By this time of the school year, most children have had the chance and opportunity to integrate into the new environment, adjust to new people, and learn the schedule. You have helped children socialize and interact with each other, promoted problem-solving, and given them the tools to enjoy a typical day in a classroom. And even though observing children’s behavior and development starts on the very first day they walk into your classroom, it is at this time of year that you can evaluate, measure, and compare children’s progress, mark very clearly where children are now, and set goals for the rest of the school year.
The observation process occurs during daily activities and the class routine. When we observe, we become aware of a child’s abilities, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, challenges, and needs. Observation is an individual process between the adult and the child. Although the same or similar activity can be used to assess more than one child, the age, development, and difficulty of the activity must be considered when observing each child’s performance. Observations can be done by taking photos, videos, and audio recordings, or by keeping children’s work along with written notes in journals, portfolios, or progress reports.
Based on what you observe of children’s behavior and interactions in the classroom as a caregiver or educator, you can begin the assessment and evaluation of their learning process. The assessment can be done to evaluate what children know about a topic before it’s introduced, it can be done to determine what children learned during a specific activity, it can be done to know if you can move forward with a different and more advanced concept, or it could be done at the end of the year comparing what children knew at the beginning of the school year with what they know now.
Your center’s director, or person in charge, will determine the assessment style and screening tool to be used with the children in your care. Some examples of assessment tools include:
- Charts coded by color, number, and level
Documenting and charting your observations and evaluations are what will help you determine the way you will continue to teach and the goals to work on. Goals can be clearly shared with children in simple and short sentences so they can feel motivated and challenged as they work. Goals can also be shared with family members so they are aware of things they can do at home to support the child.
Observation, assessment, and goals are part of our curriculum at FunShine Express. As we develop and write educational activities, we offer suggestions of skills to observe and evaluate. Activities in our Curriculum Guides often include tips on how to individualize, adapt or extend activities, review suggestions, and observations with progression notes that help educators think ahead and set goals to take each child’s skill to the next level. We also provide Child Progress Reports for tracking skills and sharing with families. Click here to learn more about our assessment process and how it can be a helpful resource in your classroom.