Teaching Our Youngest - Part 6



CHECKING CHILDREN'S PROGRESS
The more you know about children's academic, social, and emotional development, the more able you will be to meet their needs. Information about how well the children are progressing helps you to plan your teaching. You want the children in your care to feel successful and confident, but you also want to offer experiences that will help them to develop further. In addition, through initial screening and by checking the children's progress, you can identify those children who need special help or who face extra challenges.

Here are some ways that you can keep track of children's progress:

  • Observe them daily. Watch as they play with each other, respond to your directions, participate in activities, and use language to communicate.
  • Collect samples of their drawings, paintings, and writing.
  • Keep notes about what they say and do.
  • Encourage them to talk about their own progress.
  • Regularly assess their progress so that your instruction will meet their needs.
  • Talk with parents and caregivers. Ask them what they have observed at home. Tell them about their children's strengths. Let them know about any concerns you may have.
  • Also, remember to talk often with the children about what they are doing. Be sure to focus on their strengths—what they can do and the progress they have made. This will help them build confidence and motivation for learning.


COMMUNICATING WITH PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS
As a teacher, you and the children's parents and caregivers are partners in helping to get the children ready for future school success. Good communication with parents and caregivers can build support for and strengthen the important work that you are doing in the classroom.

It is important for you to communicate with parents and caregivers because:

  • They will have a better understanding of how you are helping to prepare their children for success in school.
  • They will learn how well their children are progressing in developing the building blocks of learning.
  • They will learn ways in which they can help their children at home.
  • You will have a better understanding of the background and experiences of the children.
  • The children will see that the adults in their life care about them and are interested in their learning and development.

Here are some ways that you can communicate with parents and caregivers:

  • Talk with them as they deliver and pick up their children.
  • Send home newsletters, notes, or e-mails to inform them of what their children are learning in your classroom.
  • Schedule regular meetings to let them know how their children are progressing—both the areas of strength and the areas that could use more support at home.

Teacher Talk

Jason's doing a great job of learning his letters. Maybe he can show you tonight how many he knows!
Amanda is having a little trouble talking about the stories that I've been reading to the class. It would probably help if you could ask her to talk about the stories you read to her at home. When you've finished reading a book, you could say something like, "Amanda, can you tell your teddy bear what that story was about?"
Encourage parents and caregivers to:

  • Talk with children during daily routines such as when riding in the car and during meal and bath times.
  • Help children to name objects in their environment (labeling).
  • Read and reread stories.
  • Recount experiences and describe ideas that are important to them.
  • Visit libraries and museums.
  • Provide opportunities for children to draw and print, using markers, crayons, and pencils.
  • Share ideas with them about activities that they can do at home to build on what you are doing in the classroom.

Teacher Talk

You can help Roberto practice his "R" and write his name and then together come up with other fun words that start with the letter "R."
Here's a book that Lucas was interested in today. It is about animals. Maybe you can go to the library and get another book about animals. You can also take this book and read it and talk about which animals he likes the best and why.
As you know, today we went on a field trip to the grocery store. Please, ask Maurice to tell you some of the things we did.
Invite parents and caregivers to visit your classroom.


Adapted from U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force, Teaching Our Youngest, Washington, D.C., 2002.