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Case Study

My Observation was at Little Sprouts pre-school which is held at Central United Church in Waterford, Michigan. The program reaches out to children ranging in age between 2 ½ and 6 years old. The philosophy of Little Sprouts states that the center is play based with an emphasis on social-interaction, and developmentally appropriate activities. On most days the ratio of teacher’s to students is 1:8, which is lower than the state requires. Having a smaller ratio such as this means more quality care for the students. When I chose the location for my case study I did not know any of the students so I asked the lead teacher, Pam, to recommend a child for me to observe. Luke is a 4 year old male that was born in November, 2007. He lives in a two parent home, and has one older sister who is 6 years old. At home he also has a dog and a cat. I was informed that Luke will be attending Little Sprouts for one more year before continuing on to Kindergarten. When I had the opportunity to speak with Luke’s mother briefly, she was not aware of any medical or family issues that would cause any concern. He appears to be reaching the typical milestones for children his age. Luke’s mother was one of two parent volunteers for the special Easter activities, which was nice to see and be able to speak to her. His mother seems to have an outgoing personality and participates in both of her children’s school activities.

Physical Characteristics:
Luke is an average height compared to the other students his age attending Little Sprouts. While observing him indoors, he is able to maneuver around objects such as tables, chairs, and toys and also participate in all of the physical activities throughout the day. Some of these activities in a daily routine include running, skipping and hopping along with music. I have also noticed that Luke moves quickly from one center to another. On the playground Luke is also able to climb up the ladders and up the slide. I believe that Luke is physically able to do all the activities that he should be able to for his age and this will just be strengthened by everyday play, and physical activitiy.

Social- Emotional Development:
While at pre-school Luke seems well-adjusted to the daily routine of small and large group time, and individual work time. He has also typically been in a good mood in my opinion. When asked to participate in activities and individual art projects, Luke has the self-confidence and ability to does these successfully. One area that I do not see him engaged in frequently is conversations with the other students. He does appear to want to be a part of these groups however. * See anecdotal note #2 from 3/12 When speaking with his teachers, Luke gives longer, more in depth answers. During show and tell, Luke was excited to have a turn to speak and be the center of attention. In the future, I would love to see him in more group settings where the children have more interaction with one another. I believe that this will help with his social skills in group settings. Many of the activities that I have seen since beginning in March have been oriented towards the students exploring the environment on an individual basis. Luke seems to be at a similar level compared to his peers and also enjoys his surroundings.

Cognitive Development:
Luke’s cognitive development appears to be equal to that of his peers based on my own personal observations. He seems to have a good understanding of the environment around him and reacts to stimulants found within the daily routine. On March 12th I made the following observation. “Luke was in constant motion but would respond correctly when the teacher’s made requests” In both small and large groups, Luke is able, and enjoys participating in activities and gets the results the teachers are looking for. One observation that I made was that during work time Luke sometimes looks to the other students for input before deciding on what he will do. * see anecdotal note #2 from 3/19

Based on my observations, Luke has a relatively large vocabulary and communicates clearly when speaking with his teachers. I was also informed that shortly before I began my case study, he had learned how to write his own name. The teachers make a point of giving him an opportunity to practice his writing skills on a daily basis. During pre-school there is also story-time and music every day. For the transition to story-time, the children are asked to pick out a book to sit quietly and read while the other children find their way to the circle. One

observation that I did have was that Luke works very well individually, but frequently does not fully engage in conversations with his peers during work time. * see anecdotal notes #2 from 3/12 and #1 from 3/19 The following week while Luke was playing he seemed to have a constant internal dialogue whether he was playing with others or just by himself. Making up these stories is a big part of how people learn about language, which was great to see. On several occasions I also saw that Luke was very determined to write his name up to the standard he has set for himself.

*see anecdotal note from 4/11 As a way to encourage more conversations with his peers, I would look at more activities where the children have to respond verbally to one another. This can be accomplished in story-time, and small group time. With more practice, Luke will also be able to improve his writing skills. The ability to read and write comes from personal experiences and most children do not master this until well into elementary school.

Approach to Learning:
As part of the daily routine, the students must wash their hands before eating their snack. Instead of the teachers pouring drinks for each individual there are two different pitchers with water and juice. Here the students are able to make choices and pour the amount that they would like. Although some of the students need assistance with this activity, Luke does not. He confidently makes choices and is able to pour for himself. Another opportunity the students are given to make choices is the first half hour after arrival. There are typically several different stations set up including art, puzzles, and the dramatic play area which includes a kitchen, cars and many other toys the children can manipulate. The beginnings of math are also introduced on a daily basis. These math skills are apparent during circle time by identifying the date, and the teachers use counting activities throughout the day. *see anecdotal note #3 from 3/19 A child’s approach to learning is not necessarily something that can be taught. This area is based on an individual’s environment and exposure to new ideas. Based on my observations Luke is generally excited to learn and listen to what the teachers have to say. This willingness will help Luke throughout his school career.

Creative Development:
At Little Sprouts the teachers have different types of art projects available to do on a daily basis. Although the physical materials are chosen for the students, how they put them together is not. The children are able to make individual choices while having a similar outcome to the rest of the class. More creativity is apparent when the children are in work time. Creativity comes not only from artistic projects, but also from the ability to make decisions and solve problems the child may encounter throughout the day. Based on my brief observations, Luke appears to favor stations where he can create objects. Though much of the day, Luke remains at stations where there is art present or something that he can hold and maneuver. *see anecdotal note #6 from 3/26 By giving him opportunities to make his own decisions the teachers are strengthening his creativity and sense of self. As long as this continues throughout his education he will be confident in his decision making ability and come up with new ways to do things.

I enjoyed my time observing at Little Sprouts pre-school and appreciate the opportunity I had to follow the progress of one specific child. Even in the brief time that I was there, I saw improvements in Luke’s skill levels each week. Luke seems to be a very charismatic individual that is excited to learn, and remains positive throughout the day. He seems to be on an equal level to students that are his age. I also looked at a website ( ) to compare Luke’s abilities to what is considered “the norm”, and found that from my observations he is right where he should be for his age group. Little Sprouts provides a safe, nurturing environment that supports his constant developmental growth. Even in the short span of time that I was able to observe Luke, he appears more comfortable in the areas of writing, language, math, social relationships with his peers, and problem-solving. He does very well listening to the instruction of the staff and is beginning to have more social interaction with the other students as well.

Note for Luke’s mother~
I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for being so open to have someone that you don’t know observe one of your children. I found my time at Little Sprouts and working with Luke to be a very positive learning experience to see what makes a supportive, well-balanced environment. This was a very valuable opportunity for me to be able to practice taking anecdotal notes and watching how quickly an individual child can progress in a short span of time. I also got some insight into the kind of teacher that I will strive to be. In the next year, leading up to my graduation from the ECD program at Oakland Community College, I would love to check back in on Luke to see how much more he grows before entering Kindergarten. Luke was an absolute joy to work with and I believe that he will be a successful student and adult. Thank you again for this meaningful opportunity and I wish you and your family the best in years to come. SincerelyKatie Crockett

Anecdotal Notes
3/12 1. Luke was in constant motion but would respond to his teacher’s making requests 2. When a group of girls were standing in a circle having a conversation, Luke made his presence known by cutting through the middle of them. 3/19 1. When I arrived, Luke was busy painting with glue and attaching pieces of paper, making the letter R 2. Luke moved to the table where other students were playing with play-dough. He closely watched what they were doing before making a decision for himself - He ended up rolling the play-dough flat and used a cookie cutter to create shapes 3. When asked to pick up four eggs from the center of the room to place in a basket, Luke came back with four small eggs and one larger egg… when he was asked to pick up six eggs however, he came back with the correct number 3/21 1. During small group time, Luke was able to trace the egg pattern and then cut along the lines 2. Luke used a plastic knife to cut strips of play-dough 3/26 1. Because there were only two shakers available to decorate the letter S, Luke sat in his seat looking around until it was his turn. 2. During snack, Luke was able to pour his own drink from a pitcher. 3. Luke seems more grounded in the past few weeks that I have been observing him. 4. When watching Luke play, there seems to be a constant dialogue whether his is playing with other children or by himself 5. When decorating picture frames, Luke was the first to complete his in the small group he was part of 6. At the Lego table, Luke created a boat 4/11

1. Luke was not happy with the way he formed a letter in his name so he scribbled it out to start again