Self-Regulation During Year One

Infants’ ability to soothe themselves when frustrated, to focus their attention in spite of distraction, and to organize their behavior into an effective sequence defines an area of development called "self-regulation”. In this video clip of a 10-month-old infant, we see how she demonstrates all three. She places a ball on a platform and then carefully moves it to the edge to watch it fall. She explores this game for four minutes! On several occasions, the ball rolls too far for her to reach. Sometimes she cries lightly, perhaps a signal to the teacher that she is in distress.


Find the Story

When observing children in class or in a video clip try to find the story. This concept of "story" will serve you well. Do not be satisfied with the list-like structure of a report. Reports contain no unfolding of a struggle, no protagonist or antagonist, no resolution of a struggle, no irony, surprise or human interest. After looking at this video clip of Evan and John playing together in the water table, one could write a report or one could find the story.

Here is an example of a report. We might call it, "Learning to Cooperate".


Assessing the Quality of Collaborative Play

When children play together in small groups, we are provided with an opportunity to understand and respect the quality of their collaboration. This video clip of three children playing in a water basin offers us insights into what it takes to maintain high quality group play.

Following are several guidelines regarding what you might notice as you summarize the quality of the children’s collaboration. The questions follow the chronological order of the video clip. You can use these questions to evaluate other episodes of collaborative play.


Video Documentation for Parents

As educators, we realize that we are only one of the protagonists in a learning community that also includes children and parents. To be sure, parents offer us an indispensable perspective as we seek to understand and support children’s ongoing explorations and discoveries surrounding the physical and social world. Thus, communication with parents about the work of their children is critical.


Sock, Boot, Ski then Slide

In this video clip Mackenzie labels her pretend action in sequence, sock on, ski on, sock on, ski on. Emily reminds her to put on her ski boots. Emily realizes that socks on skis would not work. Mackenzie gets it. But Mackenzie does not take off her imaginary ski before she puts on her ski boots. She simply rustles her hands around her foot as if to “erase” the last placement. She does honor the sequence that boots go on before skis. The symbolization here is mostly about putting a list of items in the proper sequence.


Photographs as Plans rather than Records

Six boys meet to rebuild a block structure that was photographed the day before. At two points in this video clip they go to the photograph for guidance. They do not have enough long blocks to finish the roof. At the teacher’s suggestion they look at the photographs and discover that the long blocks were used as the floor and a white tray served as the roof. Michael returns to the block structure to annex it with the white tray. The boys forego the problem of the incomplete roof.


The Hidden Value of Routine Activities

In this video clip, we observe five children working individually to make similar figures out of clay. This experience is repeated a thousand times a day in preschools across the country. However, many college methods courses in ECE cite such activities as less than optimal practice. These courses make rather categorical statements about how such activities do not foster individual creativity or collaboration among the children. Granting that many people accept this criticism, what can we learn when we deconstruct a particular example of one of these activities captured in video?


Siblings in the Sandbox

Lydia and Amelia sit comfortably together playing in the sand. Amelia repeatedly pours sand on her sister’s leg. Why? Let’s first think about what Amelia does not do. Notice that Amelia does not look up at her sister as if she expects a reaction. She does not set the spoon directly on Lydia’s leg as if to deposit the sand in a particular location; therefore she is probably not interested in making the pile taller. Amelia does observe how the sand lands on Lydia’s leg. The color contrast allows her to see the effect of the falling sand.


Party of Chairs: Making Meaning of Others' Actions

In this clip an enterprising two-year-old girl begins placing wooden chairs in a row, up to a total of eight chairs. In the process three boys join her, clearly understanding her plan. This video clip captures the wonderful flow of play that can occur when the environment and classroom culture support the spontaneous emergence of leadership.


Fifteen Ways to Use Video for Early Childhood Education

By Ellen Hall, Ph.D., Videatives, Inc.

Educators around the world, working with children of all ages, increasingly understand the value of documenting classroom observations using digital video. Digital video has a level of control and flexibility that makes it a pre-eminent tool for reflecting on child development and learning and teaching processes.



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