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Preschool Observation Paper

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    The date of my observation was April 27th, 2010. It was about 9:30 in the morning when I began my study. I went to Grossmont College’s Child Development Center. The first thing I began looking for was if the child-teacher ratio was correct. The child ratio was 2 teachers to about every 8 children. The ratio was good. As I entered there was one large room that almost looked as if it could be two rooms they way it was set up. One half consisted of a large bookshelf with numerous books on it with a couch in the front of it. The other half of the room was almost like a little kitchen.

    It had a table with chairs around it with a sink and cabinets behind it. There were “age appropriate” toys as well as books all over the room. The areas were both clean and seemed to have no safety hazards. I then walked outside to find almost like a little wonderland for kids. It was so amazing. There was tons of stuff for children to explore and to expand their imaginations. There was a dirt path that went around the children’s whole play area, which was occupied by children riding their tricycles. Then to the right side of the play area there was a huge jungle gym and some play kitchen sets.

    I observed about 2 teachers that were outside and again 8 children. The teachers outside seemed very respectful towards the children. It was very equal from what I observed. The teachers were very interactive with the children and very helpful when needed. My first impression of “cultural diversity,” I would say that based on just children outside; there are a good mix of Caucasian, Mexican, African-American, and Asians. There seemed to be an equal amount of girls versus boys. The center was kind of hectic but was handled very well by all staff.

    After observing my surroundings for a minute or two one little girl caught my eye. She reminded me a lot of my two year old just based of her looks and her personality. She seemed to be very outgoing and very into what she was doing. When I saw her she was painting at a table outside with two other children. She was using a plastic spoon instead of paintbrush. She was very into what she was doing and that really caught my eye. DESCRIPTION I chose a 5 year old girl named Addison. Her birthday is February 13th, 2005. She is about 43 inches tall.

    She definitely seems taller than the other children around her. She appears to be on the thinner side as well weighing no more than 40 pounds. I would guess that she is African-American mixed with maybe Mexican or Caucasian. She is wearing a purple sparkle tie-dye t-shirt with black legging Capri pants. She has on sparkly sketcher shoes on with white ankle socks. Her feet also appear to be bigger than all the children around her. Her hair is VERY curly and the color is a light brown with even some blonde tones to it. She is wearing her hair down but has a matching purple headband in.

    She has straight teeth from what I could see, very little ears, and her head seems proportionate to her body. I chose Addison because my daughter is also mixed with black and she really just caught my eye. She seemed very bright and intelligent for her age. BIOSOCIAL DOMAIN Addison appears to be very healthy. Addison’s growth as far as height seems to be right on target according to (Berger 8th edition page 222). Addison is 5 years old and is about 43 inches tall. She does seem taller than all the other children but she is actually right on target.

    She is at the point that all 5 years get to where their body mass index, or BMI, is at its lowest than it would be at any other age in her lifespan (Berger 8th edition pg. 221). “Each year from 2-6 the average well-nourished child adds almost 3 inches each year” (Berger 8th edition pg. 222). By the age of six the average child weighs about 46 pounds and is 46 inches tall (Berger 8th edition pg. 222). Addison’s height fits right into the criteria, as well as her weight. A typical 6 year old weighs between 40 to 50 pounds. (Berger 8th edition pg. 22) Addison has good age appropriate eye/ hand coordination. She is right handed. Right when I saw Addison for the first time she was painting. She was doing everything with her right hand showing the maturation of the prefrontal cortex. Addison’s use of her right hand is evidence lateralization, or sidedness, of the brain. As the corpus callosum connects it allows the person to coordinate functions performed mainly by one hemisphere or the other (Berger 8th edition connecting the Brain’s hemispheres, pg. 226). According to the text the corpus collasum grows rapidly during early childhood. Addison, at 5, is within in this norm (Berger 8th edition pg. 226). Her fine motor skills were being shown off in many ways throughout my observation. Addison used her plastic spoon to carefully add new colors of paint into her box. She displayed fine motor skills, which involve small body movements (especially those of the hands and fingers) (Berger 8th edition page 234). She is actually advanced for her age because according to (Berger 8th edition pg. 232 table 8. 1) bit says the approximate age is 6 when a child will draw and paint with preferred hand.

    Addison painted by herself around the other children for almost 10 minutes. Addison showed signs of Preservation, which refers to the tendency to preserve in, or stick to, one thought or action (Berger 8th edition pg. 228). Once Addison was done painting she then told the teacher “I’m done”, and the teacher advised her to go wash her hands. She walks over to the sink and began to wash the paint off her hands. She displayed a gross motor skill, which involve large body movements (Berger 8th edition pg. 232). Most kids are walking well before the age of 2 (pg. 32 table 8. 1). She dried her hands after she was done and then walked over to another area where she sat down with two other girls that were playing with different types of blocks. COGNITIVE DOMAIN According to Piaget, there are four characteristics of thinking in the early childhood years from 2-6 and with all of them put together it makes the whole logic process difficult. Addison showed me a very distinct example of one of these characteristics. Addison and two girls were playing with what seemed to be wooden blocks and some plastic LEGO animals.

    Addison was matching the animals and connecting them together and as she was doing that she spoke up and told one of the girls “Tigers aren’t related to lions. ” This is an example of centration, which is the tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation to the exclusion of all others (Berger 8th edition pg. 250). We also have Vygotsky’s theory that all children don’t fall under the self-centered aspects of the cognition dominated descriptions of early childhood. He emphasizes on the other side of the “social” aspect of a young child’s cognition (Berger 8th edition pg. 253). Addison showed an example of his theory as well.

    When Addison was painting she says to the teacher “look teacher I made purple with my hands and it matches my shirt! ” She showed an example of apprentice in thinking, Vygotsky’s term for a person whose cognition is stimulated and directed by older and more skilled members of society (Berger 8th edition pg. 253). Another quick example of Addison and her apprentice mind is when she used the wooden blocks to build what looked like a house and began putting the animals inside. She didn’t stop there she was matching more of the animals together and telling the other girls to watch.

    The girls look to be following her lead and not even a minute later they were all doing the same thing. Addison showed guided participation, the process by which people learn from others who guide their experiences and explorations (Berger 8th edition pg. 253). LANGUAGE While observing Addison I knew from the moment I saw her that she was very smart and very aware of her surroundings. Her language seemed to be very advanced compared to the other children I saw her playing with. She spoke very clearly and didn’t hesitate to say what was on her mind to her teachers and her fellow peers.

    Vygotsky believed that words are pivotal in building scaffolds, developing cognition (Berger 8th edition pg. 255). One of Vygotsky’s theories was the private speech, or the internal dialogue that occurs when people talk to themselves (either silently or out loud) (Berger 8th edition pg . 255). Addison displayed a lot of private speech throughout my observation. One example was when she was playing with the blocks and animals still but not really so much with the girls anymore and I hear her say “nice afternoon neighbors” as she walks the giraffes around on the floor.

    She later screamed to the animals “sister are you listening? ” Those are all examples of Addison using her private speech. Addison’s language doesn’t stop there. She began to interact with the girls again and she said to them “get the kids honey” and then tells the other girl “don’t touch the kids! ” This would be an example of fast mapping, the speedy and sometimes imprecise way in which children learn new words by tentatively placing them in mental categories according to their perceived meaning (Berger 8th edition pg. 261).

    The approximate age is about 2 years old when children start 2-6 word sentences (Berger 8th edition table 9. 1). Now back to when Addison was painting she had been mixing the different colors of paint with her hands and she said “teacher I want to fold this into a butterfly” referring to the piece of paper that was imbedded into the top of the box she was painting in. She then asked “I need your help please! ” (Berger 8th edition Language development pg 261). According to table 9. 1 at about four years of age children are having sentence lengths of about 5-20 words.

    PSYCHOSOCIAL DOMAIN Addison exhibited a huge amount of self- esteem, a person’s evaluation of his or own worth, either in specifics (intelligence, attractiveness) or overall (Berger 8th edition pg. 278). One of the main reasons again in choosing Addison was because of her overall appearance and just the way she carried herself. She seemed very mature for her age. You could tell she cared about the way she looked. She proved my theory when I was observing her and she said to the teacher “Look teacher I made purple with my hands and it matches my shirt! That was an example of self concept, a person’s understanding of who he or she is, in relation to self-esteem, appearance, personality, and various traits (Berger 8th edition pg. 278). Erickson would describe her with having high self-esteem and a high self-concept of herself that she displays a great sense of pride (Berger 8th edition pg. 279). With Addison, I didn’t really see any examples of how she expresses her emotions. In the short time I observed her she actually seemed like she has almost mastered emotional regulation, the ability to control when and how emotions are expressed (Berger 8th edition pg. 77). This is because her prefrontal cortex has matured enough to where she is now able to control her emotions without lashing out. “Neurological advances in the prefrontal cortex occur at about age 4 or 5, when children become less likely to throw a temper tantrum, provoke a psychical attack or burst into uncontrollable giggles (Berger 8th edition pg. 277). There was no externalizing vs. internalizing problems with Addison (Berger 8th edition pg. 281). Addison did not show any anti-social activity, empathy, or even antipathy (Berger 8th edition pg. 294).

    She was very social and outgoing throughout my whole study. All her interaction with people showed that she did in fact have a goodness of fit, at least with her temperament (Berger 8th edition pg. 188). Addison followed almost all of the Nine Temperament Traits (Lecture/PowerPoint Chapter 7). Her activity level was fairly high and consistent. Her mood always seemed to be on the uppity at all times. For approach/withdraw, I blended right in with everyone else it seemed like. She didn’t notice I was around, yet she went about her business like always.

    She was never easily distracted. When she was into something she was into it until she was over it. She wasn’t really affected by what other kids were doing around her, but when she did want to interact with someone she had no problems walking right up to her peers and either joining in or asking to join in. PLAY When it comes to play there are many different types of play that children associate themselves with. Addison exhibited 4 out of the 5 Parten’s Stages of Play (Berger 8th edition pg 285). I will say that I did not see one action of rough-n-tumble play with Addison.

    When I first began watching Addison she was painting quietly at a table with two other children painting and doing their own thing as well. They all shared the same bowls of paint but they were all doing their own individual thing. This was an example of parallel play, where children play with similar toys in similar ways, but not together. (Berger 8th edition pg 285) Another stage I saw Addison displaying a lot of was cooperative play, where children are playing together, creating and elaborating a joint activity or taking turns (Berger 8th edition pg. 285).

    After Addison was finished painting she walked over to two girls and asked if she could play with them and then she sat down and joined into the fun. They were all playing back and forth with the blocks and taking turns playing with the animals. Addison loves to play with children and comes off as a social butterfly. She also loved to play roles and act like the animals that she was playing with. She and the two girls are using the plastic LEGO animals as a fake family. Addison tells one of the girls “you can have two babies’ as she hands animals to the girl.

    This is an example of Socio-dramatic play, pretend play in which children act out various roles and themes in stories that they create (Berger 8th edition pg. 287). This type of play increases in frequency and complexity between the ages of 2-6 (Berger 8th edition pg. 287). Another example of her acting out pretend play was when she got on all fours like a dog began to bark and said “ruff ruff ruff. ” I did get a chance to see the artistic/imaginative side of Addison right in the beginning. When I had arrived within minutes

    Addison was asking the teacher for blue and she mixed up the colors and made purple. She had dropped a ball of clay into her box top and started saying “chocolate bombs” as she was swaying the box back and forth trying to get the ball all covered in paint. She then asked the teacher to help her fold her painted paper into a butterfly. I didn’t get to see an actual picture she drew of something realistic so I couldn’t say if she has reached the pictorial stage of art, typical around the age of 4, drawing objects that are recognizable (Handout Stages of Play, DeWolf).

    OVERALL IMPRESSION My overall impression of Addison is that she is very intelligent and almost seems like she knows what she wants. Her maturity level is where it should be maybe even a little advanced according to the text. From the minute I laid eyes on her I knew she was very confident and very well behaved. She was very social with everyone interacting with whoever was in her way but at the same time she showed her independence. She displayed a leader characteristic that I didn’t see in any other child at least any she was playing with.

    She looked eager to learn new things and was always on the go expanding her imagination with all her surroundings. Addison is definitely going in the right direction as far as her development goes to have the chance at a normal adolescencent life. I was very surprised at how well her language skills were. She was able to observe other conversations without using any slang words. She used correct grammar and her vocabulary was almost endless. I think another strong trait she carried was how mature she already is. She never once argued with a child and played well with everyone.

    She was able to adapt into any situation she put herself in. It’s crazy to me because I read all this stuff on what level this child of this age should be at but I never really understood the child’s minds and how they operate until I got an actual up close and personal experience and there still is so much more to learn and some things that are still unexplainable. Children truly are wonderful things. You have to be careful what you do and say around children because it could end up affecting them for the rest of their lives. A child’s development is so crucial at these ages it shapes their lives for the future!

    Everything they see, hear, and touch will affect their lives, not only now, but in the future. Children need positive role models in their lives in order grow up and be successful. I have also learned that “I” am the most important thing in my daughter’s life. My knowledge for child development has increased dramatically not only from this observation experience but the class as well. It has helped me in so many ways. I now have a better knowledge of what makes up a child and I now know what is needed in order for a child to succeed!

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