In this blog we will dis­cuss how to make a run­ning record. When you care for and sup­port the learn­ing of young chil­dren, it is essen­tial to have accu­rate and up-to-date infor­ma­tion about each child’s lev­el of devel­op­ment. Observ­ing chil­dren’s nor­mal activ­i­ties is the most reli­able source of this infor­ma­tion. Run­ning records are one good way to keep track of your observations.

Care Cours­es offers the course Observ­ing, Record­ing, and Assess­ing Children’s Devel­op­ment. In this course we cov­er the best ways to per­form obser­va­tions and to assess children’s devel­op­ment, includ­ing run­ning records.

What is a running record?

Run­ning records are open-end­ed, nar­ra­tive-type records that cov­er a sequence of behav­iors over a peri­od of time. This type of record is a good tool to help you dis­cov­er caus­es and con­se­quences, for exam­ple, find­ing a pat­tern to a chal­leng­ing behav­ior such bit­ing or hit­ting. Run­ning records are also use­ful for plan­ning learn­ing activ­i­ties for indi­vid­ual children.

Run­ning records include every­thing that hap­pens dur­ing the peri­od of obser­va­tion. Behav­iors are record­ed as they hap­pen. Run­ning records pro­vide a rich, com­plete, and com­pre­hen­sive account of the child’s behavior.

How to write a running record

  • Observe only one child at a time.
  • Record only the facts of what you see. Avoid using words that judge or inter­pret. Don’t record what you believe, sus­pect, or infer from the child’s actions.
  • Record every detail. Don’t omit anything.
  • Record behav­iors in the order in which they occur.

What to include

Include the date, time, and loca­tion of your obser­va­tion. Include the name and age of each child involved in any inci­dents observed. Addi­tion­al­ly, include the con­text of the incidents. 

As with all obser­va­tion records, keep your com­ments sep­a­rate from the run­ning record itself and clear­ly label them as your comments.

Other observation methods

While no sin­gle obser­va­tion method pro­vides a com­plete assess­ment of a child, com­bin­ing reg­u­lar run­ning records with oth­er types of obser­va­tions will give you a more exten­sive pic­ture of the child’s needs, inter­ests, and skill levels.

Want to learn about oth­er types of obser­va­tion meth­ods? Take our course Observ­ing, Record­ing, and Assess­ing Children’s Devel­op­ment. In it we cov­er many meth­ods to assess chil­dren and help you under­stand when and how to best use them. 

Care Courses Support

Please con­tact us and let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings, and week­ends: We’re here to help!

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