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How to Help Children Develop Observation Skills

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated June 13, 2017

The world contains an abundance of sights to see, smell, hear, taste and touch. As you seek to enlighten your child about the vast world waiting for exploration, prepare her for the adventure. Your youngster will need to develop keen observation skills to enable her to notice points of interest around her. The process of learning how to observe can be an exciting one to share with your child.

Discuss the senses with your child to help him focus on the methods he uses to learn about the world around him, advises the PBS Parents website. List his eyes, which he uses to see things around him. Name the sense of taste, which enables your youngster to taste foods and drinks. Mention his ears, which enable him to hear sounds both loud and soft. Note his nose, which smells both pleasant and putrid scents around him. Specify the sense of touch, with which your youngster can feel the textures of items both large and small.

Talk about the process of using senses to gather information, called “observation.” Mention that scientists use their senses to observe, so as your child uses her senses, she is acting like a scientist. When your youngster sees, hears, tastes, smells and touches the world, she is gathering information that can help her understand how things work, according to educator and author Catherine Valentino.

Demonstrate the process of preparing yourself to observe something. Often, it’s ideal to clear your mind to enable you to focus on the object of observation, according to “Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills,” published by the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. Tell your child that sitting or standing quietly in one place for 10 to 20 minutes often helps to enable effective observation.

Encourage your youngster to take notes about observations to enable him to remember important details. Provide your child with a special notebook and pencil for recording observations, and help him write down notes as necessary.

Suggest that your child write a story or a description of observations using the notes she recorded, advises the School Family website. For example, your youngster could create a fictional story based on a walk around the block, written from the perspective of a bird flying through the neighborhood. She could describe everything the bird sees as it wonders about humans and their contraptions. Your child could also write a nonfictional account of her observations, if she chooses.

Warnings

Instruct your child to never taste anything that is not food or beverage because it might be harmful. To present a complete array of the senses, it's beneficial to include the sense of taste, but warn your child that tasting to observe is often not safe.

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