Improving Observation Skills

Writing the Rationale

Observations provide information about children, their development, needs, talents and their environment. The rational states the reasons for choosing this observation of this child, in this place during this activity, at this time and in this way.

The rationale for a child observation is to learn more about:

The rationale for a child observation is to provide information for:
  • written information about the development of an individual child
  • formal assessment of a child's learning - E.G. SATs and Baseline Assessment in schools
  • confidential reports for other professionals and parents - E.G. for a Case Conference
The rationale for a child observation is to plan effective activities

The rationale includes choosing an observation technique.

Observations can be recorded in different ways:

  • written narratives
  • pre-coded charts
  • graphs, charts and pictograms
  • audio and video recordings

Observations can be carried out in a variety of ways:

  • a short snap-shot observation to show development at this moment in time
  • a longitudinal study to show the change in development over weeks or months
  • a time sample to show the child's activities and behaviour during a morning
  • an event sample to show a child's pattern of behaviour
  • observations of individuals, or small groups and large groups

Each technique has advantages and disadvantages. E.G. A tape recorder can give a clear record of a child's spoken language, but may be difficult to use in a busy classroom because of the background noise.

The rationale includes the reasons to observe this child and the choice of observation method.
Please remember the important reasons to observe children.

		  The progress of the child's development

  Interaction with children/adults     Sensory/physical difficulties 

    Changes in behaviour  	Health		Emotional Reaction				

  How the child learns    	  Safe/stimulating environment 
    Interests	 		        Play with others	
	 Effective planning to promote development

Advantages/disadvantages of a particular observation technique

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