the first educators in the life of the therefore they will be the paramount people to supply knowledge about their children as they know them the best. Therefore the relationship between home, educational setting and parent is vital suggests Allen (1992 in Smidt) they need to work collectively so they can become experts about the child. If parents feel any concern about their child’s development, for example they feel their child is struggling in a certain area, needs extra support, or concerns about their child’s behaviour. They can confide in the early year practitioner voicing their concerns, the practitioner can then carry out an observation on the child to see if the child is actually struggling or need extra support. With the parents and practitioner working together they can provide the right support for the child, by creating an atmosphere that carters to the child needs promoting the child’s learning. As a first time observer, I found the experience of observing children very constructive. Adults according to Drummond (1993 in Smidt) learn by surveying carefully and evaluating things over, grasping and understanding what they have seen. I was...
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