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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Why Observe Children? 7 What Can You Learn by Observing Children? Whether you are observing children and documenting for assess- ment or curriculum planning, you will learn more about the children in your program. Observation and documentation give a thorough, well-rounded picture of what is important to know about children. You learn about all these facets of the whole child: • their developmental capabilities in all areas: social, emo­ tional, physical, and cognitive • their personalities • their ways of coping with difficult situations and of solving problems • reasons for their behavior • their deep interests and passions • the information and knowledge they are constructing • their expression of their cultural backgrounds On the following pages are several observation notes that illustrate each of the above possibilities of what can be learned about children. We recognize that most of the time you will learn about many aspects of a child’s development as you observe. A child might be showing you what he’s interested in as well as how he copes with a difficult situation. In the observation notes that follow, we are more focused in our examples. After each note we show how you can use the information gained from that observation to assess the child’s development and to plan curriculum accordingly. Learning about Children’s Developmental Capabilities Observing a child’s participation in daily routines, play, and activities is a way to collect facts about his developmental capabilities. Think about all of the developmental areas that are possible to observe during a daily routine such as snack. The potential for seeing de- velopment in action is limitless. Practice by analyzing the following observation note about Angel. This observation took place over just four or five minutes. As you read the note, write down the areas of development—cognitive, physical, social, and emotional—covered by this observation. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Pam: This was my sixth year of teaching preschool, and I feel like I know my kids so much better than I ever have before because I’m watching them more closely. I’m paying attention to the little things they’re doing.