Observing At Play Essay

It was a time to observe Anna and explore my own feelings.

Anna made eye contact with me on a few occasions and I would not be convinced that she knew that I was watching her; however, that is purely my interpretation.

On several occasions, children came up to me bringing toys, books and requests to go to the toilet, and at one point, a young child stood in front of me for what seemed like a very long time.

I replied only briefly to the children and avoided eye contact when possible.

It felt like the anxieties that Segal (2003) identified in his work as ‘professionals giving up control and being open to what is emerging’. How I managed my feelings around observing Anna also reminded me of the work by Isabel Menzies Lyth (1989) who wrote about anxiety and how its experience, expression and sublimations are a major factor in determining personal and institutional behaviour.

I often refer to the work of Isabel Menzies Lyth when I am faced with uncertainties, and it is my acknowledgment and containment of these feelings that will impact on the overall work that I do with children and their families.

The setting is headed by a teacher and the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum guides the work, and the children learn through play.

The observations were based upon the Tavistock model (Bick 1964) and my remit was to observe a child for 1×4 hours and record my observations after the sessions.

In the room with Anna, I had to contain my feelings around the observation.

Anna continued throughout my observation to drift from one activity to the next.

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