Authentic Assessment during Play

The Power of Observation:  

   emily with blocks Assessment in early childhood classrooms should occur through observations in a natural, authentic environment.
As we watch, listen and interact with children with the intention of being in the moment with them, we discover not only their understandings but also their learning process, their uniqueness and interests. We begin to value each child’s contributions to the community of learners.

We gain valuable information on how we can promote their success as a learner.

                   NAEYC Recommendations for Assessments:
*teachers’ observations of what children say and do
*other documentation (e.g. photographs)
*collected during their play and daily activities
*used  to refine how teachers plan and implement activities

Key Benefits:

  • Through intentional observation of each individual child, we begin to respect and appreciate each one for his/her uniqueness and for the strengths he/she brings to the community of learners. We value the contributions of each individual child.
  • Gain understanding of child’s skills in their natural environment, how they apply the knowledge in everyday exploration and use instead of in a contrived testing situation
  • Ability to reflect on each child’s skills and developmental growth
  • Increased ability to respond in ways that enable the children to be successful learners; turning the observations into effective instructional invitations
  • Provides differentiated instruction- clearly knowing the next steps for each child
  • Allows for strong relationship building- (which leads to more engaged and risk-taking learners)
  • Beautiful opportunities to wonder and learn about children’s thinking
  • Provides information on child’s approach to learning and their application of the knowledge instead of just ability to label or perform an isolated skill
  • Fuels our desire to learn more about the learning process

Author: DHonegger

Debra S. Honegger has worked in multiple areas of education- both general education and special education- as teacher, consultant, administrator and instructional coach- with ages from birth through adult. However, no matter where she is or what her title, she holds a firm belief in meeting the needs of each individual child while coming together as a community of learners.

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