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Why You Need a Toddler Observation List

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Patricia Gable • updated: 10/9/2012

Here are reasons behind creating an observation list for toddler development. Included are ideas for developing your own list, as well as a discussion of the importance of careful observation and documentation.

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    Tracking Toddler Growth

    While not always as noticeable as infant development, toddlers grow at an alarming rate between the ages of one and two. Keeping track of all the developmental strides your toddlers are making can often become an overwhelming task. Creating a chart to use as a toddler observation list can often help you keep on top of the developmental changes the children are experiencing.

    Use some of the ideas below to create your own toddler observation list. Remember that all children develop at their own rate, and the standards included in any list are to be used as a guide, not a rule book.

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    Creating A Chart

    Decide on a layout for your toddler observation list. It is often best to create an observation list for each child in your care. That way, when creating developmental portfolios or documenting milestones, you will have a personal chart to refer to for each child.

    It is important to note the date each milestone was observed. This will help document linear growth and will assure that the child is not regressing. Some regression may be normal, especially if there are big changes happening in a child's life such as a new baby or a divorce. Severe regression, however, may be indicative of a developmental anomaly and may need to be observed more closely.

    Document as many anecdotal details as you can when recording the date the behavior was observed. This information can be invaluable when speaking with parents about their child's development.

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    The Importance of Charting Milestones

    Keeping accurate notes on each child enrolled in your classroom may feel like a huge undertaking, but these anecdotal stories will be important. When creating lesson plans for your classroom, look back over your notes and toddler observation list. Create activities that build on skills the toddlers have already mastered as well as those that challenge them.

    By glancing at your individual observation lists, you will be able to tell, quickly, where holes may exist in your curriculum planning. Find the holes in your lesson plans and insert skill-building activities into the curriculum.

    It may help you to set up an activity that will give you a chance to observe the children working on a particular skill. If you notice that you haven't observed any fine motor skills with a specific group of children, set up your lesson plan for the day to reflect this.

    In addition to helping with lesson planning, your lists may also help you spot early learning difficulties or delays. By observing closely, you will know if the children in your care will need extra care or therapies for delays. Note the dates of milestones as well as the child's age in months on your individual observation sheets. Pay close attention to those dates and use your knowledge of child development to approach the parents and/or director of your school with any concerns you may have.

    Reference

    "The Art of Awareness"; Margie Carter and Deb Curtis; 2000

    On Bright Hub Education: Link to Toddler Observation List: http://images.brighthub.com/media/B8BAF9_todobslist.doc


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