Monday, September 20, 2010

Assessment is Continuous (Part 1 of 3)

If you’re a teacher, parent, student (or former student), then you know the importance of assessment. Teachers strive to evaluate their students as fairly as possible, but it can be difficult to know what “fair” assessment is. Kim Hughes and Dominic Gullo wrote a fascinating and effectual article about assessment in the May 2010 issue of Young Children. The authors examined the importance of assessment, describing it as continuous,comprehensive, and integrative. This article is the first part in a series of three discussing the importance of assessment in preschools, kindergartens, and day care centers, as well as how The Adventurous Child’s outdoor play equipment will allow you to assess children’s developmental milestones.

Kim Hughes and Dominic from Young Children magazine wrote about assessment:

Assessment is a continuous process. Ideally, assessment describes the progress of a child’s learning not just after a single test but over time. There is no beginning, middle, or end to learning, so it follows that assessment of children’s learning should not be limited to measurement only at the end of an instructional unit (Hughes & Gullo, 2010, p. 57-8).

At The Adventurous Child, we understand that assessment isn’t only happening at the end of the semester or year. Teachers are constantly assessing their students’ progress. Assessment can also take many forms: it can be the teacher and his state-mandated report card, or it could be the day care center instructor monitoring her children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical milestones.

Equipment in an outdoor classroom can be built with state early standards in mind, which is useful for assessing children. For example, abalance beam will help develop balance and coordination through outdoor play. Moreover, the ability to step from narrow beam to narrow beam requires a greater skill level than just walking on a standard preschool balance beam. Watch your children’s understanding in gravity and enjoyment of motor and sensory experiences increase as they move from one beam to the next! Stepping pods are another great way to monitor children’s physical developmental milestones. While crossing the Playground Stepping Pods, a child’s brain, eyes and feet all have to work in accordance with one another to move from lower pods to higher pods and back, and to step from a small object to another small object. Aside from assessing development, this is fun, too!

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