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Guidelines for Observations

1. Subjects.
The subjects of your observation will be children from infancy to preschool. You can observe them in a school or home setting. You will be using the same research method as Piaget and Erikson used to develop their theories, so put on your "scientist hat".

2. Obtain permission.
If you will be observing children in a school setting, contact the school for permission ahead of time. If you are observing children in their homes, get the parents approval. Describe the assignment and let them know you will not be testing the child in any way.

3. For Observation #1 you need to have the care giver interact with the infant in order to find out what her preferences are.

For Observation #2 and #3 you should be unobtrusive. Many times people change their behaviors when they realize they are being observed. Be as unobtrusive as possible. You may visit the childcare center before your observation so that the children and staff become accustomed to your presence. You may also find a corner of the room where you can sit and not be obvious about observing. Do not invite any kind of contact with a child. While you are observing you can not be responsible for the children. If a child asks what you are doing, you can say you are doing something for school and will be writing things down for a while. If a child wants you to play, decline and direct him/her to another adult.

4. Be Confidential.
Use only the child's first name when gathering information or just simply change the child's name.

5. Describe what you see.
Be specific, objective and descriptive. Answer each part of each question thoroughly.

6. Procedure.
First, read the questions and text references.
Second,do your observation and take notes.
Third, use your notes to answer the observation questions. Type the questions (this will help you stay focused) and your responses to the observation questions on a separate sheet of paper.

7. Describe what you personally learned from the observation. Be specific.

8. Points.
Each observation is worth fifty points. Five to ten points will be deducted if items on the Guidelines are omitted.

OBSERVATION PROJECT #1 - Read chapter 6, Thr First 2 Years: Cognitive Development Infants (3-12 months)

Note age, sex, setting and other relevant information about the child. Use specific examples from your notes to answer the questions. TV, computer, or other electronic devices should not be on during the observation.

1. Describe the activities of an infant during the observation period. Describe the child's movements. Are any primitive reflexes evident (see p. 185)? Describe and name. How well does the child control his/her head?

2. Observe the infant's visual development. What does the infant look at? For how long? What evidence do you see of visual preference? Do you see examples of dynamic perception?

Is there any evidence of habituation (becoming bored with an object or person; see p.216).

Has the infant developed Object Permanence (p.213)?

3. Observe an infant exploring an object. Describe what he/she does. Describe how the infant grasps the object (see p.189). What senses does the child use?

4. Describe the infants emotional responses:

Laugh and smiles Stranger anxiety (see pp.246) Separation anxiety

What evidence of the child's temperament do you observe? (Chess and Thomas' Classification p.248)

5. How does the infant communicate? Be sure to include facial expressions, gestures, as well as sounds.

6. The sensorimotor stage has 6 substages (p.211). This infant is in which substage? How do you know?

7. Describe what you personally learned from the observation. Be specific. How has this observation changed or enhanced your knowledge of infants?

OBSERVATION #2 Toddlers (13 months to 3 years)- Read Chapter 7, The First 2 Years: Psychosocial Development

Note age, sex, setting and other relevant information about the child. Be sure to include the languages that are spoken to the child by the parent / caregiver.Beware! It will be VERY TEMPTING to PLAY with the toddler. If you do, you will not be able to OBSERVE this child's natural behavior. (You will also lose points.)

1. Describe, in DETAIL the physical development of the toddler (size, shape, appearance, etc.). How is it different from the infant?

2. Observe a toddler engaged in gross motor activity. How does he/she throw a ball? Explore a toy? Climb the stairs or any other obstacle? Describe how the child walks or crawls.

3. Observe a toddler solving a problem (i.e. putting shapes into a shape box, negotiating a climber, reaching for something beyond his/her grasp). How does the child solve the problem? What skills do you see?

4. Observe a toddler (a non family member) trying to join another toddler who is playing with a toy. Is the child welcome? How does the child communicate that she wants to play? Does the other child offer to share the toy? Why or why not?

5. What evidence of autonomy and/or dependent behaviors do you observe? What can the child do without help, what does she need help with?

6. Listen for pre-linguistic speech (cooing, babbling) and linguistic speech.

7. (Telegraphic, multi-word sentences). CITE EXAMPLES.

8.Describe what you personally learned from the observation. Be specific.

OBSERVATION #3 - Read Chapter 10,Emotional and Social Development in Early Childhood first!

Preschoolers - boys and girls (3-5years)

Note age, sex, setting and other relevant information about the child. If you do not do this observation at a preschool you may not be able to answer all the questions, thereby losing points.

1. Observe a child during a period of free play. Describe the activities and toys he/she selects. List the activities as either fine or gross motor activities (be sure to include both!).

2. Observe two preschool children. Look for variations in motor ability. DESCRIBE (stating that they are the same is not acceptable).

3. Observe two children at play. In what category of play does it fall? Is it solitary, onlooker, parallel, or cooperative? Why? When does it change?

4. What examples of creative expression (drawing, painting, building, dance etc.)do you observe?

5. In what ways do you observe boys and girls playing differently? Explain and give specific examples.

6. What is the role of language in the children's interaction? Explain. How is it different from the toddlers? What body language do you observe?

7. Observe a child engaged in an activity. Describe evidence of curiosity, attention span and problem solving in the child's behavior.

8. Do you see evidence of Bronfenbrenner's theory in the classroom? Does the program try to bring together the family's culture into the classroom? Are parents encouraged to participate in the program by volunteering, attending school functions etc.?

9. Give an example of Vygotsky's theory - scaffolding, ZPD, etc.

10. Describe what you personally learned from the observation. Be specific.

Susan Dansker Child Development: The Early Years CD10G/PSYC10G

Revised 2/20/2010
 Updated Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 12:46:57 PM by Susan Dansker - danskersusan@fhda.edu
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