Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

This essay may contain factual inaccuracies or out of date material. Please refer to an authoritative source if you require up-to-date information on any health or medical issue.

Observation of Child Play

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 3641 words Published: 30th Oct 2017

Reference this

  1. Using observations of children at play in your setting, evaluate how you would scaffold the children’s learning in the future and improve the quality of play.

Using a range of fully completed observations from placements (six in total), evaluate how you would improve the children’s learning experiences. Refer to expected “norms” of development (fully referenced) and explain how your knowledge of theories of child development would give you an understanding of how you might scaffold their learning.

It is recognised that play is a valuable and effective way of learning within the early years. The experiences children have within their early years settings work towards promoting their development, learning and their overall outlook on life. Throughout my time in placement settings, I have observed a wide range of children from the age of 3 months to 11 years old. Within this text, I shall be outlining six of the observations I have conducted over the past two years and explain the child in terms of their development, identifying areas where there are deviations of the expected “norms” of development. Where appropriate, I will also explain my role of scaffolding these children.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Scaffolding is defined by Read, C (2005) as the “metaphorical concept used to describe the interactive verbal support provided by adults to guide a child through the ZPD and enable them to carry out a task that they would be unable to do without help”. The area in which the child can perform an action or task, provided that a more skilled or knowledgeable person is available to help, Vygotsky termed the ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD). Scaffolding is temporary and can be put in place, strengthened, taken down piece by piece or taken away completely, as the child develops knowledge and skills and is increasingly able to act competently and independently. My role of scaffolding is to be the “more knowledgeable other” Vygotsky explained, as I provide the child was minimal assistance that they require to achieve and understand a concept. Scaffolding refers to the particular kind of help, assistance and support that enables a child to do a task which they cannot quite manage on their own and which brings them closer to a state of competence that will enable them to carry out other similar tasks.

Child One (0-3 Years) CONGITIVE




Child A had pointed to the snack table and said “food” – I told child A “not now, but later” and child A was able to understand these simple time concepts and continued to play.


Child A had lifted one of the staff members’ observation book, Child A was told to “put the book back on the table” in which they completed this action, showing understanding of this sentence.


Child A was asked if they needed their nappy changed, Child A responded by nodding for yes.


Child A was given a sorting toy which had spaces to place different shaped objects. Child A was able to complete this task by placing the correct shapes in the corresponding spaces.


Child A continued to play with this sorting toy, Child A used the attached phone to pretend to speak to “mummy” on the phone.


Child A was able to point out a cat, a dog and a fish from a storybook I was reading.


At snack time, Child A was able to choose a fork rather than a spoon to use to eat chicken curry.

For this observation, I used a time sampling method over a time period of one hour to observe a 2 year old during free flow play in a day care. From this observation, I was able to understand that Child A was developing normally as she was able to accomplish and show many areas of cognitive development of an average two year old child. Child A showed the capability of the usual cognitive milestones usually shown by a two year old child and has a wide understanding of words and phrases when spoken to. I do not believe there are any deviations of the norms of cognitive development and that no concerns are in place for this child. To help scaffold this child in the future, I can ensure the child is provided with more appropriate provision or her level of learning, such as more advanced reading books that are still age appropriate, but also capability appropriate to the child as to ensure continuous learning. Child Two (0-3) Years LANGUAGE

  • Tries to copy your sounds
  • Understands many more words than he can say
  • Understands simple directions and questions such as "Where is your nose?" "Get the ball."
  • Demonstrates some pretend play with toys like "give the teddy bear a drink"
  • Makes at least four consonant sounds from p,b,m,n,d,t,w,h
  • Identifies pictures in a book when asked such as “Show me the baby."
  • Enjoys being read to and looking at books
  • Understands the concepts of in and out, off and on
  • Points to three body parts when asked
  • Says "No"
  • Asks for something by pointing and using sounds or words
  • Imitates animal noises
  • Tries to get attention by calling out, repeating words and pointing

For this next observation, I carried out a longitudinal study on a child aged 18 months. Over the period of around one month, I was able to identify that Child Two is developing extremely rapidly and accordingly with reference to general norms and milestones of children aged 12 to 18 months. Child Two’s language development appears to be flourishing every day and should not be a cause for concern. By reading new books and introducing new words to the child, I can scaffold their learning in the future to ensure the child’s development and learning is still continuing as normal.

Child Three (0-3 Years) LANGUAGE

Milestones for 2 to 3 Year Olds

Achieved? Yes/No

Pays increasing attention to speech


Responds to simple verbal requests


Responds to “no”


Uses simple gestures


Babbles with inflection (changes in tone)


Says “dada” and “mama”


Tries to imitate words


Points to objects or picture when it’s named for him


Recognizes names of familiar people, objects, and body parts


Says several single words


Uses simple phrases


Uses 2-to-4 word sentences


Follows simple instructions


Repeats words overheard in conversation


Child Three is 30 months old, (2 Years, 6 Months) and was observed in a Day Care setting. This observation was carried out over a period of one week and by using a Checklist method.

Throughout this observation, I witnessed that Child Three’s attitudes towards language are not of the expected norms, as unlike the other children around the similar age were shouting words, able to point to areas on the face when named, saying “mama” and “dada” and in some cases, a variety of other two syllable words. Throughout the target week, Child Three did not speak a single word, which is rather worrying for his age range. Child Three does however, point and make grunting noises when he requires help, attention or is pointing to something he wants. These characteristics witnesses are more around the birth to 12 month area of language development and can suggest that Child Three’s language development is progressing, but at an extremely slow rate compared to other children within the setting within this age range.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Child Three does not try to say words but continues to murmur and grunt and does not interact with words with other children, which has shown an impact upon his social development as no children approach Child Three physically or verbally, leaving him to play alone, which does not provide a positive influence to promote language development to Child Three. A further observation was that Child Three tends to dribble a great deal whilst making noises, eating and in general, which may show signs of further teething that has continued and may impact Child Three’s speech as he may refuse to speak as his mouth is in pain, which may be a suggestion to make to Child Three’s parents to get checked by their GP.

Child Three’s overall language development appears to vary from the traditional norms as many of the milestones that are assumed of Child Three’s age are not achieved and may produce worrying results which need to be explained to the child’s parents In order for them to seek further professional advice, possibly from a speech and language therapist in order to determine if there are any underlying issues which are affecting Child Three’s language development. It could also be argued that these results are not a full representation of Child Three’s language development as they were only conducted within the time period of one week, however I believe this is long enough to uncover any varying characteristics which affect development. The child was familiar with myself and other’s present and I had been present within that setting for a number of months, so this would not produce any factors which may change Child Three’s attitudes, which therefore might have affected his attitude, impacting the results of his development, ruling out this potential impacting factor.


  • Vocabulary increasing significantly with words such as
  • Composing sentences of 5 or more words, and with all parts of speech
  • Identifying coins
  • Counting to 10 and above
  • Properly naming the primary colours and secondary
  • Questioning more deeply, addressing meaning and purpose
  • Responding to "why" questions
  • Behaving more responsibly and apologizing for mistakes
  • Accepting other points of view (but may not understand them)
  • Demonstrating increased mathematical skill
  • Questioning others, including parents and teachers
  • Strongly identifying with the parent of the same sex
  • Having a group of friends
  • Engaging in imaginative play

For Child A, I was able to carry out a longitudinal study over a time period of 5 months. Over these five months, I was able to establish a great understanding of Child A’s cognitive and sensory development. At the age of 5, I believe Child A is developing extremely well in terms of cognitive and sensory progress and appears to show no deviations of cognitive or sensory norms. Child A’s parents should be informed (if not already) that their child’s progress is flourishing well and that if they are encouraging this at home, they should continue to do so and this may have been an influential factor for her rapid progress in these developmental areas.

Child B (3+) LANGUAGE



  1. Child B talked about being a Bridesmaid. Described her dress as being “beautiful” and that she was in a “Limousine”. She also discussed the weather during that day.
  2. Child B drew a paper plate face and was able to add features independently, using correct colours and names.
  3. Child was able to retell a story I had read to class the previous day.
  4. Child B used identified a “Magnifying glass” and used this to “investigate acorns”.
  5. Child B was able to identify her name from a story book.
  6. Child B was able to concentrate for 5 minutes to complete a 24 piece jigsaw. Child B talked about the animals from the jigsaw and stated that a “baby sheep is called a lamb”.
  7. Child B prefers to use her right hand, and is able to write correctly using the tripod grip. Child B writes her name with recognizable letters and in correct formation.
  8. Child B talked about her experience at the hospital. “I got my blood pressure taken, it went really tight but I didn’t cry”.
  9. Child B was able to retell the story of the Three Little Pigs during an arts activity, using her own words and from memory.
  1. Child B was able to talk in length and in great detail about her experience, using more advanced vocabulary such as “Limousine” which expressed her capability of understanding more words, phrases and sentences. This good recollection of experiences and ability to retell a story to myself showed significant language development through taking part in conversations with adults.
  2. The ability to draw herself using correct colours – such as identifying her own hair colour and eye colour and naming facial features independently shows recognizable progress within language development.
  3. Good use of story language was evident and signs of progress as Child B was able to recollect the story from previous day.
  4. Further vocabulary advancements observed as child identified “magnifying glass” and was “investigating”.
  5. The ability to recognize and spell her own name is another step within language development.
  6. Further intellectual sentences are observed, using correct terminology of “lamb”.
  7. By selecting a preferring hand to write with and by using the appropriate grip, this shows further advances within language development milestones.
  8. Child was able to form an intellectual sentence consisting of her own personal experience, from memory and by using appropriate terminology, “blood pressure”.
  9. Another observation of the ability to use her memory to retell a story.

This observation was carried out within a Nursery school environment and the target child was 3 years old throughout the duration of this observation. Child B was observed over a period of 5 months playing within this environment, within the format I used to observe the child, I have added my thoughts and evaluation within the “Interpretation” column. The child appears to be within an advanced area with her language development, as I observed her capability to recognize and spell her own name, which a large amount of other 3 year olds within the class cannot grasp. Child B was also very confident in retelling many personal experiences to both adults and her peers, along with the ability to retell stories from memory and through the use of pictures, such as drawing out the “Three Little Pigs” story from memory during the Nursery Rhyme topic and by using pictures taken from the storybook “The Crunching, Munching Caterpillar” to retell the story to me correctly and in her own words. I can state positively that Child B shows the signs of a confident child that is able to fulfil a variety of expectations of language development milestones within this age group, and I believe strongly that this child is developing appropriately according to the norms observed of children within this age group, and that there are no abnormalities or characteristics that need to be addressed.

Child C (3+) LANGUAGE

Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it


Hears and understands most of what is said at school


Uses sentences that give many details


Tells stories that stay on topic


Communicates easily with other children and adults


Says most sounds correctly except for a few (l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, and th)


Uses rhyming words


Names some letters and numbers


Uses adult grammar


The final observation was also carried out within a Nursery setting and Child C is 4 years old. From this observation, I was able to notice varied aspects of Child C’s development. In many cases, according to the developmental milestones checklist for language development of children aged 3 to 4, Child C was only able to fulfil 3 of the 9 areas for observation. In general, I have noticed that Child C does not talk, and when he does, it is quiet mutters of words. From this observation however, Child C was not able to use sentences, but instead mumbled quiet words which in many cases were unrecognizable. From what characteristics Child C was able to show, such as being able to pay attention to short stories and answer simple questions about them (usually yes or no answers), hear and understand most of what is said in class and also being able to name a short range of numbers and letters, I can suggest that these are the easier targets to fulfil, and may suggest that there are great deviations of the norms of children this age. I would recommend a speech therapist or a general consultation from the child’s GP to his parents as the child does not make much of an attempt to speak to others and contribute, which is strange for a child who is of the age of exploration and interaction with others.


Berk, L et al (1995) Scaffolding Children’s learning: Vygotsky and Early Childhood Education. National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Frick, P et al (2009) Clinical Assessment of Child and Adolescent Personality and Behaviour. Springer.

Herr, J et al (2002) Creative Resources for Infants and Toddlers. Cengage Learning.

Justice, L et al (2013) Engaging Children with Print: Building Early Literacy Skills through Quality Read-Alouds. Guilford Publications.

Leech-Riddall, S (2005) How to Observe Children. Heinemann.

Read, C (2005) Scaffolding Children’s Talk and Learning. Available: http://carolread.com/articles/s%20talk%20and%20learning.pdf

Smith, V et al (2009) Norms in Human Development. Cambridge University Press.

  • Courtney Hill


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: