34 Chapter 2
More Observation Practice—Putting It All Together
Try this activity, either alone or with a partner or small group, to get more
practice collecting details, describing what you see, and interpreting your
observations. 1 Gather more photos. There are a number of beautiful photography
books that can be excellent resources of photos of children with lots
of action and emotions portrayed. The Family of Children by Jerry
Mason (1977) and From My Side: Being a Child by Sylvia Chard and
Yvonne Kogan (2009) are great resources. You can also go online and
search for photos of children to use for your practice. Photos are an
easier starting place for practice than live-action videos.
2 To help you make the distinction between descriptions and
interpretations, put a line down the center of some paper, labeling
one side Descriptions and the other Interpretations. You might also
want to make a separate area for your parking lot to jot down your
quick reactions and labels.
3 Write down what you see in the pictures and put your words and
phrases under the appropriate category.
4 Review the Components of Observation Skills (pages 30–31) to
practice describing more details from your photos.
The more you practice these skills, the better you will become at observ-
ing. Once you have ample practice with photos, follow the same process
with short video clips of children. Finally, practice with children in real life.
Remember to take your time to really see children. Don’t worry about a right
answer or perfect writing skills.
More to Do
You’ve completed the first observation study session! You probably will agree
that developing this approach and the required skills will take time and prac-
tice. Some of your practice should focus on activities that will strengthen your
ability to change perspectives. Try to let go of your filters, leave your comfort
zone, and accept the insecurity that comes in letting go of your usual ways
of looking at things. Included here are a few art-of-awareness activities to
try. These activities are not directly related to observing children, but rather
are fun experiments that can help you develop flexible thinking—which, of
course, has everything to do with your work with children.