30th May 2024 Nursery Management Software

Three Reasons Why We Love Nursery Observations

Observations have long been an ongoing practice of early years education, allowing educators to understand each child in their care accurately. While different settings may have varied methods, the goal has always been the same: to notice and appreciate each child’s personality, interests, joys, concerns, learning and developmental milestones.

With the changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework in January 2024, the requirement for documenting observations or any form of physical evidence has been removed. This shift aims to lighten the paperwork load for practitioners and trust their professional judgement in assessing children’s learning outcomes.

Despite removing this documentation requirement, observations remain beneficial in early years education. In this article, we will discuss the three main reasons why we love nursery observations.

1. Nursery observations support parent partnerships

First and foremost, nursery observations support the development of parent partnerships and are a positive method for building strong communication and aligned understanding with parents. By sharing their insights and observations about a child’s day, educators enable parents to gain a deeper understanding of their child’s experiences, progress, and challenges. This open communication creates trust and collaboration between parents and educators, ensuring that the child’s needs are met both at home and in the nursery.

Research has consistently shown the value of parent partnerships in enhancing children’s achievements and overall well-being. When early years educators and parents work together, they can share observations, ideas, and strategies to create the best possible learning and development opportunities for children.

Through sharing observations, early years educators can work towards shared learning goals with parents. This collaboration helps identify areas where children may be at risk of falling behind, allowing practitioners to be responsive and provide effective support. Although documentation and paperwork are no longer required, short observations inform educators’ professional judgment when discussing concerns with parents or other professionals. Providing observations and video recordings of scenarios can help capture moments that support professional judgment and ensure that everyone understands the context of the educator’s insights.

Nursery management apps such as iConnect support parent communication and partnerships by enabling seamless recording of observations and assessments. These tools allow educators to capture valuable insights in real-time without disrupting children’s play, ensuring that parents stay informed and engaged in their child’s learning journey.

2. Observations facilitate peer reviews and reflection on practice

Carrying out observations also facilitates peer reviews and self-reflection among educators. By observing and documenting each other’s practices, educators can share strategies, offer constructive feedback, and continuously improve their teaching methods. This collaborative approach not only enhances the quality of education but also creates a supportive community of professionals committed to continual improvement. A peer review might involve a practitioner observing a fellow educator with one of their key children, allowing them to understand the professional judgment used and how it relates to the child’s individual learning goals.

Observations also enable practitioners and early years educators to reflect on their practices. By reviewing what they have observed, educators can better implement activities and learning opportunities tailored to each child’s needs. For instance, they can assess whether the activities helped the child reach their learning goals and milestones or if something was missed that needs attention. This reflective process allows educators to revisit, refine, and plan activities suited to children’s developmental stages, learning needs, and interests.

Observations remain invaluable, offering a chance to reduce their frequency while ensuring they remain effective for sharing insights with parents and carers and planning further learning experiences for children.

3. Observations inform professional judgement and ensure holistic development

Even without formal documentation, observations are essential for informing educators’ professional judgment. They provide a basis for discussing a child’s progress with colleagues, parents, and other professionals. By capturing significant moments through observations, educators can make well-rounded decisions that benefit the child’s educational journey.

Observations help ensure that every aspect of a child’s development is monitored, from cognitive and physical abilities to social and emotional growth. By keeping a holistic view of each child’s progress, educators can provide balanced support that nurtures all areas of development.

So, while the administrative burden of documenting observations has been lifted, the practice of observing children remains an important practice in early years education. It enables educators to understand and support each child’s unique development, plan engaging learning experiences, reflect on their teaching practices, and build strong partnerships with parents. 

Are you interested in learning more about observations? If your answer is yes, then head to this blog by Chloe Webster about why 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.

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About the Author

Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare