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The ultimate and overarching aim of observations is to enable practitioners to plan an appropriate curriculum, providing for the full range of needs within the setting.(In this part of the series, we focus on observations to find out more about individuals or groups of children.It is an integral part of the assessment and planning cycle and a firm basis for reflection.In any high-quality setting, observation is recognised as a fundamental and crucial aspect of the practitioner's role and, as such, is given high priority in terms of training and everyday practice.It is, therefore, important to be working in a culture of mutual respect for the contributions that colleagues make.Of course, sometimes one member of staff will be charged with a specific observational focus but, over the course of time, there should be contributions from a variety of practitioners.
Observation is only the first stage in the process of understanding and addressing children's learning needs and interests.Always, it requires a sensitive and respectful approach to children's play and an attitude of openness to the individual's learning agenda. There are many good reasons why adults observe children in their care and the reason may influence the nature of the observation in terms of who is observed/observing, where the observation takes place and at what time of the day or session.However, although specific reasons for observation may be varied, the general purpose will be to find out more about: * a child or group of children; or * the effectiveness of provision.The more adults within the child's world that contribute positively to the process, the deeper the insight will be. The simplest answer to the question, 'Where do we observe? Practitioners may not always document everything that they observe but they should develop the skill of registering incidental and significant information throughout the day.The most accurate picture of a child will result from observational information gathered in various contexts, both in and out of the setting.
Children have different relationships with different adults and, through observation, each adult will bring an individual perspective to the assessment process for a particular child.