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Do I Really Need to Do Assessments in Preschool?

Updated: May 10

Preschool teaching doing group assessment

Assessment. As a teacher, when you hear this word, you often cringe. Assessment takes brain power, people power, and a significant amount of time! There is no doubt that some schools go overboard with assessment. Over assessment is an ineffective use of time and resources. However, when used strategically, it offers incredible benefits. Preschool assessment helps you understand your students on a deeper level, uncovering their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. This knowledge empowers you to personalize instruction, ensuring no child gets lost in the shuffle. Imagine a doctor treating every patient the same – ineffective, right? The same goes for teaching. Assessment data allows you to create targeted lessons that address each child's specific needs, leading to a more engaging and impactful learning experience for all. Let's dive into the specific benefits of assessment.

4 Benefits of Preschool Assessments


  1. Informs Instruction: One of the most powerful benefits of assessment is that it directly informs your instruction. Imagine you assess letter sounds and discover that 90% of the class doesn't recognize the /g/ sound. This isn't bad news – it's a roadmap! You can immediately adjust your teaching to focus on /g/. Instead of sticking to your original plan, you can incorporate fun activities like singing songs with lots of "g" words or hiding the letter in silly places around your classroom. By using assessment data to pinpoint areas where the class needs more support, you can transform your teaching into targeted lessons that ensure all of your students grasp new concepts with confidence.  

  2. Promotes Child-Led Learning: Preschool assessments aren't just about measuring what children

Preschool child playing while teacher completes observation.

know, they're about understanding HOW they learn and what they enjoy. By observing their interactions with materials, listening to their questions, and analyzing their creations, we gain valuable insights. These insights inform our lesson plans, allowing us to tailor activities and challenges to each child's specific needs and interests. They also help us decipher HOW each child learns best and what type of learning experiences are preferable. Child-led learning is a MUST, and assessments help guide this approach to teaching.  

3. Strengthens Communication with Parents and Future Educators: Strong partnerships with parents are crucial for the success of our children. Assessment is a powerful tool for communication. All parents want the best for their children, but many of them may not know HOW to support their children. Clear and concise explanations of a child's strengths and areas for development can bridge the gap between classroom and home. Providing parents with resources and tools fosters a true partnership, empowering parents to become active participants in their child's learning journey. Ultimately, this benefits everyone – the child receives consistent reinforcement, parents feel confident supporting their child's development, and you have a valuable partner in your mission to create a thriving learning atmosphere. Watch this video, where we explain WHY this is so important when looking at phonological awareness.  

4. Gives Insight for Possible Delays/Intervention Needs: Preschool assessment isn't just about measuring progress, but it's also about identifying potential roadblocks. By observing behaviors, communication skills, and cognitive development through assessments, we can gain valuable insights into any possible delays a child might be experiencing. Early intervention is crucial, as research shows it has the most significant impact on a child's long-term learning and development. Assessment results can become a springboard for conversations with parents and specialists, ensuring all children have the resources and support they need to thrive.


Types of Assessments

preschool assessment checklists

When we think of the word assessment, we often think of a boring 20-minute drill session at the table. However, preschool assessment comes in many different forms. By using a variety of assessments, we can gain a well-rounded picture of each child's development and tailor our teaching to the individual needs of each child. Remember, the goal is to support their learning journey in a fun and engaging way, as well as provide feedback and suggestions for learning at home and classrooms in the future.


Informal Assessments:

  • Student Observations: Observe children during playtime, activities, and routines. How do they interact with others? Do they solve problems independently? Take notes on their behavior, skills, and interests.

    • Example: During block play, you observe Sarah carefully planning a tall tower with blocks. She asks a friend for help reaching a high block and communicates her ideas clearly. This observation suggests Sarah's developing strong problem-solving and communication skills.  

  • Anecdotal Notes and Checklists: Record specific incidents or moments that illustrate a child's learning or behavior. Use checklists to track specific skills or milestones, like basic counting or identifying colors.

    • Example: You are completing a rhyming game as a class. You notice that Maya struggles to complete the rhyme. Use a checklist to quickly record that children that have mastered the skills and write a quick note that Maya needs extra support in rhyme completion but can recognize rhymes.  

  • Portfolios: Create a collection of a child's work (drawings, writing samples, photos) and your observations. This showcases their progress over time. Formal Assessments:

    • Example: A portfolio for Ben might include his self-portrait, a writing sample of his name, and puzzles that he has completed.  

  • Standardized Testing: These pre-designed tests are administered in a similar way to all children. They provide a comparison point to national norms but may not capture individual strengths as well as informal assessments.

    • Example: A developmental screening might assess a child's gross motor skills, language development, and social-emotional well-being.  

  • Curriculum-Based Assessments: These align with the specific curriculum used in your preschool and measure progress towards those learning objectives.

    • Example: A curriculum-based assessment for a math unit might involve observing children counting objects or sorting them by size.


Looking for a Place to Start?

North Carolina Preschool Assessment Guide

North Carolina Foundations for Learning and Development


You have to know WHERE you are going in order to get there successfully! If you don't know where to start when it comes to children's milestones, this document is a great resource. It touches on social/emotional, physical, and academic development from infants to older preschoolers.


Looking for a Literacy-Based Assessment for Ages 4+?

Ready to read assessment

Grab the Reading Readiness Assessment for a simple way to assess KEY skills needed for reading success. This is perfect for 4 and 5 year olds that are showing a strong foundation in early literacy skills.


BONUS: Once completed, email us the results for a list of suggested activities that build up areas of need!

Looking for Engaging Ways to Warm-Up Your Students?

preschool activities and learning

Practice KEY Literacy Skills with the 100 Days of Preschool Literacy Activities Pad. Easy to implement research-based activities! Perfect for circle time or transitions!


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preschool education

We believe that every child deserves a bright future, and this begins with a strong foundation in early literacy skills.  At Moving Little Minds, we are dedicated to providing research-based literacy activities in fun and engaging ways!  By merging instruction with play, we ensure that children are reaching their full potential and embark on their educational journey well-prepared for the future! Let's build those KEY emergent literacy skills together.

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