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Observations in Early Childhood Programs

Observation is a popular research tool that is used to study the behavior of Children. Observations, done regularly along with parent input, can help teachers put together the pieces of the puzzle for children in early childhood. Observations do not limit themselves to observing and recording the activities of children, but it includes observing the space and environment of the child care program. At times it may be necessary to change or modify the space to better accommodate the children in your classroom. When we think about observing children in early childhood, we must consider the child from several different perspectives. We need input from the parent and families for the other piece of the puzzle. Parents and family members have a more specific view of their child’s life. The teacher has a more general view of what is observed during classroom time. The teacher also brings to the table the understanding of basic child development and appropriate expectations. When both perspectives and observations are converged together, a more accurate view of the child can be observed. Observing children with information from both viewpoints creates a greater understanding and appreciation of the child. Now the teacher can begin to have a sharper view of the child’s needs as well as their strengths. If we want children to feel safe and secure enough to learn, play and explore in a child care setting, we have to understand that forming partnerships with parents and families are key to supporting this effort.

So how do we build these partnerships with parents and families that are so vitally important to the observation process? First, as teachers, we need to understand our own beliefs, attitudes and assumptions about families, especially as it relates to other races, cultures and religions. Misconceptions and misunderstandings can get in the way of forming positive relationships with families. Teachers must be willing to set aside their preconceived notions and learn to be accepting and supportive. Once families understand that you accept and support their efforts as parents, they will be willing become more comfortable with sharing their child’s home-life experiences with you. Take the course, Observing Young Children, to gain a greater understanding of the observation process. Tina Oliver, M.Ed. Training and Development Specialist Networx LLC, Early Childhood Training & Consulting

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