Unit 2: Child Study

2.1 Observation

2.2 Clinical Investigation – Report interpretation

2.3 Case Study Method – Case History taking, Interview, Case Recording/ Reporting.

2.4 Experimental Method

2.5 Longitudinal Study
















2.1 Observation

Child Observation is the method of watching, listening, asking questions, documenting, and analyzing the observed words and actions of children as they interact with their surroundings and other people. Proper observation in childcare is crucial in helping educators and parents address the needs of early childhood development.

Observation in childcare is vital in discovering and better understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each child. It’s an important element in the creation of an accurate and actionable child observation report, which will, in turn, help tailor the childcare environment to further facilitate learning.

Exploration and learning are the cornerstones of early childhood education, and a child observation report will help in meeting the developmental requirements of preschool children and other young learners. For child educators and care providers, child observation may be the simplest and most effective way tro assess young children’s development. Observation in child care begins with observing child behavior, learning progress, and interaction with others and to unfamiliar situations. This information is later used to determine ways to improve the learning environment.

A child observation report should be based on what was actually seen and heard and should be as detailed as possible. Here are some child development observation examples to help you document and meet the purpose for observing the child:

·         Anecdotal Records – this method involves factual accounts of events that should answer the possible what, when, and where questions of parents or guardians. Anecdotal Records are written in the past tense and includes what the child had said and done during an event. The documentation should also include other non verbal cues like body language and facial expressions. It should also describe the child’s reaction and behavior during an event.

·         Running Records – you note down what you see and what the child says while it is happening. This method of observation should be written in the present tense and include as much detail as possible.

·         Learning Stories – this is the method of telling a story about the child (or a group of children) and the child’s decisions and the events or scenarios that followed because of those decisions. Can be one short paragraph or more than a whole page depending on the story.

·         Time Samples – a method of recording observations on the child’s behavior and what the child is doing at specific times. This can be done at regular intervals and can be a useful method to help identify and reduce the child’s negative behavior by understanding the context surrounding the situation.

·         Jottings – literally jotting down brief sentences detailing important events, behaviors, or conversations. This can be done together with other observation methods in childcare: Work Samples and Photographs.

·         Work Samples – these are the child’s paintings, clay figures, drawings, cutouts, writings, and other creations. Educators can provide descriptions based on jotted down notes narrating what the child may have said or done surrounding these work samples.

·         Photographs – parents love seeing pictures of their children so how best to describe what’s going on while they’re away than with images of their child in action. Add annotations on photographs to give a description about what was taking place when the image was taken.

When documenting child observations be careful to note what you actually observe, what you see and hear exactly. Be objective and always be factual. The information gathered during child observation should serve the intended purpose you have set from the beginning and can help with the needs of early childhood development.

2.2 Clinical Investigation – Report interpretation


Interpretation is a communication process, designed to reveal meanings and relationships of our thoughts, through involvement with different sources

Goals of the Interpretation

·        Meeting Diverse Needs: Children vary in what they wish to learn and how they learn. This fact, as well as the great diversity of learning styles, must be accounted for in the interpretive experience. While some children learn well in a visual format, others need hands on, auditory, or kinetic stimulation.

·        Accessibility: Interest level and physical capability differ from child to child. Therefore, the interpretive site should be physically accessible to children, the elderly, and people with physical disabilities. Intellectual accessibility may also be an issue. With this in mind, interpretive signs and materials must be designed to be stimulating to visitors on many levels. By including pictures as well as text and by ensuring that technical language is avoided, the vast majority of visitors will find the interpretive materials interesting and understandable.

·        Creating a Positive Experience: They are more likely to appreciate the site and the natural world that it represents.

·        Sharing Knowledge: It is important that factual and relevant information be provided as a part of the interpretive experience. Visitors should be given the opportunity to leave knowing more about the site than they did when they arrived.

·        Providing Opportunities for Interaction with the other sources: Children must be able to make the connection between what they read and what they see. Therefore, it is important  that all the interpretive materials, such as plants, are clearly identified.

Observing students during their play and interpreting their thinking can lead to important aspects of conversation with children.

Evaluation does not end with just data collection and analysis to find out mean value or degree of satisfaction. Based on those results of analysis, some value judgments should be made according to the evaluation criteria. At the same time, in order to make useful recommendations and lessons learned, influential factors that have affected the results should be fully analyzed. This task is called “interpretation.” As seen so far, the evaluation study follows the process from “data collection” through “data analysis” to “interpretation of results.” There are two steps in the interpretation process: 1) making value judgments about the child; and 2) drawing a conclusion based on those judgments.

1.     Attempt to put the information in perspective, e.g., compare results to what you expected, promised results; management or program staff; any common standards for your products or services; original goals (especially if you're conducting a program evaluation); indications or measures of accomplishing outcomes or results (especially if you're conducting an outcomes or performance evaluation); description of the program's experiences, strengths, weaknesses, etc. (especially if you're conducting a process evaluation).

2.     Consider recommendations to help employees improve the program, product or service; conclusions about program operations or meeting goals, etc.

3.     Record conclusions and recommendations in a report, and associate interpretations to justify your conclusions or recommendations.

These records capture, in writing, teachers’ interpretations based on deeper reflection. The reflections occur while in conversation with a peer about what they believe children know and think, the reasoning behind children’s actions, and ideas about the observed play from the child’s perspective.

When interpreting observations and documentation it is important to do so in a collaborative setting to gain various perspectives and insights and a better understanding of the child’s thinking. Interpretation from collective reflections helps teachers create an environment for the emerging curriculum based on the ideas and interests of the child because the diverse group perspectives offer a more critical evaluation of the child’s perspective. Additionally, the team approach to interpreting follows the recommendation of good research that requires input from more than one observer and interpreter to be valid and reliable. Further documentation and interpretation can add to the child’s growth in learning.

2.3 Case Study Method – Case History taking, Interview, Case Recording/ Reporting.

Before we initiate testing, we firstly administer an in depth case history (collecting background information) with the parents. The Case History identifies any red flags that may be a factor or a contributing factor to disability.

The Case History consists of the following:

1.     General Background information- What is the child’s home language? What are the parents occupations? What are the parents ages? Who does the child live with? Does the child have siblings? etc.

2.     Prenatal and Birth History- What was the mother’s health like during pregnancy? Birth weight? Type of Delivery? etc.

3.     Medical History- Was the child ever hospitalized? Did he/she suffer from ear infections? Is she on any form of medication? etc.

4.     Developmental History – When did he start to sit, crawl, stand and walk? When did she start to use single words? etc.

5.     Educational History – What school does she attend? How is the child’s performance at school? Doe he attend any special classes? etc.

The collection of background information provides the key to the puzzle in identifying what may be the child’s difficulty and the cause of the difficulty. Without background information children may continue to struggle to incorrect diagnosis and inappropriate intervention. For accurate diagnosis it is important that the therapist collects a detailed case history of the child’s development and family history. This will ensure that the child will receive therapy relevant to his/her needs.


Recording is the process of documenting the observed activity or behavior. Although many teachers do this manually, a systematic approach helps ensure that children are observed participating in many different activities over time.


It means communication to stakeholders about the information obtained from assessment. The purpose of reporting is to improve learning. It is one of the means by which parents can participate in decisions about their child’s education.

Reporting is the process of communicating comprehensive information about student achievement and learning at a point in time. Reporting will be in different forms, will be tailored to meet the needs of a range of audiences and will be used for a variety of purposes. Reporting to students, parents, teachers and the system helps decision making for future student learning.


Most parents and students want a report that provides an objective measure of student achievement against a scale that presents clear information about learning progress.

But parents and students often also want further information, typically about how the location of an individual student’s progress matches against the ‘normal’ expectations of that student’s age group and about how the individual student compares to their peers in their class or year level.

Formal reports communicate to parents and students significant aspects of the students’ progress in the areas of intellectual, social, human and career development.

 Informal reporting is the ongoing communication between parents and teachers that occurs throughout the school year. Informal reports may include telephone conferences, interim reports, written communication, portfolio reviews and face-to-face conferences.

Students with Special Needs

Where a student with special needs is expected to achieve or surpass the learning outcomes, performance scales, letter grades and regular reporting procedures will be used to indicate progress. However, instructional and assessment methods for some students with special needs may differ, and this will be reflected in their Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

Where it is determined that a student with special needs is not capable of achieving the learning outcomes of provincial or Board Authority Authorized curriculum, and substantial course or program modification is necessary, specific individual goals and objectives will be established for the student in his or her IEP. Performance scales, letter grades, and structured written comments may be used to report the level of the student’s success in achieving these modified goals and objectives.

Reporting should: 

·        Provide parents with a clear picture of their son’s/daughter’s achievements and progress in all areas of the curriculum and clearly reflect attainment as judged against objective criteria.

·        Provide information relating to the content covered within individual subject areas and the opportunities presented for learning and development of skills. 

·        Set targets for future learning with appropriate strategies for their achievement.

·        Be supportive and promote students' self-esteem.

·        Encourage parental involvement in their son’s/daughter’s learning.

2.4 Experimental Method

Experimental method is a method in which a variable (independent variable that is hypothesized as a cause; IV) is manipulated by an experimenter and the corresponding change in another variable (dependent variable that is hypothesized as an effect; DV) is observed. To determine whether the change in the DV is caused by the IV, at least two groups are involved: a control group and an experimental group. The two groups are assumed to be identical in all respects except that the control group does not receive the treatment of the IV whereas the experimental group receives the treatment. In reality, no two groups are exactly identical. Therefore, to ensure both groups are identical except for the treatment or experimental manipulation of the IV, all participants are randomly assigned to either the control or experimental group(s). As a result, any innate differences between the members of the two groups are equally distributed.

As an example, consider a hypothetical study investigating the effect of violent TV programs on the behavior of children. The researcher first randomly assigns a group of children to either an experimental or control group, and then shows a violent TV program to children in the experimental group and a neutral program to children in the control group. After viewing their programs, the children are allowed to play in a room with other children and observed. As a result, children in the experimental condition may exhibit more aggressive behavior than children in the control group. Given the use of a control group and an experimental group, and the random assignment of children to each condition, the researcher may be able to infer that the violent TV program caused aggression among the children since they only differed in the type of program they watched.

The experimental method is not without its shortcomings. First of all, its major advantage can often be a disadvantage. An experimenter’s control over many aspects of the experiment often makes it hard to generalize the results to other situations. Therefore, the size of the effect in an experiment may not be observed in reality or in other studies. This is intensified because  many  variables  are  intertwined  with other variables. In this sense, experiments are much simpler than reality. Experimenters may try to include more variables in the design to increase the generalizability of  the  results;  however,  often  the  inclusion of additional variables poses a challenge to experimenters.  Experiments  typically  require  more  time and effort for each participant. This might be a part of the reason why experiments are not used to collect longitudinal data. Maintaining control over participants for long periods of time may cause ethical issues, and may even be impossible.

2.5 Longitudinal Study

A longitudinal study is a prospective observational study that follows the same subjects repeatedly over a period of time.

Many longitudinal studies collect a broad range of information about different areas of their participants’ lives. This makes them incredibly valuable when looking at the way different aspects of our lives interact with each other.

Longitudinal data enable us to:

A few key things to remember about longitudinal studies:

Types of Longitudinal Studies

There are three major types of longitudinal studies:

The benefit of this type of research is that it allows researchers to look at changes over time. Because of this, longitudinal methods are particularly useful when studying development and lifespan issues. Researchers can look at how certain things may change at different points in life and explore some of the reasons why these developmental shifts take place.

The Drawbacks

·        Longitudinal Studies Can Be Expensive: Longitudinal studies require enormous amounts of time and are often quite expensive. Because of this, these studies often have only a small group of subjects, which makes it difficult to apply the results to a larger population. Another problem is that participants sometimes drop out of the study, shrinking the sample size and decreasing the amount of data collected.

·        Participants Tend to Drop Out Over Time: This tendency for some participants to be more likely to drop out of a study is known as selective attrition. In our example above, participants might drop out for a number of reasons. Some might move away from the area while others simply lose the motivation to participate. Others might become housebound due to illness or age-related difficulties, and some participants will pass away before the study is concluded.