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How to Track Children's Progress

by Erica Loop, studioD

Whether your child is in preschool or high school, tracking her progress is a must. From viewing general developmental areas such as building emotional regulation skills to more specific academic content-oriented progress, understanding how your child is doing when it comes to her learning and growth can help you to better assess her strengths and weaknesses. While every parent wants to think that her student is an A+ learner, tracking your child's progress is an essential way to get a realistic picture of your child's actual learning and development needs.

Observe your child. Although you can't go to school with her every day, you can watch her while she is interacting with friends in the neighborhood and doing school work at home. Don't forget about at-home activities as an opportunity to conduct your own observations. For example, if you are painting a picture with your grade school aged child during a Saturday afternoon crafting session, watch how she works and take note of her strengths and areas for improvement. Is she holding the paintbrush with a pencil-like grip or is she still using a much more immature style and grabbing it in a fist? Does she think about how she can mix the colors to create new ones or is she still somewhat immature in her critical thinking? Make the observations over time to note any changes.

File your child's grades after each report card. Track the changes over the course of the school year or between years to see how she is changing and growing. Compare her progress in specific classes such as math, language, writing, science and social studies. Take special note of the teacher's comments. These can provide you with a better understanding of her classroom behaviors and give you more intricate details about her studies.

Listen to your child's language, checking to see if it is age-appropriate and moving in an upwards direction. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association states that a first grader has speech that is easily understood, can retell a story in logical order and start conversations. By fourth grade, a child can summarize and restate more complex ideas, use subject-specific vocabulary and listen with a specific purpose or intent in mind. Take time every day to talk with your child, observing how her speech and language are changing.

Discuss your child's progress with her teachers. This doesn't mean that you need to talk to the teacher every day for an on-the-spot update. Instead, ask the teacher periodically about how your child is doing. Parent-teacher conferences are ideal times to get these updates.

Keep your child's school work and projects. Pick and choose a few key pieces of work each month to save and file away. These may include graded tests, essays or artwork.


  • Instead of keeping every piece of artwork and test to track your child's progress, only hold on to what you feel is important. Keeping every work sheet and assignment will take up too much room.
  • Ask your child to tell you what she thinks about her own progress. Let her give you updates on how she is doing in school.
  • Take your own notes on your child's development from your viewpoint.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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