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The Learning Ladder II

Home A reading and writing curriculum for Family Child Care Providers, Children and Families

Module 4: Observing and Recording Children's Behavior
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Welcome to the Introduction to Module 4!

children at computers with teacher observing

Module Objectives

Observing children's behavior and play and then documenting what you see is one of the important jobs of a family child care provider. Observing what children do helps you to understand what materials and experiences they are ready to handle. When we observe and collect this information, we can plan a curriculum that meets each child's needs and interests.

In this module you will learn ...

  • to understand why carefully observing children is important
  • to describe what you are seeing without including opinions
  • the uses of portfolios and how to organize evidence of children's progress

In this module you will ...

  • use various methods of observation
  • use observation as a tool to understand children's development
  • create an activity for parents so they can practice observation of their own children

Terms from the Field

Below are words and definitions that you may need when you work as a Family Child Care Provider. You will learn more about these words later in the module.

When you see the speaker speaker after each of the definitions you can hear the pronunciation of the term and what it means.

free play - Free play is a time in a family child care provider's daily schedule that allows children to select where and what they will play with. For example, during free play Tamara might decide to play at the sand table with cups.


cognitive skill - thinking skills that children develop in order to know and understand the world around them. For example, a child might discover that he or she can fill a large bottle with water from a cup.


fine motor skill - the ability to use hands and fingers to complete skills such as writing with a pen or cutting with scissors.


gross motor skills - skills that children master using large muscles. Some of these skills include walking, running, and jumping.


self-help skills - skills that include a child's ability to take care of his/her own needs. Examples of these skills are putting on clothing and washing hands and face without help.


emergent literacy - Emergent literacy means the things children are able to do before they actually learn to read and write. An example of emergent literacy in children is learning how to hold a pen.


documenting - the practice of writing down what you observe.


observational method - a way of watching children to get information about how they are learning and developing.


appropriate - something that is correct or right for a certain situation. For example, it is appropriate for children to participate and ask questions while a provider is reading a book to them.


inappropriate - something that is incorrect or wrong for a certain situation. For example, it is inappropriate for children to make loud noises while a provider is reading a book to them.


portfolio - when a provider collects examples of a child's work to demonstrate what the child is learning.


assessment tool - a form that providers use to understand what skills a child has.


If you find other words that you don't understand, you can do two things :

1. Learn how to identify a word without a dictionary.


2. Use an online dictionary that will be at the bottom of each page. See below.

Type in the word (or cut and paste it) in the box below. Click the Get the Definition button. You will then go to the dictionary.reference.com web site. Note: To return to this page, use your browser's "back" button.

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