Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Yet Another Observation Question


 Share

Recommended Posts

We are having massive discussions at work at the moment regarding how often we should observe out key children.

 

Our EYA has said once a term is enough, I don't think it is and think once a half term should be the minimum.

 

How often does everyone else do them? I'm not talking about the mini wow moments, I probably do 3 or 4 of these a day on each of my children but the longer Narrative obs I do half termly.

 

I know there are many of threads like this around but just thought I would try and collate together a sort of "poll"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I'm going to put my head on the block here and say "Do you need to do narrative observations when you are clearly observing children on a daily basis?" Presumably your observations are then put into a learning journey of some sort? And do you assess your children, perhaps against the development matters statements so that you can plan for their next steps and future learning experiences? If that is the case, I don't see what doing long narrative observations will do for you.

 

I believe that observations are only useful if they inform your planning, and if those little, regular obs do it successfully, then you don't need to do lengthier ones.

 

I'm perfectly prepared to be shouted down though! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To be honest we only ever did them if there was purpose or reason behind it... we did all the wow moments and quick snapshots etc, when put together they became enough of a picture to show the progress the child was making.. or not...

 

the longer ones were done if we had a need to do more assessment in an area , perhaps they were not progressing as expected, or had a difficulty in one area, anything we wanted to know about in more depth.. and we had a focus for each one... no point in doing something just because it was written to say we had to.. if it had no intrinsic value to our 'picture' of the child it was time and paperwork for the sake of it..

 

we looked at them and said what do we gain we cannot in snapshot obs... if nothing or very little we didn't do it.. we were all for keeping paperwork to a minimum...

 

and while I no longer work there I know they still continue to do the same...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies :)

 

I have the same view as you as well! we always "just" did the snapshot obs - all of which are always linked to learning etc etc but 2 of my staff did their level 3 last year and the assessor said we should definitely be doing formal obs, I queried this with my EYA and she also agreed. I've just spoken to her on the phone about it again and she is of the opinion there should be a minimum of 1 per term for children who are all on the correct level of development etc etc but more often for those with areas lacking etc

 

the long obs always have a motive, my recent one was to see how a child interacts socially with children she doesn't normally mix with - because her mum is worried about when she goes to school....... lol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that you've hit the nail on the head there. If you decide on a focus for the long obs, I can see the use of it, eg making relationships with other children, or looking at a child's independence, or ability to make choices. I can see that if you had the same focus for a group of children, (eg "I'm going to look at how the children use number in their play") you could use this as a basis for reviewing and evaluating your provision too. Two birds with one stone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like others we have stopped doing 'long' observations as they never gave us information we didn't have already. Agree that if there is a specific focus they can be very useful. May be of more use in bigger settings - schools etc with fewer practitioners and more children. Small settings with higher adult/child ratios know their children inside out.

We need to be confident of what we know and how we know it. Advisors are just that - they don't lay down the law.

korkycat

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I'm in total agreement with others.

 

Can't really see the point of hours spent on 'paperwork for the sake of paperwork'

 

Even our long obs are only a few sentences!! However if we see a need, or have concerns etc, then longer obs are done.

 

For what it's worth, when assessing I expect my students to have have 'meaty' observations with lots of details etc- but this is more for the point of training students to know what/how to observe. I wouldn't expect to do that depth of observation written as a routine ob unless for a specific reason.

 

I do expect staff to be confident and well informed about children's development though. So for example when watching a child, have the knowledge base to act on a spontaneous observation - without having to go and look it up!! I feel time spent extending learning opportunities 'there and then' is far more important that simply writing out long obs. Then just a quick photo and post-it type note for the records.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a question Mrsbat do you do next steps? and if so are these not based on observations? We do post its then next steps fortnightly(with longer obs on) then we will do long obs on children who are struggling with one or more aspects of preschool life. Children with sen needs have longer obs done for iep purposes etc. also.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a question Mrsbat do you do next steps? and if so are these not based on observations? We do post its then next steps fortnightly(with longer obs on) then we will do long obs on children who are struggling with one or more aspects of preschool life. Children with sen needs have longer obs done for iep purposes etc. also.

Hi, yes we do next steps based on the child's current interests which we link to where we want them to be/where they "should" be.

 

Like I said, I do 3 or 4 post it's/short obs each day on each of my key children (currently I only have 7 though) then they have 3 or 4 next steps at a time which last for a half term or more depending on how long it takes for them to be confident in each one (if that makes sense.....)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We observe when we see or hear something and only occassionally if we are trying to find something out about a child. Most of our observations are captured moments, and when analysed event short obs can produce a lot of information. We wouldn't write out an observation necessarily just to establish what a child is interested in, it may form part of a short observation, or we may make a mental note at the time and then use it to inform our planning.

 

The main areas where we might plan to do an observation are to assess speech and language skills or social development. Other than this, we look for learning and achievement through play and activities.

 

In my experience, if you set out to observe something in a child, this is the time they will lay on the floor with their legs in the air, dreaming about what's for dinner! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Hi,

I know this is a thread from a while ago but it caught my eye as I've been talking with my TAs today about dropping long observations.

Currently we try to do 1 per half-term, with a follow-up next step which is then fed into planning for the following week, therefore, ensuring that 6 children per week (30 in class with 3 adults) got individual planning. However, as many of you have said in this thread, the long observations don't really tell us anything we don't already know (apart from for the particularly quiet ones or those that are struggling with something). I think we may still do 1 or 2 at the very beginning of the year, then again at the end but we really want to get away from doing them throughout the year. HOWEVER!, we don't know how to go forward in terms of organising doing next steps to ensure every child gets something individually planned for them on a regular basis. We don't want to randomly do next steps as some children will always be missed.

Could others explain how they organise next steps to ensure that each child gets the same entitlement? When do you decide on next steps - at the beginning of the half-term or on a weekly basis. I am also trying to avoid doing any sort of individual plan as I feel this would be unmanageable for us in our setting.

Thanks

Green Hippo x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't it all about having a tool kit of different observational techniques and using them as you need to find out different things- e.g. a child never seems to do very much so I might do a sort of spread out observation of every 15mins to see what they do over a morning, or there's a certain type of behaviour everyday so I would do a frequency chart to see what patterns exist etc etc.

 

In the early days of "EYFS" prior to 2004 the notion of narrative observation was a reasonably newish one and somehow it sort of stuck as a "necessity". Often advisors were asked how frequently they should be done and so gave a reasonable response which has morphed in some places into tablets of stone, which is a shame.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im one of those apparently few of us here, that really like the longer, narrative observations, I think they give you a much clearer window into children's thinking and explorations of the world., and I feel I learn much more 'holistically' about the child than a snap shot (wow he counted to 5 type).

 

But I agree with Catma also, I think the more types of observation you have in your tool kit, I think the more effectively you can select the right one for the situation you are in. I'm a huge fan of using the Leuven scales, for example, used well, they are incredibly informative.

 

For me, I tend to think of next steps in two ways. First, there may be next steps in provision in order to support a child's interests or needs. This often come from you day to day observations regardless of which type you use. These would be the things I would add to continuous (or rather enhanced provision), and might link these back to the child by initialing them for example.

Then next, I would be thinking about next steps in learning. This might come from some kind of summary you might keep on a regular basis. (eg if you are using PRAMS or something more paper based). These next steps are not necessarily things you can deliver in one activity next week, because children's learning (nor adults for that matter!)doesn't always work like that. It avoids the use of that language 'Im DOING the next steps'. It also avoids that notion that you have to plan all sorts of individual activities for 'children's next steps'. So for example. I write up this sort of summary, in whatever form it takes, and feel that I really want to encourage Fred to engage in mark making. Im not going to 'deliver' that 'next step' in one activity planned the following week. I have also noticed form the observations I keep, that he loves water and he likes to be outside. So over the coming weeks, I might encourage him to use huge paintbrushes and pots of water to mark make outside. I also ensure that mark making is available in many forms (and almost certainly have other children who would benefit from this too!). I might observe his reactions to what I have now provided, and these observations give me the evidence of his progress towards that next step.

 

I think we all think it through in different ways, that's how I do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree also with Catma and mundia, i too feel that it depend son the children you have and we fall back onto a variety

 

we have found now that we are doing scrap book type LJ with the children sticking writing and talking with their key person. The key person has found out so much more about their child and no longer feel the need for long obs, but they still have their place and we still use them

 

as a rule we did them once or twice a new term (every 6-7 weeks) or more if needed, every setting is different though and what suits us may not suit someone elses planning

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your replies - they are really helpful. I agree that long observations definately have a place but wanted to get away from using them in such as regimented way. Mundia - your explanations of 'next steps' is very clear and has helped us to decide what we need to do. As you said, 'doing next steps' (in terms of learning) in one activity doesn't usually work and they need to be 'covered' over a longer period of time.

We already implement 'next steps' in terms of responding to day to day observations but need to tweak our approach to next steps in learning. What I find most difficult is organising when to respond to all the children's next steps for learning and how to write this all down on the planning so that it can be clearly seen that we are responding to each child's next steps. Of course, there are always children that share 'next steps' and target groups etc but then there are some which are specific to each child that all need keeping track of. Mundia - what worked for you? How did you keep track of which next steps you had responded to and how did you record the progress each child had made against their 'next steps'? How does it look on your planning?

Thanks for all your help

Green Hippo xx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi greenhippo. I must say first I am not working with children at the moment, just thinking back to when I was and what happens is some of the settings I support.

 

Having a system that works for you is dependent on a few things..how involved your TAs (Assuming you are school based?) are with their own key children, if they have any; how your mind works; how you plan together (or not); how good your memory is; how well you can link things together etc etc. This is why there is no 'one way'

 

Our children all came to us at the same time..being a school generally they started in Sept/Oct and left in July. They also all attended every day. We had 3 key people, I was the teacher, and 3 family groups. Once settled in, we would create an entry profile (summary, baseline, whatever you wish to call it). This would be done usually around end October/early November. This would show where children are now and where they might go on to do with support next (or next steps as they tend to be called now). I would then read all of these, and group together these steps onto one sheet so that I knew what they were. We met weekly as a team to discuss planning, considering those next steps, as well as those things we wanted to cover that weren't necessarily anyone's next steps. (new experiences, breadth, provocations). If activities were planned as adult led, we would indicate on the planning if we had specific children in mind, using initials. Likewise if it were elem-ts of continuous provision we would do the same. Each staff member would add their own thinking as each person was responsible for an are within the room. It was each person's responsibility to then say if they felt we weren't covering things for their children..so it relied on each person knowing their children very well, or looking back to check now and then. Their observations in whatever form they might take would sometimes link to the next steps and this would be noted when they did.

 

At Feb half term we would update the summary/profile again, where we would see if children had achieved their next steps. If they hadn't, we would start to think about why eg had they been absent or ill; were we asking too much of them; were there other needs becoming evident? Their special books would contain some evidence but I never shied away from using professional judgment either to state where the children were in their learning.

 

Im not sure if that helps at all?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Mundia,

thanks very much for your replies about next steps. I think that my situation is very similiar to where you previously worked. I am the teacher in a nursery - we have 30 children who all attend every morning (we only have september in-take), and I have two TAs. We all have a key group and are responsible for keeping track of observations and up-to-date with their learning journals, however, as the class-teacher I still have all the responsibility for assessment, reporting and planning. We all do observations on all the children and complete the long obs. One of my TAs is very confident in her knowledge and use of the EYFS, however, the other one is less so and is still very relunctant to write 'next steps'. Unfortunately, there is no time available for us to plan together so we tend to talk informally through the week, we have a child-iniated evaluation sheet where we record anything we have noticed and how we responded to this or will respond to this and we all complete the evalutions for teacher-led activities that we lead.

Again, similiar to what you did, I do the on-entry assessment in October, mid-term in Feb and then end-of-year at the end of June. This also correspondence with our parents afternoons, where we are asked to set 3 'targets' (basically next steps) for each child and share them with the parents. How many next steps did you tend to have for each child? These next steps are then fed into the planning (medium-term if relevant to a number of children) I often choose next steps for the areas that children are either finding more difficult or areas which they are particularly good in? As I explained in my forum post it's how to keep track of all these next steps without being overwhelmed with 30 pieces of paper each week. I also want to make sure that whatever I ask my TAs to do is clear and not overly time-consuming so they don't get overwhelmed and confused.

Possible idea that I've been mulling over: having 1 child per day to check how they are doing with their next steps, spend time with them and record down on a planning sheet anything extra that needs to be included for this child if needed. Therefore, every child would be 'checked' every 2 weeks and this seems very manageable (especially for less-confident TA).

I intend to continue having target groups where there is a group of children who need support with the same area (e.g. speaking and listening). For these sorts of groups, did you plan something specific for them every week? Also, did you record what you've actually done for each child in their journals or was the evidence your planning?

Thanks for your help,

I feel I am finally getting my head around this without getting in a panic!!

Green Hippo x

PS I tried to PM you with this, but your inbox is full!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)