A crucial component to early childhood preschool programs is the monitoring and assessment of development. Teachers incorporate learning activities that allow for cognitive development, language, personal development, motor skills and social skills to be used and enhanced. Assessment information and tools can be found at local libraries, area education associations, book stores or online.
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Child development is the child's ability to meet specific growth patterns and intellectual standards at a specific age. The assurance that the child is meeting all of the developmental milestones allows parents to move the child to kindergarten at the appropriate time. The most common milestones assessed in preschool include gross and fine motor skills, social skills, cognitive abilities and language capabilities. When a child does not meet set standards for growth milestones at a specific age, this is considered a developmental delay. Minor delays are common but significant delays may require consultation with a physician.
Specific factors in the child's daily work and interactions cue the preschool teacher in assessing developmental achievements. The age between four and five years old is crucial to observe because this is typically the year before kindergarten, where students must meet specific criteria to begin. Language skills observed in preschool include the telling of longer stories, ability to use future tense and say the child's name and address. A child that meets social development at this age can agree to rules, wants to please friends, can distinguish reality from fantasy and enjoys singing and dancing. A child at four to five years old should be able to cognitively grasp concepts such as understanding the concept of time, naming at least four colours and counting at least 10 objects.
Developmental checklists allow teachers to consistently monitor and document progress or deficiencies in developmental growth. Checklists can be found in a number of books designed to assist teachers in successfully assessing preschoolers. The Early Childhood Direction Center offers a checklist which identifies milestone markers as well as red flag areas that teachers can use to check off observed behaviours. Using a checklist allows the teacher to continuously monitor progress and focus extra attention on the items that have not been met. It is always important to make sure testing or assessment tools are valid and reliable. Local education agencies offer assessment and testing suggestions from a trustworthy source. You should always be wary of Internet sites selling different assessment or testing tools.
Assessment and testing on preschool children is crucial for future admission into kindergarten. The teacher and parent must understand the assessed need areas of the child to implement learning activities that will promote growth. Children assessed with developmental deficiencies require extra attention and instruction before preschool graduation. The earlier developmental delay is caught the better for the child and educators. Besides helping identify the needs of the children, utilising assessment checklists and tools can pinpoint areas of instruction the preschool needs to improve when repeated categories show little progress for a large number of children.
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- The Early Childhood Direction Center: Developmental Checklists Birth to Five
- Re-teach.com: Preschool Development Assessment
- National Institute for Early Education Research: Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach
- University of Michigan Health System: Developmental Milestones
- Healthy Children: Developmental Milestones: 4-5 Year Olds