18th October 2023 All Posts

A Positive Approach to Observations

Observations in early years education play a pivotal role in understanding a child’s development and providing tailored support. Approaching observations with a child centred, strengths based, and holistic perspective can significantly enhance not only the learning environment but also promote positive outcomes for children. 

Child Centred Observations

Child centred observations prioritise the unique needs, interests, and abilities of each child. This approach recognises that every child is an individual with their own distinct learning style, preferences, and developmental trajectory.

By observing each child closely, practitioners can design activities and experiences that align with their interests and abilities. This tailored approach fosters a sense of agency and empowerment, encouraging children to take ownership of their learning journey.

Providing opportunities for children to make choices within structured environments enables them to develop decision-making skills and a sense of autonomy. This approach also builds confidence and a positive self image.

Child centred observations enable educators to respond promptly to a child’s changing needs and interests. This dynamic interaction ensures that learning remains engaging and relevant, fostering a deeper understanding of concepts, enhanced by the child’s individual interests.

Strengths Based Approach to Observations

A strengths based approach to observations in the early years acknowledges and celebrates a child’s existing skills, talents, and achievements. It shifts the focus from what a child cannot do to what they excel at, promoting a positive self-concept and a love for learning.

Recognising and celebrating a child’s strengths instills a sense of pride and confidence. This, in turn, fosters resilience, as children are more likely to approach challenges with a positive attitude when they have this resilience already in place. 

When practitioners acknowledge a child’s strengths, it sends a powerful message of validation and appreciation. This strengthens the relationship between adult and child and  creates a secure and supportive learning environment.

A strengths-based approach to observation also ensures that every child’s unique abilities are valued. This inclusive perspective promotes a culture of acceptance and diversity, where each child’s contribution is appreciated, respected and nurtured. 

Holistic Approach to Observations

Holistic observations consider all aspects of a child’s development – cognitive, social, emotional, and physical. This approach recognises that these elements are interconnected and each equally important for a child’s overall wellbeing. By observing a child in various contexts and situations, practitioners are able to gain a holistic understanding of their development, enabling us to provide targeted support that supports the child’s overall wellbeing.

Holistic observations also allow practitioners to track a child’s progress across multiple aspects of learning and development.  This helps identify potential areas that may require additional support and attention. 

A holistic approach to observations ensures that no aspect of a child’s development is overlooked. This promotes a well rounded, balanced approach to learning and development that prepares children for future learning. 

In early years, embracing a child centred, strengths based, and holistic approach to observations lays the foundation for a nurturing and empowering learning environment. 

By valuing each child’s unique abilities, interests, and developmental journey, practitioners can create a positive impact on learning that lasts way beyond a child’s early years. 

This approach not only supports academic growth but also fosters a sense of self-worth, confidence, and a lifelong love for learning. Together, these aspects form the cornerstone of a truly enriching and engaging early years education.

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About the Author

Chloe is a board Trustee at Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) and an OFSTED registered childminder. Chloe has 8 years of experience post-qualifying, and came from a nursery background before becoming a home-based childcarer at Pebbles Childcare. Chloe is a successful writer, contributing to Nursery World, EYE, Nursery Management Today and ABC magazine, as well as managing the Pebbles Childcare Blog.