When I had my own classroom, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what my students knew without pulling them aside to quiz them. It was my personal challenge to capture that learning through observation. I found the house corner was a great place to learn about early literacy and social development. I would come in and ask someone to call my mom. Then I would make note of how many of the numbers they could find on the phone pad. There were note pads filled with emerging writing samples, examples of understanding the use of print such as phone books and newspaper ads. I could see and hear what they were learning about relationships, entering play, understanding roles and rules, and how they used their imaginations. THEN I could go back to the checklist and tick off the areas of development along with some anecdotal records.
But the topic of assessment in early childhood (and perhaps beyond) makes for some tense conversation. How do you “test” preschoolers? How do you evaluate things like art and imaginative play? I hear teachers wanting to protect children from the push factor and parents who genuinely want to know that their child is successful in the classroom environment. So my current curiosity is finding those tools that are honoring and authentic. I think my summer reading pile is growing.