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Responding To Observations


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I apologise for asking yet another question but I'm sure someone out there can help me!

I have recently read Vicky Hutchin's book "Supporting every child's learning" which suggests that every observation should be assessed and responded to (this also seems to be the suggestion of some of the planning from the EYFS cd). Currently we have 4 children each week which we do a long obs on and respond to. We also do many sticky-note type incidental observations - we try to respond to some of these e.g. if a child or group of children have asked for something/shown an interest in something/needed particular support but I just don't see how we could possibly assess and respond to every single observations that we do (25 children between myself and TA)

Of course, all the obs are used together to inform the assessment of the children's learning, interests and needs (as we review each child's learning journal) - which feeds into the learning intentions for focused activities (for groups or whole-class) and their record sheets. This leads to another question (sorry) - should all our focus activities be for individual children or is it still ok to be planned for whole class/groups or a few children in mind (we never exclude any child from joining in if they want to).



Green Hippo

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To be honest green hippo, I'd want to read the whole paragraph or part chapter to understand what she means by the suggestion of 'responding' to every observation.

The rest of your description of how you do things sounds fine to me.

I used to plan from observations for a few individuals, for groups, or for one child, it really depended on the evaluation of the observations. ie: A particular child if it was a skill that others could do. A few children if even one of them showed a developmental need but I knew that child played within a group as his/her prefered 'learning style', or a whole group for say an adult initiated activity that it was noted all the children would benefit from as they all showed interest in a particular concept or skill ie: a particular type of circle game with a particular focus.

So, I'd say the answer to your question should all our focus activities be for individual children or is it still ok to be planned for whole class/groups or a few children in mind is, either one of them or all of them :o




p.s. Please do not feel that you need to apologies for asking questions. If questions weren't asked I'd have less to read on the forum. xD:(

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Thanks Peggy - always there when we need you!

Vicky Hutchins suggests that "The format below provides a practical way of embedding this into day-to-day practice:

Evidence (observation):


Area(s) of learning addressed:

Implications for planning: (what next) " (p46)

and later states "EVERY observation needs to be analysed...every observation or evidence is likely to have some implication for planning for the individual child" (p49)

Her examples later of incidental obs all follow the above format.

Maybe I'm just interpreting the meaning too literally - if I think about it we do analyse the learning that has taken place - and indicate which area(s) of learning it links to and the obs do have SOME implication for planning for the individual child?


Can I just ask whether you considered every obs you did everyday and include a next step then and there or just when you thought it was appropriate?


Thanks green hippo

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Thankyou Green hippo fr starting such an interesting thread.


I think we tend to forget that analysis of observations don't only happen when they are written down. We observe, analyse and react frequently on a day t day basis without recording it all necessarily. It doesn't mean we dont do it. We carry a lot of information about our children in our heads, Im sure if I asked you to tell me about any child, you could tell me soemthing about them, and proabaly something about their next steps too. How often do we observe a child doing something, and then intervene in one way or another according to what we have observed? How often do we change what we planned beacuse of soemthing we have observed? That IS analysis.


So I woud agree with Vicky's statement "EVERY observation needs to be analysed...every observation or evidence is likely to have some implication for planning for the individual child" (p49),


I would just argue that it doesnt have to be written down every time. I would argue that good practitioners do it all the time, often without realising they are doing it.

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I agree with Mundia, also agree in principle with Vicky, I don't personally think an assessment is always useful on every single observation basically because what you may see is a child 'in the process' of discovery, practising a particular skill, becoming aware or even consolidating a particular concept, so assessing just one snapshot of this process may not be a useful conclusion.


Really I'd like to say take on board her thoughts, her ideas for practice, but use it to fit with what works for you. Have confidence in your knowledge of how observations inform YOUR way of thinking, in effect, they are YOUR notes, written in the context that YOU are living at the time, so YOU will be able to understand their meaning. As long as they make sense to you, give you the information you need, you reflect on this and it informs your practise thats what really matters.


pedantics on presentation is not the issue. However, the importance of evaluating observations, be it one in isolation, or a few together for a bigger picture, is essential to remember. So many people don't evaluate observations and I think this is why many people (not saying this is you) feel that observations are a waste of time, take away from hands on play etc etc. I've never understood this except to think they are not evaluating them. I love reading observations, deciding what they are telling me, to me this gives me as much 'job satisfaction' as playing. It makes me feel I know that child, the way he/she ticks just that little bit more. But then I didn't plan to do observations on things I already knew about a child. It's the discovery of what you don't know that make observations so interesting. :o



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Thanks for all your reply's.

I think you're right Mundia - we don't always take into account our immediate responses and/or those we don't write down.

I really enjoy observing the children - it's amazing what you find out when you really watch and listen!

Through our observations we are building up a picture of each child's abilities, needs and interests and are taking these into account each time we plan - whether for an individual, group, or class.

I'm considering using a format similar to the one on the EYFS website to record how we repsond to SOME observations. We will continue to do our observations as normal to continue to build up our picture of each child.

I'm going on a planning course tomorrow so they might have a format that would be suitable??


Thanks again

Green Hippo

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