When I first started in the Early Childhood Field, I used to sit down and assess students on their numbers, colors shapes, and letters. The students that seem to know all these items in circle time had a hard time recognizing them during the assessment. I realized at that moment, that it wasn’t a good idea. I was not only putting the students on the spot, but I probably was also giving some of them testing anxiety… So I stopped.
I begin writing anecdotal notes while the students played and during circle time. I found that I learned more about my students that way. They said and did things that helped me understand every aspect of the whole child learning process.
I still find creative ways to introduce and review the letters, numbers, colors, and shapes in circle time, but I don’t use that process as a test. Sometimes we do musical letters, numbers, or colors, and other times we review the letters and their letter sound. In any case, I make it fun and enjoyable for the students. I never use flashcards; I think they give the students a narrow view of letters and how they can relate to all sorts of things. Flashcards usually have the letter, such as; an A, and one picture for that letter, which is usually an… apple.
You can find out if your students have developed good social skills as well… listen to how they enter a group and how they play and interact with others.
I had a preschooler who was 4 years old, and extremely smart. She could read and knew all of her letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. I was convinced that she was ready for kindergarten, even though the school system said based on her age, she wasn’t.
I didn’t want to jump the gun, so I observed her for a while to see if she was really ready to attend kindergarten. One day she was playing on the carpet alone, very content with all the things she had set up. She decided she didn’t want to play there anymore and walked away and began playing with something else.
Another child walked over to the items and began playing with them. She yelled, hey I was playing with that. I explained to her, that once she walked away from her items other students were allowed to play with them. I don’t think she understood, because she did it again another day.
There was my answer, she wasn’t ready for kindergarten, she needed more time to build her social skills and learn more about the process of play.
So, the best possible way to assess a preschooler is to listen and record.