From Child Care Exchange…
“Observing young children requires the gathering of evidence of growth in a natural setting,” noted Kay Stritzel Rencken in her article “Observation – The Primary Tool in Assessment”.
“An early childhood classroom is a familiar place where the child feels at ease in experimenting and exploring with blocks, various art media, writing, computers, and puppets. This experimentation and exploration provides a rich storehouse of observable information for the teacher skilled in gleaning it from the play that surrounds the child. Observing in this setting looks at the whole child – not fragments or skills that are out of context. When a child is counting to see how many friends are at school today, there is authenticity; but when asked to count objects for a test, the reason is absent.
“One of the important benefits of doing observations is that teachers are viewing many components at the same time. Unlike standardized tests, which focus only on cognition, observations allow the teacher to see the whole child. The emotional, physical, social, and cultural dimensions of the child are equally important, especially with the younger child.”