Children's interests, strengths, needs and skills
Did you know?
To promote feelings of success, offer simple experiences the child is able to succeed with and then more complex experiences to challenge them.
Have you heard the word 'experience' used in the child care industry before? Experience is a word used a lot when talking about the activities planned for children.
An experience is something a child is involved in. This could be playing a game (for example Peek-a-Boo with a baby), or something the child is playing with (for example blocks or listening to a story), chatting with a carer, setting the table for lunch or anything occurring during the day that has meaning or is of value to the child.
When you have spare time, what do you do? Do you prefer to spend the afternoon shopping or playing sport? Visiting friends or spending time alone?
What you like to do will depend on what interests you and the same goes for the children in your care. To encourage children to take part in an experience, you will need to make sure it will interest them in some way. Read the resource below to explore this topic further.
Asking children about their interests
So, we know that we need to plan experiences based on a child's interests, strengths and needs, but how do we find out what they are?
If someone wanted to know what your interests were they could simply ask you. Young children often don’t have a big enough vocabulary to verbalise what they feel. Observing what a child is doing and how they are doing it can help you to understand what they are feeling, what they enjoy and what they need. When you know how they feel, you will be better able to help and encourage them. You can then use the information gathered about the child to provide suggestions for ways to enhance that child’s play and physical development.
For example, last week Matu was playing catch with Salwa. Salwa observed that every time the ball was thrown to Matu he would flinch a little and as a result not catch the ball successfully. Through observing Matu in this activity, Salwa identified that he required some more practice in the fundamental movement skill of catching. She planned some experiences for Matu that contribute to the development of catching skills. These included:
- sitting on the floor and rolling a ball to each other
- using a bigger, softer fuzzy ball for catching practice.
How do you think these experiences were beneficial to Matu?
If you said something like they helped him focus on one skill at a time, and made it easier and less scary for him, well done.
Now consider this example. Last week Jaella was sitting quietly by herself in the book corner hanging her head and staring into space. By observing how she was behaving staff could understand that she was feeling sad and were able to comfort her. It's not often that a young child will say 'I feel sad' - instead they may show that they are sad through their behaviour, like Jaella did.
Read the resource below for information on the main ways children communicate their feelings and needs. You may notice these while you are observing the children in your care.
In your notebook, write a list of 10 indicators or signs that may be communicating how a child is feeling.