Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.15: Use longitudinal studies to observe, assess and plan for children’s needs
Learning outcome: Understand the purpose of undertaking Longitudinal Studies
Assessment criteria: Evaluate benefits of undertaking a Longitudinal Study for: the child, Early Years practitioners, others
In the previous section, we learned what a longitudinal study is. We also discussed some reasons for using longitudinal studies in an Early Years setting. We will now expand on that by exploring the benefits of longitudinal studies.
Benefits for the child
By observing a child as part of a longitudinal study, practitioners can identify the areas of development for which the child may need additional help. This means that children will have their needs met and receive the right support to achieve developmental milestones.
Observations also help practitioners to learn more about the child’s interests and preferences. This information can be used to plan activities that are stimulating and of the correct difficulty level for the child.
Longitudinal studies also involve interaction and communication with the child and they should be encouraged to look at and talk about what they have learned. This can support a child’s emotional wellbeing because they will feel that they are respected and valued and have a sense of belonging.
Benefits for practitioners
Some of the benefits to practitioners overlap with the benefits to the child, such as the opportunity to learn more about the child. In addition, over time, as practitioners work with more children, they will gain experience that can be referred back to when needed.
Observations and assessments are a statutory requirement, so conducting longitudinal studies supports practitioners in complying with legislation and best practices. Records can also be used as evidence that a setting is meeting standards.
By writing observations, practitioners will have a record they can refer back to when needed. Not only does this ensure that a practitioner does not have to rely on their own memory, it is invaluable for the handover of information if a child’s Key Person changes.
Benefits for others
Similarly, if a child is working with other professionals (e.g. a speech and language therapist), records can be shared with them to support them in their role. Observations may also be used by others to assess if a child may have additional needs. Of course, consent from a child’s parents/carers should be obtained before sharing personal information with others.
Longitudinal studies are also useful for a child’s parents/carers. They can be enjoyable to read and can make the working relationship stronger. In addition, it can make the practitioner’s responsibility of feeding back on the child’s progress easier and explain the areas where the child excels and where they may need additional support.