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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Why Observe Children? 3 Spontaneous or Planned Observation Your observations can be spontaneous in nature. Sometimes you take in information as it happens and add it to your internal think- ing about each child. In these instances, you are truly in the moment with the children and are enjoying the interactions to their fullest. You may document some of your spontaneous observations, writ- ing them down when you can (at the moment or later in the day). Many teachers report that there is nothing as delightful as witnessing the sense of accomplishment when a child tries something new and, with bright eyes and a big grin, announces, “I did it!” Being there to smile with the child, to offer a hug, and to say, “Congratulations!” is very rewarding. You can also plan for observation and documentation. To truly get to know all the children you teach and be ready to figure out the best ways to help them, planned observations are necessary. Planned observations allow you to make sure that no area of development or daily experience is missed. And documentation—writing down the observation—is essential if you want to remember clearly what each child can do and how each one responds to different situations. The documentation is an ongoing record to refer back to as you think about each child. And that documentation of your observa- tion provides you with evidence to share and discuss with the child’s family members or with other specialists if necessary. Documentation can also provide you a means to explain what you are doing to help children learn and grow, so that families understand more about your curriculum. Parents tell us that when teachers share documented observations of their children at play, they understand more about the value of play and exploration. Teachers report that these parents then offer more support for what goes on in the program. Your observa- tions open a window onto the world of their children that family members wouldn’t otherwise see, and invite them to share more fully in their children’s experiences away from home. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Rosemary: Sharing my documentation with families helps them see their children as individuals—and that I see them that way as well. They feel I have taken the time to get to know their child and their family.