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The Importance of Observation in Early Childhood Education

While universal screening with all children is not yet a reality in most early education programs, early childhood teachers are moving in this direction.

Professional organization which promotes excellence in early childhood education

Piaget, while not supporting any particular early-education program, argued that children learn primarily from their own spontaneous exploration of things and a subsequent reflective abstraction from those activities. This is an indirect argument for the importance of manipulative materials in early-childhood education. Vygotsky, while also believing that much of intellectual growth was spontaneous, nonetheless proposed that children could not fully realize their abilities without the help of adults. He argued that there was a zone of proximate development that could be attained only with guidance and modeling by adults. Vygotsky emphasized the teacher’s role much more than other writers, who entrusted much of young children’s learning to the children themselves.

Child Observation Early Childhood - Essay by Chiragarora

Longitudinal studies can overcome some of these difficulties, thereby providing meaningful evidence comparing one method with another. Long-term observation and measurement reduce the chance that random factors, such as a teacher’s bad week, are corrupting the data. In an analysis of ten independently conducted, and variously sponsored, longitudinal studies of the effects of early-childhood education for poor and at-risk children, High Scope Educational Research Foundation scholar Lawrence J. Schweinhart and his colleagues found that children who attended preschool performed significantly better intellectually, at least during the program and shortly thereafter. In some but not all of the studies, significantly fewer of the children who attended preschool were classified as disabled and placed in special-education classes. Likewise, in some but not all of the studies, children who attended preschool had higher rates of high-school completion.

For example, classrooms that follow different educational philosophies will vary in many other ways as well. The teachers may vary in skill and experience as well as in personality. In addition, it is almost impossible to match two groups of children. A reliable match would require comparable families, a condition that is difficult, if not impossible, to satisfy. Moreover, the instruments used for assessment, whether observations or tests, are less reliable and less valid at the early level than they are at later ages. This does not mean that meaningful research cannot or has not been done. It just means that we may have to be more innovative in designing studies of educational methods than we have been in the past. The physical-science paradigm, which presupposes regularity and replicability, is simply not appropriate to the study of classrooms.

Early Childhood-objective child observation - EssayZoo

Yet there is a growing call for early-childhood educators to engage in the academic training of young children. The movement’s beginnings lay in the fears sparked by the Soviet Union’s launching of Sputnik in 1957. The civil rights movement and the growing public awareness of our educational system’s inequality led to the creation of Head Start, a program aimed at preparing young disadvantaged children for school. Although Head Start is an important and valuable program, it gave rise to the pernicious belief that education is a race—and that the earlier you start, the earlier you finish. This encouraged educators like Carl Bereiter, Siegfried Engelmann, and, more recently, E. D. Hirsch to introduce early academic programs based on the learning theories of E. L. Thorndike and B. F. Skinner. These writers assume that learning follows the same principles at all age levels—ignoring both children’s developing mental abilities and the fact that academic skills vary in their logical complexity and difficulty.

It is recommended that teachers use both formal and informal screening and assessment approaches to systematically evaluate children’s growth across all domains of development and learning within natural contexts, including the early childhood classroom (Bordignon & Lam, 2004; NAEYC, 2005).

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Early Childhood-objective child observation

The guiding principle of early-childhood education is, then, the matching of curriculum and instruction to the child’s developing abilities, needs, and interests. This principle is broadly accepted and advocated by most early-childhood educators. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has issued a policy statement entitled “Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early-Childhood Programs.” The NAEYC now evaluates and certifies early-childhood programs that meet its criteria for developmental appropriateness.

Early Childhood Observation - Term Paper

Contemporary early-childhood educators also disagree on the teacher’s role in the learning process and continue to debate what is the most effective curriculum for young children. What unites them, and sets them apart from those who would make early-childhood education a one-size-smaller 1st or 2nd grade, is their commitment to building early-childhood practice on their observations of young children. Put a bit differently, the giants of early childhood and their followers agree that early education must start with the child, not with the subject matter to be taught.

Read this essay on Early Childhood Observation

The educators who established early childhood as a legitimate time for guided learning all emphasized the importance of manipulative experiences—of seeing, touching, and handling new things and of experiencing new sensations—for infants and young children and the dangers of introducing them to the world of symbols too early in life. Froebel, Montessori, and Steiner all created rich, hands-on materials for children to explore and conceptualize. Each of them acknowledged, in his or her own way, that the capacity to discriminate precedes the capacity to label, that the understanding of quality precedes that of quantity. Children, for example, learn to discriminate among different colors before they can distinguish different shades of the same color.

Infancy And Early Childhood Development Education Essay

From the outset, let’s acknowledge that hard data on the comparative benefits of one or another type of early-childhood educational program are hard to come by. The difficulty stems from the fact that education is a chaotic process. Each time children and their teacher come together they are different, thanks to the intervening experiences each has had. In other words, every classroom meeting is a nonreplicable experiment. Our research tools, however, are borrowed from the physical sciences, where regularity, rather than chaos, reigns. In physics and chemistry it is possible to control most, if not all, of the variables in play. This is almost impossible in education.

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