We all recognize that a large part of our job as early educators is simply providing appropriate supervision for the children in our care. The question comes in when we ask how we define supervision and ensure that our staff all understand that definition. Generally speaking, for young children, supervision includes both auditory and visual supervision; you have to not only be able to hear what the children are doing, but see them as well.
There are some licensing agencies that have a different (frankly, unrealistic) perception of what supervision entails. I had a licensing analyst explain to me that if a staff member of mine sneezed and, in that split second when her eyes were closed during the sneeze, a child were injured, we would be cited for a lack of supervision. Of course, I strongly disagree with that perception of appropriate supervision and none of us can possibly run a program in which our staff members never sneeze. However, I have also had staff members who took great liberties with the concept of child supervision and seemed to think that as long as they were in the same general area as the child, they were providing appropriate supervision.
Given the definition that supervision must be both auditory and visual, what does that look like? First of all, each classroom must be staffed with two staff members at all times that children are present. There are many reasons for that requirement, but for now I’ll only deal with the supervision issue. No one person can provide visual supervision for every child in the program at all times. With two staff members, one can be watching the group while the other provides one-on-one or small group attention to children as necessary. The second critical component is training staff to provide group supervision. How do you position yourself to meet the needs of individual children while maintaining supervision of the group? Hint—corners are your friends.
If you don’t already have a training program in place to make sure your staff knows how to provide appropriate supervision, DayCareTools is now making our staff training guideline available. It even includes diagrams of proper and improper supervision to make things extra clear. Check it out at: http://daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Personnel