Why We Observe Children
We observe the environment for hazards to ensure all equipment and materials are safe as well as properly disinfected and cleaned to prevent spreading illnesses. By observing the strengths, interests and learning style of each child helps plan effective individual goals and classroom curriculums. Educators also asses how receptive the children are to the curriculum to see what changes can be made to improve the overall effectiveness of curriculum.
Another reason educators observe is to asses progress, evaluate area’s needing improvement and how they are reaching the children as well as plan better curriculums and set individual goals. The four parts of the observation cycle are connected and equally important. The first step in the cycle is to observe, or to look and watch at what is happening around you. Second, record and document is where you write down what you see and hear the children or specific child doing.
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Most observations will have a first and a final draft to make sure only descriptive information is included. Next is where the educator analyzes the information recorded and documented to see what the observations are telling you about the child and environment and compare past observations and other children to asses progress. Last is to modify and make changes based on observations for improvement and apply those changes to see if they are effective. The observation cycle is continues and each part is not effective without the others.
I have encountered a few challenges while observing and recording in the field. One of the biggest challenges is writing everything you see and hear as it happens without missing something important. I have started writing in short hand, making notes of key points and writing only a few descriptive words to describe what is happening around me, then I am able to go back and write my final draft I write my observation into full sentences. I am still working on this and hope it gets easier with practice.
Another challenge of observing and recording in the field is doing the observations without letting the children know I am watching them. As soon as I get out my note book or folder the children want to know what I am doing and why I am writing. My mentor has explained that I am a student just like them and have school work. When I am asked, I just reinforce what she has said by telling them I am doing my homework. I have found that they loose interest quickly and I am usually able to proceed with my observation or begin a new one if to much time has passed.