Sometimes you have to record observations about negative behaviour: children aren’t eating or talking, are purposely wetting themselves, are running off and putting themselves in danger, and ignoring your instructions. Children fight, bully each other, bite and have tantrums. Sometimes there are good reasons for these behaviours, sometimes there aren’t.

As their carer you need to discuss bad behaviour with the parents because they need to know how their child is behaving. Sometimes they may be able to shed some light on the behaviour, and of course it is useful to both of you to find out which behaviours are also used at home, and which ones are saved just for you!

One way to open up discussion of bad behaviour is to record it as an observation in your learning journey. It is often a good platform from which to discuss the behaviour. But deciding how to write about ‘bad behaviour’ in a way that doesn’t offend or upset the parents or the child is really important.


What “story” do you want to tell from the photograph you have taken?

For any photograph you take of the children there are many different observations that you could write about it. At some point, when you sit down to write the observation, you need to decide what ‘story’ you want to tell from the photograph you have taken.

not-sharingIn some cases the story is obvious. If the child is on top of a climbing frame, then the story is most likely to be one of physical skills, of the strength and coordination he needed to climb there. But it might also be a story of determination. Perhaps he has tried to climb up there three times already and you took the photograph when he finally made it to the top? Or perhaps really it is a story of taking turns, how he patiently waited for another child to get out of his way first.

For this photograph of Beatrice, age 2, eating fruit on a park bench, I could have written any of the following observations corresponding to whatever learning and development area I wanted to focus on at that moment. There is no ‘right answer’ to this. It is up to you to decide and up to you to choose what to write in your learning journey forms. Ask yourself when you look at a photograph: what is the story I want to tell the parents about this photograph? That is the observation you should write in your learning journey.



Writing bad things in a positive way

Another important decision you will need to make is what ‘tone’ you decide to use when writing up your observations. Let’s look again at the photo of Beatrice and the fruit:


As you can see, both of those observations say exactly the same thing. They both describe the same incident. But in one, I write it very negatively and Beatrice’s parents are left with a bad impression of their little girl. While in the second one, not only am I putting the development into the context that at this age she is still learning to share, I am giving the parents a tool they can use to encourage sharing at home. I am saying, you can’t expect children of this age to get sharing right all alone, but if you remind her ‘one for me, one for you’ that’s how we do it here. Why don’t you try the same message at home?

So, just to recap, not only are there many different stories you can write about any photograph, there are many different ways you can tell a story. As much as possible try to record something positive about the child so that everyone can feel good about themselves.

Want to improve how you write your learning journey observations?

I am now offering an 8 module distance learning course for childminders to improve how you write your learning journey observations. I will look at what you do and offer you suggestions on how you can improve it. The course also covers the following topics:

Kay Woods Kids To Go

  • Writing next steps and linking them to planning
  • Writing observations in different Learning and Development areas including Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional development, Communication and Language, Mathematics and Creative development
  • Writing and observing the Characteristics of Effective Learning
  • Improving the ‘story’ and ‘message’ of the observation
  • Sharing learning journeys with parents
  • Linking learning journeys to whole child assessments
  • Using learning journeys to promote a childminding business
  • Writing about ‘bad’ and ‘negative’ behaviour in a positive way