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The Ethical Considerations in Child Observation - Paper Example

7 pages
1882 words
Middlebury College
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Description: Child X lives with both his mother and father as well as his two younger siblings.

Part 1. ObservationsObservation comes under a process of watching children whilst in our care. Understanding their needs and taking down notes of exactly what had been seen and said. It is a formal term that is used for what is known to be used on an everyday basis during a professional practice (Dubiel, J. 2016). Observation is a vital tool that is used in childcare settings for children age 0-18 years of age. It is fundamental for the planning for the next stages of development so as to provide the best for a child. The planning cannot take place without observation because observation forms the basis of planning itself.

Observation can be used for many different situations and settings. Settings such as nurseries, playgroups, primary schools and secondary schools. For this to be able to happen there are procedures that must be followed before and after the observation is done. The most essential thing is a permission letter for the parent/guardian to read and sign which will explain why and how the observation will take place. This is a vital aspect due to the fact that parents must be aware that the observation will be taking place which is why they need to give their consent to allow the observation to go ahead (Drake, J. 2006). Once the parent/guardian has given their consent it is extremely important that when writing up the observation that it stays confidential and anonymous. At times, there may be a need for someone to go through the observation report. This warrants the need for unanimity among the children so that the person does not form attitude against the observed children. Involving the parents and discussing the childs development and progress meets the Principle 2.2 of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Observations should not include any unnecessary breaks as this may cause an inaccurate observation. Practitioners should address any learning and development needs, in partnership with parents and/or carers, and any relevant professionals (EYFS, 2017). According to Sheila Riddall-Leech (2008), observation is a method that is excellent for practitioners to understand a stage that a child may be at, any observation that is done provides a significant insight. It is to make sure that one is able to recognize any fallbacks in where the child may need progressing (Riddall-Leech, S. 2008). When a practitioner recognizes that a child is not progressing, he/she must make a plan on how to help that child develop his/her skills.

There are two ways that observation can be written down and these are subjective writing and objective writing. Subjective writing is a form that is used when observing a child which is ones own interpretation, based on previous experiences and these are biased opinions. This form of writing should not be used during observation due to the fact that it is not a fair observation and it is the observes point of view instead of what is actually seen and heard. Objectivity on the other hand is the form that should be used when writing up an observation as this is having a record of everything that was said and done during the observation and this is not based off anyones own opinion. That is the correct form to write up an observation as this the most equal way.

There are many methods and techniques for observation and the three that seem to be used the most in professional settings are: checklists, narrative or written record and learning journals/diary. The advantages of checklists are that it gives a clear understand of what has been done however the disadvantage is that not a lot of detail goes into the checklist and it is also very basic. Narrative writing has been the chosen method for the observation that took place. There are many positive factors of narrative writing as one is able to write down plenty of information about the observation. A downfall of this may be that if it is not well written some information can be missed out. Keeping learning journals/diary helps to keep a record of what goes on throughout the day. However, the disadvantage of using this method is that it lacks clarity hence difficult to understand. Moreover, they are not appropriate for short term observations (Barber and Paul-Smith, 2012).

The information that is carried out should be understandable for professionals to understand so they can make an informed and balance decision. This can be done through planning specific activities that may help a child meet their required needs unless they need professional advice or help which they will then be referred to. It is vital that parents are involved in the child's day to day activities in the school setting. In addition, the parents' permission for observing child development is also important in the same regard OHagan (2001).

The ethical considerations in child observation.

The primary ethical consideration in child observation is the informed consent. Because children are like any other human beings, who are able to express their emotions and dejections during the observation process, it is important that before the observation takes place, the observer informs that children that they will be observed. This allows the children to be part of the learning process as they behave in more understandable ways. Lack of informed consent is an intrusion into childs privacy and amounts to unethical practice which may also translate to crime. If an observation takes place in a childcare setting, the informed consent should be obtained from the caregivers, who are aware of the nature of interactions ad the abilities of different children.

Moreover, the observer should be in a position to inform he children about their rights and privileges during the observation process. This allows the children to willing choose whether they will be part of the process or not. Because children have unique ways of showing reciprocity, emotions and interests, informing them of their roles during the observation process allows them to express these virtues without fear.

Part 2. Theoretical perspectives

2.1 Physical development

Physical Development refers to changes in growth in children. This starts at infancy and continues up until adulthood. The physical development of a child is a main factor that any practitioner should be aware of from when they first meet the child up until that child is no longer in their setting. The factors that come under physical development are the following, exercise, height and weight, growth (anthropometric measures), nutrition, fine gross motor skills and many more. These are just a few examples of what comes under physical development (DeRobertis, 2008).

Arnold Gesell (1880-1961) is one of the theorists that argues for the biological maturation theory. He believes that each childs development unfolded according to a genetic timetable (, 2010). He also believed that everything develops in a fixed sequence including the physical body. Arnold Gesells theory is that behaviour develops in patterns and that the patterns should be identified and encouraged (HRFnd, 2017). Once the practitioner can see the pattern they should work towards helping that child achieve.

Child X is physically healthy and normal including being physically active. This is in line with the expectations of a child within the age bracket of 8. Child X is also at the right stage and meets his fine manipulative skills and develops his Gross Motor skills (DeRobertis, 2008). During the observation that took place, child X was showing, through actions, that he is at the right stage of his fine motor skills by doing the following; tying his shoe lace and running when he was playing basketball. However, one thing that was bought to the attention of the observer was that he did struggle to describe what he was looking for when he wanted to show an adult a piece of work. This underscores Arnold Gesells theory which states that; while observing that child X struggling to meet a milestone as at the age of 8 years old, he/she should be able to describe what he is looking for and even if he cannot find it he should be able to explain in detail what he is looking for.

The Governments National Curriculum is aimed to ensure that all pupils in school are physically active and are engaging is competitive sports and activities ( 2013). Child X falls under key stage 2 as key stage 2 is for children between the age 7 till 11. In key stage 2 the requirement is that pupils should be taught to play competitive games, develop flexibility and strength ( 2013). These are just a few things that they require to be taught at a professional setting.

The theories relating to physical development are; information theory, developmental milestone theory, developmental task theory, ecological theory and bio-ecological theory.

Theorists for Biological maturation theory are Gesell, McGraw, Shirley, Bayley. This theory links to Gesells work of developmental milestones.

2.2 Cognitive, language development

Cognition is the act of knowing. The cognitive process are the electrical pulses between brain cells. To define intelligence can be difficult. The sociocultural context means that intelligence can be viewed differently depending on the culture and society as this will make an impact on how things are viewed.

There are many things that are able to help children with their cognitive development such as brain gym. Child X could use brain gym to help him meet the different cognitive needs as stated in the National Curriculum.

Jean Piagets theory of cognitive development is constructivism. He disagreed that intelligence was a fixed trait as he believed and argued that it was down to biological maturation and interaction with the environment (McLeod, S. 2015). This Theory argues that childrens minds are affected by what happens around them for example the society and culture can model a childs mind on how they think and act. According to Jean Piaget, children are born with a very basic mental structure.

2.3 Social, emotional development

The social developments effects how the child has a relationship with others around him which includes family and friends. This is how they learn about culture and the way that the society is done. This is how they develop their social skills and norms. The emotional development comes under how the child is feeling. This could mean how they feel towards others or how they view them. Including self-image and self-awareness.


John Bowlby speaks about the attachment theory

John Bowlbys attachment theory.

Attachment theorists argue that a child learns to intensely attach himself to the parent from his birth and this increases as time matures. In doing this, the child does not expect the attachment back, hence no reciprocity expected. It could be one- way but still strong enough. When children grow, they show attachment in such ways as seeking closeness to their attachment figures when they are emotionally upset. Bowlby, who grew without his mother, stresses that children have special attachment to their mothers such that when the two are separated, the child undergoes intense pressure. The children develop anxiety however good the caregivers treat them.

Comparison of Bowlbys theory with Piagets theory

Bowlbys theory primarily focusses in the emotional development of a child as it relates to attachment to the parents. The central focus if the presence of attachment figure and how this affects the later emotional dispo...

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