A Report on a Child Observation Project in a Preschool Class
For this project, I observed my mother’s preschool class for three hours, and three kids that she baby-sits on weekends for three hours. Most of the kids that are in the preschool class were three years old, but there was one five year old. The kids I helped babysit were two twin three year old girls, and one five year old.
When I first arrived at the preschool, the kids seemed very shy towards me and they did not seem like they were very sociable. I was a stranger to them, and I would have to guess that all of the children were experiencing a little bit of stranger anxiety. I talked to my mother about how the children reacted at the beginning of the year when they did not know her and the parents left them there. She said that the children often would cry and become very uneasy. I believe that these would be signs of separation anxiety.
As I sat down to play with the children, I noticed one thing right away. The boys in the group were very wild and rambunctious, and the girls seemed to be shy and reserved. This would agree with what we have learned in class that boys will tend to be more outgoing, and girls will be more reserved.
In preschool class, my mother has various stuffed animals, and I also noticed that the children that I helped babysit had a lot of stuffed animals. My mother often has puppet shows and the kids love it. I noticed one child was sitting at the table having a conversation with a stuffed beaver. The two twin girls I was babysitting had a giant stuffed bee, and I would chase after them with it and sting them. This shows what the book calls animistic thinking. According to the book, this kind of thinking is the belief that inanimate objects are alive.
Another form of animistic thinking would be when my mother told a story about a leprechaun. When my mother asked where leprechauns lived, one child replied that, and I quote, “leprechauns live in the grass and run around from tree to tree, they are itsy bitsy and very hard to see.” These children believed that these creatures were real, but they just could not see them. But, the fun with the leprechauns had just begun. To test the children’s belief in the unrealistic, I had my mother and the kids make little pots, and then I had my mother tell all of the kids that if they were good, the leprechaun would leave them gold in their pot. While these kids were eating their snacks, I left and put gold candy in their pots, and then waited for their reactions and comments when they came back to see what had happened. I wish I could have recorded their reactions because some of them were hilarious. I noticed that one child jumped around and screamed that “he was here, he was here,” and another child was looking around the room trying to find the leprechaun. Overall, I found that my animistic thinking project worked well. To conclude my observations on animistic thinking, I found that most of the kids seemed to have beliefs based on what they sensed to be true, rather than on what would be logic or rational.
Language development between the three-year-old kids, and the five-year-old kids was amazing. There were some grammatical morpheme problems that I picked up on throughout my stay at the preschool and when I was baby-sitting the other girls. I did not notice many mistakes by the five-year-old girl, in fact she was very good with sentence structure and words. But, I did notice a lot of the three year old kids struggled with prepositions, suffixes, and prefixes. I few sentences I heard were, “he sitted down on me,” or “she hitted me with the beaver.” As you can see, the children are learning that they need to add the “ed” to the end of some words, but they do not know when it is and when it is not appropriate to do it yet.
I noticed a lot of imitation in the children at the preschool. I guess I was an adult model for some of the children. I noticed that one child followed me around the room one time when I went to go to the bathroom. He did not go into the bathroom, but I did notice that everything I did when I walked back to the room, he did. Why do kids do that? The girls I babysat for played an annoying game on me one time. Just try to imagine two three-year-old twin girls repeating everything I said. I guess that would be a form of imitation. I also noticed imitation between the kids themselves. The naughty boys in the preschool seemed to almost copy each other when they would cause trouble. If one was standing on his chair, the other would stand on his chair. And, if one was playing in a certain area, then the other one would go to that area to play. The girls often imitated one another also. I noticed that one little girl went to go play with the dolls, and sure enough, most of the other girls went along to play with the dolls with her. In conclusion to imitation, I would imagine that imitation is a great way for children to learn about the world, and is often a sociable test to see how far that they can stretch the rules. I noticed that when a model is present, imitation is likely to take place.
I spent a great deal of time watching how the children in the preschool played, and when I was baby-sitting, I did more playing than watching. In the book, play is described as “pleasurable activity engaged for its own sake.” I noticed that there was some parallel play. An example I found was when two boys were playing with Lego’s. The boys did not participate directly with one another, but they played alongside each other and other children while they were enjoying their Lego’s. There was some associative play, but I saw more of this in the girls. Some of the girls were playing with Barbie’s, and were having their own little soap opera going on. The girls were demonstrating associative play because they were playing and sharing with each other. I had the chance to participate in cooperative play when we played “duck, duck, goose!” Come on, you know the game. Well, I was pretty good at the game so they made me crawl on my knees. But, this showed cooperative play because the children were involved in structured games that involved rules. When I was baby-sitting, I was involved in some fantasy play. The twin three-year-old girls told me that I was the daddy, and one was the mommy, and the other was the kid, and the giant stuffed bee was also a kid. We played in a little area with toy stoves and washing machines and stuff. This is an example of fantasy play because these young girls believed that things were different than they really were.The last thing I noticed while observing the two twin girls was that there was a little bit of sibling rivalry. They both fought constantly for my attention.
Overall, I enjoyed observing the children, and enjoyed playing with them. I learned a lot about what kids do, and had the chance to experience it hands on.