Have you ever wondered what skills your student should have before entering kindergarten? Princess Super Kitty is almost 4, and next year she will start kindergarten. To ensure her success, what skills do I need to work on now before she starts kindergarten?
Developmental & Academic Goals
Ask yourself, what are your objectives? What do you what to have accomplished at the end of this year (or next year if you have two years until kindergarten)? Start at the end (your goals) and work backwards. When creating the goals on this assessment, I took into consideration, other preschool assessments, current curricula (Letter of the Week & All About Reading: Pre-Reading), and the Ages & Stages Developmental Questionnaire provided by my doctor.
- Identification of upper- and lowercase letters and their sounds
- Tracing lines, shapes, and upper- and lowercase letters
- Writing upper- and lowercase letters
- Identification, rote counting, counting out, tracing and writing of numbers 1-20
- Identification of colors, simple patterns, and shapes
- Following instructions and comprehending stories
- Age-appropriate communication/language skills
- Life skills, such as toileting, brushing teeth, and simple chores
- Simple memory work to build recall
- Age-appropriate fine and gross motor skills
- Personal knowledge about self and family
Tailoring Your Goals
We know every child learns at a different rate, and that is ok. You know your student. You can adjust the goals to fit your student, and you can increment their progress at a slower/faster rate if needed. Here are some suggestions:
- Start tracing letters, numbers, and shapes BIG. Incrementally, make them smaller. Note: This helps the transition from using gross motor movements to write (using whole arm) to fine motor movements (hand and wrist movements). Your goals may be ‘tracing 4″ letters’ and ‘tracing 2″ letters.’
- If identification of letters and numbers is difficult, start with matching identical symbols, then increment up to matching upper- to lowercase and number to quantity.
- Use verbal, physical, or visual prompts to help bridge skill acquisition, then fade the prompts away as their independence increases. So, your goals may be ‘Count to 10 with prompts’ and ‘Count to 10 independently.’
- Choose different fine motor and gross motor skills: sports-related skills, riding a bike, etc.
- Pick different life skills: tying shoes, making the bed, etc.
These are just goals to work towards. Kindergarten reviews letters and sounds and writing, etc., so if your student doesn’t master all these skills, it’s ok. On the other hand, if your student excels, you can create new goals.
Driving Your Instruction
Evaluations should not be something you just HAVE to do. Done right, assessments should drive your instruction. What do I mean by that? An effective teacher establishes a connection with information their students already know (formally called knowledge a priori) and helps them draw connections to new concepts. This way, your student is not getting bored constantly reviewing material they already know, and they are not getting frustrated unable to grasp the new material. Assessments help you find this ‘sweet spot’ so your teaching isn’t too easy or too challenging. They also help you identify missing skills (or splinter skills) you may have assumed your student had. Essentially, they show you what and how to teach in order to reach your goals!
If you are not fond of formal testing, there are many other ways to assess. Just going through letter cards and separating them into a ‘knows’ pile and a ‘doesn’t know’ pile is a type of assessment that gives you the information you need in order to know where to start teaching.
Using the Assessment
After you set your goals, the first thing you have to do is take your baseline i.e. current skill level without any additional teaching. This is your starting point. The baseline is coded green in the example below. Now you know exactly what skills your student has and which ones you need to work on.
Occasionally, you will want to reassess your student to see their progress (mastered skills) and to ensure you are continuing to teach effectively. How often you test is up to you. This assessment has enough space in the legend to assess every month, but you may choose to assess at the end of each quarter or semester. Use a different color each time you assess, so you can visually see your student’s progress.
Don’t be afraid to share this information with your student — as a way to encourage them. They can visually see their progress, which is exciting for them, and see what they need to work on, which may help them focus during lesson time.
Download the Pre-Kindergarten Developmental and Academic Goals here. Use this assessment to determine your goals and focus your teaching, but remember preschool is fun! Dance, sing, incorporate themes, and get messy. 🙂
And don’t be afraid of assessments. See Who Is Learning? They are helpful tools to make us better teachers. Do you have a different way to assess preschooler? How do you prepare your student for kindergarten? I’d love to hear about it.
Till Next Time,
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