Tip 123: December 2018 – Early Childhood Assessments
Website Educational Tips for Cognitive Development
Understanding a child is like unraveling a mystery, and doing assessments
are the gathering of clues. Recording behavior is recording growth, and
since children are in transition between developmental stages much of the
time recording in a variety of situations is needed to see common
movements. Studying one child in detail leads to a deeper understanding of
that one child, and a broader knowledge of all children.
Cohen, Stern, and Balaban, in their book Observing and Recording the
Behavior of Young Children stated, “Because our conceptions of what
children should be like was shaped in our childhood, we fall back with
greater security and sense of rightness on what
our parents taught us about how children should behave rather than on what
research tells us about how they do behave. Only by learning to see
children as they are, and especially as they see themselves, will we be
able to really understand them. All teachers and parents want to understand
children better. Understanding a child is like unraveling a mystery, and
doing assessments are the gathering of clues.”
Infants: Photographs – Take photos of the infants at play often. Since they
will not be able to say what they are interested in these photos will show
what they are curious about and will help in planning future activities.
Toddlers: Conduct Interviews – Talk with toddlers frequently so that their
interests and experiences can be integrated into planned activities.
Collect work samples so that these can be shared with other important
adults. Ask the toddler to dictate a brief comment about each item. Include
audiotapes using the toddlers own words.
Preschoolers: Portfolios – These are an invaluable tool for understanding
individual children. The advantage of portfolio assessments is that they
are useful ways of organizing information. Just make sure to label and date
all entries. Assessments should be linked to curriculum and educational
goals, and are an effective way to gather information about a child. They
should celebrate the child’s growth over time, and can also be used to
think about how learning experiences can be extended. In addition, they can
be used to develop an action plan to support child centered learning.
Adults make many decisions each day as they observe and assess children.
They respond based on what they feel the child needs to extend learning.
Ongoing observations and assessments are an essential part of connecting
concrete evidence to what children are able to do or not do. Often
observations lead to asking questions on what is learned about a child and
consider how best to provide support.
Educators are the only people who lose sleep over other peoples children.