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An Introduction to Reflective Practice

What is the point of reflective practice?

To ensure you’re providing the best care you can for the children in your setting, it’s important to occasionally take a step back and examine what you do. Reflective practice is a way to continually assess and improve the quality of your role.

It’s important to recognise and celebrate what you excel at, as well as noting what areas of your work need improvement. It’s also an excellent way to take responsibility for your own professional development and make sure you’re working to the best of your ability!

A good reflective practitioner:

  • Thinks about how they work.
  • Acknowledges their own strengths, but also recognises their own weaknesses.
  • Considers the impact their actions have on the children in their care, and their families.
  • Reviews their own methods to improve the quality of their care.
  • Identifies problems and resolves them.
  • Is open to listening to constructive feedback and suggestions, and to trying out new ideas.
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

How do I reflect?

There are many ways to take a critical look at your role and performance.

Reflection diary

Using a diary to write down your personal developments, as well as thoughts and feelings can help you get into the self-reflection headspace. Try to focus diary entries on a specific activity or incident within your setting. If you need a starting point, try shaping diary entries like this:

  • What happened?
  • What were your thoughts/feelings?
  • What was good and what was bad about the situation?
  • What could you have done differently?
  • What conclusions can you draw from this?
  • If this happened again, what would you do?

Child & family feedback

Who best to give you some honest feedback than your Early Years themselves? Obviously, children probably won’t be great at advising you on the next steps of your career, but it’s very useful to hear first-hand what they especially enjoy about the activities you do with your class. Similarly, family feedback is an excellent way to assess the quality of communication between you/your setting and children’s families.

Peer support & observations

Talking to your colleagues can be a powerful tool for reflection as you can share ideas, talk about similarities and differences in how you work, share ideas and support each other. The ability to be honest about others’ work (and have them be honest about yours) will help you all improve. Peer observations – short, focused sessions of observation and taking notes, followed by constructive feedback, helps you find strengths and areas for development in each other’s practice.

Photo by Canva Studio from Pexels

The benefits of reflective practice

Reflective practice makes you more aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. Through frequent reflection and peer support and observations you become more used to constructive criticism and working on feedback. Additionally, it shows your colleagues, manager and Ofsted that you are constantly trying to improve your own practice, as well as the quality of care at your setting. Ultimately, however, it makes you a better practitioner and allows you to provide the very best care possible to your Early Years children.