Tuning into children’s interests
More and more emphasis is being placed on children’s interests, and this is something Ofsted will want to see being demonstrated in daily practice. As a practitioner may have a lot of key children and only one weekly planning sheet, it can often be difficult to include every child’s interests. However, it can be done with some useful resources and some simple tips.
Ofsted is so keen to see children’s interests being followed in childcare settings for a variety of reasons:
- If a child is interested, they will learn
- Confidence and self-esteem will be raised if a child’s interests are followed
- Development in all seven areas of the EYFS can be promoted through following a child’s interests
- Each child is an individual and should be seen this way
- Knowing your key children’s interests shows a good relationship and bond which are crucial for development in the early years.
It is practitioners responsibility to use their skills to identify and note down children’s interests, this can be mainly be done through observations during play, interactions with a child and discussions with parents. Discovering a child’s interests when they first start at the setting is an important part of the settling in process, showing the child that the environment they are in is a safe, fun and interesting place. This may at first be discovered through the completion of an all about me sheet. As the child becomes familiar with a setting, their interests may change, and it is important that this is detailed through an observation of some kind whether written, snapshot or photograph. It can be difficult to meet all their interests, but it is possible through a well resourced enabling environment. If practitioners can fully tune into children’s interests and identify learning outcomes, this can make it easier for practitioners to understand how the child is learning.
Documenting children’s interests
Not only do Ofsted want to see evidence that you are aware of a child’s interests but they also want to know what you are doing with this information as this is the key to a child progressing well. Documenting children’s interests may be detailed in a learning journey although this may not be totally effective as these may be forgotten about as learning journals are not displayed for all practitioners to see. Initials or activities may be added to the weekly planning however for a large preschool with 30 children it is impossible to include every child’s interest and next steps. With this, the most effective tool is often an additional document placed alongside the planning. Each key person has a sheet containing a section for the key person to record each child’s next steps. Take a look at this next steps flower to gain a visual of how this can be done. When Ofsted then arrive and ask questions about how children’s interests are documented then each practitioner can take the inspector to the wall and show them exactly what a certain child is interested in and how this is being used to support their development.