A Guide to Writing Observation Reports

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An observation report is a piece of document that contains comprehensive information about a child. This document can be used as the basis to assess a child’s overall development.  

How to Get Started

The process involves observing a child, making notes, and putting everything together in a report. In preparation for the observation, you have to determine the setting and the schedule of the planned observation.

Identify what type of data you want to gather. If you want to observe a child’s socialization skills, schedule the observation while the child is at a playdate with friends. If you want to observe a child in the school setting, schedule the observation on a weekday when the child is in class.

Be mindful of the time and date of your observation. If a child is particularly slow to warm up, do not be surprised if the child does not immediately engage with his or her peers upon arrival at school. 

What Information to Include

Include as much information as you can during the time of observation. If you are observing a child in a classroom setting, don’t just focus on the child’s behavior; take note of the classroom, the environment, and the type of activity that they were doing that day. Any incidents that occur during the observation should be noted as well. It is highly likely that the behaviors exhibited by the child will be influenced by the events and environment on the day of the observation.

Tip: if you are worried that you might not take enough notes or write fast enough, you can use a voice recorder. Secure the permission of the people in the setting before you do this.

Create the Report

Compile all observation notes, organize them, and analyze the data. When reporting on a child’s behavior (e.g., a tantrum), make sure to provide information about events that happened before, during, and after the behavior took place

A tip about note-taking: Keep your observation notes factual. Avoid making commentaries or making assumptions about how the child or others felt unless it was said explicitly.

Find the ideal format to present the information because the sheer amount of it can be overwhelming. Start with factual information like the date, time, and place of the observation. Proceed to write down all observations that you made. Keep these observations straightforward and clear. Make sure that it is organized and easy to understand. Put your analysis and recommendations towards the end of the report.   

Concluding Thoughts

Observation notes provide a wealth of information about a child. Observation notes can be used to assess a child’s behavior and development, which is why it’s important to create a report that is comprehensive and easy to understand. 

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