new insights into children’s perspectives. In addition, they have discovered a
stronger sense of their own role in telling the stories of working with children.
You will see examples of this throughout this book.
Using This Book
This book begins with a series of study sessions designed to heighten your
observation skills. These chapters differ from other texts on observing
because they are designed to help you learn to really see children. This observa-
tion is not for the purpose of analyzing or doing anything to or for them, but
simply to value who they are and the experience of childhood. The study ses-
sions include activities to help you replace what you hope to see and any labels
or preconceptions you might have with a simple appreciation of the descrip-
tive details of what you are actually seeing. This is important because we all
observe subjectively through the filters of our own experiences and values.
The first four study sessions offer foundational ideas and practical strat-
egies to expand your self-awareness. The more
aware you become of the things that influence your
ability to hear and see, the closer you get to objec-
tivity. Chapter 2 is a study session on learning to
see; chapter 3 is a study session on observing for
children’s perspectives; chapter 4 is a study session
on observing children’s lively minds; and chapter
5 is a study session on observing how children use
These sessions are followed by six chapters that
you study on specific aspects of childhood. Again,
you will be asked to let go of your adult agenda or
your teacher urge to do something with what you are seeing. Instead, you will
replace this with the goal of really seeing what’s there. In the Buddhist tradi-
tion, this is referred to as mindfulness.
Following these study sessions, the remaining three chapters of the book
offer you ideas and strategies for getting organized to observe, for using and
sharing your observations, and for using your observations for planning and
assessment. Photographs and observation stories, often with transcriptions of
children’s conversations, are used throughout all the chapters of The Art of
Awareness. These are as valuable for you to study as the text itself. You will
also find examples of teachers’ self-reflections and communications with the
children’s families to model how observations can be used and displayed.