To understand our perceptions of children and their families

Aim

To understand our perceptions of children and their families.

Evidence and reflection

First, without referring to the register or any lists, write down the names of the children you work with. Note which order you have listed them in and if you found any children’s names hard to remember. What does the order tell you about which children are more memorable than others, and for what reasons?

Second, if the children you work with are older, develop a grid with each child’s name along both the top row and down the left-hand side. Moving down the left-hand side, consider each child in turn and indicate across the line which children you think would like to play with that child. Add up each child’s ‘score’; you will then have a list of which children you think like to play together.

When you have done this, take each child to one side and ask them to select from photographs all of the children they like to play with. Record this in a new grid. Take care to explain that there are no right or wrong answers and not to allow other children to overhear. You need to be aware that this could cause issues if not well managed. If you think the children will become concerned, or discuss their answers, perhaps conduct observations to see who the children engage with for any sustained period. Be aware that this is less reliable than asking the child.

Compare the two grids. What does this tell you about how you perceive children and how they are perceived by their peers? Did you overestimate for some children and underestimate for others? Why do you think this was? What have you learned about your views of these children?

Extension

Consider each child and the words you would use to describe them. Note any patterns that might exist – for example, whether some of your ideas relate more to boys than girls, or to children from different class, ethnic or religious backgrounds. There may be some constructs that relate to such things as academic ability, physical attributes or behaviour. How might this be problematic for the identities of those children, or for your expectations of them as learners?