When we went back to pre-school in June we had lots to think about. Covid protection took over the preparation for returning but rumbling underneath was what’s REALLY important in our daily practice. The children as always have to be the top of the tree, the staff equally important and you can’t do this job without partnership with the parents. We must put Covid policy’s and procedures in place but we mustn’t forget the driving force of the job, the children’s welfare, wellbeing and education. With extra cleaning and all covid brings to the job we need to save time (reduce some spending to buy cleaning gear and some PPE) and give our usual outstanding service to children and families.
When we went back I said for this half term we will drop all written observations and ditch tracking and spend our time with the children. We ensured the parents were sent a photo via online journal each week of what their child was doing, but just the one(ish.) while we spent time with extra cleaning we maximised as much time as feasibly possible interacting with the children. After all observations are exactly that, observing. The team as always initiated and produced fantastic activities with bundles of learning. We reacted even more to what children enjoyed, and importantly what they weren’t in the mood for, after all, if your going to clean more you want time to be used well!
So going back I’m rethinking. The thing We are missing is tracking. I know the children in summer developed and I know whether there on track or not, staff instinctively knew what to provide for the children to progress. Do we need to write observations? Maybe with SEND children (we have to to get funding!) So I’m trialing a Track and Talk approach. Key people will talk to each other about their children and what they’re planning for their learning. If they’re tracking there are thinking what makes them know that they’re at that stage. What has their key children played with and achieved to make them track them at that stage? Key people will write brief notes to feed into the planning to provide opportunity to progress. We use planning around Laura Henry’s “Keep it Simple Planning” which started us on less paperwork track. Written observations (like next steps-we ditched those) cause stress, often have to be checked (more time lost) when we can talk copiously and with great enthusiasm about our keychilds development. So let’s talk, to each other, to parents and track progress, we will observe more, because we aren’t being “written observation” led we will be even more engrossed in interactions with the children. This will inform and improve our practice.
Staff meeting this morning, questions put to the team:
Who agrees we observe children all the time?/All hands up
Who thinks we should have to write what we observe down?/All hands down
Who thinks it’s useful to track progress?/All hands up
Discussion revolved around the impact, more time with the children, better planning which would show we know key children, less thinking/writing more doing! Happier staff and children, that’s what’s really important.