Child Care Observation: How Much Documentation is Too Much?

It can be difficult to know exactly how much time each day you should devote to documentation as an early childhood educator. While you’ll want to record important developments and milestones for each child so you can gather the information you need to guide future learning, doing so can take up a substantial portion of your day.

How Often Should I Make Observations?

So, what is the right amount of time to spend documenting in a child care setting? An average early childhood educator spends around 45 minutes each day on documentation; 45 minutes that may be better spent interacting with the children in their care. There is no set number on the number of observations you should record, which will greatly depend on the number of children at your facility, your child care environment, and its philosophy or curriculum.

Your goal instead should be to create an accurate “story” of each child’s progress, avoiding major gaps in your records. If you wait too long between records, your observations will not be as valuable in supporting a child’s learning progress. Try to record enough scenarios to put together a fairly complete and flowing picture of each child’s development.

What Method of Observation Should I Use?

There are many schools of thought when it comes to child care observations. Some educators prefer running records, which document everything as it happens. Anecdotal observations offer the advantage of being quick to record, and can be documented after the fact. Others prefer to record audio or video of learning as it happens. It’s best not to limit yourself to just one style of observation – a combination of several child care observation methods may be the ideal mix for your daycare.

There are plenty of child care programs and apps available on the market to simplify the documentation process for child care providers. Though this technology can be an extremely helpful tool, it’s important that it doesn’t take important time away from the children in your care.

A child care software like HiMama allows you to strike the right balance when it comes to recording child care observations. Quicker than traditional documentation methods, our simple to use and intuitive interface allows you to make notes, capture photos and videos with just a few touches on a tablet. Our app allows you to record a child’s new learnings, social interactions and the potential for further development opportunities. Once child care observations are recorded, they can easily be stored for reference later, or shared with parents and other staff members to keep everyone involved in the developmental progress of a child.

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