Why Observe Children?
You observe children because you get to know them better and are
more in tune with their needs and personalities. Knowing children
better makes caring for them much easier. You are more able to
head off trouble if you watch for the initial signals of an oncoming
meltdown or a brewing confrontation between two children. You
can observe and sense when you need to help a three-year-old who
is getting frustrated putting together a difficult puzzle, or a nine-
month-old who has just started crawling and tends to get stuck when
trying to get around objects in his way. You become aware of how
a child copes with separation from her family members, and can be
ready to support her. You learn how each child uniquely expresses his
creativity and offer him materials to do so.
Your observations provide a fuller, richer picture of each child so
that your curriculum planning can address the specific capabilities of
the children in your care. Through observation, the activities you plan
will be more successful for you and the children. Because you will be
aware of the children’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and passions,
you will choose materials and projects that engage them for longer
periods of time. Then you will be able to observe and document even
more because children stay with the activity that much longer!
You observe children because that is the form of assessment
recommended in the field of early childhood education. In position
papers and books, professional organizations such as the National
Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the
Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO) recognize the im-
portance of authentic assessment and emphasize observation for both
assessment and curriculum planning (Copple and Bredekamp 2009).