Observation of a 5 Years Child Essay

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Why do we observe?

Understanding and supporting children's learning can be determined by several factors, one of which is observations. Observations are important as they seek out the next steps for making progress in children's learning. When professionals carry out observations, children should be consulted and involved as if they were being taught. They are often formal and systematic when taking place in an educational setting, conclusions are drawn to help professionals further develop strategies and programs to support children. There are numerous reasons why we observe, one being a way to identify the causes of changes in behavior, this could be due to challenging interactions with peers. Another reason why we observe is to understand how best to support the level of individual needs a child may have; this helps plan activities that stimulate and identify the next steps in their learning and development. Continuous observation of this nature shows not only the child's journey but also the adult's role in supporting the journey. With each observation, we can track patterns of behaviors and one day, find a cause of it. One significance of observing is, that children are learning from them, and professionals such as teachers and teaching assistants are encouraged to provide learning experiences that children can make links with their prior knowledge and understanding. From observations, we can then establish effective learning, acknowledging how they learn to make decisions about what happens next. (Koshy, 2010 cited in Stacey et al.,2016) suggests observation as a 'continuous learning process with its main purpose to improve practice.

My observation

The child I observed was 5 years old. J is in the early years foundation stage within a primary school. His ethnicity is White and at the time of the observation, he has been in school for 4 months. His interests include dinosaurs, playdough, role-play (particularly in the home corner and outside), small world, construction, and building areas. Overall, J can be independent in many aspects of school life. Adult support is needed during whole class carpet input, to guide J into making the correct choices in both behavior and daily learning tasks.

What did I observe?

Within my observation, I shall be referencing Andrew Pollard's four definitions (2014) Description, Dispassionate, Discerning, and, Diagnostic.

J was wondering about the classroom in search of something to do, the teacher encouraged J to explore the building area and prompted him to see if he could make something with the bricks. J chose the color bricks he wanted and started to make something with them. Another child came over to join J in making something, the other child asked, 'Can I help you build it?' J said very angrily, 'No. it mine, not yours.' J then turned his back on the other child and continued to build. As more children approached the building area, J threw his model in the brick box, 'I go now' and went off to play in the home corner. Once in there, J ran over to the kitchen and began to throw items around laughing and making silly noises as if it was a game. One child went up to J and told him to stop. He continued to throw. The teacher approached the home corner and asked J to stop, he then did so. J then saw a group of children playing together nicely, he jumped over to them and then rolled onto their laps to disturb the game. He lay there staring up at the ceiling, making 'bedobedobedo' sounds. The children in that group called for the teacher, they then removed J from the home corner and asked him to play somewhere else nicely in the classroom. J was approached by one of his friends who play together often, J began to crawl across the classroom floor saying, 'Me dog, you play me, play J game'. They then both continued across the floor making barking sounds and laughing. J and his friend then went out into the corridor to find their coats. They both went outside to continue playing together.

The importance of play and creativity in learning

What do playful activities and creativity bring to the curriculum and school life more widely?

Playful activities and creativity have an important role in children's learning, play allows children to understand the world whilst allowing them to make their own choices and explore opportunities within their ideas, this gives them control and can be hugely engaging for many. Play-based learning makes a significant contribution to the development of a child's understanding (Pascal and Bertram, 1997; Martlew et al., 2011; Pramling Samuelsson and Johansson, 2006 cited in Hancock et al., 2016). One of the most important things about play is ensuring that children have a thriving, rich environment where they can invent and extend their play.

The significance of play leads to a part of children's development, it allows children to step out of reality and engage in learning experiences to explore through their imagination, meanings, and understanding. Vygotsky suggests, that when children are playing, they behave beyond their average age, and their behavior, play allows children to be a head taller than they might when not playing (Vygotsky, 1978, cited in Hancock, et al., 2016) Alongside Vygotsky ideas, there is a huge emphasis on how powerful social interactions can be in children's learning within the notion of the zone of proximal development (ZPD), suggesting how supportive peers and adults can be around children's learning. When there are such sensitive and well-judged amounts of support, it allows children to feel that they are progressing positively in their way.

Creativity drives and sustains play. Children have a responsibility to determine what happens next in play. When play is maintained and developing, there is an ongoing creative and imaginative process that children feel. When children are creative together, there is a collective dimension to their thinking. Children engage actively when choosing and exploring their curriculum, learning through the discovery of experiences within a natural, social, and constructed world that goes beyond the classroom (Plowden Report, CACE 1967 cited in Craft et al., 2016).

In what ways do they enhance learning?

Playful and creative activities support healthy development in their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs and critical thinking skills. Children are encouraged by the activities to become motivated and independently confident to work well with peers, understand and take leadership in their learning experiences, and see how capable they are to apply their creative skills to other situations.

In the video 'Number Songs' the teaching assistant directed the playful activities for learning that differ from free-flow play. The teaching assistant linked songs to varying activities that involved parents supporting their children (The Open University, 2021a) The first song, 'Ten in the Bed' encouraged the children to follow actions as well as keep focused attention on the animal props. The children were involved and asked by the teaching assistant and parents to look after each animal as they 'fell off the bed'. To establish learning through songs, the teacher had a specific link to Numeracy; counting and rhymes were entertaining and allowed the adults involved to use questions towards the children to encourage them to communicate and problem-solve. This is a good example of how play and creativity can enhance children's learning.

Relating my observation to play and creativity

The activity observed was of the child during their independent learning time. This time allows for observation of a child's most natural way of playing and being creative in the learning environment, to what the child finds most enjoyable at school. Observations of this nature can help adults to understand the effectiveness of the provision. Strengths, weaknesses, and inconsistencies within the curriculum can be shown through observation (Nutbrown, 2013). Furthermore, details from the observations can allow for plans to be put in place to support children through provision and teaching but to also identify the significant moments in a child's learning to help shape a curriculum that supports child developmental concerns.

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'J' had a keen interest in the building construction area inside the learning environment, the teacher knew this beforehand and therefore was able to direct J to the area she thought would be beneficial to his creative learning experience. During his time at the construction, area J was an independent learner exploring his interests. He used what was around him to show curiosity and the desire to explore with the bricks and make something he could play with. (Hall et al., 2016) Through independent learning, J was able to have first-hand experiences and experiment with what he wanted to at his own pace, he became an independent learner by allowing himself to choose what made him happy, building his knowledge through inquiries, and when a problem occurred, J was able to see this problem for himself and correct it by moving on to what he felt was most comfortable to him, another activity.

During the observation, there was little interaction between J and his peers, until towards the end a child approached J to ask if he wanted to play together. This allowed for both learners to be social and connect to maximize learning experiences. This showed J, that although he loves to be independent with little adult support to begin, he can play creatively alone and welcome peers to play alongside, especially those children who are of a similar developmental age as J himself. Social processes, the interaction between them, talking and thinking which allowed negotiating to take place to decide what they were going to do, then experienced together jointly through collaboration, the activity of role-playing which both learners took the responsibility of how and where to do their activity (Hall et al., 2016, p.90 -92).

Throughout the observation, various types of play occurred within the learning environment. There were elements of symbolic play; play allows control and exploration through understanding increased over time; this was the case at the beginning when J explored the construction area. Both communication play; words and gestures used, and socio-dramatic play occurred towards the end of the observation, an element of enactment of real experiences i.e., J crawling on the floor like a dog. The types of play almost all involve language development, children will use their language to describe and organize objects they are playing with and assign roles within role-playing to inhabit the world they create through play. (Hughes and Melville, 2002, cited in Hancock, et al., 2016)

There were some areas of the observation that were controlled and needed adult intervention at times. There were elements of team teaching involved in the observation which was carried out. Facilitating, additional adult helps to ensure the learning experience runs smoothly, the teacher facilitates creativity, by enabling activities in the classroom to be of children's key interests at present. Other elements were, preventing; this happened when the teacher needed to visit the group of children playing in the house, J became disruptive to their play and the teacher had to step in to prevent their experience from becoming unsuccessful. Repairing too was an element that becomes necessary when an argument between children occurs, disputes need to be resolved so play can continue, and the relationship is repaired. (Wilson, 2004, cited in Craft, et al., 2016)

Overall, during the observation, there was an element of behavior management needed to support J in making positive choices in his behavior to continue his play experience during independent learning. It's important to understand that whilst children are in school, they are required to follow the behavior policy. They are continuously learning about what is required of them when in school. According to Janet Kay, there are useful strategies in place to support this, verbal reprimands spoken in a firm tone, suggesting alternative ways of behaving, in this instance, J, was redirected to play in another area, somewhere far calmer with the addition of J having a responsibility to occupy him to play a game with a peer (Kay, 2013)


Working in a primary school, I have an insight into how play and creativity positively impact children's development however now developing my knowledge further since studying E103. I understand more to play, which allows children to understand the world whilst allowing them to make their own choices and explore opportunities within their ideas, this gives them control in their learning. Creativity drives and sustains play; therefore, children have a responsibility to determine what happens next within their learning experiences. I have learned how and why extending play and creativity not only in the classroom but with parents is important as being creative, developing ideas, and then turning them into something meaningful allows them to see how their children's achievements in development are positively impacted on day-to-day challenges.

Personal Reflection

Peer Assessment

Amy began her assignment with a brief sentence stating ethical considerations and referencing BERA (2018) and the UNCRC,(1989) guidelines. I felt Amy was able to write about what the initial question was asking 'key theories and concepts about learning'. Amy talked about two theories and concepts of learning with given examples of her setting, however, I felt there could have been more references to the module materials, the six elements of scaffolding (Rogoff, 1990 cited in Hall et al., 2016) could have been used to support. Amy stayed within the word count given, a well-structured assignment showed she understood and planned what theories were relevant to the question asked. There were continuous links made to policies and practices and both theories were thoroughly detailed.

I found the activity challenging to begin with but shortly found I was able to make some constructive, formative feedback on the student's work. The criterion stated at the beginning of the work helped guide my thoughts on what the feedback should look like. I feel the tool of 'peer assessment' is useful for primary school children as it allows pupils to get a better understanding of their work with instruction to look at peers' work, referencing alongside the success criteria. This would be beneficial for older children; they would be effective commentators and therefore are much clearer and have a greater understanding of what good work in that task should look like. (The Open University, 2021b) William mentioned that he felt children giving feedback to their peers is far easier to handle as there is a strong relationship that has already been built between them, much harder for the teacher to understand.

Acting on feedback

Improving on previous work can be challenging, especially when thinking about how to develop what was completed last time and to make it better. Reading through the tutor's feedback is important to understand how parts of the assignment could be improved for future writing. It makes the owner of the work think, about what specifically went well and what could be done differently next time. It details specific areas which could be improved to score a higher mark on the next TMA.

There were a few things to consider for this TMA to focus on, one was checking the E103 Cite Them Right Guide and tutor guidance to ensure my reference list and in-text referencing is correct. I hope that reading comments on my previous TMA will allow me to ensure I cite correctly within this assignment and carefully planning of the module materials, so they are suitable for parts of my assignment, alongside this, I have ensured there have been no direct quotes as I wanted to demonstrate deeper knowledge and understanding of what I have read. The writing style I also wanted to improve, at times I used grammar that was seen to not be of an academic style of writing, it was easy to follow and read however one comment made me think to not use contracted word forms, careful proofreading has allowed me to check for this.

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