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By Marie Tree Date Posted: December 15th This article was written by Marie Tree in 2010 as a record of her child observation assignment for her post-qualifying Specialist Social Work Award course at Portsmouth University.When submitting it article Marie wrote remarked that when completing this assignment she was taken “back to my early days in the 1990’s when I did have what now seems the luxury of reflecting on my practice.” A Child Observation Assignment by Marie Tree “In childhood, everything was more vivid – the sun brighter, the smell of fields sharper, the thunder louder, the rain more abundant and the grass taller”.
At that moment, I thought of how unique and complex children are as they do not have the language to explain how they think and explore the world that surrounds them.
By slowing down and observing them, we have the advantage and a willingness to speculate.
A 2½ year old little girl was selected and I shall call her Anna (pseudonym).
I had no contact with Anna’s parents, although the Children’s Centre informed them of my remit and they gave their written consent.
The setting is headed by a teacher and the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum guides the work, and the children learn through play.
The observations were based upon the Tavistock model (Bick 1964) and my remit was to observe a child for 1×4 hours and record my observations after the sessions.In the room with Anna, I had to contain my feelings around the observation.Anna continued throughout my observation to drift from one activity to the next.The setting was a group of 12 children of mixed sexes, all of mixed abilities such as physical and learning difficulties.The group was well staffed (by women) with some children having one to one support.The first session took place after lunch and I placed myself at the back of the room, discreetly tucked into a corner hoping that my presence would not be noticed. The room was filled with an array of spontaneous discoveries, books, toys, computers, sand, paint and dressing up clothes and the clutter of noise and emotions reminded me of my own home where I have three young children, where exploring the world extends their nascent theories as to how the world works.Initially, I found it very difficult to sit and focus on Anna solely, as I was used to talking and making eye contact with children, and not being able to engage or speak was difficult.It was much more comfortable not having to put any kind of theory into practice.I had the added luxury of not having paper and pens or an assessment to complete.I watched Anna carefully glide from one activity to the next, first playing with the sand letting it quickly sift through her fingers and making shapes and marks with the palms of her hands.She slowly toddled off when a young boy, eager to play more adventurously nudged her out of the way.