Observing At Play Essay

In the room with Anna, I had to contain my feelings around the observation.

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It felt like the anxieties that Segal (2003) identified in his work as ‘professionals giving up control and being open to what is emerging’. How I managed my feelings around observing Anna also reminded me of the work by Isabel Menzies Lyth (1989) who wrote about anxiety and how its experience, expression and sublimations are a major factor in determining personal and institutional behaviour.

I often refer to the work of Isabel Menzies Lyth when I am faced with uncertainties, and it is my acknowledgment and containment of these feelings that will impact on the overall work that I do with children and their families.

I watched Anna carefully glide from one activity to the next, first playing with the sand letting it quickly sift through her fingers and making shapes and marks with the palms of her hands.

She slowly toddled off when a young boy, eager to play more adventurously nudged her out of the way.

It was this reflection that helped me focus between fact and feeling and challenging myself on how the information I had been given about Anna had given considerable weight in how I thought she might play and socialize with other children.

I needed to separate these two contradictory parts (Goldstein, 1990).

At one point, I observed her clasp the hand of a worker and pull her gently towards the book corner.

The worker gently tapped the hand of Anna, letting her know she was aware of the request.

The setting was a group of 12 children of mixed sexes, all of mixed abilities such as physical and learning difficulties.

The group was well staffed (by women) with some children having one to one support.


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