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The Importance of Observation in Early Childhood Education

The Importance of Observation in Early Childhood Education

December 12, 2015 | Ron Spreeuwenberg
Early childhood education is not about teaching, it's about exploration and learning, and observations play an important role in meeting the developmental needs of your young learners.

Most child care providers understand the role of observation in early childhood education. Observation is often seen as one of the most simple, yet effective methods of assessing young children as they develop.

For a child care provider or educator, observing a child begins with noting how each child behaves, learns, reacts to new situations and interacts with others. Later, you reflect on this information and determine how it can help you improve your classroom to meet the needs of your young learners.

Getting to Know Your Children

Observing the children in your care can help you to better understand the strengths and weakness of each individual child. Your observations can then guide your programming and help you make adjustments to your care environment to improve a child’s behavior and facilitate learning. Also, regular observation and careful analysis of their behaviors and personality traits can help you build a stronger relationship with each child and connect with them in a more meaningful way.

Tracking Progress

Once you start observation in an early childhood education setting, you’ll be able to monitor the progress of each child’s development over time. Your observations should fall into the following main categories so you can track important changes over a period of time. Some of the most categories to observe development in should include cognitive, social, physical, emotional and language skills. You may have additional areas you wish to monitor based on each child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Identifying Issues

By understanding the individual progress of each child through systematic observation, you may discover that a certain child is struggling or falling behind in one or more areas of development. Your recorded observations and regular reflection can help you to more quickly identify and address these learning issues to make improvements. Having your detailed data on hand also makes it easier to guide discussions with parents about these struggles and can help you to set future goals for the child.

Better Assessment

While traditional testing gives you a snapshot of how a child is performing at a certain point in time, observation in early childhood education settings allows you to get a more accurate reading on a child’s true developmental progress. Testing is not the most reliable method of measuring skill as there are many factors that can affect a child’s performance at any particular time. Tiredness, hunger, boredom and many other feelings can impact whether or not a child will demonstrate the skills they have learned at the time of assessment. However, your recorded observations can show a much more accurate picture of a child’s performance in the most important developmental areas.

The HiMama app offers a simple and convenient way to record your developmental observations for future reference and makes it easy to share this information with colleagues and parents. HiMama is completely customizable to support the government or state issued frameworks that apply to your child care center to assist you with tracking development, recording observations and creating lesson plans.

Observation in early childhood education is one of the most important parts of your day-to-day preschool or child care routine. Contact HiMama today to find out how we can make this process much simpler!

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