Monday, July 21, 2014

Observations in the Park

Today, I woke up at 8:15 in a bit of a panic because my I slept through my alarm. Luckily I got ready quickly enough, and was heading out the door for class by 8:30. Fortunately for me, Oyin was kind enough to grab me an apple before we started walking to our classes. I got to my class with time to spare, like usual.

We started out our classes by talking about our plans for the afternoon. That afternoon, the plan was to go to a park and observe kids and their relationships with their peers and guardians. Cassie had previously done observations of kids and parents interactions in the zoo for research, and explained to us that if at any point a parent came up to you and asked you what you were doing, you had to have an explained response. She had ready a slip of paper explaining that she was recording conversations for a study. If the stranger did not like the fact that their conversations were being recorded, they had the right to have the tapes erased. Luckily though, Cassie said this was a rare occurrence. We still needed to practice what we’re going to say at the park, though, if there was a chance that we were going to be approached by a parent or kid.
After the discussion about our plans for the afternoon, we started to watch a video about the child's brain and how sound and language is learned. At first language does goes into the brain and connections having to do with language happen all over the brain, but as time goes on and the sounds these babies are hearing are developing into language, the connections move to the left brain. This is why if someone is hit in a certain part of their head on the side, they may not be able to speak coherently for some time.

After the video and discussion, we went to lunch in the dining hall. We were instructed that the park was a bit of a long walk and it was a hot day, so we should only bring a notebook and pen. We walked to the park together after meeting at the class room. The park was about five blocks away and very large. There were multiple playgrounds in the park, and Cassie split us up into groups of two or three to observe different playgrounds. This way it wouldn't look as obvious that we were a group observing the kids. I was paired with Bella, who is in my research group and is also from California. At first we saw two separate parties on the playground. The first was a group of seven kids (4 boys, 3 girls), Spanish speaking, who were in the age range of about 7 to 14 years. They seemed to be very good friends or even family. The older kids would push the younger kids on the swings, sometimes they would just sit and talk, and other times there would be yelling and insulting, but only teasingly and it was all taken lightly. They were on their own, there was no older figure watching them. The second party consisted of a young girl who must have been around 4 or 5 years old. She was being watched by her grandmother perhaps, or her caretaker. The caretaker was also pushing a stroller with a baby, and the young girl was playing by herself mostly, but she kept looking over at the other group of kids as if she wanted to play with them. She left soon after we arrived. We observed for about an hour, taking notes, and drawing out the scene, which Cassie said was helpful to look at. Because there were not many other kids in the park, we ended class early, at about 2:15, and all headed back to the dorms.

View of our Dorms from the Lounges

Back at the dorms, I started my chapter reading, which was also about language development. I went to the gym for about an hour to take a break from my work, and then rushed to dinner with Oyin, Dani, Victoria, Katelyn, and Esin. It was fun to talk with them for a bit. We headed back to the dorm lounges to finish our homework and to blog. 

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