Observing young children at play is an everyday and often fascinating and pleasurable experience for many of us. It also has a great pedigree in the development of psychoanalysis from Freud’s observation of his grandson’s game with the cotton-reel onwards.
This book describes the practice of observing young children in home and nursery settings in a systematic and non-intrusive way in order to expand our understanding of their emotional, cognitive, and social development. It uses a psychoanalytic lens to enrich the meaning of what is seen. How do minds and personalities take shape? How can we train people to see what is most relevant in helping children to develop?
The chapters range from classic papers by famous practitioners of an older generation to observations completed in recent years in the UK, Europe, and the US. Observation of this sort has also spread to Latin America, India, Australia, Africa, and the Far East. The differences and continuities with Infant Observation are the starting point. What happens when a child starts nursery? How active a playmate should an observer be? How do we balance the close attention given to the observed child with the wider group of children in a nursery? How do we make sense of the marked cultural differences we see between families, nurseries, and indeed national cultures? How can we use observation as a baseline for early intervention and how can we research what we are doing?
The book is written for the many students and professionals concerned with the care and education of under fives, and for parents, grandparents, and all who are interested in the mind of the young child. The meeting of inner and outer worlds, which characterizes life in these crucial years, is vividly depicted. Readers will delight in the children’s capacity for imaginative thought and also find themselves pondering what makes a nursery a good-enough place for staff and children.