Application: observing and analyzing a preschool environment

During this course you have been building knowledge and understanding of the complexities, challenges, and importance of quality preschool environments. This week, you will have an opportunity to observe in a preschool setting. As you have learned, the quality of the environment in terms of teaching practices, physical environment, materials available, opportunities for play and learning that engages children in meaningful exploration and discovery can have a significant impact on children’s development in all domains.

Click on the links below to download and print out the Observation Assignment documents. You will use these documents to carry out the assignment.

 

Observation Assignment Sheet

Step One: Plan

·         Review the learning resources for the course, as well as your application and discussion assignments. Think about the videos you watched and the glimpses you were given into preschool settings.

 

·         Confirm your observation, make certain you understand where to go when you arrive, and thank the school for this opportunity.

·         Carefully read over the Observation Guide before you observe in your preschool setting.  Use this sheet to record your thoughts, insights, observations, and questions. You may also want to bring along a laptop for taking notes.

 

 

Step Two: Observe

Note: When you observe in a classroom and reflect on what you have seen, keep in mind that you are observing “one moment in time.” Due to time constraints, there are many things that you cannot know or see—details of who children are as individuals, children’s history in the program, children’s developmental strengths and challenges, specific reasons for teacher interactions, etc. In other words, you are glimpsing a part of a big picture that is best understood by the adults who work with these children daily.

·         Introduce yourself to the teacher and ask for suggestions about where to sit. Find a place, or places, where you can see different areas of the room and different kinds of interactions. (You may want to sit in several places in the course of the hour you are in the room).

·         Use the Observation Guide as you observe the adults and children in the classroom. Take notes that will help you remember what you are observing; also note any questions you have about what you are observing.

·         Review your notes. Read over the notes on your Observation Guide, filling in any “blanks” while your memory is fresh.

Step Three: Reflect

·         Reflect on what you have learned in this course, what you observed in the preschool setting, and additional thoughts you have had since. With all of this in mind, complete the following:

Summarize:

o   Ways in which the philosophy and practice of encouraging, guiding, and supporting children learning through play was demonstrated in this setting

o   Ways in which the environment you observed represented a quality physical environment for young children.

o   Ways in which the environment you observed fostered encouraged, guided, and supported children’s social-emotional development and learning

o   Ways in which the environment you observed encouraged, guided, and supported children’s language and literacy development and learning

 

Compare and Contrast:

o   At least one example of an aspect of the opportunities children had to play that you observed during this observation with the information presented in the Learning Resources.

o   At least one example of an aspect of the physical environment (e.g., layout of the center) that you observed during this observation with the information presented in the Learning Resources.

o   At least one example of an aspect of the social and emotional environment that you observed during this observation with the information presented in the Learning Resources. 

o   At least one example of an aspect of the language, and literacy environment that you observed during this observation with the information presented in the Learning Resources. 

 

Contribute:

Based on what you observed and the learning resources from this course:

o   Articulate at least two suggestions you would like to make in order to  help this setting encourage, guide, and support children’s development and learning

o   Share two aspects, concerns, insights related to your observation about which you would like to learn more should you have had the opportunity to speak with this teacher further.

Reminders:

·         For this assignment, you must submit all parts of Step 3. 

·         When writing about your observation, do not use actual names of children.

Assignment length:  Approximately 4 pages

 

Preschool Observation Guide

 

Date:

 

School/Program:

 

Number of Children:

 

Number of Adults:

 

Ages of Children:

 

Length of Observation:

 

 

The Role of Play in this Environment:

 

Ways in which the philosophy and practice of encouraging, guiding, and supporting children’s learning through play were evidenced:

 

 

 

Opportunities and Kinds of Play Observed:

 

 

 

Children’s Actions:

 

 

 

Adult Actions:

 

 

 

 

 

Physical Environment

 

Ways the environment encouraged, guided, and supported children’s play, learning and development:

 

  • Classroom arrangement and activity/learning areas
  • Classroom atmosphere
  • Learning experiences available
  • Materials accessible
  • Types of interactions supported

 

 

 

 

 

Social/emotional Environment

 

Ways the environment and the adults in the room encouraged, guided, and supported children’s social/emotional development:

 

  • Classroom arrangement and activity/learning areas
  • Classroom atmosphere
  • Learning experiences available
  • Materials accessible
  • Types of interactions supported

 

 

 

 

 

Language and Literacy Environment

 

 

Ways the environment and the adults in the room encouraged, guided, and supported children’s language and literacy development:

 

  • Classroom arrangement and activity/learning areas
  • Classroom atmosphere
  • Learning experiences available
  • Materials accessible
  • Types of interactions supported

 

 

 

General

 

Questions:

 

Insights:

 

Things to Remember:

 

 

  • Article: Seitz, H. J. (2006). The plan: Building on children’s interestsYoung Children 61(2). 
    Copyright 2006 by National Association for the Education of Young Children. Reproduced with permission of the National Association for the Education of Young Children in the format electronic usage via Copyright Clearance Center.

Optional Resources

 

 

 

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