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OBSERVING CHILDREN. Each unit will consist of observations done in the Child Care center. . OBSERVATIONS. 1. DEFINED : An observation is watching children with the clear goal of studying a specific behavior or ability . . 2. WHY OBSERVE?.

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Observing children


Each unit will consist of observations done in the Child Care center.




  • An observation is watching children with the clear goal of studying a specific behavior or ability.

2 why observe


  • They help you to learn and understand children and better enable you to interact with and teach them.

  • Helps to identify how best to challenge and support the children.

  • They show growth and behavior patterns.

  • To develop realistic curriculum and goals.

3 how to observe


  • It is best to observe from a distance without the child knowing they are being observed.

Observation expectations

Observation Expectations

  • Observe only, do not participate.

  • Observe only, do not ask questions or try to help.

  • Observe only, do not laugh at the child or comment.

  • Observe only, do not visit, stand by other observers, or complete other tasks.

Observing children

Be open-minded and see the situation as it really is or what the child is really doing. -Only record actual happenings. - Avoid making assumptions

Observing children

  • Annie is having difficulty sharing.

  • Annie never shares.


Descriptive (objective) vs.

Interpretive (subjective)

Be objective descriptive

Be objective / descriptive!

Objective observations simply state the solidfacts.

  • It is important, but difficult, to remain objective at all times.

Avoid being subjective interpretive

Avoid being subjective / interpretive:

Subjective observations state an opinion of the observer.

Decide which statement is the correct objective observation

Decide which statement is the correct Objective observation:

Observing children

  • Mark looked away when the teacher showed him a snake.

  • He said, “I don’t like snakes, they feel funny.”

  • Mark was afraid because he looked away from the snakes.

Observing children

  • Tyler is a good boy and gets along well with the other

  • Children.

  • Tyler was playing with the music blocks. When Carly & Josh asked to play, Tyler agreed and showed them how.

Observing children

  • Maddie wanted to swing but two others were already there. She

  • picked up a rock and threw it at them.

  • Maddie got mad and threw a rock because she does

  • not share well.

Avoid subjective labels which statement is correct

Avoid subjectivelabels:Which statement is correct?

  • Tommy often acts out his

  • Aggressive feelings.

  • Tommy is mean.

Avoid conclusions you are not qualified to make

Avoid conclusions you are notqualified to make:

Which statement is correct?

  • Billie can’t do anything by

  • himself because he is the

  • youngest in a large family

  • and they do everything for

  • him.

  • Billie needs to develop the

  • ability to do things for himself.

Don t compare children they develop at different rates which statement is correct

Don’t compare children: They develop at different rates. Which statement is correct?

  • Tommy falls off his bike a lot.

  • Tommy must be

  • slow. He does not ride his bike as well as the other children.



  • All observations are confidential and should be filed away.

  • Any observed problems should only be reported to the director.

Observing children

Parker chose to play

with Zac today. If he does

choose a friend it is usually

Zac or Jacob.

Observing children

Kamryn is barely 3

and has a hard time

staying awake. Mom

says she gets enough

sleep so we wonder if

it could be a physical

problem or an emotional


Observing children

Lacey is sitting on the slide.

  • Tell what you think is happening with the following children:

Observing children

Dallin often plays with play dough. He has chosen to roll and cut with cookie

cutters today. Other activities he participates in are dress up and puzzles.

Observing children

The little girl behind the teacher is not able to get inside the group to see what

Is happening. She just stands there and watches the others.

Observing children

Danny was fighting with John, Joe saw them fighting and decided

to help Danny. Joe said, “I’ll help you out, Danny”.

4 types of assessment


a. Observations of specific behavior patterns.

  • Necessary for setting a basic foundation.

  • Identifies repeated behavior that may be of concern, is interesting, or insightful about the child in relation to their age, peer interaction, or ability to sit and listen, etc…

Observing children

b. Child Self-reflections

  • Ask them a question and let them answer it. Record the question and the child’s response.

C anecdotal records


  • An objective short story about your impressions of a child.

    • Continuing observations which provides useful information that helps you to chart the child’s progress.

    • Actions, conversations, moods, achievements, behavior patterns, and concerns.

Structure of an anecdotal record

Structure of an Anecdotal Record


    • Only factual information. Who, what, where, when, and how

    • NO personal thoughts or feelings. You should never presume that you know what the child is thinking or feeling.

    • To decide if it is significant to write, ask: “Is this something that could be shared with the parent to give them an indication of their child’s developmental progress?

Observing children

2. Use Descriptive Anecdotal Phrases

  • If the child mumbled or whispered then use “mumbled” or “whispered” instead of just the word “said”.

  • If the child strutted then use “strutted” instead of walked.

    3. Dialogue can be included

  • If including dialogue, record this accurately and do not add words or say it in your own words.

Observing children

4. Punctuation

  • Use correct punctuation. An exclamation point represents a different meaning than a period.

    • Include Quotation marks and question marks

      5. ObjectiveAnalysis and Interpretations

  • Analyze - Why did the action happen?

  • Interpret - What does this behavior mean? How does this relate to areas of development?

Anecdotal examples


  • Andy – age 3

    Andy was playing with some dinosaurs when baby Erin toddled over and grabbed one off the shelf. Andy had not been playing with a particular dinosaur, but when he saw Erin take it, he pushed her down grabbed it from her.

    INTERPRETATION: Andy does not yet understand that babies are to be treated with patience.

  • Colin – Age 4

    Cole was crying because he was hurt. Ryan ran over to him and hugged him until he felt better.

    Interpretation: Ryan is aware of the feelings of others and sensitive to help them.

Poor examples


  • Jenny is so cute. She has a matching bow for every outfit.

  • This only tells us of the writer’s opinion of what they think cute is.

  • Hunter is really mean to the babies. He is always knocking them down, taking toys from them and pinching them. I don’t think he likes them very much.

  • Writer’s opinion.

Observing children

  • Carolyn grabbed a square to put under her bum because she wanted to sit by Maura.

  • Big deal, what does this have to do with anything?

  • Collin got to sleep in the blue hiding box today.

  • Who cares? What’s the point of this description?

Timed sampling


  • Observations taken at set intervals.

  • Every 5 minute

  • Every 10 minutes

  • Or every 20 minutes.



  • Provides a record of how often behavior happens over time.

John: Nov. 2, 2003

Aggressive Behavior-






Event sampling incident records

EVENT SAMPLING:(Incident Records)

  • Documenting exactly what happens during a particular event - daily.

  • Documentation of a new behavior from a child.

    • Provides information about when and how this happened.

Check list


  • The simplest form of observation where the observer checks off listed behaviors.

Observation “Report Card”

used to evaluate each




  • A written summary of the conclusions of the observations or activities of the day.

Portfolio of a child


A collection of the child’s work and pictures of the child participating in center activities.

Include written information about what the child is doing in the picture or what the sample work is.

The importance of portfolios

The importance of Portfolios:

  • A way to communicate with parents.

  • A way to assess individual progress.

  • Evidence for teacher accountability.

    • May contain teacher observations & notes.

Anecdotal report practice


  • Find a partner.

  • Visit the different stations around the room.

  • Take turns completing the tasks at each station.

  • Complete an anecdotal observation on your partners skills at the stations.

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