Importance of observation in early childhood


Date Posted: 11/23/2012 4:24:26 AM

Posted By: fredrick mutua  Membership Level: Silver  Total Points: 471


Observation is one of the most widely used methods of assessment. Professionals recognize that children are more than what is measured by any particular test. Observation is an authentic means of learning about children, what they know and are able to do especially as it occurs in more naturalistic settings such as classrooms, childcare centers, playgrounds and homes. Observation is the intentional, systematic act of looking at the behavior of a child in a particular setting, program or situation. Observation is sometimes referred to as kid watching and is an excellent way to find out about children behaviors and learning.

Importance of observation

The main benefit of undertaking child observation is that in doing so one is able to learn more about developmental issues such as language, communication and socials kills. Childcare and health professionals also recognize observation as an important means of being able to asses children. Through observing children powerful insight may be gained to children progress, learning, abilities and weaknesses.

Observation is designed to gather information on which to base decisions, make recommendations, develop curriculum, plan for teaching, select activities and learning strategies, and asses children growth, development, and learning. When professionals and parents look at children, sometimes they do not really see or concern themselves with what the children are doing or why, as long as they are safe and orderly. Consequently, the significance and importance of critical behaviors may go undetected if observation is done casually and is limited to unsystematic looking.

Systematic observation has specific purposes:

To determine the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and physical development of children. Using a developmental checklist is one way you can systematically observe and chart the development of children.

To identify children interests and learning styles today teachers are very interested in developing learning activities, materials, and classroom centers based on children interests, preferences, and learning styles.

To plan: The professional practice of teaching requires planning on a daily, ongoing basis. Observation provides useful, authentic and solid information that enables one to intentionally plan for activities rather than to make decisions with little or no information.

To meet the needs of individual children: Meeting the needs of individual children is an important part of teaching and learning. For example, a child may be advanced cognitively but overly aggressive and lacking the social skill necessary to play cooperatively and interact with others. Through observation one can gather information to develop a plan to help that child learn how to play with others

To determine progress: Systematic observation over time provides a rich and valuable source of information about how individuals and groups of children are progressing in their learning and behavior.

To provide information to parents: Teachers report to and conference with parents on an ongoing basis, observational information adds to other information such as test results and child work samples, and provide a fuller and more complete picture of individual children.

To provide professional insight: Observational information can help professionals learn more about themselves and what to do to help children.

In order to have a meaningful conversation with a child, we need to know what the child thinks can be done in real situations, and we need to know the [procedures that the child believes will make things happen. If we have watched and listened long enough to determine the child's goals and his strategies for attaining those goals, then we have both a resource for understanding the child and an interesting basis for a high-level conversation.

As we observe children, we need to consider their goals. w\ht effects are they trying to create? We observe their actions and listen to their comments to determine the strategies they choose to attain those goals. The relation between the strategy and the goal will reveal a possible theory, a theory about how to make the desired effect occur. The theory, correct or incorrect in an objective sense, makes the child choice of strategy sensible. The theory comes from us. It is our speculation. It is our attempt to find any entry in to the child's world. All high level conversation begin with someone speculating about the meaning of the other person's words or actions

Advantages of international, systematic observation

Observation enables teacher to collect information that they might not otherwise gather through other sources. Many of the causes and consequences of children behavior can be assessed only through observation and not through formal, standardized tests; questioning: or parent and child interviews.

Observation is ideally suited to learning more about children in play setting. Observation affords the opportunity to note a child's social behavior in a play group and discern how cooperatively he or she interacts with peers. Observing a child at play gives professionals a wealth of information about developmental levels, social skills, and what the child is or is not learning in play settings.

Observation reveals a lot about children prosoceal behavior and peer interactions. It can help you plan for appropriate and inclusive activities to promote the social growth of young children. Additionally, your observations can serve as the basis for developing multicultural activities to benefit all children.

Observation of children abilities provides a basis for assessment of what they are developmentally able to do. Many learning skills are developed sequentially such as the refinement of large-motor skills. Through observation, professionals can determine whether children abiliti9es are within normal range of growth and development

Observation is useful to asses' children performance over time. Documentation of daily, weekly, and monthly observations of children' behaviors and learning provides a database for the cumulative evaluation of each child's achievement and development.

Observation provides concrete information for use in reporting to and conferencing with parents. Increasingly, reports to parents involve professionals' observations and children work samples so that parents and educators can collaborate to determine how to help children develop cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Children are sometimes spontaneous, sometimes reserved; joyful now, sad later; friendly and reserved; competent and naive; talkative and quiet. To be child like is to expertise an almost unpredictable array of discoveries, emotions, and level of energy. Children are unique and complex and thus often difficult to comprehend. Child observations are a great way to increase both holistic knowledge and understanding of young children in order to assess a variety of areas including communication skills, cognitive skills; emotional development and social development. Observations and assessments also help identify children with special needs and how children behavior changes in-group settings.


In early childhood education, the teachers' observations of the young child can be the most important records of the child's growth and development. However, meaningful observation takes place and an ever-deepening knowledge of individual children of the principles of early childhood development and of one's program goals and objectives.


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