Reflection is an important part of working with children in any setting. It is a circular process whereby you think about what you have done and how well it went, get feedback from others and consider what you will do differently next time. As an early year’s practitioner, reflection gives you the ability to develop and improve your working practice. It is important to reflect on practice, reflection gives you the ability to develop and improve your working practice for next time. If children didn’t enjoy the activity given to them then it’s not a good activity and you would know not to do that activity in the future. Reflective practice requires skills, self awareness, an ability to view situations for multiple perspectives, the ability to analyse critically and to search for alternative explanations, and the ability to use evidence in supporting or evaluating a decision or position.
A reflective practitioner is self awareness, communicates well, working in partnership, weakness and strengths, integrate new knowledge into existing knowledge while making judgements, be able to evaluate to improve and develop new perspectives.
In 1988 Gibbs set a reflective practice in a cycle. This cycle relates to childcare so the practitioner can review and improve their practice after thought and discussion.
Here’s the cycle as follows: Description (what happened), Feelings (what were you thinking and feeling?), Evaluation (what was good and bad about the experience?), Analysis (what sense can you make of the situation?), Conclusion (what would you have done differently?), Action plan (what will you do next time?). This cycle can be applied to any situation in your working practice. Here’s an example of when I was in my placement I referred back to this cycle which I thought would help me improve my working practice for next time.
Description: I was sitting in the baby room and the fire alarm went off, One of the water pipes had burst so we had to evacuate out of the building.
Feelings: Sacred, and nervous because it was a real alarm but i had to stay calm for the children’s sake and stay professional, I didn’t know why the alarm was going off, I was thinking were all the other children out even from the other classes.
Evaluation: It was good that all the children managed to get out safely and were all ok but it was bad because it was all a rush and none of the staff expected it.
Analysis: This experience happened because of the weather it was winter and the pipes were frozen and expanded and burst upstairs, lucky enough the children were downstairs and no one was present in the room at the time.
Conclusion: Try to keep the children more calm and distract them from what is going on, because the children had started getting upset because it was all a big rush and the fire alarm was really loud.
Action plan: In future the setting should do more practice on fire drills to be more confident and I think in the future the nursery should allocate the babies to each member of staff so if next time there was a fire drill the staff would know which child to get straight away because there was a lot of panicking when we were trying to get the babies out of the baby room.
Here an image of the Reflective Cycle:
So by using this cycle I found it very beneficial to improve on my own performance in the future.
Reflective practice is really important and can help to improve your own performance. This can help in many way’s, everyone learns from their own mistakes, practitioners will also learn from their mistakes whilst in the setting. Practitioners are all at different stages of development and have different strengths and weaknesses and have areas to improve on. As a practitioner I would learn from my mistakes and think why has this been a mistake and think of a way that I could make better for next time. For example if I planned an activity and it took place afterwards I would ask my colleagues for feedback and I would reflect upon my activity and I would figure out what I could do next time to make it my interesting and enjoyable for the children, also you would know if an activity has gone well by the children’s reactions, so if they have got distracted or got bored quickly you would know that your activity hasn’t gone well. When I have looked at my strengths and weaknesses I would concentrate on my weaknesses and I would evaluate it and see which areas I can improve on. A way to do this is, every practitioner has different strengths and weaknesses in different areas so you could help each other in the setting each day by telling a colleague something you know and they might not know and vice versa, this is something so simple called transferrable skills and this will probably happen quite a lot in settings without practitioners even know they are doing it. Also to improve your performance you could set yourself goals, for example if you think you lack in confidence when doing activities with children you could set yourself a goal one week, where you do an activity with a few children and if you meet that goal the following week you can set another goal where you can do an activity with a small group the next week and if you keep meeting your goals you will eventually reach where you wanted to be and find that you will have more confidence and that you have just improved your own performance by reflecting up on your own practice. Also when in a setting as a practitioner you might find that a display on the wall could be more efficient for the children if there was less colours or more colours etc, so therefore you and another practitioner might come together and discuss it and you both might find that you have different opinions, and then come to a conclusion and change the display for the children. This is reflecting upon your own performance and improving your own practice.
There are lots of strategies for improving your own learning and performance. Here are two ways in which you can do this.
The SMART target is a way of improving your own learning and performance. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time related. Once you have gained feedback from your mentor, you should produce a list of areas that you both think is important for you to develop. When producing the list you should take into consideration the time these will take and the support you will need. These development goals will help you develop and improve your own learning and performance. It is important that any goals are set are SMART. Your plan should clearly focus on the areas you want to develop for example IT skills. You will need to consider how you will find out whether you have achieved the goals for example gaining an IT qualification. You need to make sure that the goals you have set are achievable, for example that you have time to study for the IT qualification. When aiming towards goals you should make sure before you set your goals out that they are realistic and they can be achieved and don’t give yourself too many goals and targets to achieve. When planning your goals you need to consider how long it would realistically take you to achieve them, for example don’t say your IT qualification will take you six months to complete when it normally takes twelve months to complete on average, and if you are realistic about your time to achieve your set goals then you are more likely to succeed them. If you use the SMART target as a way of improving your own learning and performance you have a good chance of succeeding. Another strategy for improving your own learning and performance is going on training courses. When as a practitioner you will always be learning new stuff even when you are qualified. To help you improve this you could go on training courses as you are still employed, so for example whilst you are working and you are unsure how to use the new electronic white boards you could ask your employer if it is possible if you could go on a training course to help and improve your skills. As a qualified practitioner you can even go on further training course to improve your own learning and performance for example Food Hygiene qualification, or maybe a First Aid course would be beneficial as your job role as one day in the future you might need to use your knowledge in any of the situations you are faced with. Also keeping up-to-date with legislation is a big part in improving your own learning and performance, as legislations are always expanding and are up dating so you as a childcare practitioner would need to be familiar with all the new laws and regulations as this would affect your performance. For example the EYFS had up dated there legislation to 0-5 years where it used to be 0-3 years practitioners would of had to be familiar with this as this would affect their own performance. Also self-appraisal and reviews are a good way to improve your own performance. As your personal and professional qualities are reviewed, therefore it promotes good practice. This would mean it will identify on your poor performance. Often targets are reviewed and it allows you and your manager to discuss are range of things in the setting. It evaluates your performance and what training might you need in the future are might be beneficial to you to help improve your performance. These self-appraisals are carried out annually and it’s a chance to ‘blow your own trumpet’ say what you think you are good at.
The ten principles that underpin work with children:
- The welfare of the child is vital. This means when decisions are made, the needs and interests of the child come first.
- Keeping children safe and maintaining a healthy and safe environment by making sure the children are not at risk, by doing things like lock all the doors after arrival and departure lock all cleaning products away so there not in the reach of the children. Making sure that the outdoors is safe for the children to go and play no rubbish and sharp objects etc. Also by keeping children safe is to make sure at departure times the practitioners make a note of who are the children’s parents and guardians are and that when they come to pick the children up they have security questions to answer before the practitioners hand the child over unless it’s the regular person that comes to pick the child up.
- Working in partnership with parents/families is an important role that the practitioner has to underpin when working with children. This is important to communicate with the parents and for the practitioners to communicate with the parents too because important information is being disclosed about the child that might affect the child’s behaviour throughout the day.
- A child’s learning and development is important because the first five years of a child's life are fundamentally important. Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life. They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow. As a practitioner it is important that you meet the child’s needs, learning styles and interests to provide them with the appropriate guidance.
- Valuing diversity. As a practitioner you would need to understand that each individual learns and develops in different ways and there not all the same.
- Equality and opportunity is where all children should be treated fairly and equally and be given the same opportunities. Each practitioner should uphold the councils Equality of Opportunity policy.
- Anti-discrimination is what every practitioner needs to be. All practitioners need to be positive and non-judgemental. A practitioner can’t treat an individual differently just because they have different beliefs are a different religion. Even when P.E. is taking place in the setting and the practitioner only lets ‘boys’ play football because they think it’s a ‘boys’ sport this is discriminating against ‘girls’. As a practitioner you have to respect the customs, values and beliefs of the child and their families
- Confidentially is one of the most important principle that practitioner have to underpin when working with children. Any information that is given to the practitioner by the parent concerning the children or the family must be up held with the strictest confidentiality and mustn’t be discussed with anyone who it doesn’t concern. If this is done then it is breaking the law. The only necessary time to release any information about the child is when the child is in danger or it is at the child’s best interest.
- Working with other professionals you have to respect the contribution and expertise from other professionals that work in childcare and education field. As you may have to communicate with these professionals on a regular basis that might be in your setting or from the community.
- The reflective practitioner is a principle that underpins working with children. Being a reflective practitioner is being self awareness, communicates well, working in partnership and being able to evaluate to improve and develop new perspectives.
Confidentiality is a principle that underpins working with children. Keeping and upholding the confidentiality is really important not abiding by this is breaking the law. When a practitioner has been disclosed information about the child or the family the practitioner has duties not to talk or discuss this information with anyone who it doesn’t concern. The only necessary time the practitioner would release any information about the child if they thought that the child was or is in danger and it’s in their best interests. Any information that is disclosed to the setting by the parents concerning a child or about the family should be stored in a place where it is safe and locked away so nobody can access it that shouldn’t. As the boundaries for confidentiality can sometimes by difficult to establish and you’re unsure whether it is ok to disclose information before you do so, you should discuss it with your supervisor or manager first before you do. In terms of confidentiality practitioners should be aware that there is a legislation that looks at the way personal information can be used. The Data Protection Act 1998 is the legislation for this policy and all practitioners should be aware of this legislation. This legislation is to prevent breaches of information, this legislation applies to all settings whether or not they have computerised records or not. Maintaining confidentiality protects children and their families from gossip, but it also prevents situations where an abuser mounts a legal defence based on the tampering of evidence. Even simple things like children’s names in your setting are confidential and should not be repeated outside the setting.
Working in partnership with parent and families can support the practitioners practice in the setting. Communicating with parents under any circumstances, gives the parent vital information about the child and vice versa the parent can tell the practitioner. For example if the child has an health problem, the practitioner will need to know and record that and if the child is on medication, because if the child has asthma for example and has an asthma attack during the setting hours and the practitioners aren’t aware of this they will not know what is wrong with the child. Also communicating with parents and families is important because if the has been family issues at home, for example the parents have split up or got a divorce and the mother of the child has a court order against the farther for any reason the setting would have to know and record this information to help prevent any issues with the parents. Communicating with the parents and families doesn’t just mean talking and telling them what the child has done when they come to pick the children up it also means writing daily planners out for the children and arranging parents evening. Because not all parents are the to pick their children up from the setting they might have relatives that do this, so by doing daily planners is another of telling the parents how the child has been in that day and what the child has so the parents have a better understanding. If there are any issues where the child is concerned and the parents don’t come to pick the children up a meeting will be arranged between the setting and parents for a suitable time for both of them and they can discuss the child’s development behaviour etc.
Keeping children safe and maintaining a healthy safe environment can support the practitioners practice in the setting. This helps to prevent the children being at risk. Things like locking the doors and fire exits so the children can’t wonder off. Fire procedure need to be set in place just in case of an emergency so all the practitioners and staff at the setting are aware of the procedure and can keep the children safe. On arrival and departure when parents are coming to pick the children up and the practitioners aren’t aware of someone they will have passwords in place or security questions before the child is handed over. The practitioners should be CRB checked before working with the children is a main way of keeping children safe. Things like cleaning products should have labels on them at all times so other staff and practitioners are aware of what the substance is and they should be locked away out of the reach of children. Plug sockets should have the covers on them if there not being used to prevent the children from sticking their fingers in there and injuring themselves, and also corners of tables and furniture should have foam covers on them to prevent the children walking into them and bumping their heads etc. Following procedures that are set for that setting is important to keep children safe. Keeping children healthy is important to a practitioner. As healthy eating is a big part. Making sure the children are getting healthy balanced diets whilst in the setting. By giving the children lots fruit and vegetables. Most children will try and avoid fruit and vegetables so you have to encourage them as a practitioner to eat them. You could do this by eating a piece of fruit yourself at break time maybe so the children see that, because as a practitioner you are there role model and they will look up to you. You could also try different fruit and vegetables so it’s not the same thing every time and by having lots of colours will encourage the younger children to eat them. In the setting you should promote healthy eating posters around the setting so everybody can see, also by encouraging the parents to keep healthy. Getting the parents involved is important when it comes to a child’s health and well being. Exercise is another way of keeping children healthy a child should get at least twenty minutes of exercise daily if not more this should be part of the child’s daily routine, this is to help the child’s development.
Anti-discrimination underpins working with children can support practitioners practice. Being discriminated against means not getting the same rights as another individual. Young people and children and their families are most likely to be discriminated against than others. They are normally discriminated against for their age, religion, Family background, race, culture and gender. Discrimination can be either direct or indirect. Indirect means that it is less obvious for example steps into the setting-it’s to help those with a disability but it’s not actually stating that. Direct means it is deliberate so for example a sign saying no wheel chairs please. There are a few pieces of legislation to prevent discrimination. Whatever the type of discrimination it still has an effect on the young child, person or their families. A practitioner has to be anti-discrimination which means they don’t discriminate against anyone, they might not think the child’s religion is ok but it’s not their choice to make and they have to accept the child or their family for who they are. They can’t treat the children any different because the practitioner doesn’t think the child comes from a family with low income.
Working with other professionals you have to respect the contribution and expertise from other professionals that work in childcare and education field. As a practitioner you will find yourself working with other professionals with a range of expertise to ensure the child’s needs are met fully. When working with other professionals you may find that they are from the same company as you or work on the same site, or they may even be from the community. When you are disclosing information about the child this is only for the child’s benefit whatever is disclosed in the meeting should not be discussed with any other person.
E6 and E8
Children’s interests and experiences are important not only to them but to the practitioners. Practitioners should value their interests, respecting and acting on the interests expressed by the child. Taking it into consideration and caring about it. Each individual has interest personal to you. As a practitioner I might not like a child’s interest so, therefore I can’t not give attention to this child because am not interested in theirs. When a practitioner values a child’s interest it boosts confidence, self esteem and self efficiency. It makes them feel valued and happy. Babies and children will always concentrate and therefore learn if they are doing something they are interested in and enjoying. A main way to find out about children’s interests is through observation. By observing children you can see what they already enjoy doing and which activities help them concentrate. For example a child might be interested in their family so as a practitioner I would value that and take it into consideration and I would plan an activity around that subject so the child will not find the activity boring and they will concentrate more because it’s something they enjoy talking about. I would do a topic ‘about me’ which they would talk about their interest and they could draw pictures of their family etc. Or when doing sports day the child’s family can come and get involved and join in and therefore the child will enjoy the activity a lot more. Another way to find out what the child’s interests are is by speaking to the child’s parents and finding out what they enjoy and like doing at home. When a child is telling the practitioner about an experience they have had the practitioner has to listen to the child and be interested in what the child has to say. Even if the child is telling the practitioner about a hobby they do and the practitioner doesn’t like the hobby or interested in that area, they still have to listen to the child. The child will know if the practitioner is not listening or paying full attention to them. They can tell by the practitioner’s body language, eye contact, facial expressions and their tone of voice.
Every Child Matters aims to consider children from birth to 19 years of age and involves everyone who works with children and young people. The goal for this is to support the child whatever their background or circumstances they need to: Be healthy, Stay safe, Enjoy and achieve through learning, Make a positive contribution to society, and achieve economic well being. These five outcomes of Every Child Matters are at the centre of the 2004 Children Act. The Act mad the law reform the children’s services and improving across the country. The main provisions that are being implemented are:
- A person should debate the highest level of making positives changes for children
- Agencies that work together for children and young people
- Safeguard children and to include local safeguarding boards
- Children and young people’s plan- these should encourage the integration of children’s services
- Local members of the children’s services and lead members that will ensure that children are being cared for, safeguarded according to their needs
- Inspections for frameworks and joint area reviews
- New powers to intervene in falling local authorities
- Children who are looked after being promoted of the educational achievement
- Ensure that children’s voices are heard when decision making is taking place.
This will support children and young people and designed to ensure quality provision of children and young people’s play and learning. As an adult working with children you should be familiar with Every Child Matters, which ever setting you’re in weather its early years or primary your planning will relate in some way to the five outcomes.
Every Child Matters supports practice with the early years setting because it gives the children most out of life in spite of their circumstances the children need all of the five outcomes and this will support children. Making sure the children are healthy and can get the best out of life, encouraging them to eat healthy, supporting them making them know it is important to stay healthy, and encouraging them by giving them healthy snacks and not providing fatty foods every day, making it more appetising so the children will want to eat healthy being a positive role model towards the children so they look up to, putting them first all the time. Its supports practice because its puts the children first gaining confidence and self value, and making sure they are safe when in the setting. Also by keeping them healthy encourage more active lessons, when they do P.E make it as enjoyable as possible so they want to do it more and be more active, asking them what they would like to do so valuing their interests as well as keeping them healthy. Making sure the children enjoy their school life and can get the most out of it and can achieve the most the can so they can develop more skills, supporting the children with this letting them enjoy themselves and being able to develop skills which will stay with them for life. Making sure in the setting it is safe for the children, safe and secure surroundings making it welcoming so the children feel comfortable when they are in the setting, making sure they are safe and not in any harm so if you notice anything about the children that isn’t right, then telling your supervisor what your concern is, and helping the children as they shouldn’t be in any harm from neglect or harm doing something about it, getting other professionals in to see the concern and putting the children first at all times, supporting them giving them the best possible life. Always putting the children first and helping them get them the most of life and helping them to achieve and develop skills they haven’t already got.
“This means every LA working with its partners, through children's trust partnerships, to find out what works best for children and young people in its area and acting on it. They will need to involve children and young people in this process, and inspectors will take account of the views of children and young people when making their judgements.”
The EPPE (Effective Provision of Pre-school Education) provides a five year extension, into the effects of pre-school education on children’s development outcomes at the start of their primary school. The EPPE is for children aged between 3-11 years which is key stage 1 (aged 7) and key stage 2 (aged 11). The EPPE project has shown the contribution to children’s development of attendance at different types of early childhood provision. It has also investigated the effects of the time the children are in pre-school and the different levels of staff qualification. While investigating the effects of pre-school, this project has demonstrated the important input of family’s factors to children’s development, including social class and behavioural influences such as family activities that enhances young children’s learning. The positive influence of early childhood education has been demonstrated, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those children who are at risk of developing special educational needs.
“'EPPE shows the importance of quality and the benefits of quality,' says Professor Sylva. 'Good-quality early years provision transforms the learning of all children, but especially those at risk of later difficulties, and they become better and more efficient learners.”
The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) works with children of key stage 1- age 7. This is supporting children and practitioners as everyone is working together and shielding children from harm and giving them the chance to gain the best they can do. The impact of this is working with pre-school children on their cognitive and social behaviour outcomes, and works with the children on their backgrounds, family and their learning environment. The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) develops in pre-school education and supports children in practice. It also works with children to the end of primary school key stage 2 - age 11. EPPE investigates the relative influence of family backgrounds, supporting children on how their atmosphere is at home and supports children by keeping them safe, this is supporting practitioner as everybody is working together and the children are getting extra help and support also to maintain they get the best opportunities, it also supports home learning, so children should be doing work and developing their skills at home as well being educated in schools, getting help from parents and support from them, putting the children first. The children would get monitored to progress their development and how well they are doing, works with children and supports children in developing more skills.
The Reflective Cycle
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
This is a very good essay with a considerable amount of information about the factors that affect practice in a child care setting. It is accurate and detailed throughout. There are areas that could be expanded but it is perfectly adequate to stand as it is. *****