Assessing Preschoolers: What Early Educators Need To Know

Academics for preschoolers are not only mastering the alphabet, phonics, shapes and numbers. Being educators and childcare providers, we all know that every child is unique. Child development experts focus on self-regulation skills to succeed in early years’ education. To estimate and apply self-regulation theory (SRT) to each student, the most important thing you can do is assess your students. This helps you to:

  • Identify their strengths 
  • Indicate their weaknesses or learning gaps
  • Point out where they need the most assistance

And while assessment can seem daunting, it doesn't have to be. In this blog post, we'll explore everything you need to know about assessing preschoolers. We'll cover everything from setting up your assessment tools to administering the assessment itself. So read on, and get ready to assess your students like a pro!

Different Types of Assessments

When used correctly, assessment results can provide valuable information that can be used to individualize instruction for each child. By taking into account the different strengths and needs of each child, educators can create an optimal learning environment for the students.

There are a variety of ways that can be used to assess preschoolers such as:

Developmental Assessments 

Focus on children's physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development is an integral part of early years. These assessments can help identify delays in development or areas of strength. Tracking physical growth is the most important feature of early years development as all the other areas depend on physical and emotional behaviour. For example, if a child comes into a daycare crying or having homesickness, it will affect all-day learning. In the same way, if the child is not physically fit or able to perform an activity, he/she may start developing learning gaps which will hinder the academic goals. 

Achievement Tests

Regular tests are a significant resource to measure knowledge and skills in specific academic areas such as reading, writing and math. Some achievement tests are general, while others are designed for specific grade levels. 

Ongoing Observation

Daily observation is another important tool for assessment. Early educators can observe children during everyday activities to look for patterns of behaviour or strengths and weaknesses. Documentation of children's work is also a valuable form of assessment. This includes things like artwork, journal entries, and other projects.


Educators must know…

Assessing a child in one go is not possible in the early years of education. Young children are very much prone to mood swings, and health and behavioural issues. No single assessment can give a complete picture of a child’s development or academic skills. That’s why educators need to keep these three factors in mind:

  • a) Why assess preschoolers?
  • b) When to assess preschoolers?
  • c) How to interpret assessment results?

a) Why Assess Preschoolers

There are a few reasons to know why it is important to assess preschoolers. For example:

✓ Track Individual Needs

The assessment provides educators with valuable information about each child’s individual needs. This information can then be used to tailor instruction and create differentiated plans to meet the individual needs of the student. 

✓ Early Intervention

Assessment can help identify areas of concern so that early intervention services can be put in place if needed. For example, if a child is not capable of doing well in any Math concept or finds difficulty in some phonetic reading level, we can fix it right in time.

✓ Serve as Milestones

Regular assessment helps track each child’s progress over time so that educators can ensure they are making adequate progress towards kindergarten readiness.

b) When to Assess Preschoolers

When it comes to assessing preschoolers, there are a few key times during the year when educators should check in with how children are progressing. Here are four times when assessments can be conducted:

✓ Before the Academic Session Starts

Assessments at the start of the year can give educators a baseline for each child’s skills and knowledge. This information can then be used to tailor individualized instruction and better support each child throughout the year.

✓ After Major Milestones

Major milestones such as starting toilet training or mastering a new skill like tying shoes provide good opportunities to assess how children are progressing. These assessments can help identify any areas where children may need additional support.

✓ Before & After Transitions

Transitions such as moving from one classroom to another or starting kindergarten can be stressful for children. Assessments before and after these transitions can help identify any areas of concern and track each child’s progress over time.

✓ Parental Communication

A parent's input is also an important part of the assessment process. Parents are the best judges and know their children best and can provide valuable information about their child's development and progress.

 c) Interpreting Assessment Results

When it comes to assessing preschoolers, there are a few key things that early educators need to keep in mind: 

✓ Every child is unique

First and foremost, it is important to remember that every child is unique and will therefore learn and develop at their own pace. As such, it is important not to compare one child's progress to another.

✓ Account for all areas of development

It is important to take into account all areas of development when assessing a child. To sum up the assessment results, overall development in cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development should be considered as a whole. A child's strengths and weaknesses should also be considered. Educators should compose and sum up a variety of assessments to get a well-rounded view of each child they work with. 

✓ Assessments only indicate not decide

It is also important to keep in mind that assessment results are only one piece of information about a child. They should not be used as the sole basis for making decisions about a child's education or future. If a child is displaying behaviours that are cause for concern, or if there is a sudden change in his or her behaviour, an assessment may be warranted to determine what is causing the problem and how best to support the child.

In a nutshell

Preschoolers should be assessed in a way that is developmentally appropriate and takes into account their individual needs. Early educators need to be aware of the different types of assessments available and how to use them effectively. By using assessments wisely, we can gain valuable insights into each child's strengths and weaknesses and help them reach their full potential.


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