Toddler Observation and Assessment

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Observation is a critical component of understanding and objectively conducting a child’s development assessment. Such an approach is essential to collect the necessary data and determine whether there are developmental abnormalities or healthy growth. However, observation cannot be properly conducted without precise and accurate documentation, from which valuable and insightful recommendations and reflections can be made. The paper is aimed at assessing one specific child and making relevant observational notes for the interpretation of individual characteristics.

Pre-Observation/Setting Notes

The child being observed is Michael playing at a playground among other children of different ages. This 3-year-old boy nearing his fourth birthday within a month is my nephew. In addition to other children and their parents, the boy’s mother and my sister are present at the site. Michael is of mixed ethnicity, and his parents come from the middle class and are not religious. He is the firstborn and has no confirmed congenital diseases. During childbirth, my sister had a cesarean section because, according to the doctors, Michael’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and there were health risks. Both parents of the child speak English, including other children and their parents at the playground. Michael is in a relaxed atmosphere, actively playing with the children he knows, and sometimes runs up to my sister and me to say something. There are also other children of mixed ethnicities at the playground.

Child Observation

Michael is hopping and standing with periodic chasing or running while playing with other children of similar age. Occasionally, he climbs a small ladder at the playground for three to five steps, followed by descending with a subsequent small jump from the second step. He confidently runs, walks backward, and bends over as a part of his body language. After seeing how older children are chasing each other, he attempts to engage in the play by trying to chase them with some stops to observe. I have been at the playground for over an hour and can learn Michael’s behavioral and communication skills when interacting with peers and adults.

Observation Request




Re: Observation request

Dear …,

I am writing to request an observation of Michael, your son, to assess his development characteristics and obtain comprehensive information about his individual skills. This is required for my study project, and your input would be greatly appreciated. Should you have any questions regarding the observation and its course, you can always contact me. No special preparatory measures are required, and my assessment will not involve making appropriate diagnoses or identifying potential abnormalities. I hope for your assistance and will be glad to meet my nephew.


Your Name

Observation Notes

While observing the child, I notice that his vocabulary is not as full as that of some of his peers. However, the boy understands others’ words of other children well and retells them to his mother. He also tries to imitate the behavior of other children, especially older ones. At one point, he runs up to us and says the following: “Look how I can jump,” accompanying this with jumps that he saw from others. He has an understanding of what belongs to him and what does not, which is observed when playing with his toy truck. When seeing the children’s attempts to take his toy, he first looks at his mother, who nods approvingly, and then the boy gives his truck.

He understands well the speech addressed to him and answers questions. When his mother asks whether he is hungry, he replies, “No, Mommy, I’m not hungry.” While assessing the actions of other children, for instance, jumping and rolling down a slide, he uses facial expressions and laughs openly. At the same time, he is one of the least talkative kids at the playground. According to my sister, Michael started talking about a year ago, which is quite late. The child joins games with others, but he himself is not the initiator of new games. When answering children’s questions, he uses short answers, usually “yes” or “no.” However, he occasionally uses some mature phrases, especially when showing approval, such as saying “you’re so good!” and “you’re so good at it!” Michael is not naughty and only once makes a direct request for a drink.

Observation Interpretation

Based on the results of the observation, relevant conclusions can be drawn in the context of Michael’s individual indicators with a focus on development domains. From the perspective of the physical domain, the boy is not inferior to his peers and can perform activities that are familiar to children of his age, including running, jumping, and other exercises. He is not overweight, which speaks of his parents’ concern for proper nutrition.

Regarding Michael’s cognitive development, some individual factors are crucial to mention. According to the observation, there is a slight delay in his speech development, which may be a consequence of pathology during pregnancy and urgent cesarean section. According to Takács et al., some studies have shown a negative effect of cesarean section on subsequent cognitive outcomes in children (1099). This also includes challenges with speech, which directly depend on the intrauterine development of the fetus. At the same time, as the observation shows, Michael interacts with children actively and uses the vocabulary available to him appropriately. While looking at his dialogue with his mother, one can see that she has chosen the right approach to stimulate her son’s vocabulary skills, which is expressed in his adult remarks. As Napoli and Purpura argue, the role of parents in this aspect is significant because children adopt the speech patterns of adults, and constant oral dialogues are favorable for the development of speaking (595). Therefore, despite some delays, it is obvious that Michael will be able to achieve the same level of speaking skills as his peers.

Active play with other children demonstrates Michael’s normal social development skills. He is not afraid of direct contact and enters into dialogues. In addition, the boy shows emotions openly and is not afraid of judgment, which is essential for his further psychological development. He trusts adults and does not demonstrate sudden mood swings. Michael shows interest in other children’s games and does not alienate from them, which confirms his normal socio-emotional development.


Observing the selected child’s individual characteristics allows for analyzing his unique traits within the main developmental domains. Based on this assessment, Michael, who is the target child, is a boy with normal physical, social, and emotional skills. Some difficulties with language development may be due to pathologies during pregnancy. Although the boy speaks less fluently than his peers, he understands and interprets their speech and the speech of adults well, which indicates adequate cognitive development.

Works Cited

Napoli, Amy R., and David J. Purpura. “The Home Literacy and Numeracy Environment in Preschool: Cross-Domain Relations of Parent-Child Practices and Child Outcomes.” Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 166, 2018, pp. 581-603.

Takács, Lea, et al. “Associations Between Mode of Birth and Neuropsychological Development in Children Aged 4 Years: Results from a Birth Cohort Study.” Child Psychiatry & Human Development, vol. 52, no. 6, 2021, pp. 1094-1105.

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"Toddler Observation and Assessment." PsychologyWriting, 15 Mar. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Toddler Observation and Assessment'. 15 March.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Toddler Observation and Assessment." March 15, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Toddler Observation and Assessment." March 15, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Toddler Observation and Assessment." March 15, 2023.