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Early Childhood Cognitive Development

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For this assignment, the student will use and apply knowledge of child development and learning, appropriate observation, and documentation and assessment to gain a fuller understanding of early childhood development as time is spent observing a child.

NAEYC Standard 1: Promoting Child Development and Learning:
1a. Know and understand young children’s characteristics and needs 1c. Using developmental knowledge to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments.

NAEYC Standard 3: Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families 3c. Knowing about and using observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches.

NAEYC Standard 6: Becoming a Professional
6d. Integrating knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives and early education.

NAEYC Supportive Skills
Supportive Skill 3: Written and verbal communication skills and are technologically literate to support professional communications with families and colleagues.


1.Select a child in the 4-year/5-year-old room (Pre-school setting) to observe for a minimum of 4 hours, ideally no more than one hour at a time. You will observe this one child the entire time focusing on cognitive development & play. Do not observe at a Kindergarten class, chose a childcare center. 2.Observe for specific characteristics/behaviors discusses in class and in the textbook chapters that correspond with this age group (cognitive, and social behavior). Though you are focusing on this one child, if they interact with other children, please pay attention to those moments as well. A minimum of 4 observation hours needed. 3.Record observations as a “running record” (see following page for instructions on how to complete a running record).

Detailed notes are 2-3 pages long per hour. 4.Reflect on what you learned in a typed paper (at least 3-4 full typed pages) answering the questions in the Child Study Form (see outline). This doesn’t need to be in essay format, but rather follow the outline when answering. You need to provide specific examples from your notes when answering these questions—so quote your notes on some things you saw/heard. 5.Interpret the information your write by making comparisons to the typical developmental norms for a child this age (you can use textbook, nncc.org website, and lecture notes—Cite you references in the body of your paper). Answer all the questions on the Child Study Form to complete this process.

Guidelines for Observing a Child:
•Observe a preschooler at any childcare setting you choose. You must remain objective so using your own child or a child you are already familiar with is not an option.

•Do not engage with the child(ren) or the teachers. Be as inconspicuous as possible. Sit quietly and out of the way. If the child moves, you move too so you can see & hear.

•Remember that what you see and hear is confidential.

•Use “running record” method to keep track of everything you see and hear. Begin with a time and observe for at least one hour. Keep track of time every 10 minutes. One hour of observation should be about 2-3 pages of notes minimum. So total, you should have 8-12 pages of notes (depending on size of handwriting).

***You do not have to observe at these locations. These are only suggestions of centers we have working relationships with, or have extended hours.***

Guidelines for Writing Running Record Observation Notes
Running Records are a written narrative of a particular child’s behavior. “A running record is defined as a “sequential record over a given time, written while the behavior is occurring: used to document what children are doing in the particular situation. A student or teacher who can sit on the sidelines and follow a particular child can learn much about what each child does, with whom he/she interacts, and what interests the child. In the running record method, behavior is written down at regular intervals.”

Divide your paper into 3 columns. On the left, record the time the incidents are taking place. In the middle, write your objective account of what the child is doing. This will help you when interpreting your data when you write your reflection paper. The right hand column is the place for you to write and comment on things that are of interest to you or your own thoughts.

Observation notes do NOT have to be typed.
•Include the date and time when each observation took place.
•Focus on free play time or outside play time—this is the best time to see pretend behaviors.
•Be objective—only record the facts (what you actually saw; not your interpretations)

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