Observation is an effective method of understanding how a child learns, behaves, and interacts with their environment. It also helps educators gather evidence of their development. For young children, observation is a more revealing means of assessment than testing, which takes time away from the child’s learning to demonstrate areas of weakness. In order to do a valid assessment, regular observation should be accompanied by accurate record-keeping, so questions about a child’s development can be readily explained to parents and professionals.
Read on for three good reasons why classroom observation is an important part of Early Childcare Assistant (ECA) training.
1. Understanding a Child’s Strengths and Interests
Effective observation helps ECAs better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the children in their care. These insights can then be used to develop further connection and relationships with them, provide additional resources for supporting their strengths and interests, and improve programs. Adjustments can then be made to the environment to facilitate learning and perhaps eliminate any problematic behaviours.
Insights are often most effective when observing natural behaviour in context, such as the child’s authentic reaction to various incentives. A room with many children is full of movement where each child is processing and adapting to information in unique ways. Watching many actions unfolding at the same time enables an ECA to better understand and appreciate each child’s physical, emotional, mental, and cultural traits.
2. Monitoring a Child’s Progress After your ECA Training
Since children are in a constant state of learning, maintaining structure in your recorded observations is valuable for having a useful reference point. For instance, ECAs might categorize their observations as cognitive, physical, social, language, or emotional skills in order to maintain accurate records of the child’s progress in these areas. Establishing personal goals and specific target behaviours for observation times will help focus attention on assessing particular actions.
Students in ECA training learn to observe not only the most recognizable actions, such as a temper tantrum, but also the events before and after that cause and resolve issues. It is always better to describe actions as specifically as possible. Some workplaces may even have audio or video equipment to assist in these observations. Behaviour can be further qualified by rating the intensity or quality of an action or the frequency of repeated occurrences.
3. How Observation can assist ECAs to Create Better Curriculums
Detailed observation records can help parents understand their child’s progress while demonstrating accurate knowledge of the child in a relatable manner. It reveals a child’s interest and reaction to various environments, as well as communication skills, social skills, motor skills, and problem solving abilities. Professionals with an ECA diploma can use this information to evaluate the current curriculum or program.
They might see that certain toys or tools are not useful or age appropriate and should be removed, or others are so popular that more are needed. Learning experiences can thus be modified so that children are optimally challenged and engaged, with the setting adapted over time to children’s needs.
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