The childcare practitioner in the home-based setting
The reﬂective practitioner
Working with children is a challenging, demandingand rewarding career. It is a skilled job that requiresa love of children and a good understanding of theissues that can affect their lives. You need to be ableto change and adapt to the many demands on you,often at very short notice! Being reﬂective meansthat you make time to think about your work andhow you change or improve what you do.
Understanding what ismeant by being ‘a reﬂective practitioner’
The term ‘reﬂective practitioner’ is quite new tothe childcare profession and can be quite dauntingto some people.Being reﬂective is a learning process as it helpsyou to increase your understanding and learningskills. It will mean that you can recognise yourstrengths, yet at the same time understand andaccept that you have weaknesses, or things thatyou could do better. Being reﬂective should resultin you offering a better service to the children thatyou care for and their families.In order to think about what we do and why wedo it, we need time. Time is often in short supplyfor many home-based childcarers, but if you are totake this aspect of your work seriously then youwill need to ﬁnd time to think about and evaluatewhat you are doing and why.
Caroline is working towards achieving aquality assurance award with her localauthority. She is very busy and is ﬁndingit very difﬁcult to ﬁnd time to reﬂect andevaluate what she is doing, let alone writethings down. Her mentor suggests that shekeeps a pad of post-it notes and a pen in herpocket and makes a quick, brief note underthe headings What, How, Why wheneversomething occurs. For example:What – play doughHow – children didn’t play with it for verylongWhy – maybe they are bored with itAs each post-it note is used, Caroline sticksit on the fridge door. At the end of theworking day she collects them together andreads what she has scribbled down. After acouple days of doing this Caroline realisedthat she was not offering the children manynew activities and was sticking to the samefew ones she had used for a long time. Shewas able to recognise this as a weakness andrealise that she could do something about it.
How can you ﬁnd time to be reﬂective?Try the post-it note method, or do you haveanother way of analysing what you do?
– thinking about andcritically analysing your practice, actionsand work with the intention of changingand improving what you do.
Key TermsKeys to good practice
If you are reﬂective you:• are contemplative, thoughtful and considercarefully what you do and why you are doing it• are analytical about all aspects of your work;you have a logical approach to what you doand can be critical of yourself and how youdo things• ask yourself speciﬁc questions about yourwork such as those shown below.o Where can I ﬁnd out more about…?o Why didn’t this activity work?o How can I make this better?o Who could help me do this?o What might happen if I did this?