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Your little one is a tiny, curious explorer navigating a world full of new experiences, sensations, and emotions.

How to Observe and Identify your Child's Needs

How to Observe and Identify your Child's Needs

The journey of parenthood is filled with joy, challenges, and countless moments that shape not only the life of your child but also your own. In this journey, the first is understanding and fulfilling your child's needs.

Development in childhood emerges with needs that go beyond the basics of food, sleep, and shelter; it involves a deeper understanding of their emotional, psychological, and physical development.

Your little one is a tiny, curious explorer navigating a world full of new experiences, sensations, and emotions. These stages of development carry unique milestones and challenges, and being alert to these changes is crucial for providing the proper support.

Parents are also responsible for looking after their little ones' emotional well-being. Emotions are just like a colour-filled pallet, and they must recognize and respond to them. 

From the giggles of joy to the quiet moments of reflection, understanding their emotional needs is crucial to fostering a secure, nurturing environment. Recognizing and responding to your child's emotional well-being lays the foundation for trust and connection.

In understanding and supporting your child, you must also encourage your little one to be independent. Fostering independence allows children to develop crucial life skills and confidence. Independence doesn't mean leaving them alone but rather empowering them to take those tiny steps towards self-discovery.

As a parent, you must recognize that every child has their own needs, dreams, and quirks. So, let's embark on this journey together, exploring the intricacies of development in childhood, tending to emotional needs, and guiding our little ones toward independence.

What are some good ways to observe your child's needs? 

Anecdotal records 

Keeping anecdotal records of your child's moods and behaviours allows you to observe their needs over time. These are records of observations that you have made about your child after the event or behaviour has already been observed and occurred. 

Anecdotal records help keep track of your child's behaviours, skills, needs, developmental milestones, and interests daily as your child grows. 

These anecdotal records inform parents and educators about the child's progress, help plan their learning activities, find out where they are lacking, and keep track of their growth.

Keeping a story diary 

You can also start by keeping a story diary. This is a way of writing down your observations like a story in a diary. This type of observation record helps create an informative rundown of the observations made during the day. 

Jotting record notes 

Another simple and quick way is jotting down notes from your records. These brief notes on your child's progress keep records short and sweet, with only the most important information written down. 


Sociograms are diagrams of your child's social interactions with friends, family, and other children. 

It is more commonly used with older children but can be used to track your child's development into the social world during the toddler stage. This is an excellent way to understand the way you interact with other children and observe their behaviour in a social setting.

Running records 

Running records record everything your child says and does and for how long during the work day. Reviewing these records allows you to observe how your child thinks, behaves, and concentrates in a realistic sense. 

Time samples

Time samples are used to keep track of your child's behaviour, along with how many times the behaviour occurred throughout any given day. 

Event samples

This simple observation helps in knowing your child's behaviour, emotional needs, triggers, and interactions. Event samples are similar to time samples, but they go according to what happens when a behaviour occurs instead of in accordance with the time that the behaviour is happening. 


Photographs can record what your child is doing in an activity or how your child is behaving during a work day. Photos should also go with a good written description underneath them. 

Work samples 

These can be examples of your child's art, drawing, and writing and are mainly used for art and writing during the first plane. They are more like records of creative progress. 

What is the best way to identify your child's needs? 

Understanding your child's needs is best done through close observation. You can identify your child's needs from your child's behaviour even before they can speak.

Observing your child daily, record keeping, and tracking your child's interests and behaviour are the best ways to identify your child's development needs.

Your child's developmental behaviour or interest that you can attribute to a sensitive period should be prioritized. When behaviour occurs, that is likened to the needs of a sensitive period, and you can research or study activities related to that period through a Nino Mondo guide book or by analyzing the information yourself online. 

These helps identify an elimination system to work out the activities that most interest your child according to your child's sensitive period. 

Once this is done, you can use the concept of less is more to narrow the activities down to the ones that most interest your child and pack the rest into storage. So, to identify your child's needs systematically, let's go through simple examples and understand the steps: 


Step 1: Is to identify your child's behaviour during a sensitive period 

For example, if your baby or toddler is grabbing objects and feeling them with their mouth and hands, your child may be in a sensitive period for tactile exploration.  

Step 2: Now you can provide a range of activities that cater to this sensitive period 

So, suppose your toddler is displaying the behaviour of tactile exploration. In that case, you can provide 3D solid shapes, tactile boards, sandpaper sounds, and numbers, a sensory bin that can be made DIY with natural materials, thermic bottles for your child's gauge of temperature, etcetera.  

Step 3: Identify which activities most interest your child for toy rotation 

Once you have put out activities for your child's sensitive period or behavioural needs, you can use observation and elimination to identify their interest.

Your child may find some activities too challenging or uninteresting because Montessori focuses on developing what your child is good at and still working on. Pack these activities away, and in doing so, you're catering to your child's developmental needs while practicing the environmental value of less is more.

Your child's needs will be best met when you consistently observe them, track and record your observations, and review them to conclude their behaviour. This is important for you to do as a 

Montessorian parent, along with the knowledge and resources to know or to research sensitive periods related to your child's observed behaviour patterns. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How are observations used to plan your child's needs?

Observing children is a valuable tool for evaluating their advancement. It allows us to identify each child's unique care and learning requirements. By doing so, we can strategically map out the following stages in their development and education. For practical insights, it's crucial to observe children in a manner that benefits them and optimizes our use of time.

How do you identify your child's needs?

Observe behavior, listen actively, and communicate openly. Understand emotions, address physical needs, and adapt as they grow for their overall support.

 What are the 5 essential needs of children?

The essential elements for a strong start in a child's life can be easily remembered – nutrition, health, education, play, and protection.


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