Parents need to know how their children are behaving at your house and one way to open up a discussion about bad or worrying behaviour is to write about it in their learning journeys. You don’t want the focus of your learning journeys to be bad behaviour most of the time, but when needed, the observations in your learning journeys can be the opening you need to bring up or address ‘difficult’ issues you want the parents to be aware of.
One common problem is shyness. Shyness can be very worrying to parents when they observe it in their children and is not something you should mention in front of the ‘shy child’ as we all know they are more likely to play up to the label if they continually hear it. Chances are the parents don’t know this and may frequently introduce their child as ‘shy’ or apologise in front of strangers for their child’s clingy behaviour. The parents won’t realise that this often exacerbates the problem.
So while it is tempting to avoid writing about ‘shyness’ because you don’t want to make them imagine that their child is unhappy in your care, this is an instance where you can help both the parent and the child with a little bit of very subtle ‘parenting advice’. In your experience children normally join in more as time goes by, although some children will always remain naturally less confident in new, noisy rooms of stranger than others, and this is just the way they are.
Writing bad things in a positive way
The trick is to find the most positive way possible to write about the behaviour. Your goal is to let the parents know that yes, she is shy here too, but that shyness is not bad behaviour, it is challenging behaviour and it is really nothing to worry about. The parents are doing nothing ‘wrong’ and their child is not ‘socially challenged’ either. She just needs time, love and a little boost to her self-confidence so that in time, she may even start to find music club ‘enjoyable’ rather than torture.
Both of those observations really say exactly the same thing. They both describe the same music class. But in one, I write it very negatively, focussing on the parts that Olwen wouldn’t join in with, reinforcing to Olwen’s parents the idea that she is ‘shy’ and leaving them despairing that their little girl will ever make her own friends when gets to big school!
The second version focuses on the positive, the parts of the experience of music club that she ‘almost enjoyed’. Most importantly I am also giving the parents a tool they can use at home. I am gently reminding them not to focus on Olwen’s bad ‘shy’ behaviour and instead to focus on and praise the ‘good, joining-in behaviour’ which will in the long run help Olwen to gradually feel more confident in a situation that is difficult for her.
Remember, as much as possible to 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:
- 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