Get your supervision active with these 6 tips


Have you ever been in charge of a group of children and wished you had eyes in the back of your head?

You need to be on your toes when watching, listening to and interacting with children of all ages, whether it is during indoor or outdoor playtime, routines, transitions, excursions or onboard a bus.

Inadequate supervision is often one of the root causes of, or contributing factor to, serious incidents at early childhood services.​

Here are 6 tips to help think about adequate supervision:

1. Set up the environment

  • Arrange the environment for maximum visibility, accessibility and flow space around furniture. Waist-height furniture allows a view of learning spaces from several angles and is readily rearranged to suit different learning activities.
  • Be aware of where children are and how they will use equipment. Set up climbing equipment well away from fences or arrange high-risk activities, such as carpentry, where supervising staff can help children while adequately supervising the rest of the play area.

2. Position educators

  • Always face the majority of the group. Consider a ‘back to the wall’ strategy so that educators are looking at most of the children instead of walls or fencing.
  • Decide where to stand or sit before starting a new activity to ensure maximum supervision and to reduce safety risks.​
  • Consider where other staff members are located and position staff members in various locations across the whole play environment.
  • Position a staff member near any corners or areas that are less visible and may be a hazard.
  • Stay close to children who may need more help than others or to children engaging in high risk activities (such as when they are using monkey bars).

3. Scan and count

  • Continually scan the environment to know where everyone is and what they are doing.
  • Scan and check the environment for hazards such as open doors or gates, play equipment in unsafe positions or children trying to enter out-of-bounds areas.
  • Develop a system of regular head counts to mark arrivals and departures. Know where each child is at all times.
  • Make sure enrolment records are easily accessible and up to date with the names of people authorised or not authorised to pick up each child.

4. Listen

  • Identify signs of potential danger by the sounds youngsters make, for example, splashing water, crying, choking or gasping, bad language or silence.

5. Anticipate behaviour

  • Use what you know about each child’s knowledge, culture, ideas, abilities and interests to anticipate what he or she may do.
  • Create challenges that children are ready for and support them in succeeding.

6. Engage and redirect

  • Use what you know about each child’s knowledge, behaviour, culture, ideas, abilities and interests to plan learning experiences that engage curiosity and wonder.
  • Take part in planned activities to minimise the risk of harm and injury.
  • Keep little ones busy and active to encourage lifetime learning.

Recent incidents in which toddlers have left a service’s premises alone and where children have been left unattended in vehicles highlight the serious consequences of poor supervision.

This year, the regulatory authority is focusing on adequate supervision as 1 of 5 priority areas in which it expects to see approved provider compliance.

Quality active supervision is one of your best proactive strategies to ensure children’s safety and involves more than just complying with educator-to-child ratios.

There are times you will need to increase your educator-to-child ratios, including during:

  • water play
  • high-risk physical activities (such as climbing on monkey bars)
  • transitions (including transitioning children between a school and the service or between outdoor areas for outside school hours care services)
  • excursions
  • bush kindy
  • transportation to and from the service.

Approved providers, nominated supervisors and family day care educators have obligations under the National Law to ensure children are adequately supervised.

Each year, section 165 (Offence to inadequately supervise children) is one of the most commonly breached provisions of the National Law in Queensland.

Failing to ensure that children are adequately supervised can result in penalties of up to $10,000 (for an individual) and $50,000 (in any other case).

Making sure a group of children is safe while engaging with and encouraging each child to try new and exciting learning experiences is a challenging balancing act.

It requires careful planning, knowledge of each child and their interests and strengths, flexible and well-considered decision-making and effective communication between staff.

Communication is particularly important for adequate handovers, such as when staff are relieving someone going on a break or during transitions in the program (including arrival and departure times).

A well planned service environment ensures staff rostering for adequate supervision and child safety and programs that include stimulating resources and activities to keep children absorbed and occupied.

Related information

Adequate supervision – Regulatory priority 1

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority website—Active supervision information sheet (PDF, 1MB)

Premises design for supervising children


Policy and procedure guidelinesProviding a child safe environment

Back to news and articles feed
Last updated 02 December 2021