Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Observation Practices Statement

Think about all you know about the children in your program. You know about their interests, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and challenges, their backgrounds and cultures. How did you gain this information and how do you use it to plan and deliver a quality program?

Most likely, you gained this information through every day interactions and observations. And, it’s from this information that you make decisions that influence the lives of the children and families you serve.

a young girl holding a magnifying glass over a flower pot
Information from Observation

This section guides you to think about how you use observation to learn about, plan lessons for, and monitor the developmental progress of the children in your program. You will submit a statement that describes how your program uses observation as documentation for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.2.

Select the Requirements tab to review key information to include in a description of your program’s observation practices.

NOTE: There are no Development Progress requirements for School-Age Only programs.

Requirements

The following interactive shows you the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.2. Key requirements are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot for information about what to include in your documentation.

Select the option that applies to your program type:

 

  Child Care Center

Family Child Care
DAP 9.2 Developmental Progress Provider observes children’s developmental progress. Documentation to submit: Observation Practices Statement

School-Age Only
DAP 9.2 Developmental Progress There are no developmental progress requirements for School-Age Only programs.

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.2, you will upload a statement that describes:

  • How your program conducts observations
  • Who conducts the observations
  • When and how often observations are conducted
  • How information from observations is used to inform program activities

The Policy or Statement Builder a step-by-step guide for creating your statement.






Observation

Without even noticing, you watch children and you learn about them. You listen to children and you learn about them. You talk with children and you learn about them. You use what you learn to provide a nurturing environment with materials, activities, and opportunities that encourage the children’s growth, development, and learning. Observation is one important way to monitor the children’s developmental progress so activities can be adjusted to offer new challenges and learning opportunities, and support their success.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your statement clearly describes:

  • How your program conducts observations
  • Who conducts the observations
  • When and how often observations are conducted
  • How information from observations is used to inform program activities
 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Read your statement carefully to make sure it clearly describes how observation is used in your program. Consider underlining key sentences that describe how, when, by whom, and how often observations are conducted. You should also find sentences that explain how your program uses information from observations in planning experiences and activities.

 

Where can you learn more?

This article from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presents five reasons to use observation in your program. You may realize that these are some of the same reasons you use observation in your work with children and families.

Wondering with Children: The Importance of Observation in Early Childhood Education

ECRP. Vol 7 No 2. Wondering with Children: The Importance of Observation in Early Education

This paper asserts that through the process of observation, documentation, and interpretation of children's goals, strategies, and theories, teachers gain insight into children's thinking. As a result of this process, teachers are better able to engage children in conversations and investigations that have the potential to extend their learning in both depth and breadth.






Policy or Statement Builder

This interactive helps you write a statement that describes how observation is used in your program. You have the option of emailing your responses to yourself and editing your final statement before uploading it to the Maryland EXCELS System. Writing your responses in full sentences now gives you a head-start for editing your statement later.

 

Build-A-Statement: Observation Practices

Final Touches

Review your statement one more time as you prepare to upload it to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Check to be sure your statement clearly describes:

 
 
 
 
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (example: observation-practices.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version of your statement (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Scanned version of your statement (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
    • Identified section within your handbook (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documentation, look ahead, and think about a plan for ongoing improvement.

 

Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate where you saved your written document on the computer
 

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

If you use a developmental checklist along with your observations to monitor children’s developmental progress, you may meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.3.

Plan for Improvement

Set a goal to review the Developmental Progress requirements of higher quality ratings. Check your curriculum materials to see if they include developmental checklists, or learn about other specific types of assessment tools like anecdotal records or portfolios. Remember to update any changes or new information in the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (DAP 9.2)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your statement.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation