A large part of being an ECE is observing children and recording and assessing what we see. Throughout the Early Childhood Education program we go out on observation multiple times in different childcare settings and use the skills we have acquired in class out in the field.
This past month we spent 50+ hours in the field observing, at a center of our choosing, in order to complete a project on the development of an individual child. Our project was a child study which is a lengthy book covering all areas of that child’s development.
What I really appreciate about our observations is that we get to choose a center ourselves. I think it is very beneficial for our professional skills to have to decide what kind of setting we would like to observe in and call the center to work out the details with whoever runs that center.
Occasionally the answer from that center will be no, simply because it does not fit with their schedule at that time, but I think it is healthy for us to learn how to professionally handle rejection and move on to calling the next center.
Thankfully, the first center I called when looking to do observation for my project told me that the month of July would work great for them. The owner of the center mentioned she had a few children in mind that would be great individuals to do my child study on.
Arriving at the center on the first day was very exciting. I got to learn about the child that I would be observing as well as the schedule and all of the procedures of the center.
It was very interesting to observe the child and how she interacted with her peers and teachers and to assess where she was at in terms of her development.
There were a few challenges that arose throughout the observation period. One was adapting to the idea that I was just there to observe. I found not being able to interact with the children to be difficult. It was hard to say, “I’m just here to watch! You go play” when they came up to me and wanted me to play with them but was something I had to get used to. Another challenge was being able to hear what the children were saying to one another. For our project it was necessary for us to quote what the children were saying and when you are sitting in a chair six feet away from the area that particular child is playing, you tend to miss important dialogue. However, once I learned more about my child and what they typically liked to do and when, I started to strategically place myself so that I could see and hear her better.
Overall the observation was a great learning experience. It gave me confidence in my abilities to observe and assess children and I gained a lot of knowledge about curriculum, nutrition and a variety of areas that I can bring back to class with me to discuss.