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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Chapter 1 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). COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 1