6.3 Supervision of Children

Enhanced Supervision

Educators working in early years settings manage multiple tasks throughout the day including engaging and supporting children, communicating with parents and colleagues, setting up the environment, completing required administrative tasks, conducting some light housekeeping, and overseeing routines and transitions. This can be challenging to do while trying to supervise large groups of children. Educators learn how to implement measures to ensure children are safely supervised in these busy settings.

Educators learn the benefit of head counting very quickly. Educators communicate with their team members to ensure the attendance is completed regularly and the number of children attending are accounted for at all times. This includes counting the number of children as they are moving from one area to another. For example, counting the number of children who are entering the outdoor space and then counting again on the way indoors. This helps to ensure no children are left behind during the transitions from indoor to outdoor play and back to the indoor space. Attendances should be modified each time a child enters or leaves a program and must accompany the group wherever they go. Head counting is a helpful practice at various points throughout free play to ensure all children are accounted for and supervised throughout the day.

Occasionally, environments are set up for a free flow so educators determine where to place themselves strategically for supervision. If a large group of children are in one area it is helpful for educators to ensure they are able to supervise this area more closely. It may require moving with a smaller group of children to an area near the larger group to ensure supervision is adequate for the activity. Educators place themselves strategically when outdoors to ensure the areas with more risk taking are supervised more closely.

Educators working with younger children must ensure equipment is used with safety in mind. Infants use cribs, swings, bouncy seats and small climbing equipment. It is important that educators place themselves near the children when using this equipment. A child should never be left unattended on a change table or an elevated surface. As educators become more knowledgeable about each child’s abilities they may be able to take a step back when a child is engaged in climbing or taking a manageable risk to help the child build confidence. This awareness of knowing when to step back or when to intervene is not only important for safety but for helping build a child’s confidence and self-esteem.


Field Trips

Children require enhanced supervision when on field trips due to additional safety hazards that may be present in an unfamiliar setting. Field trips are an educational opportunity for children, educators and families. Family members may be able to volunteer to be an extra set of hands on a field trip (Note: read supervision of volunteers below). This is a fabulous way to build relationships with children and their families. Partnerships with communities develop when early years programs have the opportunity to visit settings in their local communities.

Kids at Kubota Garden, 2003 ” by Seattle Municipal Archives, CC BY 2.0.

Field trips require a lot of planning on the part of educators and supervisors in early years programs. Permission forms provide a great opportunity to explain the benefits of the trip to families as part of a program’s parent education initiative. Licensees need to ensure all proper permissions are in place before the field trip. It is important to ensure insurance coverage is in place for the field trip. Parent volunteers require a vulnerable sector check to be verified and on file in order to volunteer on a field trip and interact with children. These need to be collected and verified prior to a parent volunteering on a trip. Students and volunteers will have VSCs on file and may help on a field trip as long as they are not alone with the children and are supervised by an employee. Licensees may want to ensure additional employees can attend the field trip to provide additional support.

A school vehicle may be reserved to transport children to a location that is not within walking distance. It is important to check for car seat regulations and age groupings for school vehicles to ensure children are securely transported. A budget for renting school vehicles needs to be considered as well as any entrance fees for the destination. For longer trips, it may be necessary to purchase food and drinks. A small fee may be requested from families with subsidies available for families who cannot pay a fee. Many early years programs budget for these fees so they do not have to request additional fees from families. Public transportation may be free for children under a certain age so for any trips using public transportation only the adult fees need to be considered.

It is recommended that educators visit the location prior to taking children there to assess any potential hazards. A field trip bag provides educators with a tool to carry important resources such as emergency cards, attendance sheets, medical plans, medications, assistive devices, first aid kit, gloves, diapers, wipes, change pad, change of clothes, water, snacks, cellphone, sunscreen, and anything necessary to make the trip comfortable. Parent volunteers may be able to help carry some of these items. A wagon is useful for any walking trip.

Sample Field Trip Policy from George Brown College Lab School: PDF


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Holistic Care and Wellness in Early Years Settings Copyright © 2023 by Barbara Jackson and Sheryl Third is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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