|YOUNG CHILDREN |July 2013|
|by James Elicker and Mary Benson McMullen|
Developmentally appropriate assessment with infants and toddlers is an ongoing process teachers engage in daily, throughout the relationship with an infant or toddler, as they observe, document, reflect on, and then discuss with the family how to best support their child’s development (NAEYC 2003; Zero to Three 2010). Appropriate assessment often includes conversations with families, anecdotal observations, portfolios, and more structured assessment tools.
Appropriate assessment of infants and toddlers is strengths based, identifying and building on children’s capabilities, not what they cannot do, and is not used to “label” them (Moreno & Klute 2011). Meaningful assessment helps teachers and families focus on children’s individual rates of development, temperaments, learning styles, interests, and preferences, while also taking into account families’ goals and expectations and the broader norms and values of communities and cultures (Gonzalez-Mena & Stonehouse 2008).
Continuous assessment of infants and toddlers makes use of multiple and varied types of information. It is based on deep knowledge gained about the whole child in the contexts of early care and education settings and the child’s family (Dichtelmiller 2004; Moreno & Klute 2011). Teachers are creating something like a biographical documentary, addressing the questions, “Who is this child, and who has she become over time?”
Regular, ongoing assessment occurs as a natural part of day-to-day life in the caregiving environment, as teachers interact with, observe, and celebrate the accomplishments of the infants and toddlers in their care (Dichtelmiller 2004; HighScope, n.d.). This article discusses elements that make up continuous assessment, including ways teachers can collect, document, organize, and maintain information; the importance of reflecting on this information in collaboration with colleagues and families; and how to use this information for setting goals and planning for individual children and groups.... Continue reading
About the Authors
James Elicker, PhD, is associate professor of human development and family studies at Purdue University. His research focuses on young children’s development in the context of early childhood programs. He cofounded and codirects the Infant–Toddler Specialists of Indiana’s professional development network.
Mary Benson McMullen, PhD, is professor of early childhood education at Indiana University in Bloomington. Her current work focuses on indicators of quality and well-being in birth to 3 environments. She cofounded and codirects the Infant–Toddler Specialists of Indiana’s professional development network. firstname.lastname@example.org