Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Observation Practices Statement & Developmental Checklist

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. It’s from this information that you make decisions that influence the lives of the children and families you serve.

Children develop and progress at different rates and their development and progress may follow different patterns. Understanding different patterns and rates of development helps you plan and deliver activities that encourage each child’s growth, development, and success.

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

This section guides you to think about how you use and record observations 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 observes children and uses developmental checklists as documentation for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.3.

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

Select the Requirements tab to learn about key information to include in your documentation of your program’s approach to monitoring children’s progress.

Requirements

The following interactive shows you the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.3. 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
DAP 9.3: Developmental Progress Staff observes children’s progress using developmental checklists Documentation to submit: Observation Practices Statement & Developmental Checklist

Family Child Care
DAP 9.3: Developmental Progress Provider observes children’s progress using developmental checklists Documentation to submit: Observation Practices Statement & Developmental Checklist

School-Age Only
DAP 9.3: Developmental Progress There is no developmental progress requirement for School-Age programs.

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.3, you will upload:

  • A statement that describes:
    • How your program uses developmental checklists to monitor children’s developmental progress
    • Who conducts observations using developmental checklists
    • When and how often observations and developmental checklists are completed
    • How information from observations and developmental checklists is used to inform program activities
  • A developmental checklist used in your program

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






Observation and Developmental Checklists

Without even noticing, you watch children and you learn about them. You listen 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 their 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.

Developmental checklists help you record your observations more formally. They can be used to monitor children’s progress toward meeting developmental milestones or curriculum goals and learning objectives.

 

What does the documentation look like?

  • Your statement clearly describes:
    • How your program conducts observations and uses developmental checklists to monitor children’s progress
    • Who conducts the observations and completes developmental checklists
    • When and how often observations and developmental checklists are completed
    • How information from observations and developmental checklists is used to inform program activities
  • A developmental checklist used in your program
 

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

Read your statement carefully to make sure it clearly describes how observation and developmental checklists are used in your program. Consider underlining key sentences that describe how, when, by whom, and how often observations and developmental checklists are completed.

 

Where can you learn more?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides checklists and video resources of developmental milestones for children ages 2 months to 5 years.

Developmental Milestones

CDC | Milestones | Learn the Signs. Act Early. | NCBDDD

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), in collaboration with a number of national partners, launched a public awareness campaign called "Learn the Signs. Act Early." The campaign aims to educate parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and encourages developmental screening and intervention.

Milestones in Action

Milestones in Action | Milestones | Act Early | NCBDDD | CDC

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This article from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides information on observing young children including five reasons to use observation in your program.

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 and developmental checklists are 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

Check your statement and developmental checklist as you prepare to upload them to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Check to be sure your documents include:

 
  • How observation and developmental checklists are used in your program
  • Who conducts observations and completes developmental checklists
  • When and how often observations and developmental checklists are completed
  • How information from observations and developmental checklists is used to inform program activities
 
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (example: observation-checklists.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 that is designed for, or aligned with, your program’s curriculum, your statement may meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Developmental Progress: DAP 9.4.

Plan for Improvement

Set a goal to learn about a curriculum that includes developmental checklists and try using one in your program (DAP 9.4). Explore different ways to capture observation and monitor children’s progress, such as anecdotal records or portfolios (DAP 9.5). Remember to upload and update any new information to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (DAP 9.3)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your statement and developmental checklist.

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