Level 3 Cache Diploma in Childcare and Education
Unit 7 Contents Page
The Role of the Practitioner (E1 E9 E10 A1)
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Play (E2 E3 E4 E9 E10 B1)
Assessment (E5 E6 E9 E10 D2 C2)
The Curriculum (E7 D1 C1 E8 E9 E10)
The Role of the Practitioner
http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/strategy/integratedworking/a0068961/the-lead-professional http://jemchildcaresolutions.co.uk/childcare/nursery-nurse-early-years-practitioner/ http://www.teachingexpertise.com/e-bulletins/reflective-early-years-practitioner-7868 http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/718219/observing-children
http://www.sqa.org.uk/e-learning/WebDevStand02CD/page_03.htm http://www.stjosephsrcprimaryschool.net/Documents/ofsted_report.pdf http://childrenscentres.org.uk/ey_planning.asp
http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Development-Matters-FINAL-PRINT-AMENDED.pdf http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/721165/working-parents-support-childrens-learning http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/providers/edcare/pracpart
As a practitioner there are many things which need to be done to properly fulfil your role. There are many responsibilities and many consequences to be faced if these responsibilities are not properly taken care of. One of the most important things that you, as a practitioner are responsible for is meeting each child’s individual learning needs. The first thing that needs to be done to meet these needs is recognising them. Children’s progress should be tracked using observations to assess how well they are keeping up and whether or not they are meeting normative learning milestones. Of course, it is very important when doing this to remember that children are individuals and therefore some will develop faster or slower than others. (E10) If practitioners were to jump to conclusions about a child’s learning development problems may arise as the child may be faced, at times, with tasks that are too challenging, or in other cases, not challenging enough. If for example a practitioner was to assume that a child was above average intelligence because of a certain task they had previously excelled in, the child, from then on out, may be faced with tasks which are far too complex and challenging for their age and stage, leaving them confused, frustrated and unable to learn properly. It is very important to observe a child on multiple occasions to ensure that the observations are correct as there are many things which can alter the results including the child’s mood, willingness, concentration, interest etc. In practice I have seen, multiple times, practitioners observing children on numerous occasions before drawing up a conclusion on the child’s needs.
Often, practitioners will use a few different methods of observation. For example a practitioner may use a checklist, written narrative and media technique. Written narrative observations require the observer, participant or not, to write down what they see as they see it without making prejudgements. Checklist observations are quite self-explanatory, the observer will have a list of skills etc. which will be ticked off when evidence is seem to show that the child has the particular skill. The media technique is where the observer takes pictures or makes videos and writes comments about what was happening. The reason for using different methods of observation is to ensure that a wide range of information about the child is recorded. This is so that practitioners have numerous things to consider when deciding what is best for the child and identifying their individual needs. “Observation is the key to understanding young children as learners and a vital tool in finding out more about them as individuals. It is an integral part of the assessment and planning cycle and a firm basis for reflection.”- J.Drake Nursery World (2006) Although observations are very helpful in meeting the learning needs of children, observations alone will not suffice. The practitioner needs to have a clear understanding of the child’s background and many other things. It is important to have an understanding of a child’s background and home life because it will help the practitioner to recognise problems in a child’s learning and tackle them in an appropriate way. It may also contribute to identifying the cause of a child’s problems with learning.
For example, if a child was raised by a single mother who spent a lot of time with friends drinking and partying, the child’s learning may suffer due to not being properly supported at home and negative feelings. In this case the practitioner, if aware of the child’s home life, would be able to take appropriate action and do what is best for the child and their learning. Of course there are many more roles and responsibilities of practitioners, including; caring for the child, providing them with an enabling environment, allowing them to express their own opinions and ideas etc. To be successful in your role as a practitioner you must be willing to develop your role and better yourself. There are many ways to do this including self-evaluation, use of the Gibbs reflective cycle, online research and CPD. Self-evaluation involves literally stepping back from a situation to evaluate one’s own actions and think about what needs to be improved and what has been done well. As a practitioner it is important that you are able to recognise your own mistakes and weaknesses as well as your own strengths.
This will improve the outcome for children as the practitioner will be able to continue making improvements to themselves and activities and therefore to the children’s leaning. The Gibbs reflective cycle is a similar method to self-evaluation as it allows practitioners to reflect upon their actions and specific activities. The Gibbs reflective cycle can be used by writing down the description, feelings, evaluation, conclusion and action plan, which is, in my opinion the best way to do it as it allows the practitioner to come back to it however, it can also be done mentally. Researching online will help the practitioner to get opinions from other professionals, parents etc. This likely wont be a massive step towards developing your role, however, it will give you some ideas for what to do and how to do it. CPD (continuing professional development) will help practitioners to maintain their knowledge and skills. It is a structured approach to learning to help ensure competence to practice, taking in knowledge, skills and practical experience. CPD can involve any relevant learning activity, whether formal and structured or informal and self-directed.
In childcare there are lots of theories and initiatives which are based off these theories of how children play and learn. Some of these theories, which I have used as evidence, include Jean Piaget. Lee Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner and Tina Bruce’s theories. Jean Piaget believed
When planning, and putting plans into action, using theoretical perspectives can be very helpful. Looking at theoretical perspectives can help to inform planning and practice by offering the practitioner a new light, so to speak. This can help because looking at different theories can offer an insight into how to react to reactions and can also help to enlighten the practitioner, of new ways to inform on planning. Famous theorists have had great effect on the world of childcare, and are used by many practitioners to help in informing and planning. Some of these famous theorists and their theories include, Skinner, Chomsky, Vygotsky and Piaget. both Piaget and Vygotsky believed that babies are born with basic abilities for cognitive development, something, many practitioners also believe. “Piaget proposed that cognitive development from infant to young adult occurs in four universal and consecutive stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations, and formal operations” (Woolfolk, A., 2004). One difference between the two theorists and their theories is the belief of Vygotsky that cognitive development occurs within a social context, as opposed to Piaget who believed that children develop mental representations of the world based on physical or mental actions which are executed on the environment.
Many schools etc. take into account the perspective of each theorist mentioned before informing and planning. This is because the theorists have each shown evidence which could prove their theory to be correct, however, theories are merely opinions, and should not be taken as facts. A negative effect of acting upon the theories of theorists could be that because of relevant theories, other theorists theories are not becoming known due to schools etc. using the most famous theories in informing and planning. However, a positive effect of these theories being practiced in schools etc. is that it is likely that for the specific school, the chosen theory will work relatively well, if being repeated.
There are many reasons for observations taking place including tracking progress, assessing needs etc. There are a number of things to think about when observing children such as confidentiality, different techniques, remaining objective, purpose for observing etc. When observing children, maintaining confidentiality is crucial. There are many reasons for this, such as avoiding personal information from being revealed etc. There are many things a practitioner can do to ensure confidentiality. These things include referring to the child as “Child A” and also referring to others involved as “Child B” “Child C” etc. Gender of children should not be disclosed at all throughout observations. This is to help keep the identity of the child hidden. Observations should also be kept in a safe place to avoid unwanted people from accessing them. The only people who you should discuss observations with are colleagues, the child’s parents and other professionals. This is because and discussing them with anybody else may be a risk to the child’s confidentiality and privacy. Observation results may have an effect the assessment of needs as certain observation techniques reveal more detail, whilst others are restricted. This is why multiple observations should be carried out on the same child, using different techniques.
This is important because the information recorded throughout observations can then be compared for a better understanding. It is also important, when carrying out observations to remain objective. Subjective behaviour such as making pre judgements, bias, prejudice, etc. may affect the results of the observation as the observer may make unfair comments, jump to conclusions, presume and record things that have not actually happened. Differentiation must be made when completing observations because one child should never be compared to another. It is essential to recognise each child as an individual, as each child has individual need which if not met, the practitioner breaching rules and policies but more importantly the child may feel neglected and end up falling behind, where extra help may already be required. (E10) The planning cycle is a four step cycle. The four steps of the planning cycle include; Implementing routines, activities and experiences
Identifying the child’s needs
Planning routines, activities and experiences
The planning cycle is about planning short-term, mid-term and long-term goals for individuals and groups to extend and promote development and learning. Assessing, evaluating and reporting individual, group and site outcomes Using observations is usually very helpful in informing planning to meet children’s needs. This is because when using observations to help with planning, it is easier to asses where the child may need extra support and therefore easier to plan activities to benefit the child. When planning activities to support the child’s learning etc. it is very important that the child is paramount. During the planning process, if anything must be discussed it is essential that confidentiality is maintained even to a degree when speaking to co-workers etc. To ensure that whatever is being planned is suitable for the individual child, observations can be very helpful.
This is because when planning, the practitioner can check over the observations for guidance, and to make themselves aware of any specific needs that may be relevant to the child. Observations also allow the practitioner to see where the child is in terms of development, so that time is not wasted completing activities to promote an area of a specific subject where the child is already on target. “Observations help practitioners to decide where children are in their learning and development and to plan what to do. This is an essential part of daily practice in any setting, regardless of the age of the baby or child.” BCMA (2006) When observing children it is very important, for a practitioner, to keep the parents informed.
It is essential that an appropriate relationship between the parents and the practitioner to avoid any disregarded issues regarding the child. To maintain a partnership with parents is it is essential to inform the parent about any issues the child may have and also to discuss what actions should be taken to help the child’s development. It is also important for both the practitioner and the parent to voice any concerns they may have and also for the practitioner to suggest things to help promote development outside of school. “Observations help practitioners to decide where children are in their learning and development and to plan what to do. This is an essential part of daily practice in any setting, regardless of the age of the baby or child.” –EYFS; Observations BMCA (2006)
When recording assessments there are a number of key issues including; suitable techniques, objectivity, reliability, validity, confidentiality and storage. The first thing that should be thought about when recording assessments is finding a suitable technique. There are a number of contributing factors to finding a suitable technique including the length of the assessment, type of assessment etc. For example a short assessment could be recorded in numerous ways such as media recording and written recording whereas a long assessment could be recorded more suitably using bullet points or similar recording methods. Objectivity is one of the most important issues of recording assessments. To remain objective means to stay clear of bias, prejudice and pre-judgement by relying fully on information that is completely factual. As a practitioner it would be unfair to every child if you were biased towards one child. This is because the other children would be likely to feel ignored, left out and neglected where the child that is subject to bias may be unfairly treated by other children, given unrealistic recordings of assessment and may feel uncomfortable being the subject of bias. Making pre-judgements about a child will affect, negatively, the recording of assessment because the child could be perceived as more or less intelligent than they are in reality.
This would affect the child negatively as they may be provided with work which is either too challenging, or not challenging enough for their ability. It is absolutely essential, as a practitioner not to show prejudice towards any child in any way, regardless of the child’s race, culture, gender, ability, religion etc. (E10) It is the responsibility of the practitioner to accept all children and treat them with equal concern in order to meet the child’s individual needs. (E10) All recordings of assessment should be reliable and valid. In order to ensure their reliability and validity it may be necessary to discuss them with colleagues, record a number of assessments etc. Confidentiality is a set of rules or a promise which must not be broken.
To be confidential or to keep things confidential means to keep things private. Recordings of assessment must be kept confidential at all times. These can be kept confidential by ensuring that there is no way of unwanted people seeing them. A number of things can be done when recording assessment to keep them confidential, for example, not mentioning the child’s surname, details about the child’s personal life or family, financial situation of the child’s parents etc. Recordings of assessment must be stored in a place which is safe and is not accessible to anybody whom it does not concern. For example, other children, their parents or even some other professionals must not be able to access the recordings of assessment without permission. There are number of ways to store recordings of assessment safely including password protected documents on computers or locked filing cabinets.
To inform planning and respond to learning needs, assessment is probably the most important thing that needs to be done. There is not only one single assessment to be done but rather a lot of smaller assessments which will, in the end contribute to responding to learning needs and planning. The assessment process involves assessing a number of different things, not only about the child, in order to get a more detailed full. Individual assessment may be necessary or helpful for certain children. For example, a child, who is believed to have a learning difficulty/disability but is undiagnosed. The reason for an individual assessment would be beneficial in this case is because it would become clearer what areas the child may struggle in and why. An individual assessment could be as simple as a written narrative, media, checklist etc. observation. Anything that will help the practitioner to identify any weaknesses, however it must be remembered that all children are individuals and in that case, develop and meet milestones at different paces. (E10) Needless to say this type of assessment is good for respondingto learning needs and informing planning of individual children, however practitioners may wish to get a second opinion to ensure that their recordings are correct. This may mean getting another practitioner to observe the same child and then comparing findings. Summative assessment involves assessing the process of learning development. This means assessing how far children have come and what they have learned so far. To do this, practitioners may wish to carry out a test on the children.
This test would need to be age/stage appropriate. For example 6-7 year olds may be asked to complete a written paper of questions, in order to assess where they are in terms of learning development, where as children younger than this may asked some questions orally and have their replies written down. I have seen this being done in placement when a practitioner asked children individually, a series of questions and asked them to perform tasks such as putting a brick under a box. This was all recorded by the practitioner who used the information to look at and target specific areas of each child’s learning. This helped to inform planning as the practitioner was able to the information to set up activities which would help the children develop any skills which they had not fully developed prior to the summative assessment. When using assessment to help inform planning and meet learning needs, adapting is usually necessary. Practitioners may wish to re-use previous plans of activities for other classes, groups of children etc. This is very possible, however, the plans will need to made adaptable to fit situations such as environment, supplies and resources and of course, most importantly, these plans need to be made adaptable to meeting the needs of individual children. (E10) Basic plans for activities may be made by practitioner upon reflection of assessment, however these activities may need to be changed slightly to enable adaption.
For example, practitioners may decide, upon looking at assessments of children’s progress, needs etc. that an activity relating to basic punctuation is necessary. Something like this may be decided upon if the practitioner feels that a good number of children are not making progress in a specific area. Although a lot of children may be struggling there will naturally be some children who have made enough progress and do not need to revisit the basics of punctuation. (For example) In this case the practitioner would need to adapt the activity to suit the children who had previously made enough progress. This could be done by planning an activity to introduce new punctuation and practice the use of it. It is absolutely essential to reflect upon assessment and the influence it has had on informing planning and responding to learning needs. This is because it’s very important that the planning has worked in meeting the learning needs of children. There a few different ways to reflect upon this assessment. For example; evaluating, extending, learning journeys and sharing with parents. Once a practitioner has used assessment to inform planning and respond to learning needs an evaluation could be very helpful in reflecting. This evaluation should include a brief explanation of the assessment process, what forms of assessment have been carried out and how they helped to inform planning and improve the response to children’s learning needs.
Once this brief explanation has been made, a more detailed overview of the results usually follows and is then also followed by a conclusion and brief plans for what’s next. This also links in with extending because it allows the practitioner to see clearly what has been effective and what needs to be improved upon. Practitioners can begin to make brief plans to extend what has already been done. Looking back at learning journeys is also a good way to reflect as it allows the practitioner to see how much progress has been made. It is a good idea to share the learning journey with the child’s parents as it can help to give the practitioner more of an insight to thing that they may not fully understand without consulting the child’s parents.
In E7 I have included two plans of curriculum activities, showing different approaches to planning learning opportunities. My first curriculum activity plan shows an activity for 3-4 year olds in my current placement. This activity includes recognising and being able to describe animals using flash cards. This can promote learning and development for children in a number of ways. Children of this age will typically be very intrigued by pictures, therefore this activity will interest children and make them want to learn. The bright, colourful pictures on the flash cards will enable children to not only hear a description of each animal but to see it as well. This will benefit children because it will help them to associate the name of an animal with the physical features of the animal and vice versa.
Not only that, but children’s speech and language development will be supported and promoted by listening to descriptive words, nouns, verbs etc. and also thinking of some for themselves. According to the EYFS Development Matters, when trying to develop a child’s understanding at this age, prompting thinking and getting involved can help. For example, if a child is finding it difficult to answer “what color is this cows spots?” the practitioner could prompt thinking by saying “if the cow’s body is white, and these here are the spots, the spots are… b-b-b..” children will usually respond fairly quickly to such prompts. However, when trying to help children to understand, in this particular situation, a practitioner may want to explain to children that like people, cows can look different and are not always the same color. This not only helps children to understand more about the animals, but it also shows and promotes diversity. (E10) With this activity children are given a lot to think about. This promotes and supports cognitive development because the children are required to think about their responses to questions. Children at this age are very keen learners but will sometimes find it hard to keep concentration. The colourful images on the flash cards help with this, but what is essential, is to keep the child’s attention by making them think. With the main activity and both the extension and simplified activities children are required to think. Particularly with the extensions activity children are required to really use their brain. By asking a child to describe a dog, for example, the child can look at the picture and think about how to effectively describe it.
The child may need to observe the picture for a while but should usually be able describe the animal in a way that makes sense both to them and to the practitioner. My second plan for a curriculum activity is an activity for all children in the class at a previous placement. This activity, for the 6-7 year olds, included using blocks to understand halving and quartering and basic fractions. With this activity children are learning about how many “groups” need to be made to half and to quarter and also understanding basic fractions such as ½, ¾ etc. By explaining to the children that there are two halves in one whole and four quarters in one whole, children will then be made to think about how to separate the blocks into groups. Practitioners could promote the thinking and learning of the children by asking questions and giving instructions such as “what is half of 30?” “Divide your blocks into two groups to find your answer.” Children’s mathematical skills are promoted with this activity as they are required to understand and practice the skills needed to half and quarter numbers, along with using basic fractions. Due to the fact that this activity is practical children will gain a better understanding.
This is because, instead of writing it out on paper or thinking it all, children are able to remember more clearly what they have done and how they have done it by looking in front of them at the groups of blocks that they have made. Although children are also writing in their exercise books, they are using their hands too which will allow them to remember better in future. It will also ensure that they are thinking about what they are doing as they will need to have a fair understanding in order to write it down properly. Regardless of whether or not children have fully understood, practitioners will get a basic understanding of what the children have understood and what needs to be revisited in order for the children to understand fully.
Planning and providing learning opportunities to meet children’s diverse needs is very important in childcare. As a practitioner you have a responsibility to care for children and promote development. Development, however, cannot and will not be supported if a child’s needs are not being met. There are many needs that children have and these needs should be met to the best of the practitioners ability. An example of planning and providing learning opportunities to meet children’s diverse needs and teach children about diversity is learning basic religious education. Religious education is actually very important and can be taught to even the youngest of children. Of course, at a young age, there won’t be too much detail, in fact teaching nursery aged children about different religions could be as simple as celebrating a religious holiday. For example, as Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) is approaching, practitioners could briefly explain to children about why people celebrate and how. Planning activities for Diwali could be as simple as printing out rangoli patterns and asking children to color them in brightly. If there are any children who belong to any culture or religion which celebrates Diwali (such as Indian, Pakistani, Sikh, Hindu etc.) the practitioner could ask them to even help with planning. This will not only teach all of the children about diversity, but will allow that child to feel important, included and valued. There are many reasons that providing learning opportunities to meet children’s diverse needs is so important for example; enabling learning, achieving potential, meeting legal requirements and respecting and meeting the rights of the child and family. From an early age it is important to teach children about diversity. This is because in a child’s life they will come across lots of children and adults who are all very diverse. It is important that a child understands that everybody is different and that regardless of race, religion, skin color, culture, ability, age, gender etc. they should all be treated with equal respect and concern. (E10) Teaching children about diversity is very simple. Simple things such as learning about and celebrating other cultures, religions and their holidays can be highly effective. Not only will this help to stop discrimination and help children to understand differences, it will also help children of all races, religions, cultures etc. to feel accepted. As with everyone, children are diverse and should be treated with equal concern.
(E10) Providing learning opportunities to meet children’s diverse needs is very important in enabling learning. Children should be understood in every way in order for them to learn. To understand children, practitioners should have a good understanding of the child’s background, culture, race, religion, ability etc. (E10) Once this has been understood, practitioners can begin to provide suitable learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of children. Until learning is enabled by the practitioner being familiar with the child’s background, culture etc. (E10) it is likely that planning and providing to meet children’s diverse needs will not be very effective. If learning is not enabled there is a very low chance that the diverse and unique needs of the child will be met, making them unable to learn and therefore also hindering their development. Louise Derman-Sparks (1989) “talks about implementing an anti-basis curriculum; Anti-basis should permeate every aspect of a setting and is more than just celebrating the occasional festival. All nursery equipment should reflect the anti-basis and ensure that all children feel valued and at home in the setting regardless of their background.” This also links in with ensuring that children are meeting their potential. To meet their potential, a child needs to be properly cared for. This includes meeting diverse needs.
These diverse needs obviously differ from child to child but can include things such as cultural issues, religious dietary requirements, religious practices etc. For example, if a Muslim child is continuously missing out on important information due to prayers, the practitioner could provide that child with a learning opportunity to catch up on the missed information at a different time which does not take away from any more of the child’s learning or play time. As a practitioner it is very important for your setting and yourself to meet legal requirements. There are many acts such as The Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 Sex Discrimination Act 1975, The Race Relations Act 1976, The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and The Equality Act 2010 which legally protect people (children included) from discrimination. There is no exception in settings. All practitioners must be respectful and not prejudiced towards co-workers, children and parents and carers regardless of race, religion, age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, culture etc. (E10) Every child and their family have rights. These rights include the right to care and education. This means that although a practitioner may not agree with the parent’s decisions, morals etc. they must treat the child equally without excluding them and threatening these rights. Practitioners must always be respectful of parents and guardians wishes regardless of their own beliefs.
“Children’s learning documented through photography can give a deep insight into what is motivating them and provide useful information about their stage of development. Video has the added advantage of recording speech and movement and can be played again and again in order to revisit interesting observations. During individual meetings with parents, time should be set aside for looking at the implications of observations from home and nursery. Planning together for children’s learning should result in a more holistic approach, an enhanced curriculum and continuity for the children. There will be opportunities to look at the child’s learning journeys and to talk about appropriate provision and support for the child’s developmental stage. Where a pattern of behaviour or personal learning interest has been identified, the key worker and parent can discuss experiences that could be offered at home and in the nursery in the hope that they would engage the child and
further extend learning. For example, if both parent and key worker have noticed that the child often gathers objects in bags and transports them around the home and nursery, they could agree to provide a collection of bags and everyday objects at home and similar resources in nursery.” – Drake.J (2006) Nursery World “Collaborative partnerships support inclusive practice. Universally available services are inclusive of all children, including those with a disability or developmental delay and other children who may access additional support (Wesley and Buysse, 2004; Trepanier-Street, 2010). Early childhood educators of children who require additional support may need to work in partnership with occupational therapists, physical therapists, mental health professionals, literacy specialists, social workers, and other professionals with health or educational expertise (Kent, 2005; Hendler, 2008; Myers, 2008; Streelasky, 2008; Myers, et al., 2011). Research evidence emphasises the value of working in partnership to share expertise in early childhood settings (Trepanier-Street, 2010), and the importance of these professionals’ ability to build collaborative relationships (Green et al, 2006). Professionals work together both within and between services. Early childhood services are also increasingly diverse, and most children attend several different education, health and other services during their early development. This diversity can result in fragmentation for children and families, who often face more than one issue or need at any given time and thus may be accessing several services at once (McWayne et al, 2008). Inter-agency partnerships, as well as partnerships between individual professionals, can help to overcome this fragmentation (McWayne et al., 2008; Bruder, 2010). Both individual and organisational partnerships are essential in providing comprehensive support for children and families. “