What Makes Good Early Childhood Data?


Goal: Given 2 choice times per day, student will choose a toy/activity and play for at least 1 minute. 

Sure – tally marks, time sampling, structured observations,  charts, graphs….create them, compare them, send them home to parents, take them to IEP meetings. But please don’t use them to replace your narrative records. Why? Well, here’s an example…

One day during choice time, to your utter delight, you see the child with the above goal sitting on the sofa of your dress-up area with a doll in her arms, saying, “Hi girl…” There are so many things happening at this moment! I want to record the dialogue (using words to greet) and the activity (dramatic play). I want to take a picture to use this as a visual prompt to play tomorrow.  I want to call her mom – perhaps they can do some doll play at home. I want to note this moment to expand play with an adult or a peer later.

But if this observation is nothing more than a dot on a chart or a slash on post-it, it is likely to be lost. And that is why I strongly encourage this data-driven generation of early childhood teachers to learn and practice the art of recorded observations.


One thought on “What Makes Good Early Childhood Data?

  1. There is such a bias for quantitative data over qualitative data in many fields — even when it doesn’t make sense. Often qualitative data is criticized as “anecdotal,” — but that’s exactly what is needed.

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