Tips for Effective Learning Observations in Early Childhood Education

Tips for Effective Learning Observations in Early Childhood Education

Learning observations are essential tools that assist in documenting, assessing, interpreting, and guiding children’s learning. 

A good observation should assess children’s competency, developing skills and interests, progress towards meeting developmental milestones, and be linked to the relevant EYLF outcomes.

It is important to master the skills of listening, questioning, reflecting, and interpreting to identify and support children’s strengths, needs, interests, and development. 

Tips for Effective Learning Observations 

Observe

  • Be present and watch for significant moments of learning. These are the lightbulb or ‘wow’ moments when you can see a child is deeply engaged in learning.
  • Record what you see and hear factually.
  • Use the EYLF outcomes as a guide for noticing evidence of learning. Remember that children can learn from just about anything and that learning often occurs in unplanned situations.
  • Choose the observation style most suited to the learning you observed. You might choose to use notes, forms, templates, detailed observations with photographs, video, a record of conversations, or any other format that conveys the learning that took place.

Interpret 

  •  Question the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW to interpret the learning that took place. 
  • Analyse the demonstrated skills, strengths, interests, and knowledge gaps.
  • Link the learning you observed to the relevant EYLF outcomes to form a complete picture of how a child is developing.

Plan

  • Think about the skills, interests, and capabilities you want to focus on for programming that link them to the EYLF outcomes. 
  • Use your observations to add relevant learning experiences and activities to your program that will build on children’s skills, interests, and strengths over time. 
  • Consider questions such as: 
    • Where could this lead to? 
    • What could we discover next? 
    • How can we build on this skill or interest? 
    • How do we support all children to progress towards the learning outcomes?

Implement 

  • Implement the next learning experience that developed from your observations.
  • Remember to observe, be present, and have fun!
  • Notice children’s level of interest, engagement, and feedback. 
  • Jot down notes during or shortly after the activity to keep the experience fresh in your mind.

Reflect 

  • Review how the learning experience went. Ask questions such as:
    • Did it meet your expectations? 
    • Did you experience any challenges? 
    • Did you adapt the activity to better cater to children’s varied abilities?
  • Review and highlight where the learning occurred, which EYLF outcomes were met, and highlight the skill or need the child/ren demonstrated.
  • Reflect on how you could enhance and extend on children’s learning. Could you provide variations of the activity to better cater to different learning styles and interests?