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2 Chapter 1 Deanna: Observation is my means of seeing the children in a different light. It allows me to take my blinders off and truly see the children for who they are and how much they know and can do. Most importantly it allows me to know the children’s interests and their passions as they relate to learning. Observation becomes the foundation for a child- centered curriculum. Johanna: After you’ve been doing observations for a while, you start to find the joy in it, because the children push themselves and you start to realize, “Wow, this is really neat to see what they want to learn.” COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL You observe children because your observations will make you a better teacher or a better care provider. Through observation, you are implementing best practices that demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to what is right for young children. You naturally observe children anytime you care for them. If you are a parent caring for your baby, or an aunt taking care of a niece or nephew, you note what the baby’s general mood is and make decisions based on what you see and hear. If the baby is smiling and cooing, you are likely to smile and coo back. You may feel reassured that you don’t need to do anything else right then. If the baby is crying and fussy, you may try a variety of strategies to settle the baby down, including changing a diaper, offering a pacifier, picking the baby up and talk- ing softly and gently to her, or heating up a bottle for a feeding. All of these actions are based on your observations of the child’s signals and cues, the child’s behavior, and her ways of communicating her needs. You do the same when caring for preschool-aged children in your family. You listen to the children and watch their behavior care- fully to determine how best to take care of the routines of the day, to help them learn and grow, and to help them gain self-control and de- velop independence. Through their observations, caring parents and relatives develop an intimacy with the children and a deep knowl- edge of their personalities, temperaments, and capabilities. Whether you work with children in a child care setting, a fam- ily child care home, a preschool, or a special education program, you also naturally observe them. Observations help you determine not only what needs the children have but also how you can be a more effective teacher for them. When new children begin in your pro- gram, you plan ways to get to know them. Observing new children in action with their family members, with the adults and children in your program, and by themselves helps you learn just who each child is and what he can do. If the child has identified special needs, you observe to know more about his strengths as well as the areas that are difficult for him. Observations also guide you in determining the next steps to take with any child to support his growth and help him progress to his fullest potential. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL