Observing Children

There are two levels of observing and obtaining information about children.

There are two levels of information about children and when you study the development of a student you will use both. One of these levels has not been found to be superior to the other but they are both necessary for the observation of a student.

The level of informal observation is the first. In this level an adult may observe a child in the classroom, out on the playground, in group activities, etc. These are so called informal, natural conditions. To observe a child in an informal way an adult can determine if he is well coordinated, is talking at a correct level, also if he is alert when asked questions. The way that he relates to others can be observed to determine lots of information. The adult who is doing the observation can learn to observe in detail the actions of the child without his even realizing he is being observed. A child's behavior might be observed at lunchtime, at school, in the lunchroom, or perhaps out on the playground. At home a parent can observe the child interacting with others in the home, his actions, his reactions to others by observing series of events.

Surely there are lots of questions about each action a child makes or does such as even throwing a ball or picking up a book from a table. An adult needs to realize he is doing this observing of the child for the purpose of determining his behavior. He will need to keep a journal on his observations of the child to compare his records from day to day or over a certain period of time. I would suggest starting with a description of the date, time and place and also the child's name. Topics that should be considered are emotional behavior, problem-solving, social behavior, and physical and motor developments. The observation is to obtain a clear and better understanding of the child.

The second level of observation of a child is the scientific evaluation and observation. This is usually done by a teacher, psychologist or social worker. He will need to use statistical tools to evaluate a child within a group of children.

There are three types of evaluations. One would want to measure central tendency as this is usually the most useful of tools. To measure central tendency, one will need to provide a median as a way of characterizing the total group. If children in a group are measured by their actions then a median would have to be determined, as scoring in the middle. The measure of variability would be necessary also as this shows the average central tendencies of a group and will show variations in the group. There will be a need to show the range between the highest and the lowest scores of evaluation within the group. The standard measure of deviation is the last of the three and the most frequently used in evaluation. This is especially necessary when make a comparison of one group to another. This is excellent in evaluating language behavior.

There is also a measure of relationship which shows if there is any relationship in children of different backgrounds, height, weight, etc. When measuring and evaluating children a resercher would need to know the correlation coefficients in their data.

The quality of determining evaluation of a child would be better served by using the above levels of determination.

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