Eastern Connecticut State University
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Early Childhood Education
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#5: Observing Young Children

Featuring Dr. Sudha Swaminathan

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Early childhood teachers observe children throughout the day for a variety of purposes. In e-clip #5, Dr. Sudha Swaminathan of Eastern Connecticut State University discusses various types of observations in the early childhood classroom and how to plan observations to get the most useful results. Four early childhood teachers also describe their use of formal and informal observation strategies to identify the individual strengths and needs of children and to plan instruction.

Discussion Questions for Early Childhood Teachers and Administrators

  1. What is our current observational practice? What percentage of our observations are spontaneous vs. planned?
  2. What are some ways we can build planned observation into our daily routine?
  3. How do we use the information we gather through observation? What other ways might we use the information?
  4. What do we currently use to document our observations? What other tools can we use to make our observations more useful?

Recommended Reading

  • Forman, G. (2010). Documentation and accountability: The shift from numbers to indexed narratives. Theory Into Practice, 49(1), 29-35.

  • Helm, J. H., Beneke, S., & Steinheimer, K. (2007). Windows on Learning: Documenting Young Children's Work, Second Edition. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

  • Kline, L. S. (2008). Documentation panel: The "Making Learning Visible" project. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 29(1), 70-80.

  • Kroeger, J., & Cardy, T. (2006). Documentation: A hard to reach place. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(6), 389-398.

  • Seitz, H. (2008). The power of documentation in the early childhood classroom. Young Children, 63(2), 88-93.

  • Swaminathan, S., & Rezai, N. (2010). Documenting, Reflecting, & Teaching: Digital Portfolios in the Preschool Classroom. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Technology in Education, Denver, CO.

Additional Web Resources on Observing Young Children

Credits for Observing Young Children

Executive Producer: Julia DeLapp

Producer/Director: Denise Matthews

Production Coordinator: Ken Measimer

Student Production Assistant: Kerin Jaros-Dressler


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