I am going to share a few examples of child observations because after searching on the net I did not find a good guide or many examples. So I will do six in total and I will begin with a narrative. I am not going to post a reference list so please leave a comment if you would like one. Child observation is important as watching and listening to children allows you to gain insight into their development needs and each stage of their development (Donohoe and Gaynor 2007). All the observations I have decided to undertake are naturalistic and to the best of my knowledge the child/children were unaware they were being observed. This is important, as children will act differently if they feel they are being observed (Eysenck 2001). Eysenck (2001) argues there are two main advantages of naturalistic observation – children tend to behave naturally and information that is gathered is rich. Secondly, I will be focusing on the holistic development of the child. Holistic development sees the child as a round and whole person – physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, morally and culturally.
Observation date: 12/February/2010
Methodology used: observation
Apparatus used: pen and paper
Start time: 2.45pm
Finish time: 3.07pm
Number of children present: 4
Number of adults present: 2
Permission obtained from: parents, supervisor
The child (A.L) is seated at a table with her neck and head leaned on the table colouring. Her left hand is on the paper holding it and she is colouring with her right hand. She was given a picture to colour of a car. She is holding the colour pencil in her right hand between her finger and thumb. She looks at C.P a girl who is colouring to her right. She gazes intently at C.P’s picture, and then says ‘ keeps in lines’. She then looks at her own picture and continues colouring. She is concentrating intently and does not go outside the lines. She lifts her head back off the table and talks occasionally as she is colouring. She says to the supervisor ‘I am good at this’. She then asks to the supervisor to show her how to write ‘I like cars’, she then copies the sentence and writes it above the picture, however she writes ‘I LiKe CARS’ using both upper and lower casing.
A.L asks the supervisor for a blue colouring pencil because ‘the windows have to be blue just because’. She proceeds to then colour all the windows of the car blue. She picks up a maroon colouring pencil but after drawing a small line with it she says to C.P ‘this colour is not really brown, when you draw with it, its really pink’. She looks for another colour and decides ‘grey is not a very nice colour’. She looks at L.R who is also colouring to her left ‘you need to not scribble’ she says to L.R. She then attempts to take the pink colouring pencil from L.R. L.R starts to cry yet A.L continues to colour. The supervisor intervenes ‘I am very sad with you; you know L.R was using that colouring pencil. Do you think that was right to take it off him’. A.L looks at supervisor and slowly holds the colouring pencil with fist and gives it back to L.R. A.L then looks down visibly upset and says sorry to L.R. The supervisor replies ‘Thank you for giving the colour pencil back you are a good girl’.
She turns her attention back to the box of colouring pencils and pours them all onto the table with her right hand. She smiles when she finds the colour purple ‘this is the nicest colour of them all’ she says to the supervisor. It takes her approximately twenty minutes to finish the picture, and she pays careful attention to all the details of the car particularly the number plate saying ‘it has to be white and black’. She also looks for the colour peach in the colouring pencils. Her supervisor asks her why she is looking for peach, she gestures to the driver of the car. ‘He is the same as me, his skin is peach’ she replies. When she finishes the picture she says ‘It looks nice’ and she asks the supervisor if the picture is nice. The supervisor replies ‘it is lovely’ and A.L smiles.
The second observation I carried out was the narrative. Firstly, looking at A.L’s cognitive development - which allows her to recognise, reason, comprehend and know. It was interesting that A.W was aware of her own skin colour and defined it as being ‘peach’. This conveys that she aware and understands differences in physical appearances. Researchers such as Koeppel & Mulrooney (1992) and Ramsey (1998) found that by the ages of 3 or 4 children become aware of the physical differences or similarities between themselves and their peers. This includes skin colour, facial features and hair textures.
Secondly, A.L is able to rationalise that although the maroon colouring pencil looks brown when she uses it the colour looks more pink. This shows her intellectual development, as she can comprehend the colour in brown but refuses to use it again as when used it looks pink.
Thirdly, looking at A.L’s moral and social development. During the incident when A.: took a colouring pencil off another child and was reprimanded. She displays signs of guilt; she dropped her head and looked forlorn before saying sorry. This indicates that the child according to Erikson’s psychosocial theory (1959) is on stage three. Stage Three is when the child is between 4-5years of age and is being to express feeling of guilt. At this stage of development the child is now aware that ‘he/she is a person’ (Eysenck 2001). The child must now rationalise what type of person they want to be. In the case of A.W she showed her ability to act morally. She realised she had done something wrong and when reprimanded she rectified the situation.
At the beginning when A.L began colouring she said to the supervisor ‘I am good at this’. This would indicate according to Bandura (1977, 1986) she has self-efficacy. In this case A.L believed she was good at the task, this was reinforced at the end when she finished she rated her picture, as ‘it looks nice’. She had set a standard for herself and the task she was completing. She matched her own ‘internal performance standards (Eysenck 2001). This is important as a child who has been previously successful at a task is likely to succeed again, whereas if they feel that they have failed they become reluctant to put effort or enthusiasm into the task again (Eysenck 2001). This indicates that in her emotional development in relation to this task she has displayed self-esteem and displayed that she is confident when asked to colour in a picture.
During the observation, A.L had assessed how C.P was colouring. A.L quickly assessed that C.P did not colour outside the lines and began focusing more intently on her own picture. In a sense, A. L was learning from C.P’s example. According to Vgotsky, children learn effectively from their peers – ‘peer tutoring’. Similarly research undertaken by Barnier (1989) and Ellis and Gauvain (1992) found that children benefited from being taught by their peers. A.L also commented to L.R ‘you need to not scribble’ when she looked at the way in which he was colouring. This was interesting as it allowed you to gather information about A.L’s social development and how she interacts with others. She commented on both children’s picture in her zone of proximity. Similarly to the event sample observation she interacts well with the other children in the centre. In this case she interacts with both L.R and C.D during the colouring and although she tried to take the colouring pencil off L.R she says sorry and does not repeat this again during the observation.
In relation to physical development, A.L uses her fine motor skills to colour the picture. She does not use fist to hold pencil and instead holds it between her finger and thumb. According to Callender (2008) by the age of four-five years the child will be able to hold a pencil properly. A.L has indicated her that she is able to hold the pencil correctly.In evaluating the narrative observation, I felt that A.L in a confident child in relation to this task. She has good fine motor skills consistent of what guidelines suggest for her age. Her cognitive development is good, and she indicates that she is able to rationalise as indicated by the maroon colouring pencil. She is also aware of physical attributes and in this case skin tone. Her social development is good and she interacts well with her peers, she apologised to L.R without being prompted, which indicated she has good moral development.
*Please note that before carrying out an observation on any children permission must be sought from the child's legal guardian(s)