As we head into a new school year, it’s a good time to make sure we have a system in place to track our children’s progress throughout the upcoming year. We do this through compiling portfolios of children’s work, photos, and developmental checklists and updating these portfolios at regular times throughout the year. Why are these assessments necessary?
Our programs should be developmentally appropriate, meaning that they are tailored to each child’s individual development and to appropriate developmental expectations. Maintaining a tracking system will help our staff to identify which developmental milestones each child has reached and which areas need further learning opportunities. It can help us to identify each child’s learning challenges and strengths. Our staff can then tailor their lessons to meet individual needs of children.
Portfolios are also helpful tools for sharing information with parents. Frequently, what children are learning in our program is difficult for parents to see. Children aren’t taking home worksheets with letters and numbers, so parents often feel that their children aren’t actually learning anything. Portfolios can help frame our discussion with parents about what it is that their children are learning throughout their time with us. Additionally, developmental checklists are pretty objective, so they can present difficult information to parents in a very straightforward way. Our staff, who are not qualified diagnosticians, can just tell parents their child “has not yet met this expected milestone”. They can explain what we’re doing to try to help the child to meet that milestone, provide suggestions on things parents can do at home to complement what we’re doing, or perhaps recommend an assessment from an outside professional.
The other advantage of maintaining portfolios is that a teacher can easily share complete, objective information regarding a child with the next teacher who will be teaching that child. The receiving teacher knows immediately where to focus the teaching for each child. With written parental permission, these portfolios can also be shared with Kindergarten teachers when the child is ready to transition to public school, to help make that transition easier.
If you don’t already have a set of Developmental Checklists that your staff use, check ours out here.