Observation Guidelines: Observing the Social Aspects of Young Children's Play
- Failure to engage in any activity, either with or without another individual
- Aimless wandering
- Quiet sitting and staring
During free-play time, Donald often retreats to a corner of the play yard, where he sits quietly either running his fingers through the dirt or staring off into space.
Try to engage the child with intriguing toys or other objects, or with a small-group activity. Consult with a specialist if unoccupied behavior is persistent and pervasive despite frequent attempts to engage the child.
- Absorption in one’s own playthings
- Apparent lack of awareness of other children’s presence
Although Laura and Erika are sitting next to each other in the sandbox, they are facing in opposite directions. Laura is digging a large hole (“to China,” she says), and Erika is making “roads” with a toy bulldozer.
Keep in mind the value of children’s independent play. On some occasions, present new toys or games that require the participation of two or more children.
- Unobtrusive observation of other children’s play activities
As three of his classmates play “store,” Jason quietly watches them from the side of the room.
Ask the child if he or she would like to play with the other children. If so, ask the others if the onlooker might join in.
- Playing next to another child, but with little or no interaction
- Similarities in the behaviors of two or more children who are playing independently but in close proximity
Naticia and Leo are both making “skyscrapers” with wooden blocks. Sometimes one child looks at what the other is doing, and occasionally one child makes a tower similar to the other’s.
Comment that both children are doing something similar. Suggest an enjoyable activity that incorporates what both children are doing.
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