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What Should Be Included in a Preschool Child's Observation?

by Kristie Farnham, studioD

A child’s performance in preschool provides insight into his readiness for kindergarten. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teachers are responsible for tracking the progress of their students and providing parents with developmental data. Routine observations conducted by your child’s preschool teacher should track his cognitive, physical and social development. This data is important because it identifies your child’s abilities and empowers you to do your part to help prepare him for kindergarten.

Math Skills

Numbers are used consistently in a preschool classroom. According to PBS.org, most 5-year-olds can count up to 20 and can recognize the number words one through nine and their corresponding numerals. Your child should be asked to demonstrate his counting ability both verbally and by using one-to-one correspondence, which is done by labeling each item in a group of objects with a sequenced number word in order to figure out the total number of items. For example, the teacher might ask your child to figure out how many beads are in a group by touching each object as he simultaneously says a number. Other observable preschool math skills include knowledge of basic shapes and colors and the ability to compare the size of objects and recognize and make patterns.

Language Skills

Preschool children are typically very chatty, which is good because every conversation your child has helps him develop his language abilities and thought processes. Language skills that your child’s teacher may assess include: the ability to participate in discussions, the ability to explain one’s actions, the ability to summarize an event or story and the ability to ask and answer questions.

Literacy Skills

Literacy encompasses reading- and writing-related skills. The first thing your child should be able to do is recognize, spell and print his first name. Your child should also demonstrate letter recognition and be able to write letters from memory or by copying them. Besides recognizing the letters of the alphabet, your child should possess print awareness -- an understanding that letters in words and words in a story flow from left to right -- and the ability to identify the beginning sounds of words and rhyming words. Preschool teachers monitor these skills on a regular basis, especially when reading aloud to their students.

Physical Skills

Kindergarten requires your child to possess a certain level of physical independence. Self-help skills that often appear on a preschool checklist include the ability dress and undress and the ability to use the bathroom without help. Your child’s teacher should note whether your child is able to operate zippers and buttons, distinguish his left shoe from the right, bundle himself up before going outside and take care of things in the bathroom (including hand washing) on his own. In addition to physical self-help skills, your child should exhibit certain gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills that your preschooler may be observed for include hopping on one foot, jumping with both feet off the ground, walking up and down stairs with alternating feet, skipping and catching a ball. The teacher may also track your child’s fine motor progress when it comes to stacking blocks, drawing simple shapes, writing letters, completing puzzles and cutting in a straight line or around objects.

Social-Emotional Skills

Parenting Science.com reports that self-control, empathy and verbal communication are necessary for the development of social skills in preschool. These criteria are observable in various ways. The teacher should pay attention to your child’s ability to take turns and share with other children, ask for permission to use the belongings of others and comfort friends who are upset. Whether your child is able to pay attention to a story while sitting quietly and listen to and follow instructions should also be noted as part of a preschool observation.

About the Author

Kristie Farnham has been writing professionally since 2012. Much of her work focuses on parenting and educating preschool and school-aged children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Arts in education from Carroll University. Farnham is also certified to teach in alternative learning environments.

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