Registered Charity No 1107014
©BCMA 2006 all rights reserved



All planning starts with observing children in order to understand and consider their current interests, development and learning.

Babies and young children are individuals first, each with a unique profile of abilities.


Observe children to find out about their needs, what they are interested in and what they can do.


Note children’s responses in different situations.


Analyse your observations and highlight children’s achievement or their need for further support.


Plan to observe as part of the daily routine.


Develop records of learning and development.


Practitioners observations of children help them to assess the progress which children are making. Observations help practitioners to decide where children are in their learning and development and to plan what to do. This is an essential part of daily practice in any setting, regardless of the age of the baby or child. Looking, listening and noting is important because it helps you to:


  • Get to know a child better and develop positive relationships with children and their parents
  • Plan appropriate play and learning experiences based on the children’s interests and needs, and identify any concerns about a child’s development
  • Further develop your understanding of a child’s development
  • Develop a systematic and routine approach to using observations
  • Use assessment to plan the next steps in a child’s developmental progress and regularly review the approach


So how can a Childminder do observations?
In a setting a member of staff can often be freed up for short periods of time to observe the children and make notes. For a Childminder, working alone they must be continually supervising and caring for the children.

On this page we hope to bring you a few ideas that may help you to record the children’ learning and development, without impacting on the care you provide.


Most childminders have access to a digital camera or camera on their mobile phone. By regularly taking pictures of the children doing activities you will be able to build up a great record of their development. Use photographs in sequence and link to the framework to highlight achievements and plan next steps


Download Photographic Observation Sheet 1

Download Photographic Observation Sheet 2


Once children have got used to being videoed and have stopped 'performing' for the camera, videoing children can be an excellent way of recording a child's development and sharing the information with parents. Some childminders then use the recordings to make written development records.

It is advisable to seek parental permission before filming children.

Download Parental Permission form for Observations


Post It Notes
Have a supply of post it notes and pencils around your home. When child says or does something note it down. Later these notes can be added to a learning story or scrapbook to help build up a development record.


Learning Stories
Learning stories’ are a great way of recording a child’s learning and development.

They are easy to put together and are an excellent tool for planning future activities for the child, based on their interests and abilities.

Go to BCMA Learning Stories Page


Learning Journeys
Learning journeys are another way of recording an observation and next steps. Samples of Learning Journeys featuring Keeley can be found on the Teacher Net website;



Keeley – 2 years Keeley is cared for on a full time basis by her childminder Sarah. Her older brother, Jake, is at school. Keeley and Sarah collect him at the end of the day. During the week they attend two sessions of the local Stay and Play at the Children’s Centre and also use the local environment.


There are six examples covering all the areas of learning and development.

A blank template is available to download:



Weekly observations
Use a separate sheet for each child. Either record an observation in a cloud each day of the week, or record an observation under each of the six learning and development areas over the week.

Download Week of clouds observation sheet

Download Week of clouds observation sheet-sample

Download Week of clouds observation sheet-
covering 6 areas of learning and development

Download Week of clouds observation sheet
covering 6 areas of learning and development-sample


Download Notes on observations for childminders