We live in a world (in England) of assessments, targets and goals which are increasingly taking over our perceptions of what young children are actually capable of thinking about and learning. Keeping an open and informed mind is difficult when there are pressures to tick a box or highlight a statement. But what do we do when we observe children and there isn’t a statement or box which adequately reflects what they know and understand?
If the tick lists and highlighters rule our understanding of children’s development we run the risk of
- Underestimating the developmental potential of young children – if what they do, say and think is not in the list where is it acknowledged as part of their progress?
- Becoming a profession of ‘list checkers’ always looking for something to tick off rather than focussing on what children are actually involved in, often at quite a deep level.
- Looking for the superficial rather than the complex nature of HOW children are learning and deeper levels of engagement (think Characteristics of effective Learning here)
- Minimising our own professional knowledge of children’s early development, thinking and learning and making informed decisions about their progress and next steps…(early years professionals often know far more about children’s development than what is on the tick list!)
With this, and many other factors, in mind I wanted to take us back to good observational practice as required by the EYFS Statutory Framework (2.1 and 2.2). It’s the NNEB in me that wants to focus on what children’s play, interests and talk tells me about their thinking, learning and development and making an informed assessment of their progress from what I see. However, as with any informed ‘judgment’ I need to be able to back up my decision and ‘tell the story’ of the child’s development from their starting points.
The Development Map and the Observation Tool kit help me to triangulate the professional judgements I make about children’s progress and development…..
Watch out for the next Blogs on;
- The Observers Tool Kit
- Motorways or Picnics
- Why use Learning Stories??