Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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Session 1: Observing and listening to primary school children


Welcome to the first session of this free course which looks at observation in the primary school.

Observation in primary schools is not a detached, ‘scientific’ exercise. It can be standing back to watch and listen to children, but it can also be working alongside children and talking informally with them, to understand how they’re thinking. For instance, do you ever:

  • notice what your own children, or other children that you know, say and do as they play?
  • have conversations with a child or children, where they express their feelings and thoughts about their school friends or their teachers?
  • help a child with homework, or sit nearby and watch as they try to work it out for themselves?
  • talk to children or their parents about their experiences of a school?

In this course, you will extend these kinds of skills in a conscious way. If you are thinking about becoming a teacher in the future, or if you plan to work or volunteer in a school, these skills will help you to work more effectively with children and other adults.

When you observe and listen to children, you become a learner yourself, so this course will also develop your skills as an adult professional learner.

By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • understand some of the requirements to volunteer or begin to work in a primary school and basic ethical and safeguarding practices in education settings
  • recognise the value and purposes of observing and listening to children in primary schools
  • develop skills in sensitive information gathering for educational purposes.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

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