What Should Parents and Educators Know About the Assessment of Young Children?

The early childhood years help create a foundation for future learning and place students on the path of academic success. That’s why it is essential to use assessments to measure how well children are mastering the skills, concepts, and ideas that are introduced to them. In this article, we will discuss what parents and educators should know about the assessment of young children.

What is assessment?  

Assessment is a process for gathering information and data to make decisions about young children.  The process is appropriate when it is systematic, multidisciplinary, and based on the everyday tasks of childhood.  The best assessment system is comprehensive in nature.  That is, the assessment yields information about all the developmental areas: motoric, temperament, linguistic, cognitive, and social/emotional.

How is assessment the same or different than a test? 

A test, a potential assessment source, is used for measuring learning skills, knowledge, development, aptitudes, and so on, whereas assessment is a process where information is utilized to make decisions about young children.

What assessment methods are most suitable for infants and toddlers? Preschoolers? School-age children? 

There are a multitude of suitable assessment methods that address each area of early childhood education. However, observation is one of the most recommended forms.

Infants and toddlers:

The assessment method most suitable for infants and toddlers is observation.  Combining prior knowledge about the individual child, previous experiences with other children, and knowledge of infant/ toddler development allows caregivers to modify their course of action.


The assessment method most suitable for preschoolers is observation.  Informed observation consists of knowledge of child development, curricular goals, and expected learning outcomes.

School-age children:

The assessment method most suitable for school-age children is first, observation, then the possible use of testing instruments.

How should you use your knowledge of child development in an assessment?

Early childhood educators use their knowledge of child development to compare assessment information with typical child development and their previous experiences with children.

What should parents, principals, and others know about assessment results?

It is essential to recognize that each stakeholder, be it parents, principals, or others, has different assessment needs. Parents typically want to know how their children are developing and learning.  They additionally seek out informed opinions shared by caregivers and teachers through formal and informal conversations, conferences, and reports.

Teachers and specialists need this information to keep programs running well for the children.  Administrators, policy boards, and legislators are accountable for the progress of groups of children and need to know what works and does not work in their programming.

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