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Observations...do You Use These?


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Ok. Looking for some honest opinions!

When you all do your observations do any of you use the following ones?

 

Oxford Target Child

Long narrative

Time Sampling

Tracking

Sociogram?

 

Or do you find yourself jotting things down on post it notes and scraps of paper? In an ideal world i would love to think we could use some of these but they seem to take up so much time and effort! time I should be playing with the children!

Reason why im asking this...its all part of my diploma in pre-school practice. All these methods are the ones recommended to observe children and my first assignment has me completing 4 diff ones on the same child. Having been in touch with my tutor over this she wants me to do 20 of these before i even attempt to do the assignment. Thank goodness i can go into pre-school on my days off as I would feel awful about spending so much time on these. Do you agree? Or do you think we should be doing this? Is this course still working in the "old ways"? Im not familiar with those Im afraid! Tutor says its important to be experienced at doing this and this would be one of her questions on hiring staff.

 

Views/opinions please!

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As a childminder I may not be best placed to answer this but I have tried to do tracking observation on a child to provide evidence towards assessment of needs - I felt her concentration was much lower than expected for her age and wanted to show just how much she flitted. It was very interesting as most of the time she was at an activity or in an area for seconds - not even minutes. My point is, is that although it was useful it was impossible to do the things I should be doing with all the children ie. joining in their play, talking with them etc.

sorry if that's not much help

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Our general obs are post-its hastily scribbled. If we have spontaneous group activity going on we might do a narrative or use the tape recorder. For SEN etc we use ABC obs, spidergrams etc. but generally it is the trusty post-it!

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I do time sample longitudinal obs if there's a need. Occasional sociogram, but mostly I'm doing obs for a purpose. Lots of post-its still though for immediate notes to stick into files and write up later

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I tended not to do many longer planned obs either. If I felt I needed a little more information about a particular child then I would plan to do one. Other than that it was just post it type obs.

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Hi

Thanks for that feedback. Can see where these types of obs are useful ie behaviour triggers etc but as previously stated for me its the time taken to do them. Glad my setting seems to be the same as others in this. Will do as much as i can for the assignment in my own time and then insert into their records too (might as well use them eh?!). Just cant see me being able to do these when actually at work without extra staff to cover being off the floor!

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I used long narrative, time sampling and tracking (staff as well as children) alongside post it type obs. I do believe that knowledge of these methods are useful for different purposes, also to remember that one obs on it's own is less informative than a few to gain the full picture.

Timing wise, I would only spend about 3-10 mins max on the narrative, 10 mins max on tracking ( a good way to revue opening times for example) and time sampling takes the same amount of time as a quick post it obs, noting behaviour/whereabouts of a child say every 10 minute intervals.

The most important thing with any obs is to use the information they give you. :o 1/ for development assessment and 2/ to identify what other obs you need to find out what you still don't know.

 

I would say using different methods is also useful when evidencing needs of a child who you suspect may have SEN. Narrative for language/comprehension, tracking for concentration span / play choices, sociograms for peer interaction.

 

The only method I didn't use was Oxford, although I suppose you could translate a narrative obs with the codes if required.

 

 

 

Peggy

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I heard Jan Dubiel speak in the summer and he said "only write down what you may forget" it seemed good advice to me.

 

For me, that would be quite a lot - short sticky notes or photos act an aide memoir. I also like doing narrarative observations, to help me tune into a child - when looking at them afterwards I often consider things I hadn't previously. Of course, observations are not much use if you don't use them to meet the needs of the child.

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Hi there,

Apart from the Oxford one I am trying them all out at the moment. I usually use the post-its and photos for folders and as a memory jogger too. Also try to complete narrative long obs. Today I have been trying tracker with a (badly drawn) map of the two rooms we use. It has been very helpful, but I could not help putting in more detail, such as the odd bit of overheard conversation. However, I felt I had plenty of information in a visual way, with lots of PLODs, especially for further observations. I think it is a good idea to vary the observation style you use, it is quite an individual thing, some of us are more visual and others can write fast!!!

 

Lesley :oxD

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Yes personally I woulda agree that doing those kinds of observations in the work setting is usually a little excessive - but what you have to remember here is you are a student - and although it may feel a little over the top doing indepth observations- will give you a good grounding later, and by doing such indepth ones now you are gaining the background knowlege to enable you to recognise when such observations may be needed in the future.

 

It makes me feel good to here that tutors are still asking this, and I think this is where qualification such as your diploma differ from NVQs - I know the people I assess do not have to them nearly as detailed, and only have to do three!!

 

xxx

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In my setting we try and do at least one observation (per child) each term. These are usually in the form of learning stories and each practitioner has their own preferred way of facilitating them. I like to make rough notes during the observation which I then rewrite onto the official form. In addition to these we carry out incidental observations on post-it-notes. :o

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In my setting we try and do at least one observation (per child) each term. These are usually in the form of learning stories and each practitioner has their own preferred way of facilitating them. I like to make rough notes during the observation which I then rewrite onto the official form. In addition to these we carry out incidental observations on post-it-notes. :o

 

Congratulations on your first post!

 

Welcome to the forum

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Congratulations on making your first post, jkwools. I thought you were destined only to use chat and never get round to posting! :o

 

Now that you've got the first one out of the way, here's to loads more!

 

Maz

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As a Diploma tutor I wouldn't usually expect my students to do as many as twenty observations for their first assignment but I do suggest they practise all the different types and do more than the four required for the assignment. Staff who are trained in observation do pick up more on the quick post-its we do In my pre-school and have a useful repertoire of methods to draw on if we have concerns about a child and need to go into more depth.

Deb W

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I feel that while it may seem excessive it is a learning curve to train you into what to look for and how it can be documented, good practice to learn about observations as they are so much a part of current planning for the child.

 

They may seem to take time to begin with but once practised this becomes easier and can slot in with everyday routines quite easily. Most are for 5 mins, 10 the most and our students always managed to fit it in around everything.

 

We had a hat in one setting where if you were wearing it everyone knew to not interrupt you, children soon picked up on this and did the same, currently they use a decorated clipboard as a signal..this we found important even if you are coming in just to observe or the children tend to include you in the daily routine anyway.

 

The more different ones you learn about the easier it becomes if and when you need to do more in depth observations for a reason, such as reports to support agencies, which I have had to do lots of in my time, and they often asked for a particular aspect, knowing about an how to write observations made this so much easier.

 

Once trained to observe in lots of ways it becomes so much easier to write the quick most of us use day to day.

 

Inge

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We had a hat in one setting where if you were wearing it everyone knew to not interrupt you, children soon picked up on this and did the same, currently they use a decorated clipboard as a signal..this we found important even if you are coming in just to observe or the children tend to include you in the daily routine anyway.

 

What a brilliant idea! :o

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Hi jkwoods and welcome from me too! :o

 

Just wanted to say good luck with your diploma, I did mine a few years ago. Just wanted to say it is good to learn all the different methods of observation, you will probably find that in practice the narrative one are the most popular but like everyone else has already said you do sometimes need to do a tracking or time one to get a different picture of the child.

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As a childminder I may not be best placed to answer this but I have tried to do tracking observation on a child to provide evidence towards assessment of needs - I felt her concentration was much lower than expected for her age and wanted to show just how much she flitted. It was very interesting as most of the time she was at an activity or in an area for seconds - not even minutes. My point is, is that although it was useful it was impossible to do the things I should be doing with all the children ie. joining in their play, talking with them etc.

sorry if that's not much help

 

 

Hi I am a childminder as well, may be we could keep in touch

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Hi

Dont get me wrong I dont begrudge doing the obs as I am able to do it on my days off (so to speak) ie can go in and do them and get lots of practice!! Good point in that it may then help me with my post it notes!

 

Just concerned that I was getting the impression from the course that these are the only types of obs and apart from one tracking one I tried about 2 months ago we never have the time.

 

Also some good ideas about the hat/clipboard as I do want to keep apart from everything when I go in to pre-school to do my practical asignments...mind you try telling that to supervisor also....on Monday I got "I know you're not here but........!!!" Actually gave up on pretending I wasnt there when we found out we had no parent help or deputy and actually went to work.

 

Good news is though we have got a deputy starting Mon so hopefully will be in to do some obs!

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As a Diploma tutor I wouldn't usually expect my students to do as many as twenty observations for their first assignment but I do suggest they practise all the different types and do more than the four required for the assignment. Staff who are trained in observation do pick up more on the quick post-its we do In my pre-school and have a useful repertoire of methods to draw on if we have concerns about a child and need to go into more depth.

Deb W

 

 

Hi Deb

Just a quick question...when handing in CACHE assignments do you have to stick to the deadlines ie my first one has to be in by 1 March but say I could get it done by 1 Feb (not saying that I could with all this obs practice!!). I started the diploma Dec 08 and would ideally like to finish in a year (committee keep asking me when I will be qualified!)...any advice/is it feasible?

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Glad to hear you've found a deputy able to start so quickly. I've just started my DPP and our tutor enquired about 'fast tracking' some us through in 3 terms opposed to 4 terms as we have recently completed the CPP, but she was told a firm and definate 'NO'.

Karrie

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HI there

I tend to carry a scrap of paper in my pocket and jot down obs as and when they happen, then transfer them to the childs learning story when I get home. I use different coloured and shaped sticky notes in the learning story as it brightens it up a bit. I then add the area of learning and the next step if there is one. Then when that next step has been done I link it back to the original obs. I also put in lots of photos and childrens creations to back up the obs. The parents are encouraged to take them home, read them and put in any obs themselves. Both the parents and the children really love their "special books" they are so much nicer and parent friendly than the long obs we used to do.

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I started the diploma Dec 08 and would ideally like to finish in a year (committee keep asking me when I will be qualified!)...any advice/is it feasible?

Is this a 'going into college one day a week' course, marley or are you doing it via distance learning? If there is a set timetable to cover the syllabus then if you try to rush it you might end up trying to write assignments before you had done the necessary learning. :o

 

The best people to talk to are your tutor/college!

 

If you get the chance to talk to my dear daughter perhaps you could have a chat to her about it - it would be great if some of your enthusiasm to finish would rub off on her! xD

 

Maz

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I like to make rough notes during the observation which I then rewrite onto the official form.

I'm fortunate that I can remember most of the things I don't get to write down during the session.

 

 

If you get the chance to talk to my dear daughter perhaps you could have a chat to her about it - it would be great if some of your enthusiasm to finish would rub off on her! :o

You see, the thing is I'm not actually planning on finishing xD Sorry mother!

 

 

I remember at college when we did a session on observations, I showed the girl next to me my observation book and she was really shocked at how many I had written, and how much I wrote for each one. But observations really will become second nature after a while. When I came for work experience, I'd say things to mum and she'd say QUICKLY WRITE IT DOWN! And then when I came to work properly, she was always reminding me to write them down. And now I just do it automatically. I've pretty much always got my clip board with me, and the children have started to connect what that means. I do often hear them saying "She's writing about us!" or "Ask someone else, she's writing"

 

Of course, you still have the children who demand to do some writing too, and will not write on anything but the piece of paper you were just writing on!

In fact, yesterday one little boy came over and read his name at the top of my page, and then told me he was taking my pen so I couldn't write about him anymore! :(

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Is this a 'going into college one day a week' course, marley or are you doing it via distance learning? If there is a set timetable to cover the syllabus then if you try to rush it you might end up trying to write assignments before you had done the necessary learning. :o

 

The best people to talk to are your tutor/college!

 

If you get the chance to talk to my dear daughter perhaps you could have a chat to her about it - it would be great if some of your enthusiasm to finish would rub off on her! xD

 

Maz

 

 

Hi

 

Im a the last to know...are you two (Maz/Mrs Weasley) actually related???!! Cool!

Anyway did ask tutor...its a distance learning course and she will only accept CACHE assignments by the deadline..next one is March 1 so got plenty of time. They seem to be about every 3-4 months.

Anyway in tomorrow to satrt mt practising! Wheres my hat??!!!

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Im a the last to know...are you two (Maz/Mrs Weasley) actually related???!! Cool!

Yes she is my daughter - not sure how cool she'd think that is... :o

 

Anyway did ask tutor...its a distance learning course and she will only accept CACHE assignments by the deadline..next one is March 1 so got plenty of time. They seem to be about every 3-4 months.

Well that's good in a way - you'll have lots of time to prepare thoroughly and do a good job! Good luck.

 

Maz

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