Observation is looking about us, right? Literally, yes, but not in the context of what Got-A-Head®? is doing. We are teaching directed observation as a means of seeing the world in a limited amount of time, exploring and understanding it, to get the desired result as efficiently as possible. Our blogs will explore this topic in more detail, if you want some further reading, but we have put the basic principles below.

Observation, for Got-A-Head®?, comprises three different types of ‘seeing’, what we call See:SAW

Search – when you are looking for a particular thing.

Awareness – when you are aware of the world around you – what should and shouldn’t be there.

Waiting – when you know what you are looking for, and where it is likely to be found and are awaiting its arrival.

In particular, along these three avenues, we are trying to improve directed observation, which is observation with a goal. Whether the goal is a scientist looking for evidence from an experiment to support a theory, a twitcher trying to spot a rare bird, or a child looking for their school bag in an untidy room, good technique will help.

Having a goal followed by an action firmly links observation skills to thinking ones. However, you also need to remember or communicate what you observe, which links observation with memory. As a result, our observation syllabus starts to look very like our basic thinking technique with nods towards our memory skills. We encourage this approach to observation.

The other important idea is efficiency, particularly when it comes to searching. What gives us the best chance of successfully finding what we need, and remembering the information, without wasting precious time? Can we get by with a quick look around or do we hire an archaeologist (the required approach for finding something in our daughter's room!)? To pick the best option, efficient thinking is critical.

For this type of observation, the children need to be clear about what (and how many) items they are looking for, then apply strategies such as scanning, quartering, spiralling and plotting to find them and communicate their findings to others.

In all three of our observation categories, it is important to use all the senses.  Observation isn't just about looking - we need to think about what we can hear, smell, touch or taste, too.  All the senses have a part to play in our environment - they can warn us of dangers or add extra pleasure.  For many people, memory can be triggered more effectively by smell than sight.  The more hooks that we can provide for memory, and the more varied they are, the more likely something is to be remembered.

The rule with observation skills is the same as that for thinking and memorisation. The more you do, the better you get. But even with a little practice, these skills will help your child. You just have to keep reminding your child to use them.

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
George Bernard Shaw