Observing children as they play, learn, and socialize with others is an integral part of every early educator’s daily routine. According to the California Preschool Program Guidelines, when early caregivers and preschool teachers “regularly observe and document brief, subtle moments of children’s learning through play, those records help parents and others understand how useful and important play is in helping children to learn and grow” (p. 32-33). In this chapter, we will examine the various observation methods, tools and techniques that can be used to gather information about the children in your care. Although teachers may favor one method over the other, it is recommended that teachers utilize several methods, tools and techniques so that they can gather a well- rounded perspective of each child. To truly understand the “whole child” it is important to realize that observation and documentation is an ongoing process that begins with gathering “baseline data.”
- 2.1: Taking the First Step - Gathering Baseline Data
- In order to truly measure the learning, growth, and development of a child over time, there needs to be a point of reference, or a starting point. Baseline data provides a starting point.