We want to be sure your child is making progress in our program. We don't
leave learning to chance. That's why we keep track of what each child knows
and can do. This information helps us to plan for further teaching and learning.

We can tell if your child is making progress because we know the steps
preschool children typically go through in learning a skill. Just as toddlers go
through stages in learning to walk (they sit up, crawl, stand, and then walk),
preschoolers follow a typical path when they learn a new skill. We observe
children's paths as they learn new skills and support them along the way.

To show you what we mean, let's look at one objective of our curriculum:
"Writes letters and words." Preschool children often begin using scribble writing
and shapes that look like letters. Then they may write some letters, especially
the letters in their names. Later, they start to write letters that stand for works.
They might write "dg" to stand for the word "dog." They write the sounds they
hear. These are the steps we typically see.

By carefully observing each day, we find out what children know about letters
and words. We may discover that many children are scribble writing. That tells
us what experiences we can provide to build on what they know and help them
move to the next step. For example, we would

*put out more alphabet puzzles and games

*display the alphabet and talk to children about which letters are in their names

*place writing materials in many interest areas so children can use them in their
play, make signs for the block structures, and enjoy writing for a purpose.

We don't need tests to find out what preschool children know. Tests are not
reliable for this age group. Instead, we observe what children do and take
notes. We collect samples of each child's work--drawings, writing, photos of
artwork or block buildings-and keep them in a portfolio. Several times during
the year we summarize this information and share it with you . We ask what you
have seen your child do. Together, we gain a more complete picture of you
child's progress. Then we can plan together how to support your child's
learning.
How We Know Children
Are Learning
A Parent's Guide to Preschool
Diane Trister Dodge and Joanna Phinney
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