Head Start Data Collection: Writing Anecdotals

Collecting data on the child’s growth and development is important. It’s required by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), for accreditation purposes, for individualization, and for the performance of the (Head Start) program.

At the 2010 National Head Start Association Conference, Kathy Freismuth and I presented on data collection and focused specifically on writing anecdotals. See the attached PowerPoint for more details on writing quality anecdotals and forms that could be used to better inform employees about writing quality anecdotals.

There are lots of different forms of documentation:

  • Portfolios
  • Growth and Development Books
  • Journals
  • Checklists
  • Running Records
  • Tallies
  • Photographs
  • Audio/Video
  • Rating Scales
  • Matrices
  • Work Samples
  • Written Anecdotals

Objectivity is crucial when writing anecdotals. Writing exactly what that child does–describing only the behavior. Ask the child open-ended questions to better understand what they are working on and so they can explain in their own words.

A Good Observation involves the following:

  • Objective/Factual Language
  • Write only what you see/hear
  • Complete at “point of service”–when the activity happens
  • Observe a skill over a period of time–this is important to see the growth and development of the child
  • Observe the child in different settings–this is important because if you always watch the child completing one activity, you will only know how they perform at that activity (i.e. all anecdotals written at block area tells you little about how the child draws/paints/socializes/eats/plays/etc).


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