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Observation of a Child | Methods and Findings

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 3567 words Published: 21st Nov 2017

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This assignment has given me the opportunity to facilitate the development of my research skills using observation techniques on a focus child, and gathered inclusive resources to design and implement appropriate educational program to assist and meet the development and learning needs of the child. The real identity of the child will not be mentioned and the any information that will be collected in this assignment will be kept confidential.

Case Study

Background Information

Ben is 4 years old. He has been with the school since he was three. Ben is the youngest child in the family. He stays with his parents, an older brother and a helper. His brother is two years elder than him and both of them attends the same school. Ben attends the full day program in school. Ben seldom engages in social interaction with his friends. He does not initiate or joins in for play. The teachers in his class attempt to encourage through verbal communication but he does not seem to show interest. His parents are aware of Ben’s development in school and they are concern about his social skills. His mother have shared previously that Ben displays sign of Autism but she felt that it was too early to bring him for assessment. Currently, Ben attends speech therapy session, thrice a week which he started earlier this year. Ben enjoys playing with animals and outdoor play. There are twenty five children in Ben’s class, together with the Curriculum Specialist, an English Teacher and a Chinese Teacher.

Literature Review

Social development depends on individual’s acquisition of the many behaviors that helped one to be able to live in the society with their family and friends (Allen & Cowdery, 2012). Planning for effective actions for improving early social behaviour in autism has been identified as a critical need for research due to the early signs of the symptoms and their conjectured role in their development (Cunningham, 2012). This does not only apply to this learning need, nevertheless, it applies to anyone who needs to receive additional support in social behaviour skill. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) faced challenges with social – communication and play skills and these are the core features of the disorder (Dykstra, Boyd, Watson, Crais, & Baranek, 2012).

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According to Bruner, early social-communication can be theorized into three related communicative functions: social interaction, behaviour regulation and joint attention (Dykstra et al., 2012). Children with ASD will display deficiencies in these areas compared to typically developing children (Dykstra et al., 2012). Similarly, children with ASD show differences in quality and quantity of play when compared to typically developing children (Dykstra et al., 2012). In addition, research has proven that both social-communication and play skills plays an important role in developing language and social interaction skills (Dykstra et al., 2012).

Evidence advises that social, emotional and behaviour problems will rise if the children did not receive any early intervention (Webster-Stratton, & Reid, 2004). Guiding social and emotional skills to children who are at risk can lead to better behaviour in the child, inclusion with prosocial peer groups and achievement in academic (Webster-Stratton, & Reid, 2004).

To achieve these outcomes, the preschool age would be an appropriate time for the children to receive early intervention to facilitate social competence and reduce any inappropriate behaviour before it becomes a permanent patter (Webster-Stratton, & Reid, 2004). Parents’ involvement in their child’s education affects their social competence. Children are likely able to handle their self-regulation and respond appropriately when their parents are emotionally positive and attend to prosocial behaviours (Webster-Stratton, & Reid, 2004).

Approaches to Observation

Before I commence on my observations, I went around asking the teachers in school about Ben. I remained unbiased towards any opinions about him during my enquiring. I also look through his previous year’s portfolio to find out his abilities in physical, cognitive, emotional and social domains. With the raw data which I have collected, I decided to observe Ben’s self-help skills and his social skills.

In all, I conducted four observations. I was a non-participant in observation A and B, whilst for observations C and D; I was a participant in observations. Whether I am a non-participant or a participant in my observations, the amount of involvement will vary substantial (Sociology Guide, 2014). Thus, I tried to balance my observations as a participant and non-participant to ensure that the data collected is true. The observation records are as follows:

28 February 2014

Observation A was made in the morning during Circle Time in the classroom. Their teacher was reading a story to the class, followed by a phonics activity. The duration of the observations was forty-five minutes. Anecdotal record was used.

6 March 2014

Observation B was made during their creative play and it lasted for thirty five minutes. In this observation, I used running record to observe Ben. On the same day, his shower routine is being observed for thirty minutes.

7 March 2014

Observation C was done during arrival and Piazza time where children gathered in the piazza to engage play with other children from all levels. It lasted for thirty minutes. Anecdotal record was used.

12 March 2014

Observation D was conducted during shower time in the toilet for near thirty minutes. I was participated during the routine and anecdotal record was used.

Ethical Procedures Followed

Firstly, I seek approval from my Centre Director to allow me to conduct my research in Ben’s class. I shared briefly explained to her the purpose of this research. She confirmed the approval by acknowledging the application form. As Ben is not from my class, I need to seek consent from his class teacher through my Centre Director.

After confirmation, she arranges a meet up with the Curriculum Specialist in the class and I furthered shared with them on how I am going to use and conduct my observations. To avoid any disruptions in their class activities, I informed them the dates and the activities that I will be coming in to observe Ben. Through this meet up, we promote a climate of openness and transparency, support and co-operate in the provision and best interest of all participants (Association for Early Childhood Educators Singapore, n.d.).

During the process of consulting the parents for consensus, the class teachers advise me that she will speak to the parent on my behalf first. This is because they have built up relationships and I may not be familiar with the parents. When Ben’s parents have agreed to participate in this research, I furthered explained to them the procedures that I will be taking and at any point of time, they can choose not to allow Ben to participate and they can withdraw the research at any point of time. Both teachers and parents have also been notified that the confidentiality of information will be kept disclosed.

Due to shortage of manpower, I have been helping Ben’s class for a few weeks prior to this research task. This has facilitated me to be more familiar with the children. As a professional educator, I respect children’s rights. Smith (2007) suggested that “rights… are acknowledged as cultural constructions about the essential entitlements for children” (p.3). Early childhood researchers in the world are very supportive of respecting children’s voices and opinions to be heard (Conroy & Harcourt, 2009). In Association for Early Childhood Educators Singapore (AECES), it is mentioned educators should recognize the individuality of every child and having their rights to express their thoughts is vital (AECES, n.d.).

Thus, I will inform the children the research that I will be conducting and seek informed assent from the children. Every response from them will be valued in my study.

How Data were Analysed

The observations were analyzed based on thematic analysis. Thematic analysis emphasizes on patterns of behaviour or classifiable themes (Aronson, 1994). Thematic analysis provides core skills that will be an advantage for conducting qualitative analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). To be able to identify the themes, I looked through the data and grouped the recurring patterns together.

First of all, I gathered all data and identify all relevant information and relate to the repeated pattern. For an example, I make a list of actions or words which Ben has exhibited such as “plays alone”, “walks away from friends” or “does not engage in play with friends”. Then I began to combine and list the related patterns into themes. These themes will be supported by related literature to construct a valid argument (Aronson, 1994).

In addition, I also looked at the learning goals in the Kindergarten Curriculum Framework produced by Ministry of Education in Singapore to see if Ben is able to achieve the learning goals. This curriculum framework provides me a guide on milestones based on the age ranging from four years old to six years old.

Findings Showing Areas of Additional Education and Developmental Needs

Based on the observation data gathered, Ben has shown developmental needs in these two themes: Self-help Skills – Dressing Up and Lack of Social Interaction in Play.

Self-help Skills – Dressing Up

From my observations B and D, Ben seems to have difficulty in putting on his t-shirt and shorts after shower. His teacher will put on his diaper for him and thereafter his teacher will ask him to put on his pants. On the two occasions, Ben’s both legs were stuck on one side of the pants. He displays frustration when he could not achieve the task. When he faces desperation, he shouted, “help!” When putting on his t-shirt, he will bring the t-shirt to his teacher and said, “Please?” Before shower, Ben needs help to undress his uniform with assistance and minimal assistance is needed when he removes his pants.

Establishing self-help skills such as dressing, feeding or personal hygiene leads to greater independence. This is a goal which all children, especially for children with disability who need to learn to live independently (Allen & Cowdery, 2012). Self-helps skills can also intersect with the learning areas such as social skills and cognitive skills (Technical Assistance and Training System, 2010).

Based on guidelines given by Cook, Klein & Tessier (2008) children are able to undress without help at two to three years old. Even though we do refer age appropriateness in children’s development, we similarly have to look at individual appropriateness of the child. Individual appropriateness discusses how the each child’s develop based on their ways of learning, personality, physical growth, family background and culture ((Technical Assistance and Training System, 2010).

With Ben’s ongoing speech therapy sessions, he certainly has shown improvement on his communication, based on the data I gathered from my observations on Ben and my conversations with the teachers I have queried.

To assist Ben with his dressing up skills, I will implement forward chaining technique to help Ben in his dressing up skills. The dressing up task will be broken down into simple manageable steps. Ben will only move on to the second step only if he has accomplished the first step of putting on pants.

Lack of Social Interaction in Play

From Observation C, Ben was observed to be engaged in solitary play. When he arrived, he dropped his bag at the entrance of the door and walked straight to the shelf where animals’ figurines were placed. He took two tiger figurines and began to play. I walked over and asked him what the tigers are doing. He replied, “Walking.” and he continued to walk around the piazza and attempted to imitate the movement of a tiger. In Observation B, the children in Ben’s were engaged in creative play where they were free to choose a corner to play. Ben picked the blocks corner and sat down to play. He was also observed in playing by himself, even though his friends are near him. He displays little social interaction with his friends during playtime.

According to Jerome Bruner, he emphasized the social environment as nature of learning in which adults should help a child to develop skills through the process of scaffolding (McLeod, 2012). Likewise in Vygotsky’s theory, the growth of a child derives from the interactions between children and their social environment (Tools of the Mind, 2013). Thus, it is critical for Ben to be engaged in social interaction with his peers to scaffolding his learning in other areas. Social skills influence other learning areas of development and vice versa (Allen & Cowdery, 2012). Thus, it is critical for Ben to acquire social skills. This is a skill which cannot be forced as it is an on-going learning journey throughout a lifespan. To foster social interactions for Ben, some strategies can be plan and implemented for Ben in an inclusive education environment. This will be discussed further in the Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Individual Education Plan

Child Name



The Global Preschool

Date of birth

3 March 2010

Year Level


Date of Plan

17 March 2014

Any services currently working with the child eg Physiotherapist

Ben is currently working with a speech therapist. He attends the session three times a week.


No program at the moment


Funding source

No Funding

Contact Person & Phone Number

Length of Availability

Understanding the child

Child’s skills, strengths, preferences, abilities and motivations

Ben likes to go for outdoor play. He likes to go to the playground and play tricycle. He likes to play with animal figurines and he is able to name the animals.

Academic progress of the child

Ben is able to identify the letters of the alphabet and able to identify words associated with the letter. He is able to count from 1 – 20.

Social skills and relationships of the child

He also displays minimal social interaction with peers. However, Ben enjoys receiving hugs from his teachers.

Nature of attendance and engagement

Ben’s attendance is regular and he seldom missed the lessons unless he goes for his speech therapy. Ben displays difficulty in engaging play with his friends.

Education Plan


Barriers to achieving Goal

Strengths related to Goal

Strategies to achieve Goal

Actions and Time-line

To be able to dress himself mainly shorts and t-shirt with minimal assistance

Ben may display frustrations or tantrums and might be distracted from the environment

Ben likes to observe what his peers are doing and this may help him to achieve the goal.

Breaking the stages into smaller and attainable steps for Ben through verbal communication.

The teachers have been communicated on the steps for Ben to achieve. This will be consistent so in order Ben to receive the same information even if a different teacher helps with the routine.

Time line: Three months

To be engage in play with his friend.

Ben prefers to play alone.

He usually walks away from his friends.

Ben will engage in play with his friends when they are playing animals.

Engage a buddy for Ben. Ben will be with his buddy during play time.

Teachers have to keep on encouraging and inviting Ben to play with his friends.

Time line: Four months


Review date………August 2014…………………

Reference List

Allen, K. E., & Cowdery, G. E. (2012). The exceptional child: Inclusion in early childhood education. (7 ed.). Singapore: Cengage Learning.

Aronson, J. (1994). A pragmatic view of thematic analysis. The qualitative report, 2(1), 1-3.

Association for Early Childhood Educators (Singapore. (n.d.). Guidelines for professional responsibilities in early childhood education. Retrieved from http://www.aeces.org/files/pdf/coe.pdf

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

Cook, R.E., Klein, M.D., & Tessier, A. (2008). Adapting early childhood curricula for children with special needs (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Conroy, H. & Harcourt, D. (2009). Informed agreement to participate: beginning the partnership with children in research. Early Child Development and Care,179(2), 157-165.

Cunningham, A. B. (2012). Measuring change in social interaction skills of young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(4), 593-605.

Dykstra, J. R., Boyd, B. A., Watson, L. R., Crais, E. R., & Baranek, G. T. (2012). The impact of the Advancing Social-communication And Play (ASAP) intervention on preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 16(1), 27-44.

McLeod, S. (2012). Bruner. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/bruner.html

Smith, A. (2007).Children’s rights and early childhood education: Links to theory and advocacy. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 32(3), 1-7.

Sociology Guide. (2014). Observation: Participant and non-participant. Retrieved from http://www.sociologyguide.com/research-methods&statistics/observation.php

Technical Assistance and Training System. (2010). Developmentally appropriate practice – adaptive/self-help skills. Retrieved from http://www.tats.ucf.edu/docs/eUpdates/Curriculum-14.pdf

Tools of the Mind. (2013). Vygotskian approach. Retrieved from http://www.toolsofthemind.org/philosophy/vygotskian-approach/

Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2004). Strengthening social and emotional competence in young children-The foundation for early school readiness and success: Incredible Years classroom social skills and problem-solving curriculum. Infants & Young Children, 17(2), 96-113.


Appendix 1

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:Authorisation Form .jpgAppendix 2

Appendix 3

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Name: Loo Si Hui Student ID: 25687514 Page 1


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