Assessments in Pre-k....
I hate them.
They turn commonsense parents into flash-card wielding crazies trying to stop their itty bitty from licking doorknobs long enough to learn their numbers in Chinese! I have avoided 99% of standard assessments for this very reason.
Twenty years ago when I began my career as a licensed in-home childcare provider and preschool teacher, Pre-K assessments were unheard of.
Preschool was a place for learning to share, walk in line, speak to others with manners, sit at a table and use utensils, napkins, and a cup properly. We learned to clean up after one-self. It was a place where block towers and rainbow yarn creations were the indicators of success.
Happy smiles, giggle filled days and dirty feet meant a GREAT day of learning and play.
They still do for me...
However, increasingly, assessments are touted as indicators of preschool success and further predictor of academic readiness for an ever intense game of high-stakes testing resulting in whether or not schools receive funding. Making certain that a child can perform certain tasks by a certain age has taken the place of a self-paced childhood and it makes me sad for children.
I get it though.
As the mama to a newly graduated 5 year old, I wanted to make certain my child was keeping pace as well. I got sucked into it for a little while. I allowed myself to judge her learning curve by dates, graphs, and skill's checks.
Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes, "Childhood is a journey, not a race." (if you know who said this, let me know and I want to give them credit and hug them!)
I understand the need to intervene for children that may have yet to be diagnosed learning exceptions. Assessments help hone us in to those and become aware of patterns of development for an individual child. But make no mistake, they can be dangerous. They can turn a parent or educator into a flash card dictator and a child into a mini-adult sputtering out memorized responses to obtain the attention of their affections.
It makes me sad, it truly does.
I can count, personally, many adults that did not do well on ANY academic assessment that have gone on to do amazing things as adults. I am certain I am not alone in this...
Regardless, assessments are the grade cards of Pre-K. They have become the accepted practice of preschool teachers and programs all across the country. I have seen many.
Most I cannot stand.
They make a child feel exhausted and embarrassed for what they cannot perform. Maybe, this is the result of teachers that test instead of observe. Maybe, it is the pressure to make certain little Jane's parents don't give them a bad Facebook review when Janie scores below a certain level on her entrance exam and (Don't even get me started on Kindergarten entrance exams... When I was little if you were 5 and could keep your boogers out of your mouth, you were a shoo-in!)
Do you know that Princess Diana dropped out at 16? Einstein didn't speak his FIRST WORDS until he was 4, he would have had an I.E.P, and an I.F.S.P., and a team of interventionists in today's world. Even Colonel Sanders was forced to drop out of elementary school to take care of his family. In my own extended family there are those that did not do well in school, dropped out, and are leading very successful lives.
However, for properly trained teachers utilizing an observation and communication method, they can be helpful identifying areas of strength (and need) for little learners.
In my search to find those that fully allowed just that, I have come across a couple that I really to like and believe are beneficial to children and families.
Mother Goose Time Child Progress Monitoring Reports
These are my favorite (forget the fact that I am an MGT blogger for just a moment). I decided to become a MGT blogger last summer after trying their curriculum. It was so comprehensive. It spanned all ages and always had something new and different. There were days that we skipped it because it was a perfect 70 degrees and sunny, but overall, we used it up and wore it out!
They have also provided me with their assessments to critique. I was skeptical when I unwrapped the "booklet." I thought, "NO WAY!" "This has to be a mistake...there are like 20 pages to this thing."
Then I read it.....
Someone actually gets it. Here is why:
They cover things like block building, puzzles, and math reasoning (not just numbers, adding, and subtracting). They put Social/Emotional and Physical Development FIRST, right where I believe it should be...first and foremost.
They give it just as much emphasis as the academics portions of the assessment.
The choices are not pass/fail. The choices are developmentally appropriate, "Developing." "Meeting," and "Exceeding," because that is the true measure of a preschooler's development. They are ALWAYS either developing, meeting, or exceeding a skill. There is no such thing as "failing" at preschool and Mother Goose Time makes that obvious.
Order it here: http://www.mothergoosetime.com/assessment/progress-monitoring-reports/
Carol's Affordable Curriculum
This is the front and back of a one page assessment from Carol's Affordable Curriculum. They have done a great job here of condensing main skills into a clip board size assessment that one could do throughout the day while observing their little learners at play.
The back side is for children from infancy through age 2 and covers milestones of development succinctly.
I can see using this one on a monthly basis and the Mother Goose Time assessments on an annual or bi-annual basis.
Get a copy of it here: http://www.carolscurriculum.com/
Assessments are just a snapshot...
Assessments are to be seen as nothing more than snapshots of a moment. They are not, in my opinion, an indicator of success. They are a useful information to aid educators and parents of exceptional indicators and pinpointing areas of development.
We should not, however, sacrifice childhood at the alter of assessment and that is what I fear for all children.
As always, I wish you well and I hope you get to play today... - L
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Life is made of moments...
"There isn't anything more full of hope, joy and peace than a child's smile... It captures the mundane and makes it extraordinary." - LaDonna Woolsey
I am a Mother Goose Time Blogger. I decided to become one after trying their products because I they are comprehensive and serve my mixed age group well. I do receive products to review from Mother Goose Time and do so with my own honest and thorough opinions. For more information, please contact me at Ladonna@woolseyacademy.com