Observation as well as to acknowledge the way

Observation is an important tool for early years
practitioners to use for various reasons, such as to plan work accordingly, to
get to know the children and their family background better and to identify any
interests the children may have. Even though observations are beneficial to
make use of, they still have their limitations. 
There are quite a number of methods that an educator can use to observe
children. From observation, an educator can start to assess children in order
to see any improvements happening from time to time. As a prospective
Kindergarten Assistant, I find it necessary to have good observation skills in
order to monitor the children’s progress in their achievements as well as to
plan several stimulating and motivating experiences in the classroom.  

 

Classroom observations can serve as a means to collect
data for specific research purposes, and therefore, to enhance the
effectiveness as educators. Observing children can help the adult to assess the
children’s developmental levels, to learn about the children’s ideas and
perspectives, to identify the strategies they use in order to reach their goals
and to know what skills and abilities they need to practice and improve in
(Forman and Hall, 2013). Observation can also be useful to monitor the
children’s health and illness, to discover other alternatives to extend their
play by thinking of different opportunities one can bring in the classroom, as
well as to acknowledge the way children solve problems, maintain friendships
with their peers and make sense of the world around them. By looking at
children closely, early years professionals will be able to collect precise and
important data about them. Thus, observation is vital for educators as it helps
them reflect and then gain a better understanding of their own practice. Through
observation, an educator can prepare stimulating and motivating experiences for
children. An early childhood educator should observe children in a familiar
environment in which the children can feel comfortable (McAfee and Leong, 2010).
Even though observation has several benefits, such as providing a rich,
detailed explanation about the children and their backgrounds, it still has its
shortcomings. Some of the limitations that observation has are that it is time
consuming, and it may return subjective views because of the observer’s lack of
attention to detail in the events (DeWalt and DeWalt, 1998). Observation is a
challenging task to carry out and it requires educators to remain patient in
order to capture significant events (Kripalani, 2016). An educator needs to
develop observation skills in order to monitor any pattern in the children’s actions,
for example: time management skills and listening skills. Ethical issues also
need to be taken into consideration when one is observing a child. An educator
has to keep in mind the parental consent if children are going to be involved
in a research study, especially if photos are going to be shown to other people
other than the researcher (Abed, 2015).

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There are various methods of observation which an educator
can use. Narratives, which are the most common method used, include anecdotal
records which are used to document a story, running records which are detailed
accounts of behaviour recorded as things are happening, specimen records which
are more detailed and precise than running records, and learning stories which
are designed to describe and document a particular situation where learning
occurs. The Learning Story assessment framework is based on the following four
guiding principles: empowerment of the learner, recognition of the holistic way
children learn, links with the community and family, and recognition of the
reciprocal nature of children’s learning through relationships with people,
places and things (Lee and Carr, 2002). Research shows that using a descriptive
way to observe an event in order to make sense of what one has seen, has led to
the emergence of narrative methodology (Mishler, 1986). Other methods of
observation involve samples such as time and event samples. Time sampling is
the recording of a frequent sort of behaviour which only takes place during
specified time periods. On the other hand, event sampling focuses on specific
events as they naturally occur, and an observer should make use of it when he
or she gets to know the children well (Brassard and Boehm, 2008). Checklists
are not the best observation technique to use because they do not give one a
full picture of who the child really is, however, they are pretty easy to
implement. Statements should be clear when using checklists (Tassoni, 2006).

 

Observations can also be used as a tool for assessing
children. They can be used to observe the child’s learning stages, to help
children in the enhancement of skills, to identify their strengths and
weaknesses and finally, to be able to make any classroom arrangements according
to the children’s likings, and therefore plan for stimulating and motivating
experiences in the classroom. Children’s assessment results should be shared
and discussed with parents or guardians as part of an ongoing and active
process that includes the parents in the child’s education (Shepard, Kagan and
Wurtz, 1998). By sharing their observations with the children’s families,
educators can ensure that children’s relatives also make changes to suit
developmental needs. Assessment helps educators to identify how they learn and
think and how they solve problems (Aistear, 2009). Therefore, assessment is
important because an educator can observe, receive feedback, reflect and modify
according to the feedback received. For this reason, observation and assessment
are helpful to establish stimulating experiences for children.  What to assess depends on a number of
assumptions, such as: the purpose of assessment where one asks him/herself:
“Why am I assessing children?”, the outcomes of interest, and the focus of
intervention, where one can ask what the result is depending on the type of
assessment (Miller, Cable and Goodliff, 2014). Effective assessment is a
continual and informal process that enables the practitioners to identify what
the children can do rather than what they do not know (Mukherji and Dryden,
2014). This assessment emphasises on the child and gives importance to parental
involvement. Children are observed on a daily basis and the educators take
notes and keep samples on every aspect of the child’s development.

 

Observations and assessments are clearly useful tools
for educators in order to determine the children’s individual assessments and to
plan stimulating and motivating experiences for the children. As a future
Kindergarten assistant, I can definitely make use of observations and
assessments to promote positive experiences for children in the school.