The observation of children is performed by teachers and educators, to help understand each child, and their characteristics. Along with assessment and evaluation, educators are able to understand each child’s development, and make decisions about appropriate activities and experience to offer each child, to help foster their individual development. (Veale, A. and Piscitelli, B. 1988) This essay will discuss the Value of the Observation Process in Planning for early childhood settings, and the role of each teacher in facilitating children’s individual learning and development.
Observation is a very valuable and important part of the planning process as each child is different. Observation and Record Keeping in Early Childhood Programs (Veale, A. and Piscitelli, B. 1988,) Suggests that in order for educators to provide proper learning experience for children, they must know each child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, fears, joys, ideas and individual interests to plan stimulating and appropriate learning experiences.
Through observation, Educators can gather this information on what each child is capable of, how each child behaves under a range of different circumstances and how the child interacts with other children, and adults. The information collected from observation helps educators to develop objectives and plans to “enhance children’s learning and development” (Planning and Learning, NZTC pg. 5). Effective Planning and developing of learning outcomes for children is a collaborated effort between colleagues, children, Parents/Whanau and the community.
DOP 6 outlines that importance of collaboration between colleagues when it comes to forming an effective plan in the early childhood environment. Open relationships and free discussions amongst each other empowers educators to become reflective practitioners and to understand different perspectives (MoE, 1998) By collaborating with parents/ Whanau educators can increase their understanding of the child’s “thinking and learning, parents and carers become wiser about the child” (Stonehouse, cited in Hanna, 2006, p.73) and planning becomes more effective and purposeful for the child.
Te Whariki states under the principle of Family and Community, “The wellbeing of children is interdependent with the well-being and culture of local communities and neighborhoods. Children’s learning and development are fostered it the well-being of their family and community is supported. ”(MoE, 1996, p. 42) Society is constantly changing, and children grow and change with the community, so educators need to plan for the growth and change.
And most importantly the children need to be considered while planning. Children are individuals and their voice needs to be heard. Educators need to be aware of the child’s capabilities, interests and learning needs to provide efficient learning activities that will be effective and enjoyable for the child. “The purpose of assessment is to give useful information about children’s learning and development to the adults providing the program and to children and their families. ” (MoE, 1996 pg.29)
Assessment of the effectiveness of the program and keeping track of the child’s development helps educators to make decisions so effective changes can be made as needed to help the child’s personal progress and learning objectives. Likewise with planning, assessment needs to consider the changes in the community, consider the needs of the child and the parents/whanau to be the most effective for the child’s learning. Evaluation is the final step in the on-going planning of children’s learning.
“The purpose of evaluation is to make informed judgments about the quality and effectiveness of the program. ” (MoE, 1996 Pg. 29) Evaluation is a crucial part of the planning process as it gives educators a chance to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their program planning and to be better informed for future planning. Educators need to use a range of methods to evaluate the program. This can be done by reflections, regularly updating what works well and monitoring effectiveness, consulting with patents/whanau, and most importantly making appropriate changes.
Educators hold the important role of supporting and facilitating each child’s development, one method of facilitating for the child is by recognizing and providing an optimal learning environment. An optimal learning environment is a safe environment specifically designed to facilitate a child’s learning and developmental needs. Educators need to provide time and opportunity for children to respond and experience the world creatively, it also needs to offer exposure to a variety of experience, to be secure and offer stimulating experiences so children can take risks and investigate the world around them safely.
Olds (2001) suggests that children need to feel comfortable in their environment for them to explore. Educators need to be vigilant in making sure that each individuals needs are met so the child feels safe and comfortable in the learning environment. Creating an optimal learning environment means educators need to consider the aspects that create this environment. Harris Helm suggests that the overall effectiveness of an early childhood program is dependant on quality of staff, suitable environment, consistent schedules and parent involvement.
Another aspect educators need to consider while facilitating learning is the importance of the interpersonal environment. “Interpersonal environment refers to the relationships established in the environment. ” (Planning and Learning, NZTC, 2009, pg 49. ) Educators need to provide an environment that will allow children to learn through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people (MoE, 1996). Children must feel comfortable safe and secure in order to engage in efficient and meaningful learning.
Fu (2004) believes that establishing supportive, responsive relationships with children and parents/whanau helps with the development of knowledge, social skills and attitudes and reinforces learning. Building a relationship with the child and their family will help educators to have a clear understanding of the child’s development and the holistic needs of the child. Educators need to engage in constant interactions with parents to gain proper insight into the child’s individual beliefs, rituals, preference and values, so to build a personal and meaningful relationship with the child.
Relationships are the heart of learning. By Building a close relationship with the child allows educators to respond sensitively to each child’s needs. By building this Positive and sensitive relationships, research has shown that it enhance a child’s development and is the base of early childhood education. Vygotsky social constructive theory of the Zone of Proximal Development can effectively help educators with providing the best support and to develop strategies to assist the learning and development of the children.
The Zone of Proximal Development is described by Vygotsky as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peer” (L. S. Vygotsky, p. 86) Vygotsky observed that when an individual was tested on tasks alone, they rarely did as well as when they were working in collaboration with an adult. The process of involvement by the adult enabled them to refine their thinking or their performance to make it more effective.
(James Atherton, 2009) by observing a child, educators can observe what a child needs individually, find out what is changeling for the child and work collaboratively alongside with the child and develop strategies to help further the child’s learning. From this theory the teaching strategy of Co-construction was developed. Con-construction is described as a “collaborative process from which new understanding and concepts emerge. (Planning and Learning NZTC, 2009, Pg. 39)By collaborating together to find new understanding and concepts between the child, peers, and adults can develop strategies to offer new ideas and concepts to activities.
Educators have the important role of providing a co-constructive environment by listening to the child, playing with the child, and have an active participation in their learning, to help develop a child’s interests in learning further. Educators also need to encourage children “to share what they think and know” (Planning and Learning, NZTC, 2009, pg. 39) . “Planning the curriculum should be a continuing process, involving careful observation, identification of needs and capabilities, provision of resources, assessment and evaluation” (MoE, 1996, p.28).
Observation, planning, assessment, and evaluation is an ongoing process that must be part of a daily routine. Every educator will be different in how they plan, but thru collaboration with colleagues, parents/whanau, the child, and consideration of the community will help educators to plan as effectively as they can for each individual and help them to grow and improve, and learn how to provide children with the best possible environment to learn and develop in.