OBSERVING YOUNG CHILDREN:
Why do I need to do it?
How do I do it?
What do I do with the information?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Proceed through each slide.
Training takes approximately 1.5-2.0 hours.
At the end of the slides there are
instructions on how to proceed with the
Online courses for child care professionals
seeking to fulfill state-mandated training
requirements or obtain hours toward
the Child Development Associate (CDA)
National Credential. (non-CEU)
To receive official credit for the courses,
participants must pass a course exam and
pay a processing fee to obtain a printable
The end of the training also includes
resources that were utilized and can be
used for further information gathering.
Feel free to email CHovey@EzEd2Go.com
with any questions or comments.
DESCRIPTION AND LEARNING OBJECTIVES
Participant will be able to recognize the important
role that the observation process plays in working
Participant will be able to incorporate the skill of
accurately and objectively observe and recording
children's behavior in center-based and family
Use the observation process, in partnership with
parents, as one of several strategies to monitor
DO YOU EVER WONDER, WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF
OBSERVING YOUNG CHILDREN?
PURPOSE OF OBSERVING YOUNG CHILDREN
Observation is much more than looking at what a child
Observation of a young child means carefully paying
attention to details of the child's behavior, recording these
details in a structured manner, and assessing the
implications of the child's actions.
By applying the concepts in this training, early childhood
staff in home and center-based settings can develop
skills to accurately and objectively observe and record
the behavior of children.
In addition, early childhood staff can help parents, who are
their children's primary teachers, to better understand
their child's needs, interests, and abilities.
Parents and education staff, working together as partners,
can significantly affect children's success when they base
their understanding of children's growth and development
on thoughtful and careful observations that are accurate
and objective in nature.
Observation, an essential building block of all quality,
developmentally appropriate early childhood programs,
requires a well-trained educational staff who are in
tune with the actions and behaviors of the children in
While observation may seem deceptively simple, it
requires training and practice. Staff must recognize
that observation is vital to the overall assessment
process, curriculum development and that it has a
strong impact upon another professional responsibility:
planning and evaluating programs for children.
Because observation plays
an important role in
assessment, its use can
help staff strengthen
every aspect of an early
Education staff can use
the observation process
to fulfill these
Chart children's growth and
Identify, guide, and respond to
children's behavior and actions
Facilitate planning for individual
children and groups of children
WHY DO I NEED TO OBSERVE?
There are many reasons for teachers to observe children. All these reasons relate to
providing quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood programs.
To determine each child's interests, skills, and needs. Observation allows staff to
know the children as individuals so that they can motivate them and fully involve
them in the program. One staff member might observe a particular event or behavior
that another staff member missed. Can be used as a form of communication.
To measure children's growth and development over time. Observation allows
staff to see how children are progressing cognitively, physically, socially, and
emotionally during the program year.
To make changes to the environment. By observing the way children use play
spaces and materials, staff can determine whether materials are meeting the
children' s needs, if duplicates are required, or if traffic patterns interfere with play.
To identify concerns. Observation helps staff see if children have special
requirements that need to be addressed. These can range from a hearing problem
to a need for extra attention. If indicated, a referral to specialists may be asked to
complete a formal assessment.
To determine how best to handle problem situations. Observation
allows staff to learn to anticipate how a child is likely to behave under
certain conditions. For example, staff can observe a baby to determine
when she is likely to react to separation from parents, or get into
squabbles over toys. Having this knowledge will allow staff to make
adjustments to try to minimize the behavior.
To make changes to the curriculum. By utilizing observations, staff can
adjust daily schedules to meet the individual developmental needs and
interest of the children.
To provide information that staff and parents can share. Observation
offers insights about children, their interests, progress, social skills, and
behavior challenges. Observation also provides details, anecdotes, and
examples. Staff and parents can share their observations.
To help parents learn more about their children through
observation. By working with parents, staff can help families use
observation to learn more about their children's strengths, needs, and
behavior. Observations can be used to inform parents at a conference.
To enhance staff's abilities to communicate with children, parents,
and colleagues. Using observational insights, staff become better
listeners and responders.
TAKE THIS TIME
TO RECAP AND
REFLECT ON WHY
IT IS IMPORTANT
FOR YOU TO
SUGGESTIONS AND TOOLS TO USE
WHEN OBSERVING CHILDREN.
The following strategies can be used to overcome logistical challenges: (From Laura J.
Colker, A Trainer's Guide to Observing Young Children: Learning to Look, Looking to
Learn (Washington, D.C.: Teaching Strategies, 1995), 44.)
Schedule observation time for doing running records regularly into the program day.
Use running records with other forms of observation such as anecdotal records, and
checklists. Include times for doing these observations in the written schedule.
Establish a schedule for observing children in individual interest areas so that all interest
areas are evaluated on a rotating basis. Ensure that it is not just the children
encountering problems who are observed regularly. Developmental observations might
be appropriately scheduled one month after children are enrolled.
Assemble observational materials and put them at convenient observation stations to
encourage their use. For example, prepare a prop box or kit containing observational
Suggest staff wear clothing or aprons with pockets containing index cards, small
notebooks or Post-Its so they can quickly record observations.
Make observing part of a daily routine and fun.
PLEASE WATCH THE FOLLOWING VIDEO
VIDEO WILL OPEN IN NEW WINDOW
Observing Young Children Video
WHAT ARE SOME TYPES OF RECORDING
FORMS TO USE FOR OBSERVATIONS?
Anecdotal observations are
recorded information about
one specific event or behavior.
They range from notations
milestones (Ryan took his first
step) to behavior(Cooliana
invited Tiffany to join her at
the sand tub). The observer
determines the events,
timeliness of the record, and
the richness of detail. To be
most helpful, anecdotal
records should be objective,
factual, and followed up with
Running records are
descriptions. Staff use
a narrative style to
record information over
a specific length of
time, usually twenty to
thirty minutes. Because
of their ease of use,
running records are
one of the most
popular forms of
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN AN ANECDOTAL
Anecdotal records are usually recorded on preprinted forms
to insure that all relevant information is included. These
anecdotal record usually includes the following:
Name of the observer
Date of the event
Time when the event occurred
Name of the student involved
A description of the event
SAMPLE ANECDOTAL RECORD FORM
Description of Event:__________________________________
SAMPLE RUNNING RECORD
Observer: Ms. Jones
Child Observed: Sarah
Age: 18 months
Time: 9:30 A.M.-9:45 A.M.
Katy walked over to the book area, where Mrs. Fernandez, the
foster grandmother, was sitting with two-year-old Luis, reading
a book. Katy stood for over a minute, watching the two and
waving her arms excitedly. Mrs. Fernandez smiled and
nodded at Katy, but kept reading to Luis. Luis looked only at
Mrs. Fernandez and the book they were reading. Katy walked
over to the plastic book bag hanging on the room divider and
banged her hand against a book that had a colorful caterpillar
on the cover. Read! Read! said Katy, banging the book bag
with enough force that the bag started swinging.
and the tools
we can use
What do we
do with the
WHAT TO DO WITH THE INFORMATION!
File the records you chose to use in a child’s
The information can be compared and discussed
with other staff to inform individualized curriculum
The observation information provides a continuum
of growth that is documented and can be shared
with parents during conferences.
Activities can be tailored to the developmental level
of the child to scaffold self-esteem.
Children will progress at their own rate.
Observations are useful, effective tools to aid early
childhood professionals in acknowledging and
documenting each child’s progress. Observations are
unique to each child and the contents can focus on each
child’s specific interactions with his or her environment,
materials, peers, and teachers. Observation are
practical and useful as both reporting and planning
tools. The form and format are adaptable to each
educational program for young children. To ensure
quality in our programs, all early childhood programs
should implement observation as a daily practice.
Proceed to the next page for quiz instructions
INSTRUCTIONS FOR QUIZ
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2. WHAT ARE THREE NEW THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED ?
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RESOURCES FOR OBSERVING CHILDREN
Bagnato, S.J., J.T. Neisworth, & S.M. Munson. 1997. Linking
assessment and early intervention: An authentic curriculumbased approach. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.
Greenspan, S.I. 1996. Assessing the emotional and social
functioning of infants and young children. In New visions for
the developmental assessment of infants and young children,
eds. S.J. Meisels & E. Fenichel, 231-66. Washington, DC:
Zero to Three/National Center for Infants, Toddlers and
Jablon, J.R., A.L. Dombro, & M.L. Dichtelmiller. 1999. The power
of observation. Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.
Meisels, S.J. 2001. Fusing assessment and intervention:
Changing parents’ and providers’ views of young children.
Zero to Three 21 (4): 4-10.
Vygotsky, L.S. 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher
psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
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