Method of Child Observation Essay

Method of Child Observation

The identification of a child’s current competence levels and understanding can only be evaluated through the use of the right observation skills, which can inform the future educational and developmental planning. Observation helps in the identification and diagnosis of behavioral conditions in children at an early stage which is important in treatment (Nilsen, 2011). Observation and assessment process are also important in the identification of the effectiveness of learning settings. Therefore, by observing how children interact with the environment, a child specialist can deduce important information and conclusively recommend numerous changes. Numerous child observation methods have been developed which seek to ensure that the information acquired can be used to help improve the status of the child and enhance development.

Child observation methods

Numerous child observation methods have been developed and are used by child psychologists across the globe and their implications differ based on the situation of the child and the approach of professional. Narrative recording is one of the most popular child observation methods which are based on the availability of narrative recordings of the action of the child in question (Nilsen, 2011). A narrative is an account of behavior of a child provided in a sequential manner based on the time it happens. While anecdotal record use is limited to a particular incident, narrative recordings has no relationship with incidents and is influenced by the action of the child. The recorder, who in most cases is the psychologist, follows the actions of the child, documenting positive and negative events in order to inform his final decisions on the progress and development of the subject (Nilsen, 2011).

Narrative recording as a child observational approach has numerous advantages over other commonly used methods which makes it popular and common among children specialists. Narrative recordings are rich in detail and provide an actual account of the issues that affect the child’s development and any challenges that may contribute to deviant behaviors. Training is also not a prerequisite to using narrative method of observation as almost all the events are recorded according to how they happen and analysis conducted later. Narrative recordings allow for understanding the behaviors that occurred and the context in which they occurred, which can influence such kind of behaviors. However, the use of this approach is limited to the need for time in order to observe the behaviors of the child sequentially without breaks (Nilsen, 2011).

As an account by account event, narrative approach of observing children is a continuous process which is time consuming and requires more resources. It also works perfectly well only when one child is to be observed as opposed to observing a group of kids playing or learning in class. While other methods allow for the observation of a number of children, narrative recording require dedication, concentration and focus on target individual which is impossible in the event that the children are many. Observers who use narrative observation to document the development and growth of children do not interact with the subjects, instead observing from a distant and documenting the events as they unfold. Such an approach will be difficult for teachers who are trained to not only guide the actions of children but also influence their responses to different situations.

Anecdotal records

Anecdotal records provide a brief encounter of incidents that shape the behavior and development trajectory of a child based on the interests of the observer. Observers that use anecdotal approaches based their arguments on the events that happen, how they happen, when and where they happen and how the things that were said participated in influencing the development of a child. Anecdotal observers concentrate on single incidents and base their arguments on the same event in order to find out the impact it has on the child. Just like narrative approaches, anecdotal methods concentrate on a cumulative period of time, occurring over education years. Such accounts are written after the records as opposed to during the incidents as witnessed with narrative methods of observation that is done first hand.

Anecdotal approach focuses on a single individual and follows the behavior of the child of interest in line with this incident, attempting to demonstrate how such an incident can shape the behavior of a child. By focusing on a single behavior or incident of interest, anecdotal is less demanding and  enables an observer to concentrate on the single variable and how it shapes the behavior of the child. While narrative approach requires conclusive training of the professional, the same is not a requirement for anecdotal approach of child observation. As a result, it is cheap and preferred by child care professionals across the country that is tasked with determining how a child’s behavior could have been affected by past incidents in retrospect. Anecdotal approach also allows an observer to identify an incident whenever it happens as the records are developed later as opposed to real time approaches used in narrative recordings.

However, anecdotal observation approach also has some disadvantages which affect its adoption and use by other child care professionals within the discipline. Anecdotal approach does not focus on all behaviors and therefore overlook other important behaviors which influence the behavior and development of a child. Failure to include all incidents makes this approach non-conclusive and biased based on the desires and interests of the observer as opposed to the real events (Nilsen, 2011). The memory of the observer is also important in documenting the right incidents and demonstrating how it affects the normal development of the child. Any lapse in the memory of the observer can lead to inaccuracy in the information recorded, which provides an incomplete account of events. As a result of overreliance on the information presented by the observer, anecdotal observation approach is unreliable in qualitative and quantitative research endeavors.

Erickson psychological theory and child observation

Erickson formulated the development a child through his eight psychosocial stages of development that influences the development and growth. A child of 8 years old according to the theory is influenced by Erickson’s fourth stage of psychosocial development (Nilsen, 2011). A child within this age bracket is considered a school going age in which a child’s world expands to include the external environment and the friends that he or she encounters at school. A child at this stage develops knowledge of the outside world and learns practical skills that will enable him/her counter read and write. A child is also exposed to different social norms, behaviors and practices such as the principles of corporation and social interactions. A ten year old under confinement is exposed to psychosocial crisis that (Nilsen, 2011).

Exposure to the external environment develops the industrious nature of a child and enables him learn how to interact with strangers that he encounters at school. A confined child however develops an inferiority attitude due to the inability to interact and meet new people and develops ways of interacting with the new environment. Industry that results from external exposure makes a child develops a desire to be busy and engage himself in something, constructive or not (Nilsen, 2011). A confined child with an inferiority complex lacks the desire and push to engage in any constructive activity due to the inability to interact not just with the external environment and its people but also with the external activities. Cognitive and psychosocial analysis according to both Piaget and Erickson highlights the importance of the external environment to the development of a child. A child is cognizant of the external environment and develops sensory abilities that make him able to respond to external to stimuli effectively.

As a result, such a child develops in the absence of the natural physical and environmental environment that influences their growth. As outlined earlier, a number of crises develop in a child according to Erickson psychosocial analysis. The identity and lack of identity crisis explains how lack of environmental exposure affects the development of his identity (Nilsen, 2011). Such an adolescent may grow into a person who lacks knowledge of his personal identity and how to interact with those around him. Solitude and confinement results into what Erickson describe as stagnation as opposed to generativity in youths of such an age. Stagnation is the feeling of uselessness and lacking in anything to do that can change the present generation.

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