Observing Your Child

Five Reasons to Observe Children

Here are some of the reasons that teachers offer when asked about the value of watching and listening to children:

  • If I watch the children play, I can discover their interests.
  • By observing children, I can assess their developmental levels.
  • I look to see what strategies children use to attain their goals.
  • Observing children helps me know what skills the children need to practice.
  • When I observe children at play, I learn a lot about their personalities.

We want to use these reasons again, so we will provide an example that illustrates the general meaning of each:

  • Interests—He loves to play with trucks.
  • Developmental level—She throws the ball either very hard or not at all, but she does not vary the throw along a continuum of very hard, hard, and soft.
  • Strategies—She tries to influence her friend’s actions by controlling all of the crayons.
  • Skills—She has trouble stringing beads onto a knotted shoestring.
  • Personality—She is reserved and does not like to take risks.

In essence, we can learn at least five attributes of our children when we observe them closely:

  • Their interests and preferences
  • Their levels of cognitive and social development
  • Their strategies for creating desired effects
  • Their skills and accomplishments
  • Their personalities and temperaments