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The Early Childhood is a period when assessment of children’s successes in learning needs to be efficiently connected with the assessment of their successes in the development of a variety of other skills. In this context, much attention should be paid to the informal assessments because they are important to represent the development of children’s competencies and skills in their combination, and they propose developmentally appropriate methods to assess children in many natural environments.
Importance of Informal Instruments to Assess Young Children
In order to receive the appropriate information on the children’s progress in all domains, it is significant to focus on the assessment as the ongoing process. In this case, only informal procedures like observation can be effective to represent the children’s current abilities regarding everyday activities accurately. According to Brian Cambourne’s determined conditions of learning, children are inclined to learn by doing and playing, and assessments of their achievements should address this feature to provide the accurate and detailed information on the development (Cambourne 34). B. F. Skinner also noted that the direct behavioral observation is important because at the stage of Early Childhood, it is necessary to focus on children’s accomplishments in their natural environments (Skinner 56).
Thus, formal assessments cannot provide the adequate information regarding the children’s development in terms of integration of knowledge and skills in their daily life. Informal instruments are most effective to provide the ongoing naturalistic observations of children’s successes during daily activities to conclude regarding their development and learning.
Such four assessment methods as Anecdotal Record, Event Sampling, Running Record, and Frequency Count can be actively used during the observation in order to gather the detailed data on children’s accomplishments. Following Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, it is important to use assessments evaluating different aspects of child’s intelligence (Gardner 112). Anecdotal Record is effective to complete regular observations during the concrete amount of time to cover any event in which the child is involved. The teacher can use this method to fix changes in the individual behavior during different events, but this method is ineffective to represent all the specific details observed during the period of time. In this case, Event Sampling is used to fix all the details noted in the behavior of individuals during particular class activities.
The teacher usually uses this approach to note how students behave during working with figures or playing with other children. Running Record is helpful to fix all the details observed during the interaction of concrete students when they play with each other. In this context, the teacher needs to record all the words saying by students, their behaviors, attitudes, and reactions, for instance. However, this approach is not effective to fix how often certain behaviors are observed, and Frequency Count is used in this case. It is effective to represent how often a boy with disabilities can effectively complete the required task, for example.
Assessment of a Child
The assessment of a preschool child should be based on presenting the objective evaluation of subjective data collected during the observation. Much attention should be paid to the balanced evaluation because of the focus on the balanced teaching and learning, as it is stated by Jerome Bruner (Bruner 28). For instance, while assessing a girl having problems with social interactions, it is necessary to avoid bias using the objective language in describing her successes in interactions with other children in the group. Conclusions should be made based on the assessments’ results, instead of on the personal attitude to the girl.
To assure reliability and validity, it is important to complete the variety of assessments with the help of Anecdotal Record, Event Sampling, Running Record, and Frequency Count among other methods. In this case, assessments need to reflect the aspects of not only social skills’ development but also development of motor skills, cognitive abilities, and physical activity because all these aspects are interchanged and can influence the child’s development significantly (Gardner 67). Furthermore, to collect the data in relation to all domains and make the complete assessment, it is necessary to pay attention to the girl’s all behaviors, attitudes, and reactions observed during daily activities.
Integration of Assessments
To integrate the effective assessment strategies in the curriculum, it is important to use Anecdotal Records and Checklists for assessing students’ particular behaviors and convert the observed results into the numbers that can be easily used to improve the teaching instructions. As a result, Anecdotal Records can be used to assess the progress weekly, and Checklists can be used to conclude regarding the progress before the end of the learning unit. To integrate the assessments into transitions, it is also necessary to refer to Checklists and Rating Scales because the numerical data is most helpful at this stage of teaching.
However, during the time of outdoor play and snack time, it is important to use Running Records in order to fix all the details in students’ behaviors. The work in centers also provides the important information about the children’s progress in activities and completing tasks (Bruner 12; Gardner 89). Furthermore, events are also often observed in centers, and Event Sampling and Running Records can provide the most complete data on the students’ progress in development of their learning, social, emotional, and physical abilities.
Formal assessments can be discussed as inappropriate to represent changes in children’s development of motor skills, social skills, and emotional growth in addition to the development of cognitive abilities. On the contrary, the focus on informal assessment ensures that a teacher can assess children appropriately and make relevant instructional decisions.
Bruner, Jerome. Acts of Meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990. Print.
Cambourne, Brian. The Whole Story: Natural Learning and the Acquisition of Literacy in the Classroom. New York: Scholastic, 1988. Print.
Gardner, Howard. Frames of the Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1983. Print.
Skinner, Burrhus Frederic. Science and Human Behavior. New York: Macmillan, 1953. Print.