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Observations-how often


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Hi All,

 

Our setting is settling into the the new EYFS after a few weeks now. However, I have noticed that the practitioners are writing down every little thing each child does and taking hundreds of photos each week. I have tried to explain that they are creating too much work for themselves and they will end up having several learning journies per child if they continue to document in this way! I am trying not to be too harsh as I don't want to knock their confidence by getting snowed under with so much evidence. So I thought I would ask you all for your opinions and thoughts.

 

How many observations would you expect to see being carried out? I am still battling with the whole "quality not quantity" rule and I can see us slipping back into old habits :(

 

I wish I had an example of another setting's learning journey to show them so they can get a practical idea of expectation

 

Any advice/help greatly appreciated

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This is such a tricky one, isn't it? And we have such a great opportunity now to reduce the paperwork.....as the revised EYFS has suggested :D I would ask your staff what use all these observations are....the "so what?" approach. For example, to an observation such as "Freddy sat at the sticking table and chose some orange glitter and stuck it all over his model"....I'd say "So what? What am I going to do with this information? How will it help me plan something else for him to do? And do I need to record this.....have I got other examples of this type of activity he has engaged in? If so, I don't need another one for quite some time!"

 

I would suggest a couple of decent observations per child per week is all that I would require, if I were still running my own setting.

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This is such a tricky one, isn't it? And we have such a great opportunity now to reduce the paperwork.....as the revised EYFS has suggested :D I would ask your staff what use all these observations are....the "so what?" approach. For example, to an observation such as "Freddy sat at the sticking table and chose some orange glitter and stuck it all over his model"....I'd say "So what? What am I going to do with this information? How will it help me plan something else for him to do? And do I need to record this.....have I got other examples of this type of activity he has engaged in? If so, I don't need another one for quite some time!"

 

I would suggest a couple of decent observations per child per week is all that I would require, if I were still running my own setting.

 

Thank you so much Helen for your recommendations. I have been feeling like I am going round in circles but you made it sound so straightfroward. I have a staff meeting tonight and will quote your "so what" example.

 

I thought a couple a week is sufficient but at the moment I am getting twice if not triple that amount plus photos and products of children's play!!!

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I'm going to print the 'so what' approach off and give it to my staff, thanks Helen.

I have the same problem as Tinks. We have some children in for 1 session a week and watching one of my staff getting herself in knots trying to do obs and pics on all her key children during that session despite me telling her that as they spend more time elsewhere we dont have to do that much. I find then the quality is not there and it ends up a waste of time and effort!

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I've had a similiar problem, particularly with my 2 new TAs who have not worked in EYFS for some time. They were writing obs such as "... is riding on the trikes", "...is playing in the home-corner" so I had to explain to them that it doesn't help us to assess where their up to nor does it help us to plan anything extra unless there is other important information e.g. speech & language used? By themselves, alongside, collaborative etc.

I do always think that at this time of year we all write down lots because we are trying to form that initial picture and do initial obs but it has meant we have so many photos and obs that I've spent the last 2 weeks staying up until 11-12pm tracking the obs! So I have DEMANDED!!! that we all calm down a bit and only write what is significant, useful or special.

We have an A5 laminated sheet for each child stuck on the wall which has a box for the 7 AOL and we tick when each child has an obs in the appropriate box or boxes with the expectation that each child should have 1 or 2 ticks in each box per half term. We put P on the bottom for photos and we have a box to write interests, friends etc. This way we can very quickly see who has less obs and areas of learning that we may be getting less obs on so we can ask why and change provision accordingly but it doesn't restrict us to only so many per child if they are significant moments. (This half-term each child has had about 4 ticks in each box so you can see how 'obs mad' we've been but unfornunately some of those obs have not helped to track where the children are up to!)

Good Luck!

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Could you suggest to your staff that one photo can show lots of different things? Nearly every activity I can think of links to all the areas of learning so it will be covered somewhere.

Ask them to look at each others observations too, if it doesnt mean something to all the adults, its not noteworthy in my opinion.

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Hi everybody else has really said what I would have but if it helps we have changed the way we do our learning journey's completely. After attending some very good training we now spend the first week just watching (no photos no notes) we then mentally take account of what they are really interested it could be a schema such as forces or connection or it could be something like water play. We then feed this into planning and observe tweaking and extending the experience each week. I have suggest three or four pictures linked with this with carefully worded observations. We then have three or four pictures and a smaller observation of other things they have been doing so maybe grouping the small world animals together and counting or developing a narrative to their role play. we then talk to parents about what we have observed and listen to what they say happens at home and record this as parental input, then grade the lot at the end taking into account the holistic learning picture for that child. We do that every half term with a summary in all 7 areas at the end of each term charting where they are. Don't know if that helps!!!

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Have you seen Sunnyday's download about observations, it shows 3 different descriptions of the same activity going on.

 

 

Yes I have seen this as I posted it on here not so long ago. I am actually going to laminate this and have it available for staff to refer to during sessions

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Yes I have seen this as I posted it on here not so long ago. I am actually going to laminate this and have it available for staff to refer to during sessions

Oh apologies - I would have acknowledged that if I had remembered where I got it from! :blink: xD

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I was at a training today and the point was made to only do what is new, what is relevant to that childs progress and to cut the crap basically. Going to find that hard as we are really proud of our learning journeys and see them not just as atool for us but a keepsake for the family.

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I was at a training today and the point was made to only do what is new, what is relevant to that childs progress and to cut the crap basically. Going to find that hard as we are really proud of our learning journeys and see them not just as atool for us but a keepsake for the family.

 

Then do them!! It's down to you what you do, and if they work then why stop??

Cx

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I think that this time of year if you have new children you are still getting to know them and tend to write and photograph things a lot more. However it is useful to ask staff to sit and read through the observations and consider what you will learn from them and how you can use them to plan. Why not use your staff meeting to run an activity to look at a set of observations together and make sure all your staff are aware of the process you use to reflect on observations, assess and plan.

 

Mel

x

 

PS I have three members of staff including me in the setting and we aim for 2-3 observations per child per week on average, sometimes it is more sometimes less but it averages out roughly that many.

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Ahha Tinkerbell - we have you to thank! You will be pleased to know it is doing the rounds again then :1b

 

I am pleased that people have found it useful as I thought it was an excellent training tool for my staff

 

Oh apologies - I would have acknowledged that if I had remembered where I got it from! :blink: xD

 

Don't apologise, it's nice to know that other find it useful and pass it on!

 

I opened this thread in fear and trepidation...........are we doing too much or too little.............

 

TOO MUCH......!!!! back to the drawing board......... : (

 

That's exactly how I felt when I posted but after a productive staff meeting using the "so what" approach I think we may see a difference.

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