My degree in Early Childhood Education has given me so many gifts. One of the most important gifts was the ability to "see" and/or "observe" children with an understanding that they are in a constant state of curiosity, exploration, investigation, and trying to understand the world around them.
I spent many many hours learning how to observe children with a special emphasis on learning how to narrate their experiences but not place my judgement, bias, or assumptions onto them.
The Art of Awareness by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter is a wonderful book for teachers used to teach them how to observe children and then use those observation in teaching young children.
The book is filled with different scenarios involving learning to see children with new eyes.
For example: p15.
A child is playing with markers and begins to draw on himself.
We can remark: "He is really interested in what he is doing."
But how do we know he is interested?
We look for specific details.
Here is a detailed narrative of his experience that can be used for further analysis:
Coe, a 2 year old boy, holds up his shirt with his right hand, exposing his bare belly. He has a black marker clutched in his left hand as he makes marks around his belly button. He finishes marking the marks, then gets up, looks around, and says quietly, "No, No."
"We do not really see through our eyes or hear through our ears, but through our beliefs. To put our beliefs on hold is to cease to exist as ourselves for a moment." Lisa Delpit
Sometimes we parents (including myself and husband) are very quick to make judgements about our children, what they are doing, what they like, what they don't like. As an observer in The Wonder Studio classes, it is easy to see how these quick statements affect the children.
What is important about learning to observe your child?
Perhaps it opens up a new understanding for you about your child's true intentions...
perhaps it will allow you to relax and watch those seemingly meaningless moments transform into moments of deep meaning. Overall, I think it helps us to see our children with great respect, appreciation, and love.
So in last week's class, I asked the 10:30 class parents to carry around clipboards and see what kind of observations they can make about their child's experiences during class. It is understood that this sort of close observation can't be made at home most of the time due to other kids, laundry, work, dinner, etc... so why not take this hour class and really try to understand what sort of theories and investigations the children are making. Not everyone was able to take part but those who did had wonderful observations as well as thoughtful interpretations that allowed me to think deeply about additions to make or changes to make to the various experiences.
So I thank you!!
I am going to ask that we do it again this next week (but then we'll hold off for awhile) for further clarification. I am going to have a dedicated observation sheet with specific questions like:
- What is the essence of this experience from the child's point of view?
-What does this child know and know how to do?
-What is this child exploring, experimenting with, or trying to figure out?
-What does this child find frustrating?
-What could be used, added, or said to provide this child with appropriate challenges?