Event Sampling

Event Sampling is usually a series of short observations to confirm a child's behaviour pattern in order to provide suitable strategies to manage the child's behaviour effectively. It is like keeping a clearly focused diary of the child's behaviour.
Event Samples can also provide accurate information for referral to other professionals e.g. Education Psychologist or Child Guidance Teams.
This example aims to show an anxious parent that her 18 month old child does settle easily into the new Day Nursery.

The Aim
To observe Ellen aged 18 months as she settles into Day Nursery. An Event Sample observation of her first full week in Nursery may help to reassure her mother.

The Rationale
Link to theory on separation and bonding.
Why did you choose an Event Sampling Technique? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

The Observation Context
The setting is a Private Day Nursery. Ellen started Day Nursery last week. She had been cared for at home by her mother. Mother is returning to work full-time. For the first 3 days, Ellen's mother stayed with her. Monday is the first time Ellen is left in the care of her Key Worker, Joanne.
Ellen's mother is a single parent with no family closeby. She is very anxious to know exactly how Ellen settles. The Key Worker has decided to do an Event Sampling observation lasting a week to show Ellen's mother how her daughter reacts when she arrives at Nursery.
The observer asked permission from the Nursery Manager and discussed this with Ellen's mother.

An Event Sampling Observation to show how Ellen aged 18 months settles into Day Nursery

Day Antecedent
What happens to cause behaviour
How Ellen reacts
What happens to reinforce behaviour
Monday Ellen arrives at 8:30 am. Her mother carries her into Nursery. Joanne greets them smiling "Hello Ellen. Good morning, Mrs W? How are you today?" Ellen glances at Joanne, looks at mother. Mother smiles. Ellen hesitates then smiles. Mother says, "Say hello, Ellen. Joanne is going to take care of you while Mummy is at work." Ellen holds her arms out to Joanne Joanne takes Ellen's coat off and talks quietly to her, counting the buttons and telling Ellen what she is doing. Ellen stands quietly watching her mother. Joanne checks that Ellen has her favourite Baby. She tells Ellen breakfast is ready and holds her hand ready to take her to join the other toddlers for breakfast. Ellen hesitates and looks at the children, then at Joanne and at her mother. "Shall we wave bye bye to Mummy? Then we can have breakfast." Ellen copies Joanne as she waves to Ellen's mother. Mother leaves quietly. Ellen stands for a moment looking at the door, then walks towards the breakfast table.
Tuesday Repeat of yesterday Ellen hesitates at first. Looks for reassurance from her mother and Joanne. Stands quietly while Joanne takes off her coat. Holds tightly on to Baby as she waves to mother. Enjoys her breakfast.
Wednesday Repeat of yesterday Ellen seems calm and quiet. Repeat of yesterday
Thursday Ellen arrives at 8:50 am. The traffic was busy and Mother is anxious not to be late for work. Joanne was waiting by the door to greet Ellen and her mother. Mother has no time, she puts Ellen into Joanne's arms, kisses her and says, "Goodbye, be a good girl and Mummy will see you soon." Ellen looks flustered. Her lip quivers and her eyes fill with tears. She clings to Baby and sobs for 5 minutes. Joanne holds her close, rocks her gently and talks quietly to her. Ellen stops sobbing and allows Joanne to take off her coat. She looks sad. Joanne talks to her about her plans for the day. Breakfast then an outing to the park. Ellen listens. "Toast. Een park." she says. She holds her hand to Joanne and walks to the breakfast table.
Friday Ellen arrives at 8:30 am she walks in holding Mother's hand. They are singing a song about the sun has his hat on. Ellen is laughing. Ellen echos, "Hat on." She laughs to Joanne. Joanne joins in the song. Ellen laughs and dances. She is happy and relaxed. Mother and Joanne clap their hands and tell Ellen she is a clever girl. Ellen beams and claps her hands. She sings, "ip ooray" Ellen appears to remember the Nursery routine and seems more confident this morning. She takes off her own coat and waits while Joanne hangs it on her peg. Ellen waves to her Mother. "Een toast!" she says and holds Joanne's hand.

The Evaluation

  • Explain what you observed
  • How does Ellen respond to separating from her mother?
  • What helps her? Think about her bond with her mother, new bond with Joanne, routine, favourite comfort toy, reassurance.
  • Include quotations from Child Development experts, Text Books and theory.
  • What made Ellen seem unsettled?
  • What comforted her?
  • How can you help the children by providing a safe, secure, stimulating nursery?
  • Why is the partnership between the parent and Key Worker important for the child?
  • Give practical examples of equal opportunities and anti-bias practice.

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