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Observation is a descriptive (non-experimental) research method meaning purposeful, organized perception and recording the behavior of an object.
Why do we need observations of children? It's not just to collect, write down and carefully store data about them in dusty cabinets. Observations of children are necessary for the same purpose as for a scientist who has set out to study a particular object or phenomenon.
The modern upbringing of preschool children should mainly be based on the study of children and therefore on their observation. We still do not know much about children. All our life they are close to us but we know just a little about their true nature.
Sometimes it happens that adults, basing on different book positions, try to attribute certain qualities to children. For example, in the Montessori group, the adult is not the main actor and does not prescribe the same task at the same time to all children. Vice versa, he/she gives the opportunity to unfold in child’s own way. So when a child is placed in such group, he/she shows the qualities reverse to the ones attributed and often plunging us into amazement!
Observation becomes a method of study only if it is not limited to describing external phenomena but tries to explain the nature of these phenomena.
Some essential features distinguish observation from an everyday person’s perception of occurring events. They are the following:
– purposefulness: observation is conducted in the light of a particular pedagogical and psychological concept;
– analytical nature: the observer singles out individual elements, analyzes, evaluates and explains them;
– integration: the observer cannot lose any significant side or connection;
There are no doubts that the observation is the most important skill both for parents and teachers. However, before becoming a researcher, an adult should have a great desire to understand the life of children.
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