Time to Reflect

A day in the life of an early childhood educator is no doubt full of busy thoughts, internal reflections and debriefing with other educators about what is working well, or not so well in our learning environments –

“The small news groups worked so much better. Let’s try again tomorrow”

“The new lunch menu is not going down well with many kids. What should we do?”

Reflection is such an important part of what we do in trying to provide the best possible care and learning for children. Although, despite our many musings, actually documenting these reflections is a task that many can find hard to keep up, on top of already very full plates! Where is the time slot to dedicate to reflections in a jam-packed day?

Here are some convenient ways to document reflections on a daily or weekly basis:

Reflect in Curriculum Plans

Wherever you document your planned activities for the day or week, you can reflect on your decisions by jotting down a brief rationale beside them.

For example:

Memory card game: To practice turn taking and managing frustrations – many children have been upset after having to share toys or not winning.

This rationale shows you are recognising something significant has happened, and then responding with an action plan to solve the issue, or extend the positive!

Reflect in Daily Diaries

We are already doing some reflecting when we report on the children’s eventful day and evaluate their learning experiences. The next step is to make our reflecting really visible. Here we can think about the way our document or template is set up. Does it include a specific ‘Evaluation’ and ‘What Next’ section where you can show your follow up plan? Could you take it a little further and dedicate a small box at the end for one key reflection point on the day?  

Reflect with children!

We don’t always need to find a window of time away from the children to do our reflections. At the end of the day, it is THEIR day of learning we are reflecting on. THEY are the centre of our efforts to keep improving. So we can and should invite children to reflect with us, sharing their important perspectives. This could be as a whole class during a group time or even a conversation for afternoon tea – especially the older children who can chat about their day.

It can be as simple a question as:

How do you think our day was today?

What did/didn’t you like doing today? Why?

This reflection practice is a win-win for all – If something didn’t run so smoothly today, the children’s perspective and experience of it can give us a vital piece of the puzzle. Or, if the children share something that they love, it’s great to know what we can do to keep this up! For the children too, reflection is such a valuable skill to practice, and one that will support them throughout their schooling years and life beyond.

The children could confirm our own thoughts here, or they may just surprise us! But we have to invite their voices to know.

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