Observing Children: the crucial role of purposeful observation in our nursery

About purposeful observation

Observation of children’s activities, interests, and interactions by our early years teachers is an integral part of our daily routine. It is a crucial responsibility of every practitioner to ensure that accurate, purposeful observations are recorded on all children, not just their key children. Observations are as important as every other part of the practitioners’ role. Time is made to discuss and evaluate observations as a team so as to inform children’s individual profiles accordingly and to set targets for learning, which in turn inform all future planning.

Why is it important?

Observation for us is the key to effective planning and assessment. Here are some of the reasons why we observe children, and why it’s important to do so consistently and with due care:

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Ten books to read with your little ones this summer

A. L. Sestier chooses some of the best children’s books to consider for this Summer Term, as an invited guest author. A. L. Sestier is the author of the Peter Perseus series, and can be found on www.annasestier.com, Instagram (a.l.sestier), and Twitter (@ALSestier).

Finding new books to read with your little one can be a challenge. There are so many books out there and it’s difficult to choose a story that will really capture your child’s imagination. As an author and illustrator, I am always on the lookout for interesting reads partnered with colourful and timeless illustrations. I have put together a list of ten books, which are a mixture of new and upcoming releases, that pair sweet and clever stories with beautiful, elegant pictures.

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Outdoor play opportunities and early learning

Being outside is often the ideal environment for children to learn. An environment where they can explore different textures, natural sounds, their own physical movements, and experience fundamental things like going down a slope or balancing on a wall. The wide-ranging Every Child a Talker (ECaT) study had reported that children were also a lot more communicative and vocal in an outdoor environment. Outdoor play has a positive impact on children’s well-being, as it gives them the freedom to explore and express themselves through a wider range of movements and sounds. Here at Alphablocks Nursery School we are fully aware of the importance of outdoor play and, in this post, we explain how we make the most out of the opportunities it provides.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework underlines the importance of outdoor play in providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive, as well as to develop their movement, control and co-ordination. Outdoor learning helps children develop space awareness and it supports overall physical development, including posture, balance, and muscle development. Even though there is no doubt whatsoever as to these benefits (and many more!) that outdoor play provides, young children don’t spend enough time in outdoor environments, and this sets the scene for their future attitudes in the first classes of primary school.

But what is it that makes the outdoors such an ideal learning environment? For young children, this is because a natural environment is inherently interesting for them, and attractive in a fundamental way, due to its multisensory aspects, where children can use all of their senses and many different skills at once.  It allows them to take risks and observe new things every day like a new sound or the changes in the seasons. At the most basic level, it helps children learn without them even realizing it.

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A Hybrid Educational Approach in Early Years

There are a number of established educational approaches in the early years sector and, even though there are many differences between them, they all share the same simple goal: to help every child fulfil his or her potential.

The main differences between these approaches lie in the fact that they use different methodologies, all of which are recognised by Ofsted and form part of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. The Montessori approach, for instance, puts at its centre a child’s independence in learning and development, while the Reggio Emilia approach focuses on how the environment can act as a ‘third teacher’.

In this post we will navigate through the core approaches and explain, in simple terms, how we combine their best elements into a unique hybrid approach which is followed here at Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, a boutique nursery in the heart of Hadley Wood village, serving the local communities of Barnet, Enfield and parts of Hertfordshire.

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Play’s the thing: new research directions on the importance of play from the University of Cambridge

A four year old girl (who happens to be my daughter, but this could be almost any child in that age group) is gathering sticks and leaves in the park. She uses them to make a tiny tent on the base of a large oak tree. I don’t interfere with her play, although I’m just near enough to make out some of the things she’s saying to her imaginary pets. Apparently, there is a storm coming and they have to protect themselves while she’s away. Later on, she will explain the whole situation to her friend, who’ll join her important project, and together they’ll ensure the safety of their extraordinary collection of pets – ranging from squirrels to unicorns. This is play in its purest form and, as most parents and early years educators would say, it seems to be extremely beneficial for the overall development and learning of children.

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The impact of spontaneous play on early learning cannot be overestimated – Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, Hadley Wood

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