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The Preschool Assessment Checklist: What Parents & Students Should Know

Child DevelopmentParent Resources

25th September 2020

Little ones master so much in those first few years. From taking their first steps, saying their first words, and even learning to make others laugh, the knowledge children accumulate between birth and age five seems exponential. It’s the job of preschool teachers to figure out exactly what your child has learned and what they need to help them continue to grow, and that’s where preschool assessment checklist comes in.

That can be both exciting and stressful for parents. This is the first major step towards them growing up! Whatever your feelings are, you may be wondering what you need to know about how young children are assessed.

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What is a Preschool Assessment?

Before we get into what you need to bring, it’s important to discuss what a preschool assessment is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. You’re probably already familiar with developmental milestones and how they’re assessed by your child’s pediatrician. Many of the same skills, along with documented growth and development, are included in most preschool assessments.
Ideally, your preschool will use a nationally reliable assessment tool such as the ASQ, Teaching Strategies, or the DRDP. A preschool assessment won’t focus very much on academic knowledge, as we know that at this young age it would be developmentally inappropriate to quantify a child’s growth in terms of their ability to memorize letters of the alphabet, but rather, on their overall growth and development. Think language development, cognitive development, large and small motor development, and self-help/social emotional development.

Why We Don’t Encourage a Preschool Assessment Checklist

A lot of preschools and child care programs will still use something that resembles a worksheet, or a list of skills and abilities that children should have when going into preschool. These might include skills like alphabet recognition, motor skills, social ability, etc. These ideas are somewhat outdated, and don’t reflect what children will be doing in child care, or what they need to be successful.

When you think back to your own school days, you probably remember doing worksheets. You did worksheets in class, and took some home to complete. In fact, you probably still have nightmares about them.

In today’s preschool assessments, your child is most likely not going to be doing any worksheets. While this may surprise you, it’ll also probably give you a sense of relief.

Learning for preschool students is based largely off play. Children are encouraged to learn by asking questions and exploring their environments. A comprehensive preschool assessment won’t happen in one sitting, but rather, will be based on long-term observations and deep knowledge of your child by his/her teacher. Many teachers will document learning and growth through photos, saved work samples, anecdotal records, and a completion of an assessment tool. They may spend a chunk of time on a specific day checking on specific skills gained by your child, but it will be in the typical preschool environment as opposed to a “test” environment.

Want to Know More?

If you’re wondering if your child is ready for preschool or want help finding a school, reach out to us at Wonderschool, and we will be more than happy to help! Be sure to check out our parent resources to find out more about preparation for child care, options for your children, and more!

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