So, yes, I’m a mom. But before I was a mom, I had another life. I was a teacher. And, I hold a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision – with an emphasis on Curriculum Development and Testing Data Analysis. So all of that training and experience has taught me a thing or two that I’m happy to share with ya’ll.
Have you ever wondered how much your child REALLY knows, but haven’t been able to quantify it or figure out what it means? Hopefully these simple little tips will help.
The best way to do an assessment at home – esp for a toddler – is to make it a game. I’ll be using the alphabet for my example. So get a foam puzzle, or a set of flash cards, or make your own little letter cards, and let your child play with them for a while. Once your child has thoroughly mixed them up, randomly pick up a letter and say, “Hey, what’s this letter?” When you set it back down, you’re going to set it one of two places. If your child got it correct, set it back in front of him or her. If not, pull it out and set it somewhere separate for you to hang onto. Go through all of the letters until your child has had the opportunity to identify (or not) all 26. Save out the ones that were incorrect, and then later on the same day, using a different medium with a different font (for example – a t shirt with letters on it, or a picture book), point to those letters and see if your child knows them then. IF you child knows any of them when asked in a different format/setting, then that is a “sometimes” letter – meaning that sometimes your child recognizes it, and sometimes they don’t. Now, obviously, they could have more “sometimes” letters – that they knew in the medium you showed them the first time, but might not recognize later. That’s ok. But the letters that aren’t recognized the second time around, those are the letters that you want to take note of and chose to focus your time on. For Becca, they are D, G, J, N, T, and Z.
The “sometimes” letters will rear their ugly heads when you least expect it, so it’s good to always be reinforcing letter recognition (or number, shape, color, whatever the skill is that you are assessing and working on) even if your child has already exhibited knowledge in that area. It’s also good once you get into lower case letter recognition that your child see letters in a variety of fonts – especially letters like g, a, and q, which can appear a variety of different ways depending on the font. TRUE recognition comes when your child can identify the letter in ANY font.
Then I recommend keeping this information written down – in a binder, or on a file in Evernote, or wherever you can. This way you can track progress. Do the same assessment in a couple weeks after working on the skill and see if there has been improvement, if you’ve found more “sometimes” letters/numbers/shapes/colors, or what change has occurred. Don’t do these assessments on a day that you know is a bad day for your child – either emotionally, physically, or astronomically. (Don’t do an assessment on the day of a full moon. Ever. It really does skew your results.) Also don’t be shocked if after working on certain letters, your child still doesn’t get them… or gets them and has forgotten others. That is a totally normal part of the learning process. Remember that total mastery is when in any situation at any time, recognition occurs. Until that point, it’s not fully mastered. And this goes for any skill. Which, honestly, says that I never really mastered multiplication OR division, because lemme tell ya’ll… I do NOT know that stuff in any situation. SO, don’t be too hard on your child if they forget at some point. We all do. Just keep working on it and reinforcing it in positive ways.
But the whole point of this blog post is to help you realize that you CAN give your child a “test” without them even realizing it, and it will give you valuable information that you can use to help him or her to succeed in the future. I hope that this little post has been helpful, and I’m totally willing to give more advice to anyone who has questions or needs help. Feel free to comment below.